SOUTH BEND — Teachers were in the crowd of people protesting the “Right to Work” bill in Indianapolis. They are concerned about another bill in the legislature — Senate Bill 575. They believe it will make their bargaining unit virtually powerless. Supporters of the bill believe it will put the focus back on students.
Pick up your phone and call your legislator — That was the message from concerned teachers and union members inside a South Bend teamster’s hall.
"We're trying to get as many people as possible to go to their local lobbying events and talk to their community," said Heidi Miller, ISTA and UniServ director.
From South Bend to the Indiana capitol, there are growing crowds and growing concern over controversial legislation like Right to Work and Senate Bill 575.
Republican State Senator Joe Zakas of Granger said the third reading of the bill is scheduled to occur late Monday or early Tuesday. If it passes, the bill would go to the house for consideration.
Union reps say they are targets.
"To come out now in 2011 and decisively say be prohibited, I would say no one ran on that in 2010," said Tony Flora, VP of the Indiana AFL-CIO.
With a simple search for the "Teachers' Collective Bargaining" bill online, it's easy to see more than a dozen provisions in the bill.
Arbitration would be required if parties don't see eye-to-eye after a certain time period. The arbitrator will decide the fate of an agreement if parties don't agree during arbitration.
Certain topics during collective bargaining would be off-limits, like the school calendar and teacher evaluations. Teachers will be allowed to continue bargaining on curriculum, textbook selections, teaching methods and student discipline.
"Because we have so many things in our contract that our beneficial to students, we lose those," said Miller.
Without unions, these people say a community loses too.
"When you change something so fundamental as the education policies in the community in the state, you affect everyone," Flora said.
Zakas believes the bill "will put the focus back on students."
"It would give administrators more freedom and flexibility to make changes,” he said.