Non-Union Teacher Contract Bargaining Requires Flexibility

Finding, retaining and empowering great teachers must be a top priority for Indiana schools. However, the state’s teacher bargaining law ties the hands of administrators and forces the union-bargained contract and all its controls on every teacher in a district, whether or not they choose to even join the union.

Senate Bill 302, authored by Sen. Pete Miller (R-Avon), would allow school districts to negotiate employment contracts directly with individual teachers or groups of teachers that choose not to join their union, instead of being forced to negotiate exclusively within the bargaining agreement and impose those same contract provisions on all teachers.

Today, schools and districts cannot recruit superb educators and those with specific skills needed (e.g. STEM, foreign languages, etc.) and cannot be offered higher pay or other incentives. And in districts with teacher shortages, there is no room to negotiate a contract to hire a teacher that might be needed to fill an important gap. There is no flexibility – it’s the union’s contract or nothing, even in a right-to-work state like Indiana.

Teachers are professionals and should be treated like it. They have the right to be a union member and bargain collectively should they so choose, but they also should have the right to negotiate their own contracts. If we want better teachers in this state, we need to encourage and support excellence.

The bill would free teachers from a longstanding stranglehold on contracts, allow for excellence to be rewarded and recruited, and stop treating all teachers like interchangeable parts under the same contract terms regardless of skills, performance or a school’s needs.

Please take a moment to send a message to your state senator and the Senate Pensions and Labor Committee to ask for support of Senate Bill 302 to provide for more flexibility for school districts and teachers.

People are Still Reading Magazines

10915174_884707758241099_6207917221940347920_nWhile the magazine world has been a volatile one in recent years, we’re proud to celebrate the current 100th issue of BizVoice. It’s focused on the simple question: What will it take for all of Indiana to achieve economically at the highest levels?

Check out BizVoice online. Let us know if you want a print version. And stay tuned for future issues as we continue to report on Indiana Vision 2025 (Outstanding Talent is the focus in March-April) as well as telling business stories from throughout the state.

As far as that volatility, check out these numbers compiled by USA Today:

  • 2014 :99 closures; 190 launches
  • 2013: 56 and 185
  • 2012: 81 and 226
  • 2011: 239 and 152
  • 2010: 176 and 214
  • Five-year totals:  564 closures and 1,054 launches

Why so many launches? Maybe because magazines remain a prime source for business advertising.

To determine the value of various forms of business-to-business advertising, the Association of Business Information and Media Companies conducted a recent survey. A key result: 69% prefer print magazines to learn about new products, equipment, services and suppliers.

Jim Wagner (jwagner@indianachamber.com) can help you grow your business through BizVoice. Contact Jim to learn more.

Chamber on Federal Approval of HIP 2.0 to Satisfy ACA Requirement

Indiana Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Kevin Brinegar comments on the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services giving the green light to the Healthy Indiana Plan expansion (HIP 2.0), which is in lieu of traditional Medicaid expansion required under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

“We are very pleased that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) appreciated Indiana’s unique brand of addressing the needs of our uninsured population and recognized HIP 2.0 as the best option for Indiana to expand health care coverage. The Indiana Chamber had reviewed HIP 2.0 and urged CMS to approve it.

“HIP provides reimbursement to health care providers at Medicare rates. Otherwise, health care providers recover such losses by increasing prices for private sector employers and their employees through cost shifting. Any attempt to lessen that cost shift is welcome.

“What’s more, the approval of HIP 2.0 will provide health care coverage for tens of thousands of additional Hoosiers and bring billions of dollars into Indiana’s economy.

“We applaud Gov. Pence and his administration for recognizing that HIP 2.0 was the best course for the state and for staying firm in that belief.”

Legislative Testimony: Annual Mega Department of Revenue Bill

The Indiana Chamber’s Bill Waltz testified today on Senate Bill 438 – State and Local Tax Issuesauthored by Sen. Brandt Hershman (R-Buck Creek). The Chamber supports various provisions and the general intent of this Department of Revenue bill, but also opposes other aspects at this time.

The Chamber generally supports the effort in this bill to clarify a number issues and ease administrative burdens for both the Department of Revenue and taxpayers. However, there are several new provisions that still need work in order to be confident that the language will fulfill the apparent intentions.

The Chamber has serious reservations regarding attorney-client and deliberative process privilege provisions as written. Additionally, the Chamber opposes changing the Tax Court’s standard of review of the state Department of Revenue decisions.

This is a very complicated bill and our position will be adjusted as amendments are made; our support and opposition will match the degree that our concerns are addressed.

Legislative Testimony: Tax Credit for Classroom Supplies

The Indiana Chamber’s Caryl Auslander testified today in support of House Bill 1005 Tax Credit for Teachers’ Classroom Supplies, authored by Rep. Ben Smaltz (R-Auburn).

This bill would allow teachers who often dip into their own pockets to provide classroom supplies for their students to receive a tax credit of up to $200 per year.

This is especially helpful for new, young educators that are just starting their careers and will assist all educators as they support Indiana students.

Grab Attention Quickly or Else

How much time do you have to get the attention of readers — particularly in today’s digital world? The simple answer: Not much.

Thanks to Wylie Communications (Ann Wylie is a top trainer in addition to running her own company) for the following:

In the mid-20th century, communication theorist Clay Schoenfeld suggested a 30-3-30 rule for reader attention. As in:

  • 30 minutes: These folks re readers, and don’t we wish there were more of them
  • 3 minutes: They’re not reading the text. Instead, they’re flipping, skimming and scanning for key ideas
  • 30 seconds: These folks are lookers. They’ll learn whatever they can through an image and a bold headline

Today’s reality, according to Microsoft Research, is that web visitors:

  • Decide whether to stay on a page within 10 seconds
  • Are likely to stay longer if they make it over the 30-second hump
  • At that point, may stay as long as two minutes or more

Ann’s advice: The good news is you may be able to move these folks up the ladder of attention. If the 10-second view is interesting enough, you might turn a looker into a skimmer. if the display copy reveals real value, you might turn a skimmer into a reader.

But event if you don’t move visitors up the attention ladder, you need to reach each group where they are. You need to write for all your readers.

Energy Projects Could Earn State Funding

Creative and unique energy conservation programs could earn some funding support from the state. Applications are now open for the 2015 Community Conservation Challenge (CCC) grant program.

Below are a few of the particulars with full details online from the Indiana Office of Energy Development.

  • Available funding: $700,000
  • Application deadline: February 20

CCC projects must be located in Indiana and must use commercially-available technologies. The project must be visible to the public and have at least one community partner, demonstrate measurable improvements in energy efficiency or the use of renewable energy, result in a reduction in energy demand or fuel consumption, or involve the implementation of an energy recycling process.

Eligible Indiana applicants include local units of government, school corporations, businesses, universities, and nonprofits. Applicants may apply for either an Energy Efficiency/Renewable Energy grant or an Alternative Fuel Vehicles grant.

Winners from the 2012 CCC Program included Ozinga Indiana, RMC, which converted six diesel ready-mix trucks to compressed natural gas (CNG); Hoosier Interfaith Power and Light for a solar energy project; the Linton-Stockton School Corporation for a new HVAC system, new roof and boilers; and CNG truck conversions for Bestway.

Legislative Testimony: Supporting Energy Efficiency

The Indiana Chamber’s Vince Griffin testified today in support of Senate Bill 412 – Demand Side Management, authored by Sen. Jim Merritt (R-Indianapolis).

The Indiana Chamber supports a diverse energy supply. Energy efficiency is an essential element in that diverse portfolio. It is in the best interest of both the industry and utility to promote energy efficiency.

The industry benefits by lowering its utility bill and the power provider benefits by not building additional and very expensive generating facilities.

Promise Initiative is Indeed Promising

I went to Wabash (the city, not the college) recently. At one point (1985-88), I was in Wabash full time as sports editor of the local newspaper. Among the highlights during that time: a still celebrated 1986 state baseball championship.

But I digress. The reason for this visit to Wabash was for an upcoming BizVoice magazine story on the Wabash County Promise. And if young, energetic leaders have their way — and there is no reason to doubt them — the program to drive postsecondary educational attainment will one day be the Indiana Promise.

The Promise begins with opening 529 college savings accounts for young students (kindergarten through third grade). It continues with touch points that engage students and parents. It includes a Walk Into My Future day that brings thousands of young people to a college campus.

The initial success is laudable. The local leaders I spoke with know they must continue the work.  One, Parker Beauchamp, told me about speaking on campus (with the words really applying to the entire program): “It was about pumping those kids up, having them be part of something positive and letting them have a say in their future.”

The full story will be the in March-April BizVoice, which will include more articles on business-education connections and the possibilities that emerge through strong partnerships.

 

Legislative Testimony: Expanding Broadband Capabilities

The Indiana Chamber’s Cam Carter testified today in support of House Bill 1101 – Broadband Ready Communities, authored by Rep. Eric Koch (R-Bedford).

This legislation seeks to coordinate and streamline administrative procedures for the deployment of next generation broadband technologies.

The Indiana Chamber supports this effort. It should result in more competition and vital, more robust telecommunications services for Hoosier businesses and consumers.