FAQs

General

  1. In general, what are the benefits of organizing a union? Decision-making power at the workplace.
    • The rights and protections of the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act  (IELRA);
    • A contract with employee rights clearly defined and a grievance clause ending in binding arbitration to resolve disputes;
    • Respect: being taken seriously when you raise concerns with your employer;
    • The resources, expertise and assistance of the IEA-NEA;
    • Fair treatment.
  2. What rights and protections do we have if we organize under the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act (IELRA)? Today, your employer has the exclusive authority to hire, fire, set wages, hours and benefits and to make other decisions related to your employment.  Unorganized employees have very few guaranteed rights or protections unless they have obtained collective bargaining recognition under the law.  Whatever voice you have in the governance of the College is determined by the College.
  3. The IELRA dramatically limits the employer’s rights to make decisions unilaterally.  Under the Act, the employer is required to bargain in good faith and in a timely manner all decisions regarding wages, hours, benefits and working conditions with your democratically elected representatives.

  4. When we organize, does the IELRA protect us from retaliation? You are fully protected in the exercise of your rights to organize.  Acts of harassment, coercion and intimidation are violations of state law, constituting an unfair labor practice.  The IEA will provide you the legal services necessary to ensure that this law is followed.
  5. Now that we are organized, what kind of local do we have? We are chartered as an autonomous local union affiliated with IEA-NEA.  This means that we have drafted and adopted a set of Bylaws to govern our local and elect our officers accordingly.  We will maintain a local treasury.  All policies regarding the direction of our local will be determined in a democratic manner–the members run our show.  IEA provides our local with professional and legal resources needed to be an effective organization, but we will decide policies and goals for our local.
    • There are no initiation fees or other expenses to members.
    • The above amount covers all IEA-NEA services including legal assistance.
    • Dues will not begin until a contract is ratified.
    • If you are already an IEA member elsewhere, you will only pay local dues.
  6. What do we get for our dues? A few of the major benefits are:
  7. Full legal services for job-related problems;

    • $1,000,000 liability insurance protection;
    • Professional assistance with negotiations;
    • Grievance/arbitration assistance;
    • Training programs;
    • $50,000 accidental death/dismemberment insurance;
    • Access to NEA Membership Benefits (IEA members save money by purchasinglow cost car insurance, home/rental insurance, travel programs, high yield CD  and money market certificates, and other discounted programs);
    • Individual assistance and advice when you need help; and
    • Attorney referral program including an hour of free consultation for non job-related business.
  8. Will everyone be required to join the union? Membership is voluntary.  However, since all represented employees enjoy the gains in pay and benefits that come with a collective bargaining agreement, most of our higher education locals include a ‘Fair Share’ clause in their contracts. Such a clause requires non-members to pay a Fair Share fee, which is only marginally less than dues.  Fair Share fee payers are not eligible to vote on contracts, for officers or serve as officers or on committees.
  9. What is the right to representation? If you organize, you have a right to representation in all meetings with an administrator that could possibly result in disciplinary action against you).  You have someone to help you when needed and a contract providing basic employment rights.  Employees, who are not covered by a collective bargaining unit, are hired “at will”, can be fired without just cause and do not have union representation rights.
  10. How are dues raised? Your local sets its local dues in accordance with your constitution and bylaws.  IEA dues are raised by a 2/3 vote of local association delegates elected to the annual IEA Representative Assembly (RA).  Likewise, it takes a 2/3 vote of the elected delegates at the annual NEA RA to raise NEA dues.  Last year 10,000 delegates attended the NEA RA.
  11. If we vote for collective bargaining representation, can our employer take away any of our current benefits? If you organize a union, your employer cannot unilaterally change any of your current working conditions.  All matters related to wages, hours and the terms and conditions of employment are mandatory subjects of bargaining and remain intact.  Any change in the status quo will be negotiated by and ratified by the membership.

Fair Share Fee Payers

Fair share fee payers are not members for governance purposes. A fair share fee payer pays his/her “fair share” to the recognized organization for the services it renders to the non-member in its capacity as the exclusive bargaining representative. For additional questions contact  IEA.

The following information is provided to association representatives for the purpose of responding to inquiries regarding fair share. This written information is not intended for general dissemination.

  1. What is a fair share agreement? It is an agreement between the school district and the union wherein employees in the collective bargaining unit are required to pay their proportionate share of the cost of the “collective bargaining process and contract administration” as measured by the amount of dues uniformly required of all members. Such an agreement contains a provision requiring the employer to deduct dues from an employee, as certified by the union (SEE contract).
  2. What is a fair share fee payer? A fair share fee payer is a unit member who elects not to be a union member. Fair share fee payers are required to pay that portion of dues related to collective bargaining and contract administration. Fair share fee payers may request a rebate for activities that relate to charitable contributions, lobbying and organizing efforts. Fees used for direct political action are automatically rebated to all fee payers.
  3. Can a fair share fee payer also be a union member? No

Fair Share Fee Payers Benefits

A union member who wishes to become a fair share fee payer must direct a signed, written letter to President or their Local President requesting termination of union membership.

  1. What benefits/rights are fair share payers entitled to? Fair share fee payers are provided the same representation in all employment matters as full dues-paying members. They may participate in contract ratification votes, pursuant to local approval. Union-negotiated benefits, including union-negotiated insurance plans, such as the WEA insurance plans and WEATSA, are also available to fair share fee payers.
  2. What union benefits/rights do fair share fee payers lose? Fair share fee payers are ineligible to participate in internal union governance decisions. They are not allowed to vote in union elections, hold union office, or influence union policies or activities. Fee payers are generally not entitled to NEA supplemental membership benefits such as the NEA life insurance policy or reduced travel fees.

Educator’s Employment Liability

The NEA’s Educator’s Employment Liability (EEL) insurance program is also a “member-only” benefit and, as such, fair share fee payers are technically ineligible for participation.

  1. What is the procedure for requesting a rebate? Near the beginning of each fiscal year, the Association forwards to fair share fee payers a large packet of information regarding budgeted expenditures for the upcoming year. Fair share fee payers are provided 30 days from receipt of those materials to indicate whether they wish to request a rebate for expenditures unrelated to collective bargaining. Upon receipt of such request, WEAC notifies objectors of their options, including the right to accept the standard rebate offer or proceed to arbitration. Fair share objectors who accept WEAC’s rebate offer can generally expect to receive payment in December of the fiscal year wherein a rebate request has been made.
  2. How is the rebate amount determined? The rebate percentages for the NEA and the WEAC are based upon detailed analyses of expenditures; the WEAC rebate is subject to approval by the Board of Directors. Fair share fee payers are offered a standard 25% rebate of local dues. However, because legal precedent suggests that a local budget cannot be deemed valid unless a formal audit is performed to verify expenditures, fair share fee payers are offered the option of selecting up to a 100% rebate if an independent audit or verification is not performed in their local.
  3. Can a fair share employee challenge WEAC’s fair share calculations? Fee payers can request arbitration. Under this option, an escrow account is established which holds 100% of the contested dues deductions. However, because WEAC has sought to provide more in the standard rebate offer than its calculations indicate it may owe, it is possible that a fee payer will receive a smaller rebate through arbitration. In the most recent arbitration for which WEAC has a decision, the arbitrator sustained a rebate amount slightly lower than that which the Association projected and offered.
  4. Do fair share fee payers need to request a rebate for the Political Action Committee (PAC) assessment? No. Fair share fee payers are automatically refunded their WEAC and UniServ PAC assessment.
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