Thursday, January 27, 2011

Tennessee GOPsters Declare War on Workers & Teachers

Several Tennessee GOPsters have declared war on
teachers and workers. Shocking, I know.
Not even 30 days into the new year and several Tennessee GOPsters have laid out their plans for invigorating the state economy (wink, wink) by declaring war on the extravagant* rights of teachers and workers.

So much for freedom of speech and the free market.

First up: State Rep. Debra Maggart (R-Hendersonville) filed a bill — written by lobbyists — that would end the collective bargaining rights of teachers. Teachers often use their collective clout to fight for curriculum improvements, academic freedom and to fight for fair salaries.

If collective bargaining is taken from teachers, no one stands more to lose than the citizens of rural counties in Tennessee. These places already struggle to find quality educators. The number one reason is educator pay. Ending collective bargaining would further complicate the problem by driving down starting salaries and doing nothing to improve rural working conditions.

Here's what the state teacher's organization had to say about the proposed legislation (from the AP):
Tennessee Education Association lobbyist Jerry Winters on Monday called the proposal to do away with collective bargaining "an insult to every teacher in the state." ... "It's not a good way to get this new Legislature to begin its relationship with the teachers of this state," he said. "I think there are few people up there who are really almost intent on declaring war with the TEA."
And that's not all! Elsewhere GOPsters are on the hunt for workers' freedom of speech. 

Rep. Glen Casada (R-63) and Sen. Bill Ketron (R-13) filed HB0160/SB0139 which would make it a Class C misdemeanor for labor organizations to contribute to candidates.

In a more blatant attack on the rights of everyday Tennesseans, Casada and Ketron are trying to criminalize the freedom of speech enjoyed by worker labor unions. They want to use big government to enforce overreaching regulation that limits the free speech of average workers.

It's so ridiculous, I barely have words to complain about it.

Let me just ask this question: If you're criminalizing the political contributions of worker groups, which is just an organization of people, should you not criminalize the political contributions of every politically active organization that could be considered a group of people.

How about the contributions of businesses and corporations that don't have our best interests in mind -- only their profit margins? Should we criminalize their campaign contributions? How about Tennessee Right to Life? How about Club for Growth? American Crossroads? The Tea Party Express?

The bottom line is: Unions are the only free-market solution for workers to collectively address grievances with public and private sector management.

For Republicans, who routinely espouse their faith in the "free markets" and "limited government," this legislation should be considered an affront on both issues.

But true colors are shining through, and between the lines it's easy to read what they're saying: "We don't care if our actions contradict their very principles we claim to stand for — we're hypocrites. We're Republican."


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