House ‘Education Reform’ Bill Still Doesn’t Please TEA

Tennessee’s House Education Committee today okayed a rewrite of a bill that originally would have stripped the state teachers’ union of collective bargaining rights.

Jerry Winters, lobbyist for the Tennessee Education Association, says the new bill is still flawed – it severely limits what teachers can negotiate with school boards, for instance.

Winters says the bill doesn’t represent any input from his organization.

“We’ve said all along that we’re willing to talk about any issue, including this one. But the fact of the matter is, we were not part of any compromise. We were not involved in those discussions.”

Winters says the union is still willing to sit down and talk – but hasn’t been asked.

Representative Debra Maggart sponsors the bill in the House and chairs the House Republican Caucus. She makes no apology for not consulting the TEA.

“Instead of a labor reform bill, it’s more of a education reform bill, and you know, the TEA doesn’t like anything. I’ve never known my local union to like a thing that anyone wants to do, so you know, it almost doesn’t matter.”

The bill now heads to the Budget Subcommittee, which is expected to take it up next week.

The rewritten bill in the House is at odds with the Senate version, which would still take collective bargaining power from the union.

The Senate is still weighing the original bill, which would have repealed the 1978 state law that allows TEA to collectively bargain with school boards.

Both Senator Jack Johnson, the Senate sponsor, and Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey have said they want to continue to pursue the sterner bill.

Maggart shrugged off the possibility of a fight between the two houses.

“I talked to Senator Johnson last week, and you know, they were…the Senate’s the Senate. The Senate’s gonna do their thing, and the House is working on their thing.”

The bill is HB 130 Maggart/SB 113 Johnson. This link shows where the two versions are, in each house.

The bill is completely rewritten by the House amendment.

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