House panel restricts, not bans, collective bargaining for teachers

House panel restricts, not bans, collective bargaining for teachers

March 16th, 2011 by Andy Sher in Local - Breaking News

NASHVILLE - A Republican-controlled House panel today approved major restrictions in collective bargaining rights for Tennessee teachers.

But it stopped well short of Senate Republican leaders' efforts to completely ban educators' ability to bargain with school boards.

House Education Subcommittee members voted 8-5 along partisan lines to change the bill from Rep. Debra Maggart, R-Hendersonville, which originally sought to strip Tennessee Education Association affiliates from being able to collectively bargain.

The amendment, offered by Rep. Bill Dunn, R-Knoxville, blocks teachers' unions from negotiating with school boards over merit pay for teachers as well as differential pay schemes that pay teachers more in highly sought subjects such as math.

Also excluded would be any negotiations over teacher evaluations, and the bill would make it easier for teachers to move to decertify local unions such as the Hamilton County Education Association.

The bill allows teachers to continue negotiating over basic pay and benefits.

The compromise was worked out between majority Republicans. Democrats, who are a minority, as well as Tennessee Education Association officials were not privy to the amendment until a few hours before it was presented.

After weeks of saying he was neutral on the Senate version of the legislation, Republican Gov. Bill Haslam issued a statement today stating, "I support the amended version of HB 130 the House Education Subcommittee recommended."

He said it gives superintendents "great flexibility in making personnel decisions and supports my central focus of doing what's best for children in Tennessee classrooms. This legislation doesn't change the fact that teachers will continue to have a voice on issues like pay and benefits."

For complete details, see tomorrow's Times Free Press.