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About Us - Associations v. Unions
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Association v. Labor Union

Professional Educators of Tennessee is a professional association, we are not a labor union. Though not anti-union, we believe that new realities require new thinking, pragmatic solutions, and fresh ideas. Otherwise, we fear that the voices of teachers will not be heard, and the experiences of teachers not considered. 

Tennessee is a "right to work” state. This means that by law, employees cannot be forced to join a professional organization as a term of employment. We understand that many Tennessee educators join our association to remain part of a professional organization as an alternative to teacher unionism. Nearly 800,000 professional educators across the country have decided to join a professional association, instead of a labor union. We believe that if the many states mandating compulsory unionism dropped that provision, our ranks would swell.  Many people also believe student achievement would improve and educators would regain the presitigious status we have enjoyed in the past.


classified as a 501(c)(6) by the IRS*


Labor Union

classified as a 501(c)(5) by the IRS*
eg. Teamsters, United Auto Workers

State-Only Dues
We are not part of a national organization - money collected is used on organizational goals and stays here in Tennessee.


Unified Dues
Membership in the local, state and national organization is mandated, not optional. Local dues vary by region and district.

Politically, we are non-partisan. Your dues will never be utilized as political campaign contributions or to support social issue causes unrelated to education. 

Agressive Partisanship
Teachers' unions engage in aggressive political partisanship and promote a wide-ranging social agenda on issues unrelated to education, often not reflective of the diverse political views of their broader membership.
(see:Teachers Unions Give Broadly, Following the Money) 

Professionally Respectful
As professionals, we do not believe in strikes, picketing, or in militant, adversarial, or unprofessional confrontations.

Militant and Adversarial
Public sector labor unions typically engage in collective bargaining, partisan support of political candidates, compulsory unionism, picketing, sick-outs and forced strikes.

Professional Educators of Tennessee is a member-owned, member-governed professional association. Our members guide the organization through their elected Board of Directors and by participation at the annual convention.

Top-down Structure
Union decisions and actions are mandated at the national and/or state level before being passed down to its local groups. 


Professional Educators of Tennessee proves it is possible to be a state-focused, professional teachers association, advancing the profession through teacher advocacy and professional development, as well as promoting excellence in education for students, without being a top-down, centralized, controlled union engaged in militant tactics. We believe that professional educators need to be a member of a professional association that reflects their values and beliefs. Professional Educators of Tennessee encourages current and potential members to research each educators’ organization to find the one that best suits them professionally and personally. We understand you have a choice to join the organization that best represents your ethics and philosophy, and we respect your choice.  

If you are looking for an organization nurtured and sustained by dedicated education professionals that is committed to providing you with the protection, advocacy and resources that will allow you to focus on the reasons you became an educator in the first place, along with affordable dues, you will like what Professional Educators of Tennessee has to offer. We hope you will make the decision to join our organization.


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