A bill advancing in the Tennessee state legislature would ensure that school districts that allow payroll deductions for union dues would also allow payroll deductions for membership in any professional employee organization.
The bill is backed by Professional Educators of Tennessee (ProEd), an association that is not a union and does not endorse political candidates.
The Tennessee Education Association (TEA), the dominate union in Tennessee that is an affiliate of the National Education Association (NEA), has had a “virtual monopoly” on payroll deductions for more than 30 years, according to ProEd.
Some districts do allow deductions for other organizations but overall policies are “inconsistent and arbitrary,” with other districts coming up with various reasons for why organizations other than TEA can’t be accommodated, said Audrey Shores, chief operating officer for ProEd.
The bill goes before the House Finance, Ways and Means Subcommittee on Wednesday.
Automatic payroll deduction is easy and convenient because it allows teachers to spread out payment for their dues over the entire year, according to ProEd.
Some districts don’t do payroll deductions for any group, Shores said. The proposed legislation leaves it up for districts to decide whether they want to do payroll deductions, but says that if they do offer it, they must make it available to any professional organization.
Besides TEA and ProEd, other unions and organizations in Tennessee include the American Federation of Teachers, Christian Educators Association International, American Association of Educators and in Memphis only, the Memphis-Shelby County Education Association.