INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indiana House on Friday approved a bill prohibiting
contracts between school districts and teachers unions from including
anything other than wages and wage-related benefits.
The Republican-controlled House voted 52-40 largely along party lines in
favor of the bill, which is part of GOP Gov. Mitch Daniels’ aggressive
The proposal would put the limits on contract agreements between local
districts and unions representing teachers and any other school employees,
such as bus drivers, custodians and nurses, starting in July.
Rep. Robert Behning, R-Indianapolis, said the collective bargaining limits
were aimed at giving school administrators and school boards the flexibility
to make decisions on running the districts without being bound by contract
clauses that sometimes have been around for decades.
“We’re allowing a coach to come in and do what we want — take the team
across the finish line — without tying their arms around their back,” said
Behning, who is chairman of the House Education Committee. “What this bill
does is provide the opportunity for educational leaders to lead.”
Leaders of the Indiana State Teachers Association, the state’s largest
teachers union, have argued against the bargaining restrictions, saying that
the contracts are negotiated locally and that school district leaders must
agree to any provisions.
More than 1,000 teachers attended a Statehouse rally in February denouncing
the bargaining limits, along with Republican-backed proposals to tie teacher
salaries with student performance and create vouchers that would direct
taxpayer money to private schools.
Democrats argued during Friday’s debate that the bill would give too much
control to school administrators over issues such as the school calendar,
class sizes, hiring and evaluation procedures.
Rep. Greg Porter, D-Indianapolis, said he believed the bill was aimed at
limiting the influence of the teachers unions and showed a lack of respect
Six Republican House members joined all Democrats present in voting against
The Senate already has approved a similar version of the bill, but agreement
on a single version must still be reached before it goes to the governor.
The House-passed proposal would allow school districts to agree on new
teacher union contracts with provisions beyond wages and benefits until July
1. Those new contracts wouldn’t be allowed to extend beyond June 2013.