Wednesday, May 4, 2011

State Legislative Update: Your Action Still Needed

     Here's your update on worker rights bills in the Tennessee Legislature. Workers still need you to sign a quick petition or make a short phone call on some of these bills.

     While this has been a very tough legislative session, you've shown that when Tennesseans act together, we can stall, and sometimes defeat, bad bills that attack workers' rights.

Taking away teachers' collective bargaining
     This bill takes away the right that Tennessee teachers have had for other 30 years to sit down with school boards to negotiate their wages and working conditions. Educational reform does not have to include taking away teachers' rights.     
Latest update: This bill has passed the Senate and was expected to pass the House yesterday. But a surprise amendment meant the bill has to go back to the Education committee again. This could mean that the votes are not present to pass the bill.                                                                                        
Action needed from you: Sign WIN's petition on which will go to all legislators urging them to oppose this bill.

On March 15th, more than 1,000 Tennesseans raised our voices for workers' rights at the capitol. Your voice is needed again!
Fair raises for state higher education workers
This bill proposes a $2,000 flat dollar pay increase for all state higher education workers, who haven't had a raise in four years.
Latest update: While this bill is unlikely to be acted on, Gov. Haslam has proposed a 1.6% pay increase for state workers. It's important that this cost of living increase be distributed in a fair manner that benefits low wage workers the most. We are urging University of Memphis President Shirley Raines to distribute the raise as an equal dollar amount because this will help low-wage workers' paychecks the most.
Action needed from you: Call President Raines' office at 901-678-2234. Tell her that you are a community member who wants to see all University of Memphis workers earn a living wage. Ask her to take the first step toward the living wage by implementing an equal dollar cost of living increase for all employees.

Repeal of Memphis and Shelby County living wage ordinances
Good news! This bill, which would have invalidated large parts of the living wage ordinances you worked so hard to get passed, has been sent to summer study committee.
Latest update: Bills are often sent to summer study when there is not enough support to pass them. WIN will be monitoring the study committee, but it may be that the bill is not even brought up for discussion over the summer.
Action needed from you: Give yourself a round of applause for stopping this misguided bill that would have lowered workers' wages!

Anti-immigrant Arizona copycat bill
This bill requires that when police have "reasonable suspicion" that a person does not have legal immigration status, that law enforcement verify the person's immigration status. It will undoubtedly lead to racial profiling, and the fiscal note on the bill estimates state and local governments will have to spent nearly $5 million the first year alone to implement the bill.
Latest update: In the House, the bill has been delayed a couple of times in the Finance subcommittee. In the Senate, the Judiciary committee will not consider the bill until their last meeting of the session (probably 2 - 3 weeks from now.) This could be a sign that support for the bill is weakening.
Action needed from you: Our friends at the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition have a petition you can sign in opposition to this bill and other anti-immigrant bills.

Special access to discriminate act
This bill prohibits local governments in Tennessee from telling their contractors not to discriminate against workers because of their sexual orientation. If passed, it will overturn an ordinance just passed a few weeks ago in Nashville which bars discrimination by contractors of Metro Government. All people have the right to work, regardless of their sexual orientation.
Latest update: This bill has passed the House. The Senate State and Local Government was supposed to hear the bill this week, but has delayed it one week.
Action needed from you: Call Sen. Mark Norris, who sits on the State and Local Government committee at (615) 741-1967. Urge him to vote no on SB 632 because it takes away control that local governments should have over their own contracting process.

Want to take action with workers seeking justice? Sign up for email action alerts from Workers Interfaith Network at

1 comment:

  1. Oil compnies need to tighten thair belts