The Teachers In Tennessee Need Your Help!!

Read this and then contact your State Representative and State Senator! Please note HB159/Senate Bill 136 are direct attempts at union busting.

We need them to vote NO on these bills! The following is an excerpt from a letter from a Williamson County teacher to members of the General Assembly. The parts emboldened are further explanations on how the bills would impact teachers:

The teachers in Tennessee need your help. We need your support. We need your NO vote. Allow me to preface this letter by saying that we are not doctors, attorneys, or any other professionals who are self-employed. To compare us to those who do not need to negotiate a salary, benefits, or even worry if they are assigned to a building where they are just not liked by a building principal, is comparing apples to oranges. Our positions require a minimum four to five year degree from there we cannot and should not be compared to any of those professionals. We are professionals whose career could depend on all of what the following bills would take away.

House Bill 130/Senate Bill 113 becoming law would remove our right to negotiate a contract. Repealing the education Professional Negotiations Act would affect virtually every aspect of our jobs. We would lose our rights to bargain for a salary increase, for many across the state it would mean the probable loss of our current insurance benefit, it would remove our rights to have any input as to our working conditions, etc. Much of our contract directly affects students and and provisions within it are important to the quality of their learning environment. The State mandate such as planning time, duty free lunch, class size, etc are guaranteed but not enforced by the state. How is repealing this law educational reform?

*How it hurts teachers – Our salaries, health insurance, working conditions, etc are all negotiated. To lose the right to negotiate a contract COULD mean no more step raises, no more local raises, no help with health insurance, no end to EXTRA duties that could be assigned by building principals, no grievance procedure, and the list goes on. Without a contract we have no way to see that state mandated laws are followed (planning times, duty free lunch, etc.) Having the right to negotiate a contract was a hard fought battle. In many counties, even though locals have a contract, negotiations are extremely difficult. To lose this now will cause many to have to retire in order to keep their health coverage. It is purely punitive and has nothing to do with educational reform!

House Bill (unknown)/Senate Bill 102 becoming law would remove the right from TEA to choose teacher representation for the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System (TCRS) Board of Trustees. The teacher members of the TCRS Board are elected in a completely by-partisan election. Ever Tennessee teacher is required to put 5% of their income in TCRS. Teachers comprise the largest number of employees represented by TCRS. If we lose these three Positions from the Board of Trustees, we will have no input in to the decisions that concern the money we put into TCRS. This would dilute education employee impact on retirement issues. How is this tied to educational reform?

*How it hurts teachers – Teachers are the largest group represented by the TCRS. We choose three members for the Board of Trustees in a completely non-partisan election at the TEA State Representatives Assembly. These are educators helping make decisions about (largely) educator retirement issues. To turn these decisions over to a board appointed by the (currently Republican) legislature is unnecessary and unfair to the educators in this state. It is purely punitive and has nothing to do with educational reform!

House Bill 159/Senate Bill 136 becoming law would stop payroll dues deduction. If this is not a direct attack on teachers, then why are not all deductions being outlawed such as – those for private supplemental insurance? How is this tied to educational reform?

*How it hurts teachers – By not allowing payroll dues deduction, it would become more likely that current and future members would neglect to mail in dues and thus be dropped as members of TEA, NEA and their local association. This is pure and simply an attempt at union busting. It is purely punitive and has nothing to do with educational reform!

Thanks to the efforts of our association and caring elected Senators and House members we have eliminated many of the disadvantages of the 1970s and before. Therefore, I am respectfully asking that you vote no to all of the above mentioned bills. I do not know the number for the House Bill that corresponds to Senate Bill 102. I am asking that you say no to all of the above proposals that ARE NOT education reform and place your attention instead on the same thing we do – finding ways to make the educational experience more meaningful for all the students in Tennessee.

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