Sunday, February 15, 2015

How I fell in love with my trade association and dumped my union

        I have been a member of a teacher union for 20 years.  This year I had a friend who needed the assistance of the union.  I told her they would advocate for her and stand in the gap.  That did not happen.  I watched as our union representatives failed my friend after I had told her in good faith our union would back her.
       Being a member of the union has been part of the normal cost of teaching as long as I can remember.  My aunt, mother and cousins were all members. Union membership is traditional and expected.  In return, we expect our leaders to represent us as a group and personally if we run into difficulty.
      This fall I ran into a little trouble and I needed help.  When I contacted my union I was told the people managing the union were too busy to help me.  Fortunately, through attending the  un-conference on tech in our district this summer, I had the chance to have lunch with Samantha Bates and others from Professional Educators of Tennessee. I had a great time discussing educational tech with them.  I remembered them when my union failed me.  They stood in the gap and helped with a very difficult time.
      In honor of Valentine's Day I want to talk about why I love being a member of my trade association. With the trade association in Tennessee our dues are state only.  We do not have to pay extra to support a national organization.  This lack of overhead keeps our costs low.  The dues are only $16 per month.  Before my experience I might have said something like,"You get what you pay for"  but I would have been wrong.  Professional Educators of Tennessee provides exceptional value and service.  They are rapidly becoming a favorite among Tennessee Educators.
      I love being a member of my trade association because they are non-partisan.  The funds I pay into Profession Educators of TN do not go into political campaign coffers or to support social causes that are not related to education.  The focus of this group is all education all of the time which to me allows them to work smarter. The funds to support this trade association come from members and not from political action committees or slush funds.  This funding model helps the organization stay grounded and focused on their soul purpose.
      I love working with the people in my association.  I have found them to be responsive, open, and compassionate.  They operate similar to a grass roots organization.  The members of the organization own the organization and govern it.  The Board of Directors is made up of members of the organization. We have input through our board, our annual convention, and by contacting the organization.
        If you complete any research on the history of unions they sometimes fail because they forget their purpose.  Sometimes they last longer than they should because they silence dissent.  You may have noticed that although I named my trade association multiple times in this article I did not mention any union by name.  There are two reasons for this.  First I do not want to give them any press or ad copy. The second reason I cannot mention in this blog but if you would like further reading on that topic I recommend Blackboard Blackmail  by Suzanne Clark.  This teacher bravely told her story to the world.  Please put it on your summer reading list. I am including a link for your convenience.
     If you would like to have more direction and responsiveness from your professional organization I recommend you join Professional Educators of Tennessee. Membership is also open to support personnel, former teachers, parents, and anyone who wants to support great education in our state.  If you would like to contact them their phone number is 615-778-0803  and the website is  Or you could just send an email to

*I want you to know: I do not work for my association nor am I being paid to say any of this.  I am sharing this information because they have been great to work with. I wanted you to know about them. I love Professional Educators of Tennessee. They have a great model, great people, great mission and laser focus on completing that mission.

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