Friday, February 18, 2011

Unions Under Attack ! Tennessee Republicans Declare War !

Is There No End Too it ? Unions are Not The Enemy !

Tennessee Republicans take first swipe at teachers union
Vote to end bargaining rights comes day before Haslam plan
Feb. 17, 2011
Written by Chas Sisk

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Gov. Haslam will present his education reform package today. Related Links
Haslam seeks tougher teacher tenure, more TN charter schools
Haslam proposes no cap on charters, teachers to wait longer for tenure !

Thousands protest Wisconsin governor's anti-union bill

Republican lawmakers have pushed ahead of Gov. Bill Haslam in the race to shape the state's agenda on education and provoked a confrontation with Tennessee's biggest teachers union.
The state Senate took the first step Wednesday toward rewriting Tennessee's education laws this year, when a committee voted to reverse a 1978 law that gave teachers the right to bargain collectively through a union. The bill is one of several proposals being promoted in the legislature that would reduce the power of the 52,000-member Tennessee Education Association. They are being pursued without the backing of Haslam, who has been working for the past several weeks on education reforms of his own. "We're here to do the people's business," said Sen. Jack Johnson, R-Franklin, the bill's sponsor. "We don't need to wait until April to start moving bills." The Senate Education Committee voted on party lines 6-3 Wednesday to advance (Senate Bill 113), a measure brought by Johnson that would end the requirement that local school districts negotiate contracts with collective bargaining units organized by teachers. The Tennessee School Boards Association backs the legislation, and the TEA, which represents teachers in all 92 of the Tennessee school districts that have created collective bargaining units, opposes it. Supporters say the bill would end litigation over teacher contracts, make it easier to fire bad teachers and give teachers who are not members of the union more say in discussions over pay, classroom conditions and education reform. Opponents say the bill would strip teachers of their ability to negotiate with school boards, and it is little more than payback by Republicans for the TEA's past support of Democratic candidates. "I think it's unfortunate that that went right down party lines," said Jerry Winters, TEA's director of government relations. "We don't consider this an education bill. They need to be talking about the real issues facing teachers in this state, and if they want to say they've taken away teachers' voice and take credit for that, they can take credit." Scores of TEA members and retired teachers — as well as several conservative activists who support the measure — packed the committee meeting room and corridor outside to witness the vote. "It feels like every time I turn around they're taking another shot at us," said Christy Daniels, a ninth-grade English teacher in Coffee County who attended the committee meeting. The vote took place a day before Haslam presents his slate of education reforms, a package of legislation that he has been touting since taking office a month ago. Haslam says his reforms will focus on toughening tenure requirements and loosening restrictions on charter schools.
Haslam and Republican leaders in the legislature have said the two efforts are not at odds, but GOP lawmakers also have shown an eagerness to take on education bills beyond those that Haslam would propose. "We certainly want to work with the governor," said Hendersonville Rep. Debra Maggart, the House Republican Caucus chairman and a co-sponsor of the collective bargaining bill. "But there are three branches of government, and as legislators, we are certainly allowed to push for our own agenda." Haslam shows plan :
Haslam will unveil his education reforms at a news conference this morning in the Legislative Plaza office building. The governor has been putting his plan together without a state education commissioner. Haslam says he is conducting a nationwide search for candidates for the job, but one of the presumed front-runners, Knox County Schools Superintendent Jim McIntyre, withdrew from consideration this week. Meanwhile, lawmakers have several bills dealing with education, many of them targeting the TEA. One measure, sponsored by Senate Education Committee Chairman Dolores Gresham, would strip the TEA and the Tennessee Retired Teachers Association of their seats on the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System, replacing them with teachers chosen by the leaders of the House and Senate. Another, also sponsored by Gresham, would take away the TEA's seat on a financial literacy board. So far, the legislature has taken up only the collective bargaining bill. Johnson said he spoke with the governor before presenting the measure. "I've had a number of conversations with not only the governor, but with my leadership in the Senate," Johnson said. "He indicated he was fine with that. … At some point, we probably do need to sit down and map out how we're going to move forward with this stuff." Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey said lawmakers would take up Haslam's legislation when it is presented Thursday but would not delay the collective bargaining measure to give the governor's package priority. "You have to start with one bill," Ramsey said. "We felt strongly this is the one we wanted to start with." Wednesday's vote sends the measure to the full Senate, which could vote on the matter as soon as next week, Ramsey said. Winters said he was not surprised by the measure's support in the Senate and expressed hope House Republicans will stop the measure. "There are some reasonable Republicans over on the House side that absolutely are not going to want to vote against the teachers of this state and the teachers in their district," he said. "This battle is not over." Winters also said the bill could poison efforts by Haslam to work with the TEA on tenure and charter school rules. "My sense is that this is not the kind of thing the governor would want to be going on in this state right now," he said. "I hope the governor will insert himself into the process before this comes to a floor vote in either the Senate or the House." But Haslam has been noncommittal — neither expressing opposition to the collective bargaining bill nor saying he would make it one of his priorities.
"I think that should be part of the discussion," Haslam said last week. "I'm not ruling it out. We'll wait and see."

Contact Chas Sisk at 615-259-8283 or
The Associated Press contributed.

Editorial : Not just Teachers Unions are being assaulted, all unions are being declared war on, by the Republican Party ! Wisconsin, Tennessee says "Thank You "! Tennesseans listen up, When free democratic trade unions lose, everyone lose`s ! Unions are not the enemy, Those who oppose them are ! See how your elected represenatives vote Here > <

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