published Friday, March 18th, 2011

Gov. Haslam not troubled by Ramsey’s letter on teachers’ union

NASHVILLE — Gov. Bill Haslam today said he is not troubled that Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey has written an “open letter” that seeks to draw conservatives into the growing dispute among Republicans over collective bargaining for teachers.

Ramsey wants to abolish teacher unions’ ability to negotiate contracts. On Thursday, he posted a letter on Facebook, asking conservatives to weigh in, a day after Haslam announced that he was backing a compromise from House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville.

The compromise would restrict collective bargaining in areas such as merit pay and layoffs but not eliminate negotiations entirely.

All three officials are Republicans and Haslam and Ramsey squared off last summer in the three-man GOP gubernatorial primary.

“If we have the ability to have merit pay, if we have the ability to have superintendents decide what happens in hiring and laying off decisions, that kind of flexibility is what’s really, really important to me,” Haslam told Capitol Hill reporters today.

Haslam said with teachers the only public-sector union having collective bargaining rights under state law, “I just don’t think it’s that big of a factor to us in Tennessee. And so that’s why I haven’t spent that much time on it. You know, the situation here is not the same as it is in Wisconsin.”

For complete details, see tomorrow’s Times Free Press.

about Andy Sher...

Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...

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Facts said...

Mr. Governor, If these unions simply extend the current contracts, you won't see merit pay implemented. Smell that? It's the coffee.

March 18, 2011 at 5:08 p.m.
AlmostAmanda said...

You won't see merit pay implemented anyway. It's a hollow promise designed to get the good teachers who would qualify for it to support a policy that will neither get rid of most bad teachers (they've been hanging around because of their friends and family giving helpful evaluations and stacked classes anyway) nor do anything meaningful to help student achievement. If the unions are forced out, you will see a contracts written in a way that allows school boards to opt out of merit pay when there is a budget shortfall. And when is there not a budget shortfall? If school boards can't pay teachers the already low salaries we have now, how on earth are they planning on funding additional pay for exceptional teachers? Teachers will find themselves with no voice, no representation, and all of the magical benefits that destroying the union that the vast majority of Tennessee teachers have chosen to join will amount to a big ball of nothing. But hey, Republican leaders will have successfully busted a union - which is the true point of this garbage anyway.

March 18, 2011 at 7:36 p.m.
teach_them_all said...

Check the current Memorandum of Agreement for teachers in Hamilton County at You will see that even under the 2010-2011 contract, merit pay or "differentiated pay" is only allowed if money is available - "Continuation of all differentiated pay plans is subject to funding." (page 67) And of course, there never is any extra money, so don't be fooled by what looks good on paper, but does not happen in the real world.

March 18, 2011 at 11:50 p.m.
ceeweed said...

Teaching is a calling. Teachers did not sign up to get rich. Teachers did not sign on to be social workers, police officers, nurses, or financial assistants but they are all these things.

It is totally inane to think a school district is going to be able to attract and retain the best and the brightest if republicans get their way. So go ahead, continue to demonized teachers, strip collective bargaining, bust their unions then reap all your benefits.

There will be a lot less of the best and the brightest willing to go into teaching...This is not about balancing a budget! We all can tell and smell what this really is. This is not a bed of roses, it is more like the stuff that is worked into the rose beds to get them to grow. It might work well with roses but it will not bode well for the children seeking a public education.

March 19, 2011 at 9:38 a.m.
EaTn said...

Haslam needs to flip Ramsey a quarter and tell him to go call someone who cares about his opinion.

March 19, 2011 at 11:02 a.m.
BOOBOO99 said...

Haslem is the Hitler of Tennessee, he wants to take the peoples rights away. This guy is an idiot like Mayor Ramsey that works for the County Government not for the County residents....The resident has no say so in the matter..They can Pickett, voice their opinion..But the Ramsey and Haslam will dictate the final ruling against the teachers..Next they will arrest the people who oppose the their ideas same as Hitler did to the jews.

March 19, 2011 at 12:25 p.m.
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