Press Release from Tennessee Speaker of the Senate, Ron Ramsey, May 19, 2011:
Conference committee report fully repeals 1978 law
(Nashville) – Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey (R-Blountville) today 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.