12:11pm

Mon December 5, 2011
Loss of Collective Bargaining Rights Seen as Key

Tenn. Teachers Union Membership Way Down

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Hundreds of Middle Tennessee educators have dropped union memberships since state lawmakers stripped the organizations of collective bargaining rights earlier this year.

The Tennessean reports that membership in the Metro Nashville Education Association is down by about 500. Sumner County reports roughly the same number of educators there have also dropped union memberships.

Rutherford County seems to be an exception with only about 100 teachers dropping their union.

Gera Summerford, President of Tennessee's largest teacher's union - the Tennessee Education Association - says that her organization is still representing teachers in Memphis and in Knox County as well as Rutherford County. She says the organization isn't ready to throw in the towel just yet.

"The TEA has been around for just over 140 years advocating for teachers. We were doing that before there was a bargaining law and we'll continue to do that regardless what the law says. We'll continue to represent our members in getting laws rewritten in a way that best represents teachers and best provides for good schools."

The State legislature passed the Professional Educators Collaborative Conferencing Act in May, which effectively wiped out the right union collective bargaining in Tennessee. Unions, are now barred from weighing in on several issues, including incentive pay and implementation of teacher evaluations.

TEA Executive Director Al Mance says teachers in fewer than 25 of the state's 136 school districts have asked unions to continue negotiating for them in the next school year.