The dues-paying membership of the Tennessee Education Association has dropped more than 10 percent since the state legislature limited the union’s power last year. TEA’s rolls have declined from 52,000 to 46,000.
After losing collective bargaining power, TEA president Gera Summerford says she’s not surprised to see fluctuation in membership levels.
“Whenever there are changes and teachers aren’t sure what the future holds we’re going to see some of that. But we are not uncertain at all of our ability to continue representing teachers across the state.”
Previously, TEA negotiated contracts for nearly 100 school districts across the state. The union’s role will be diminished in the new, non-binding negotiations called “collaborative conferencing.”
But an evolving function isn’t TEA’s only immediate concern. It’s trying to move members to paying their roughly $250 annual dues by bank draft because soon, a new state law will prevent having dues deducted from a paycheck.
While the TEA is losing members, another teacher group reports an uptick. The Professional Educators of Tennessee advertises itself as a “non-union,” rather an association with more affordable dues.