Teachers are highly unionised workers and their trade unions exert an important influence on the shaping and implementation of educational policy. Despite this importance there is relatively little analysis of the impact of teacher trade unions in educational management literature. Very little empirical research has sought to establish the impact of teacher unions at school level. In an era of devolved management and quasi-markets this omission is significant. New personnel issues continue to emerge at school level and this may well generate increased trade union activity at the workplace. This article explores the extent to which devolved management is drawing school-based union representation into a more prominent role. It argues that whilst there can be significant differences between individual schools, increased school autonomy is raising the profile of trade union activity in the workplace, and this needs to be better reflected in educational management research.