Collective Bargaining Rally Attracts Non Union Teachers

Teachers gather at Bicentennial Mall Saturday before marching to the state capitol.

Teachers gather at Bicentennial Mall Saturday before marching to the state capitol.

Thousands rallied in the rain Saturday to protest a bill that strips collective bargaining rights from teachers. The Tennessee Education Association bussed members to the capitol from around the state.

A long line of ponchos and umbrellas covered Steelworkers and UAW members, even a few teachers who don’t belong to the union.

Jennifer Casiello of Nashville’s Granberry Elementary isn’t a member, or even a big fan of TEA.


“I think for the most part, unfortunately, things that I’ve seen, they’re most active when they’re protecting teachers that might not need protecting.”

But the union also negotiates Casiello’s contract, along with 52,000 other teachers in Tennessee. Membership isn’t mandatory, and Casiello says she’s probably taken collective bargaining for granted.

“Now if we lose that that contract, what does that mean? What will get cut? Because anything can be on the table now.”

One TEA board member says the threat to collective bargaining has been one of the “greatest recruitment tools” she’s ever seen.

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