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Tennessee Law Bans Mandatory Union Dues For Teachers

Chris Agee
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Although teachers unions nationwide have advocated for educational standards and curricula that many individuals find objectionable, the powerful organizations are often able to coerce or even mandate that teachers pay dues and maintain an active affiliation.

Republican lawmakers in Tennessee sought to address this issue head-on with the Teacher Paycheck Protection Act, which advanced through the legislature and landed on the desk of GOP Gov. Bill Lee, who signed it into law on Thursday.

In addition to barring unions from forcing teachers to pay membership dues, the new law also guarantees that educators across the state will earn at least $50,000 per year by 2026.


Lee celebrated the move as a step in the right direction as the state’s largest teachers union — the Tennessee Education Association — remains mired in controversy. In addition to siding with leftist views on hot-button issues like charter schools and critical race theory, the organization reportedly spent more than $500,000 to support political candidates in 2018 alone.

“We’re also making sure that teachers actually receive their well-deserved raises and that union membership dues are never automatically deducted from teacher paychecks,” the governor said. “Teachers should have control over their hard-earned paycheck and taxpayer dollars should be used to educate students and not fund politics.”

He is not the only one who reacted to the law’s enactment with an optimistic statement.

Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson, one of the bill’s two Republican sponsors, said that the law “recognizes the importance of teachers’ work by raising their pay and protecting their paychecks,” noting that it “will also enhance the quality of our education system by helping attract and retain talented teachers.”


Other efforts by state GOP lawmakers have been designed to protect Tennessee schools from the influences of leftist policies.

Earlier this year, House Speaker Cameron Sexton introduced a bill that would eliminate “federal government interference” in the educational system by rejecting nearly $2 billion in federal funding for public schools.

“Basically, we’ll be able to educate the kids how Tennessee sees fit,” he said.

Asserting that state money could provide sufficient funding, Sexton added: “We as a state can lead the nation once again in telling the federal government that they can keep their money and we’ll just do things the Tennessee way. And that should start, first and foremost, with the Department of Education.”

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