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TNDP Calls House GOP Collective Bargaining Bill ‘Blatant Power Play’

Statement from Tennessee Democratic Party, March 24, 2011:

Bill strips Tennessee teachers’ ability to negotiate contracts

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Democratic Party chair denounced Thursday the anti-teacher bill approved by House Republicans on the Education Committee this week.

The “so-called compromise” bill continues a misguided effort to strip teachers of their current right to negotiate classroom improvements for students, better working conditions and fair wages.

“To call this a compromise is nothing short of ridiculous,” said Chip Forrester, chair of the Tennessee Democratic Party. “You don’t make compromises with yourself. This was a back room deal cut in secret between Republicans, Republicans and presumably their public relations people.”

The anti-teacher bill makes it illegal for teachers to effectively negotiate a contract covering their salary, benefits, working conditions, school safety, class size, planning time, time to teach, length of the school day, scheduling and other priorities. The measure passed the House Education Committee Tuesday on a 12-6 party-line vote.

“This is nothing more than a Republican PR stunt,” Forrester said. “It is not a compromise — it is a blatant power play to strip teachers of their right to effectively negotiate with their employer.”

“With state unemployment rising and Tennesseans clamoring for work, the majority party and the administration should be pursuing an aggressive jobs package, but once again, all we are seeing is a concerted effort to shred the rights of working people,” Forrester said. “Meanwhile Democrats are standing by their pledge to get people working again and will introduce proposals in the coming weeks that would bring more jobs to Tennessee and preserve quality jobs and rights for our teachers and all working families across the state.”

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Turner Wants Temporary Halt to State ‘Earmarks’

Rep. Mike Turner, the state House Democratic Caucus chairman who won a slim victory in his District 51 re-election bid last month, says he received one message voters were sending, loud and clear: Wasteful government spending must stop.

The firefighter from Old Hickory has a plan designed to make Republicans put legislative walk to their campaign talk, and place a statutory lid on district-level pork-barrel spending.

Turner told reporters Monday he’ll file a bill in the 2011 session that would institute a two-year halt on legislative earmarks, the projects carved out by lawmakers for their home districts and sometimes added to unrelated bills.

“Their people said no mandates, so we’re going to probably put legislation forward that says you can’t have a budget amendment, you’re not going to be able to amend your fish hatchery in,” said Turner, referring to a controversial trout-rearing facility in Independent House Speaker Kent Williams’ district that was included in Democratic budget proposals, but was eventually removed.

While hashing out the state budget back in June, lawmakers haggled into the wee hours of the last legislative day over special projects, community improvements, property-upgrades and other tax-financed goodies and giveaways that incumbents could later take credit for hand-delivering to the folks back home.

Turner has yet to introduce the bill. He made the his comments Monday after leaving a Democratic caucus meeting on Capitol Hill. The Legislature will convene after lawmakers are sworn in Jan. 11, 2011.

(CORRECTION: The video caption to the clip originally posted misidentified Turner’s caucus membership; He is the Democratic Caucus chairman. TNReport apologizes for the error.)