NASHVILLE - In an "open letter to conservatives," Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey is calling for help in his fight to end collective bargaining for teachers.
Ramsey, R-Blountville, does not want to employ a compromise backed by GOP House leaders and Republican Gov. Bill Haslam.
"Stand with me in this cause to make sure we as Republicans are who we say we are," Ramsey said in the letter, posted Thursday on his Facebook page. "Let your voice be heard in Nashville today."
The Senate is poised to pass legislation stripping local teacher unions of their ability to bargain with local school boards. But the House Education Subcommittee on Wednesday amended the bill to allows negotiations on base salaries, fringe benefits and some other items to continue.
Ramsey said he is "convinced that ending the practice of factory-style, iron-clad, union contracts in education is essential to meaningful reform of our schools. The union lobbyists who benefit from union contract laws are the same lobbyists who strangle every attempt to pay our best teachers more - and reward them for their great performance."
Haslam had been neutral on the original bill, saying he preferred his own efforts to make teacher tenure hard to get and keep as well as opening up charter schools to more students.
But after the House Education Committee acted this week, he swung his support behind that version, which has the support of House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville. He said it gives superintendents "greater flexibility in making personnel decisions and supports my central focus of doing what's best for children in Tennessee classrooms."