Via the Times Free Press (available to read in full Here)

Senate Republicans on Friday evening voted 19-12 to repeal teachers’ unions collective bargaining powers, replacing them with a plan proponents call “collaborative conferencing.”

Court-enforceable memoranda of understanding could be struck on items both school boards and teachers can agree to, but school boards ultimately would call the shots.

During House debate, Rep. Harry Brooks, R-Knoxville, a member of the conference committee, said Republicans are pushing a “different approach” with collaborative conferencing that is “not as combative” as traditional collective bargaining.

The bill would continue to allow payroll deductions for union dues. But it would ban the dues from being used by the Tennessee Education Association’s political action committee to make campaign contributions to candidates.

The conference committee report repeals the Education Professional Negotiations Act of 1978.

The bill establishes a scheme in which teachers can vote on whether to engage in collaborative bargaining. They also can choose one or more professional associations to represent them.

Representatives and school boards can collaboratively conference over basic wages, grievance procedures, insurance and other benefits as well as working conditions.

But the bill excludes attempts to negotiate over merit pay and differential pay for instructors teaching in hard-to-fill areas and difficult schools.

Via the Tennessean (available to read in full Here)

Instead of selecting one group, teachers would pick a committee of representatives through secret ballot elections. Organizations would be awarded seats on the committee based on the share of the vote they took.

This committee would then hold a series of “collaborative conferencing” meetings with the school board. These talks would be guided by a different legal framework than negotiations, which could give them less leverage to force school boards to give in on difficult points.

Talks would end in a memorandum of understanding, a legal agreement that is often less enforceable than a formal contract.

The bill also would place limits on what could be included in agreements. Compensation, insurance and benefits could be spelled out, but matters that lawmakers believe directly affect the performance of students, suchas job assignments and bonuses, could not be included.

Statement from the Tennessee General Assembly Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey (available Here)

General Assembly ends union monopoly on education Conference committee report fully repeals 1978 law.

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey (R-Blountville) praised the adoption of a conference committee report by both Houses of the General Assembly which fully repeals the 1978 law that gave a single government employee union the power to stifle education reform in the state of Tennessee.

“It matters who governs,” said Ramsey. “For years upon years, one union has thwarted the progress of education in Tennessee. Reform after reform has been refused or dismantled. The barrier that has prevented us from putting the best possible teacher in every classroom will soon be removed. I’d like to thank Sen. Jack Johnson for his indispensable leadership on this issue.”

With the repeal of the Educational Professional Negotiations Act of 1978, mandatory union contract negotiations will be replaced with a procedure that gives all teachers and teacher organizations a voice and seat at the table. The conference committee report also ends forever the practice of payroll deductions for political purposes and returns final say over the process to local school boards.

“We’ve had a long journey on this issue this session and I’m more than satisfied with the conclusion,” said sponsor Sen. Jack Johnson (R-Franklin). “Our goal was full repeal and now we will have it. We sought the removal of union monopoly and now we have secured it.”

Under the final conference committee report, teachers will have a vote over whether they wish to be involved in a “collaborative conferencing” process. They can also vote on whether they wish to remain “unaffiliated” or join a recognized organization active in the district.

If there is a majority in favor of conferencing on a specific topic, a panel is formed that is proportional to the preferences of the teachers in the district.

Every school board has the final authority on all subjects of discussion. One issue specifically excluded from any discussion is payroll deductions for political contributions.

TNSC thanks Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey for his steadfast leadership in education reform.  We also thank Sen. Jack Johnson, Rep. Debra Maggart, Speaker Beth Harwell and all of the Tennessee Senators and Representatives who had the courage to stand strong under very hostile conditions and fight to end forced collective bargaining, replacing it with a more positive collaborative environment which will allow for the desperately needed education reforms for the children of Tennessee.

 

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