Tag Archives: Lobbying

PET Continues To Hide Anti-Union Legislative Agenda #EPICFAIL

The registered lobbyists for the Professional Educators of Tennessee spent the most recent legislative session working alongside pro-voucher organizations such as the Beacon Center to lobby for model ALEC legislation that would deny teachers the right to voluntarily choose for union dues to be automatically withdrawn from their paychecks.

PET’s Executive Director, J.C. Bowman, even went so far as to publicly claim during a House committee meeting that this anti-union legislation was necessary because PET had been “discriminated against” from having the dues deducted from their members by the Robertson County school system.

In a formal letter to the General Assembly, the Robertson County Board of Education called PET out for spreading so much fertile bupkis.

Pretty embarrassing for PET/Bowman. Not that many would have noticed, since PET’s anti-union legislative agenda was largely hidden from their members – in the same way that PET hid their work advocating for the repeal of teacher collective bargaining rights in 2011.

PET did mention the legislation in their most recent organizational magazine, likely due to all the additional light shed on the issue after this blog exposed Bowman’s distortions about Robertson County, namely the “discriminatory practices that came to light during the committee meetings” and were proven to be a sham:

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This is the just the most recent in a long series of anti-teacher and anti-public school reforms that Bowman has spent decades advocating for – like his paid work advocating for the state law legalizing charter schools in 2002 or when he was appointed by Florida Governor Jeb Bush to be the “Director of School Choice” and oversee the first state-wide voucher program in the country. All of which you can continue to real all about it, right here at PETexposed.com

BUSTED! PET Lied To State Legislators To Advance Anti-Union Privatization Agenda

For months now, the registered lobbyists of the Professional Educators of Tennessee have been working alongside pro-voucher organizations such as the Beacon Center to lobby for model ALEC legislation that would deny teachers the right to voluntarily choose for union dues to be automatically withdrawn from their paychecks. Bowman testified in support of the anti-union legislation during a House Education Administration and Planning subcommittee, saying:

“We have been discriminated against. We have consistently asked to have payroll deduction and it is inconsistent from one district to the other. In Robertson County, for example, they may say that you need to have 20% membership.”

In response to Bowman’s testimony, the Robertson County Board of Education has issued a statement to the members of the General Assembly, stating that Bowman and the Professional Educators of Tennessee have never even requested payroll deductions in Robertson County:

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So, to date, the Professional Educators of Tennessee have spent the last year:

  • Working alongside a pro-voucher consultant and a man listed as a nationally prominent racist by an organization that tracks hate groups to demonize public education.
  • Claiming to not be political, while retaining lobbyists on staff who have actively supported anti-teacher and anti-public education legislation, the most notorious example being their support for the repeal of the collective bargaining rights of teachers in 2011.
  • Working alongside some of the largest pro-voucher groups in the state to attack the biggest foe to the corporate takeover of public schools: the teachers union.
  • Using the dues money of their members to lobby for legislation that would strip teachers of more of their rights, such as voluntarily choosing to have union dues deducted from their paychecks, all in an attempt to weaken the organized position to privatization.

One additional update: In his testimony before the committee, Bowman reference this website and it’s author, attempting to connect petexposed.com to the teachers union. As of this writing, I am employed by Labor Notes, a labor movement media and organizing project. However, even when I was employed with the union, this site has operated as a wholly independent and volunteer project. You can read about what led me to create the site in the About section. Unlike Bowman, who allegedly writes for Rocky Top Politics, anonymously.

PET’s Anti-Union Pro-Privatization Politics

For years, the Professional Educators of Tennessee have repeatedly asserted that they are not a “political organization,” while employing several lobbyists. Currently, three of PET’s staff members are listed by the state as registered lobbyists:

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In fact, PET has employed lobbyists for years:

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Contrary to what PET claims, the organization is extremely political. But what are their politics?

Well, to figure that out, we need only look to their record.

Now, PET is actively working with pro-voucher groups to lobby for a law that would repeat the right of teachers to voluntarily choose for union dues to be automatically withdrawn from their paychecks.

Kyle Mallory, a PET leader who was named 2015 Advocate of the Year by the organization and has represented PET in events organized as part of a campaign by pro-voucher consultant Steve Gill to demonize Tennessee’s public schools, has recently written an editorial promoting the legislation:

Recently, the Tennessee Legislature took up the Fair Access to Collection of Teacher Support Act (SB 151 / HB 294), a piece of legislation that has been amended to take the school district out of collecting dues through payroll deductions for unions who use them for political activities. . . I support the FACTS Act (HB 294 / SB 151) as amended, and hope others will as well.

Not only has PET published editorials in support of this legislation, PET’s executive director JC Bowman has publicly lobbied in favor of it during the legislative session.

Given PET’s history (especially the pro-voucher and pro-charter history of JC Bowman), it should come as little surprise that PET is actively lobbying to undermine the strength of the teachers union, which is the most powerful obstacle standing in the way of the corporate takeover of public education. And yet, there are many teachers across the state who have not heard how PET uses the dues money of their members to lobby for legislation that strips teachers of their rights. Please help spread the word.