By JC Bowman, Tennessee Director of PET
|Professional Educators of Tennessee has consistently worked to support teacher salary increases along with fair and equitable payroll legislation for many years. Today’s passage of SB281/HB329 marks a substantial improvement in these issues as a major investment for educators in our state. The legislation passed 90-8. Educators deserve to be well-compensated for their dedication to one of the most important and fundamental professions in educating our children. We will continue to champion salary increases, especially for our veteran educators.
Regarding the payroll deduction portion of the bill, it is important to remember that this legislation does not in any way impede an educator’s ability to join or maintain their membership with any organization. It also increases transparency around the collection of dues by associations. When everyone received a paper check with a readily visible paystub delineating the various line items, deductions were clear and transparent.Related: Professional Educators of TN Focusing on Teacher Salaries, School Safety and a Lack of Federal Dollars
Current technology has led to most payroll occurring completely electronically, and many people never even look at the details. Educators’ pay often changes each year due to a variety of factors and they are less likely to notice steadily increasing dues deductions that do not require prior notice. Our dues remain under $200 a year, with liability insurance, professional development, and valuable member benefits for educators across the state. Most educators choose monthly payments.
For many years, non-union associations like ours struggled to attain fair access to payroll deduction of dues for our members. As a result, we developed a robust alternative system for dues payments. As it has become increasingly common to use automatic payments for a host of services in recent years, most organizations have implemented similar capabilities. Rapid improvements to these services as they have become more widely available make direct payments simpler and manageable, and we have heard from many members that they find online payment systems far more convenient than payroll deduction.
While there will be some initial additional administrative work involved to transition all of our members currently using payroll deduction for dues payments to another method, we feel that it will ultimately be a positive move for our members as association processes are streamlined and more efficient. We will continue to champion and prioritize salary increases for our hard-working educators and school employees across the state.