House Republicans switched back Tuesday to the more moderate version of their bill to curtail collective bargaining for public school teachers, setting the stage for a fight with GOP senators and the Tea Party.
For the second time this session, the House Education Committee adopted legislation that continues to allow contract negotiations over base pay and benefits, but repeals bargaining for merit and incentive pay plans and for teacher assignments, among other matters. The vote was 11-6.
The Senate already has approved its own version of the bill, repealing collective bargaining outright. Last week, House leaders tried to amend their bill to conform to the Senate’s, but they ran into resistance from moderate Republicans and Democrats in the House Finance Committee. In that committee, lawmakers voted to send the bill back to the Education Committee, which already had closed for this year’s session.
House Speaker Beth Harwell reopened the committee to meet Tuesday. But instead of adopting the Senate language, as demanded by tea partyers, committee chairman Richard Montgomery announced, “We decided we liked what we did originally.”
Lawmakers then voted to send the bill back to the Finance Committee, where Harwell has conceded it might fail.
That committee decided Tuesday to ditch collaborations altogether and move back to the House plan released in March.
“I believe it’ll come out (of committees) in this version,” said House Speaker Beth Harwell. “I believe that’s the best way forward.”
The Finance Committee still must agree to the House plan before it can advance. That committee could take the measure up as soon as today.
If they agree, House lawmakers will then have to decide which plan to accept, or whether to reject them both.
The Senate has already passed SB113, which repeals the 1978 mandate that school boards formally negotiate teacher contracts with a union. While the Senate’s bill removes the requirement that school boards collectively bargain contracts with a union, it does require that school boards discuss labor issues with teachers and any unions looking to represent them.
The Legislature has spent weeks juggling multiple versions of the collective bargaining bill — with opposition from Democratic lawmakers like House Speaker Emeritus Jimmy Naifeh, who supports the current law mandating collective bargaining in districts where teachers have unionized.
“What does this bill do for our students? It does absolutely nothing except antagonize the teachers,” the Democrat from Covington said.
Naifeh, who has led the charge against the plan, suggested that any effort by Republicans to beef up the bill once it gets to the House floor would be met by even more anger than if they moved it through the committee system.
TNSC would like to respond to Speaker Naifeh’s assertion that ending collective bargaining does nothing to improve education.
- Collective bargaining creates an adversarial environment between teachers and school instead of working together for the benefit of students and improving performance.
- Ending collective bargaining would allow teachers to be paid based on their performance and skills, treating them as professionals, allowing districts to better value and compensate top quality teachers.
- It is through collective bargaining the teacher’s unions prevent any meaningful education reform.
- Union influence and power has resulted in exponentially increasing the cost of education for taxpayers yet providing virtually no improvements to the quality of education.
- Ending collective bargaining will serve to break the anti-trust power brokering between politicians and the teachers union and return control to the tax payers, individual teachers and their employers and parents and away from teachers unions and the politicians beholding to them.
Stop waiting for Superman. Tell Tennessee’s legislators to end collective bargaining.
Contact information for the Governor is available Here.
Contact information for the House Speaker, Beth Harwell and your TN House Representative are available Here.