NASHVILLE - A Republican-backed bill limiting teachers' collective bargaining rights cleared the full House Education Committee today.
The measure, which passed on a 12-6 Republican-Democrat vote following a spirited debate, differs from a Senate version that seeks to eliminate outright teachers' ability to negotiate on wages, benefits and workplace issues.
Democrats denounced the modified version, which is supported by Republican Gov. Bill Haslam, as no compromise at all.
Former House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh, D-Covington, said Democrats and the Tennessee Education Association were excluded and the bill was "merely an attempt to satisfy" both Republican moderates and the GOP's tea party wing.
But Rep. Bill Dunn, R-Knoxville, the sponsor of the amendment, chastised critics for worrying about change.
"The biggest enemy of public education is the status quo, "Dunn said.
Dunn's amendment would allow affiliates of the 52,000-member Tennessee Education Association to continue bargaining on issues such as base pay and benefits. But it would exclude areas such as merit pay and differential pay for educators teaching hard-to-fill areas such as science.
The bill now goes to the House Finance Committee for consideration. The Senate version has cleared committees and is awaiting floor action.