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Showing posts with label unions. Show all posts
Showing posts with label unions. Show all posts

Friday, March 11, 2011

Dumb and Dumber

As I heard the latest bill to rise from a Tennessee congressman, I didn't know if I was listening to a soundtrack from Dumb and Dumber or Scary Movie. It certainly has nothing to do with Aretha Franklin's Respect. The latest: HB 1375 sponsored by Niceley is aimed at removing license requirements for teachers. And this is supposed to improve education how?

Once again the Republican congress has swooped to a new low in the name of political payback. I figure this is their insurance against the projected teacher shortage after they pass all of their punitive bills. They could go ahead and hire all the people who have lost their jobs or can't find ones due to the poor economy. It won't matter that these folks know nothing about educational methodology. After all, isn't teaching so easy that anyone could do it? Talk about another slap in the face!

You don't need a license to be a state legislator. We need a bill that specifies who can and cannot be a politician so we can get rid of dumb and dumber at the state capitol.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Teachers Rally in Nashville

Yesterday I drove to Nashville to experience democracy in the works. Thousands of teachers ascended on the rainy Tennessee state capitol to protest six bills all aimed to punish teachers for voting against the Republican Legislators. These bills have nothing to do with helping kids and everything to do with harming those who are responsible for making sure students get the best education possible. It's like fixing crime by harassing police officers.

These toxic bills are aimed at destroying our teacher union through forbidding payroll deductions, removing collective bargaining, not allowing association literature to be distributed in teacher mailboxes or email accounts, making it against the law for us to contribute to a political candidate's campaign, removing a teacher from the retirement board, and ending tenure. These six bills are just the beginning. Fourteen more are in the works.

In other words, teachers would have no say in their working conditions, salary, or benefits. These bills and the obvious disrespect for teachers will no doubt discourage young people from entering the teaching profession where they work ten hours or more each day for less pay than what they could receive in the private sector and now decreased benefits.

In terms of the political donations, TEA donates to the candidates who support education no matter the political party; however, most of our strong education supporters have been Democrats and the offended politicians are Republicans. We'd donate to their campaigns too if they'd only support us.

I have questions on the legality of this proposed bill. If businesses are allowed to make donations, how can one outlaw professional organizations from doing the same. Maybe it should be against the law for everyone organizations and businesses included to make donations. That would hit these legislators in the pocket book!

I believe there is a strong misconception of what tenure means. It does not mean that a bad teacher cannot be fired. It means that one cannot be fired without due process or telling the teacher why they are being fired. Is this such a bad thing? Governor Haslam wants to increase tenure from three years to five, and some have suggested a period of ten years. How long does it take a young person in the business world to be considered competent in their job? Six months?

The biggest sock in the jaw is the rudeness of the bills. Last year, TEA worked tirelessly to help Tennessee gain funds through Obama's Race to the Top. Without teachers working with legislators, we never would have gotten this huge sum of money to help education. Furthermore, this money means that all teachers will receive four evaluations a year and have to work harder to meet new standards yet none of the money will be used for teacher salaries or benefits. So, we will be working solely for the children. Look at the thanks we are getting.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Teacher's Unions

When I was a little girl, a teamster broke my uncle's leg and caused him to carry a cane for the rest of his life. Note I said, "Carry a cane," since he rarely leaned on it as he'd race through the family furniture store. See Uncle Melvin was in business with my father, and he made the mistake of crossing a picket line. As a result, I grew up surrounded with tales about how horrible unions were and how much trouble they caused.

As a child hearing about the cursed unions, it never dawned on me to ask, "Why were they picketing?" or "What did they want?" These were adult type issues that weren't discussed with kids. Of course I have no doubt that these men were not "nice" people. After all, the picketer attacked a business owner, but I'd like to hear his side of the story. Today all the players are gone, and I'm suddenly left to wonder what exactly happened. Especially when I find myself in a union that is being unfairly targeted by politicians out for pay back.

Tennessee Education Association (TEA) has consistently funded those who support our concerns, mostly Democrats but not all. Now that Tennessee has been taken over by the Republican party, congressmen are out to destroy teachers with highly punitive measures.

For example:

House Bill 130/Senate Bill 113 would repeal the Education Professional Negotiations Act and make any bargaining by teachers in the state illegal.

House Bill 159/Senate Bill 136
would prohibit payroll dues deduction for public employees thereby making it more difficult for teachers to maintain membership in their chosen professional organization.

Senate Bill 102
would prevent the election of the teacher representatives on the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System Board of Trustees and instead make them political appointments by the Speakers of the House and Senate. I think this bill has already passed. :(

House Bill 160/Senate Bill 139 would make it illegal for the Association's political action committee to make contributions to any candidate, thus prohibiting teachers from helping to elect/re-elect legislators who have worked to improve and protect public education.

This is just a sampling of the bills floating through Nashville; there are more. As someone with an anti-union upbringing, I'm finally seeing the other side of the coin and wondering what caused the Teamsters to picket. I plan to march too.

I promise I'm not going to break a congressman's leg, but I will wear red and head to Nashville come March 5th to rally the capital. We'll be meeting at the Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park and marching at noon. If you are able, please join us. We will be less violent than the Teamsters of the 1960s, but we will not stand quietly.