Tennessee to vote tomorrow on Wisconsin-like labor legislation

posted at 4:00 pm on May 18, 2011 by Tina Korbe

The Tennessee state legislature tomorrow will vote on a bill that would limit collective bargaining for teachers’ unions — the only government unions allowed in the state of Tennessee.

The bill echoes the legislation the Wisconsin legislature passed earlier this year in the face of union protests and the flight of 14 Wisconsin state senators. Around that time, union protesters marched in Tennessee, too — but, in recent weeks, Tennessee’s version of a bargain-limiting bill has moved forward to relatively little national fanfare, even though both Tennessee Education Association activists and Tea Party supporters have continued to express strong views on the bill.

Earlier this month, the state Senate approved a complete repeal of collective bargaining (S.B. 0113) — a measure that would be even more stringent than the bill that caused such controversy in Wisconsin. But the Tennessee House of Representatives Monday night adopted an amendment that alters the bill to allow teachers to bargain over wages and benefits, but not working conditions. If the House approves the bill tomorrow, it’ll go to a conference committee.

But whether the bill has the support it needs to pass remains in question.  The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Debra Young Maggart (R-District 45), has said she deferred the vote to Thursday to garner more ‘yes’ votes.

Unlike Walker, supporters of the Tennessee bill haven’t advertised it as a way to reduce the deficit — because Tennessee doesn’t have one. The state is constitutionally obligated to run a balanced budget — and, according to state budget spokeswoman Lola Potter, year-to-date collections are actually $154.2 million more than the budgeted estimate.

Instead, according to Heritage labor analyst James Sherk, Tennessee supporters have touted the bill as a way to improve education quality by returning decision-making authority to the hands of elected, accountable school board officials and away from union leaders — which, of course, is exactly what the bill would do. Breaking the legal monopoly that is collective bargaining with government unions does nothing but return power to voters.


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Tina!!

JeffWeimer on May 18, 2011 at 4:03 PM

this is what democracy looks like!!!

heh! way to go TN, keep doing that.

ted c on May 18, 2011 at 4:03 PM

But the Tennessee House of Representatives Monday night adopted an amendment that alters the bill to allow teachers to bargain over wages and benefits, but not working conditions.

They still get to negotiate wages and benefits? This is not as tough as the Wisconsin law then. That might explain the unions not being quite as up in arms about it.

Doughboy on May 18, 2011 at 4:05 PM

Not only do we not have a deficit, we don’t have a state income tax either.

Big Orange on May 18, 2011 at 4:05 PM

How has Tennessee been able to keep out public employee unions? Just teachers? No police, fire, state, local, DMV, prison guards? nothing else?

Ditkaca on May 18, 2011 at 4:07 PM

Wisconsin was heavily protested because it’s a potential swing state for Obama. He has to have it.

booter on May 18, 2011 at 4:07 PM

Maybe the good people of TN. should go to washington and show them how to balance a budget and live within it

paulrtaylor on May 18, 2011 at 4:07 PM

If they can still “bargain” over wages and benefits, what’s the point?

changer1701 on May 18, 2011 at 4:08 PM

The state is constitutionally obligated to run a balanced budget

IL is also constitutionally obligated to run a balanced budget, does us a lot of good.

WashJeff on May 18, 2011 at 4:08 PM

return power to voters

Whoa. Can’t do that.

Not only do we not have a deficit, we don’t have a state income tax either.

Big Orange on May 18, 2011 at 4:05 PM

Tell the Feds how all you-all are doing that.

davidk on May 18, 2011 at 4:11 PM

If they can still “bargain” over wages and benefits, what’s the point?

changer1701 on May 18, 2011 at 4:08 PM

I assume this would give districts the leeway to dismiss poorly performing teachers, control classroom size, and just flat out remove the ability of the union to control how the school operates.

WashJeff on May 18, 2011 at 4:11 PM

Instead, according to Heritage labor analyst

Homer. :-)

Abby Adams on May 18, 2011 at 4:14 PM

returning decision-making authority to the hands of elected, accountable school board officials

What a crazy idea…/

d1carter on May 18, 2011 at 4:14 PM

Is this Tina’s inaugural post?

Nice job and welcome!

Jon Fezzik on May 18, 2011 at 4:16 PM

Not only do we not have a deficit, we don’t have a state income tax either.

Big Orange on May 18, 2011 at 4:05 PM

How much unfunded liability you got hanging over head? Not saying Tennessee does but I’d be surprised if they didn’t. That’s what this is all about.

lowandslow on May 18, 2011 at 4:20 PM

“The state is constitutionally obligated to run a balanced budget — …”

So is California…

… Oh, wait!

Seven Percent Solution on May 18, 2011 at 4:22 PM

this is what democracy looks like!!!

heh! way to go TN, keep doing that.

ted c on May 18, 2011 at 4:03 PM

Look like this or this?

right2bright on May 18, 2011 at 4:23 PM

I saw an anti-GOP cartoon on a faculty member’s office door yesterday… portraying the WI GOP as cruel “union busters”.

Of course, here in NC where we’ve had 2 GOP governors over the last 110 years (the last one in the 80s) and the first GOP legislature in 118 years… our state workers have no collective bargaining “right”, no union, no pay raise in three years and they had to take a one-time furlough-trade pay reduction last year.

She’s not concerned about that… because she has tenure, a 9-month schedule and a comfortable salary… here in NC.

mankai on May 18, 2011 at 4:28 PM

Keeping benefits on the bargaining table will set up the situation that strangled Wisconsin’s budget process. The unions mandated their union run health insurance which costs 50% more for the same coverage as commercial insurance companies. Larger cities like Milwaukee got extra percentages added to their pay for retirement programs over and above the state retirement programs. The unions got benefits negotiated where there were no out of pocket expenses for health insurance copays as well as taxpayers funding the union members’ retirement accounts, rather than requiring the union members to contribute some of their own pay like everyone else has to in the private sector.

So this TN bill has no teeth if they keep benefits on the table.

karenhasfreedom on May 18, 2011 at 4:29 PM

Tennessee bill haven’t advertised it as a way to reduce the deficit — because Tennessee doesn’t have one.

And, Tennessee balances it’s budget without burdening it’s residence with a state wage tax. The only income tax I have ever paid to TN has been on certain types of investment and capital gains.

simkeith on May 18, 2011 at 4:29 PM

Awesome.

angryed on May 18, 2011 at 4:36 PM

So does this mean Tina will take me out to lunch for some of that TN sweet tea I’ve heard so much about?

lorien1973 on May 18, 2011 at 4:39 PM

TN has no public unions (aside from teachers) union AND no deficit? So surely every govt worker in TN lives in their car and eats cat food? Isn’t that what we were told happens to govt workers when their unions are busted?

And no income tax? WHOA! That must mean children die every day all over the state due to lack of proper health care, malnutrition and lack of affordable heating in their homes. That’s what liberals keep saying will happen when taxes are lowered.

Wow. I’m glad I don’t live in that cesspool of a state.

angryed on May 18, 2011 at 4:41 PM

angryed on May 18, 2011 at 4:41 PM

Dollywood.

lorien1973 on May 18, 2011 at 4:43 PM

I moved to Tenn about 8 years ago and except for Memphis and Nashville, it is pretty much Republican territory. I now live in the NE corner of the state. I work mainly with people who rely on Tenn Care which is the state’s version of Medicaid and they have made serious cuts in that part of the budget. Thankfully, I work with children and they haven’t been effected by it.

Sales tax runs around 9.25%, but we have no income tax. Gas was $3.57 last night, so not so bad. Cost of living is low here and the weather is moderate (I grew up in upstate NY and then lived in GA/SC), so I like it that it doesn’t get too hot or too cold. Not a bad place overall. :-)

ny59giants on May 18, 2011 at 4:45 PM

Boy, this is really beautiful to watch, isn’t it??

mmcnamer1 on May 18, 2011 at 4:45 PM

“But the Tennessee House of Representatives Monday night adopted an amendment that alters the bill to allow teachers to bargain over wages and benefits, but not working conditions.”

Ha. They are crazy if they go for this deal. Better to collective bargain over working conditions. If the bill passes they’ll getting better pay and benefits, but end up with 40 ADHD pupils from juvie hall per teacher and who knows what else.

JimP on May 18, 2011 at 4:51 PM

“Wow. I’m glad I don’t live in that cesspool of a state.
angryed on May 18, 2011 at 4:41 PM”

Yes. Please spread the word to all your associates up North. It sucks down here in the South. Plus, there are all us Sothreners living here. Eeewwww. We got kooties galore. Stay away Yanks and others. It’s awful down here. Just awful.

JimP on May 18, 2011 at 4:55 PM

But the Tennessee House of Representatives Monday night adopted an amendment that alters the bill to allow teachers to bargain over wages and benefits, but not working conditions.

Uh … it’s not working conditions that are sending states into fiscal nightmares.

darwin on May 18, 2011 at 4:59 PM

How bout we just start eliminating all public unions completely in states like Tennessee. Why try and beat around the bush and eliminate collective bargaining – straight up eliminating PEU’s would be much more effective and would be easier to argue. Unions suck and we need to get rid of them.

Nelsen on May 18, 2011 at 5:07 PM

My daughter is a high school teacher. She doesn’t get the big bucks that they get in WI. If she did, I’d be a happier pappa. As it is, she’ll just have to keep working hard and getting paid for what her county can afford.

Tennman on May 18, 2011 at 5:08 PM

BTW, East Tennessee has always seemed like a pretty swell place. If I ever moved down south, that’d be one of the first places I’d check out. Don’t worry, I’d tell all the liberals I know up here that the place is terrible.

Nelsen on May 18, 2011 at 5:10 PM

They make it sound like teachers unions are more interested in money than in educating kids. Who would ever believe a thing like that?

hawksruleva on May 18, 2011 at 5:17 PM

Nice Job Tina. Here’s to reigning in union cronyism. Go Tennessee.

Look like this or this?

right2bright on May 18, 2011 at 4:23 PM

According to that our Tina was 17 in 2006. I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me with the picture on her intro post, but she IS as young as she looks.

I guess I just had this image of bloggers being older guys with a bunch of cats…

Pattosensei on May 18, 2011 at 5:52 PM

GOOD JOB TINA

And may what happened in Wisconsin spread throughout the land.

John the Libertarian on May 18, 2011 at 6:25 PM

Nice article! Thanks Tina!

tinkerthinker on May 18, 2011 at 6:39 PM

JimP on May 18, 2011 at 4:51 PM

Teacher unions in Tennessee already have that. You have no idea what you are talking about.

ladyingray on May 18, 2011 at 7:02 PM

Wow. I’m glad I don’t live in that cesspool of a state.
angryed on May 18, 2011 at 4:41 PM

I’m glad I live in TN. ;)

ny59giants on May 18, 2011 at 4:45 PM

Where in NE TN? That’s where I live! This is the best place!

Don’t worry, I’d tell all the liberals I know up here that the place is terrible.

Nelsen on May 18, 2011 at 5:10 PM

Please do! :D

ladyingray on May 18, 2011 at 7:11 PM

Nelsen on May 18, 2011 at 5:07 PM

I agree with that. Most of the teachers that I know that are members of the TEA are members only because they can get liability insurance on the cheap. And it’s not required to join the union as it is in WI. Teachers can choose to be a member or not.

ladyingray on May 18, 2011 at 7:14 PM

“Teacher unions in Tennessee already have that. You have no idea what you are talking about.
ladyingray on May 18, 2011 at 7:02 PM”

LOL Lighten up “lady”. I was making a wise crack.

JimP on May 18, 2011 at 7:35 PM

JimP on May 18, 2011 at 7:35 PM

Sorry, but I don’t know you. How long have you been here?

ladyingray on May 18, 2011 at 7:44 PM

“Sorry, but I don’t know you. How long have you been here?
ladyingray on May 18, 2011 at 7:44 PM”

Since the inception of this blog. How is that relavent?

JimP on May 18, 2011 at 8:31 PM

(I grew up in upstate NY and then lived in GA/SC), so I like it that it doesn’t get too hot or too cold. Not a bad place overall. :-)

ny59giants on May 18, 2011 at 4:45 PM

When I used to work in Tennessee, I liked it up in the Knoxville area but not so much in Memphis. Northeast Tennesse actually was rather Republican even in Civil War Days. There was an election when soon-to-be Governor Jake Butcher had “Elect Jake Butcher” signs all over the state. When I told these guys in a Sawmill in Sneedville that I was from the Chicago area, they did not like it; but when I said “hard to believe but I think there are more ‘Elect Jake Butcher signs” than there are “See Rock City signs”, I became a Home Boy in their eyes. They had Butcher figured out.

KW64 on May 18, 2011 at 9:55 PM

What’s the likelihood of WI-like riots?

Uncle Sams Nephew on May 18, 2011 at 10:00 PM

How bout we just start eliminating all public unions completely in states like Tennessee. Why try and beat around the bush and eliminate collective bargaining – straight up eliminating PEU’s would be much more effective and would be easier to argue. Unions suck and we need to get rid of them.

Nelsen on May 18, 2011 at 5:07 PM

Sure…and what other groups/organizations would you have banned in this Republic?

Just curious.

Dr. ZhivBlago on May 18, 2011 at 11:45 PM

BTW, East Tennessee has always seemed like a pretty swell place. If I ever moved down south, that’d be one of the first places I’d check out. Don’t worry, I’d tell all the liberals I know up here that the place is terrible.

People are piling in here to NE TN from the Northeast at greater numbers every year. The secret is out.

Moesart on May 19, 2011 at 12:21 AM

TN is a right to work state, WI wasn’t…Might have something to do with the less than hysterical union response…

Gohawgs on May 19, 2011 at 1:25 AM

Is it too soon to suggest a Draft Fred Thompson movement ?

/.

CaveatEmpty on May 19, 2011 at 9:29 AM

Pity the poor labor unions adult babies!

Roy Rogers on May 19, 2011 at 9:32 AM