Bill to curb teachers’ bargaining rights advances
Posted: Wednesday, May 11, 2011 9:11 pm
NASHVILLE (AP) — A proposal to curb Tennessee teachers’ collective bargaining rights is once again advancing in the House after an amendment was withdrawn Tuesday to do away with negotiations altogether.
The House Education Committee voted 11-6 to send the proposal sponsored by Republican Caucus Chairwoman Debra Maggart of Hendersonville on to the House Finance Committee.
The Education Committee was reopened after the Finance Committee voted last week to send the measure back after an attempted amendment to repeal bargaining rights.
That amendment was withdrawn Tuesday and the bill was voted out in its original form, which is to shield certain areas — like teacher evaluation standards and merit pay — from union bargaining, but not totally repeal it.
The legislation is still not palatable to most teachers, many of whom attended House Education Committee. Rep. John Forgety was booed when he said the bill would save collective bargaining rights.
“It does preserve those things that are important to our teachers,” said the Athens Republican and committee member. “At the end of the day … all of our teachers will have a seat at the table.”
The companion bill, which repeals bargaining, passed the Senate 18-14 earlier this month.
It would require school boards to adopt — or develop — a “professional employee manual that contains … procedures for establishing policies relative to the employment and working conditions.”
The manual would include procedures for terms and conditions relative to salaries, benefits, grievance procedures, insurance and working conditions.
The Republican House leadership recently signaled support for the Senate version after endorsing the House bill at one time. Maggart didn’t say whether she’ll amend the bill in the Finance Committee or on the House floor if it makes it there.
“Every day this bill has changed,” she said. “I’m taking it one step at a time, and I’m at the will of the body.”
Opponents of the legislation questioned the need to return it to the House Education Committee. Tennessee Education Association lobbyist Jerry Winters called the move “practical politics.”
“I believe the Republican leadership had a pretty good read that they may not have the votes in the Finance Committee and on the floor of the House to pass the Senate version, and they think that this modified version might pass,” Winters said after the hearing. “I believe they clearly are intent on passing something and this was just practical on their part.”
Ron Scudder, a retired teacher from Murfreesboro, said he sees no improvement in the bill despite the changes.
“I was around when we had no negotiations, and things were terrible,” said the 66-year-old. “Everybody deserves to have a say-so in their future and their jobs.”
Read HB0130/SB0113 at: http://capitol.tn.gov
Published in The Messenger 5.11.11