Gov. Bill Haslam says he is now leaning toward plans to eliminate collective bargaining for Tennessee teachers, although he still wants to consult members of the state House of Representatives before endorsing the plan.
“I’d say I’m comfortable with it pending some voice from the House,” Haslam told reporters Tuesday after attending the state’s annual Holocaust Commission Day of Remembrance in the Capitol Building. “We’re going to let everybody have a seat at the table. That was the direction I was comfortable going.”
Collective bargaining has been one of the most contentious issues in the Legislature as lawmakers have swayed between banning unions from negotiating teachers’ contracts and limiting the issues those unions can discuss at the negotiating table.
Early this year, Haslam supported the former. He, along with House Speaker Beth Harwell, helped develop that proposal, allowing unions to continue hammering out issues like salary, benefits and working conditions with school boards.
But Harwell has recently favored a version in the Senate that repeals collective bargaining as long as teachers and their union representatives can still debate labor issues with the school board.
The catch, according to that version of the bill, is that the school board members can still refuse teachers or unions’ requests.
The Senate OK’ed that version Monday, 18-14, largely on a party line vote. The House Finance Ways and Means committee expects to take up the measure Tuesday.