House defeats proposal to ban teacher strikes – VTDigger

House defeats proposal to ban teacher strikes – VTDigger.

Acontroversial bill that would have banned teacher strikes and the ability of school boards to impose labor contracts was slashed down to a task force. The study committee will report findings and recommendations to the Vermont Legislature in the fall.

The House of Representatives debated the bill, H.76, and a series of amendments that whittled away at the bill’s original purpose, for nearly five hours Wednesday.

Tensions ran high. Proponents of the ban passionately argued that teacher strikes are harmful to students and communities, while opponents defended the importance of labor unions and teachers.

In the end, the House replaced the meat of H.76 with a seven-member task force to study labor issues, in a roll call vote of 75 to 61. A final vote is expected Thursday.

Rep. Willem Jewett, D-Ripton, said the House should study the issue before taking action to ban strikes or impositions.

“I’m proposing an alternate approach here,” Jewett said as he addressed the Democratic caucus earlier in the day. Less than 1 percent of impasses result in strikes or contract impositions in Vermont.

Jewett said reconciling staff and infrastructure at a time when the state is faced with declining enrollments is the most critical educational issue now facing the Legislature.

The vote followed a day of debate and behind-the-scenes gatherings on details of the original legislation.

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