AEA will stand ground in legislative issues

By Alan Collins

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - The 2011 legislative session starts Tuesday. State employees and teachers believe they will be under fire over their benefits by the Republican-controlled legislature.

Some of the legislative issues expected to be addressed include making public employees pay more for benefits and their pension, increasing class sizes and cutting the number of school days.

Some also believe there will be a push to restrict tenure for educators. Lance Hyche with the Birmingham chapter of the Alabama Education Association says the teacher's union will fight over certain  issues.

"If legislators think they are going to put the full burden of the budget crisis on the back of public employees, we are not going to let that happen. We are willing to talk to them about common sense approaches to right size the budget. We will not let them run over us. We will not let them take any of our rights and benefits," Hyche said.

Hyche says AEA is worried the Republican-controlled legislature is still trying to punish the teacher union for backing Robert Bentley in the GOP runoff against Bradley Bryne who constantly attacked AEA.

"Our biggest fear is the Republican leadership in Montgomery will continue to attack our public employees and try to fight back at us for our activities in the Republican gubernatorial runoff," Hyche said.

He added that the teacher union in Alabama is larger and better organized than the union in Wisconsin which is staging protests over their benefit cuts.

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