On Thursday, Republican Governor Bill Lee of Tennessee reportedly signed a new measure into law that exempts teachers in the Volunteer State from having to pay union dues and improves teacher salaries.
The Teacher Paycheck Protection Act forbids teachers unions from automatically deducting money from their employees’ paychecks and mandates that the minimum annual salary for teachers be $50,000 by 2026.
Teachers unions in the state have come under fire for their political involvement, and politicians there have attempted for years to do rid of the required union dues.
The Tennessee Education Association (TEA), the state’s largest teacher union, donated more than $500,000 to political candidates in 2018 while also bringing in more than $9 million, claim the bill’s proponents.
With a Left-leaning stance on everything from COVID laws to charter schools, TEA has recently entered hotly debated political matters.
The TEA has spoken out against legislation for charter schools and opposed a 2021 bill that would have prohibited the teaching of Critical Race Theory in the classroom.
The law was supported by the conservative organization Americans for Prosperity Tennessee while it made its way through the General Assembly.
The base pay for teachers would climb steadily until the 2026–2027 academic year, when it would reach $50,000.