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teachers' unions

A teachers’ union is a labor union (an organized group of employees) that represents teachers or educators in contract negotiations (for salaries, tenure, paid time off, and other terms of employment) with schools or school districts. Teachers’ unions are said to engage in collective bargaining—bargaining or negotiating on behalf of all teachers—rather than individual teachers negotiating their own employment terms.

The rights of workers to form unions, strike, bargain collectively, and engage in other work-related activities are provided by the federal statute known as the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 (NLRA). The NLRA also prohibits unions from trying to force workers to join a union and prohibits employers from retaliating against workers who exercise their union rights.

The NLRA supersedes many state laws but it does not apply to employees in the public sector—including public school teachers. Some states have laws that prohibit collective bargaining for public employees (Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia) and many states have laws that make it illegal for public employees to strike.

In Texas, public school teachers are not covered by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) of 1935, which protects the rights of private sector employees to form unions, engage in collective bargaining, and strike. Texas is one of the states that prohibits collective bargaining for public employees, including public school teachers. Additionally, Texas law does not allow public employees to strike. This means that teachers’ unions in Texas do not have the same collective bargaining powers as their counterparts in some other states. They can still exist and advocate for teachers' interests, but their ability to negotiate contracts is significantly limited by state law. As a result, individual school districts in Texas may have more discretion in setting the terms of employment for teachers, and any negotiations that do occur may not have the binding power of collective bargaining agreements found in states where such activities are permitted.

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