Striking Chicago teachers have the right to go to work and get paid
Teachers in Chicago Public Schools who are not union members cannot be punished for going to work during a union strike.
The Chicago Teachers Union has now been on strike for 10 days – leaving 25,000 teachers without a paycheck.
However, teachers in Chicago Public Schools who are struggling to make ends meet do have another option: They have the right to opt out of the union and go to work without facing union fines or punishment.
Those teachers who return to work can immediately resume collecting pay.
Below are some answers to questions teachers might have, as well as other information about their options:
Q: What happens if I am not a member of the union?
A: Nonmembers do not pay any fees to the union. But you are still guaranteed the benefits provided in the collective bargaining agreement.
That’s because decades ago, Illinois’ government union leaders lobbied for the exclusive right to represent all public employees – both members and nonmembers. And that means you retain all benefits provided in your collective bargaining agreement, regardless of membership status.
Examples may include the following:
- Salary and raises
- Health insurance
- Pension benefits
- Vacation days and holidays
- Overtime pay
- Leaves of absence (including sick leave)
On the other hand, nonmembers are not entitled to perks guaranteed to members through the union’s internal rules or membership agreement. Examples may include:
- Voting rights (on ratification of contracts, strike authorizations, etc.)
- Holding union office or representing the union as a delegate to a convention
- Utilizing union-negotiated discounts (for things such as additional life insurance, health clubs, tickets to events, etc.)
- Maintaining any liability insurance the union provides, as opposed to insurance provided by the government employer
- Receiving newsletters or other union publications
- Attending special union events (such as meetings, picnics, Christmas parties, etc.)
Q: What about liability insurance and job protection?
A: Alternative associations – such as the Association of American Educators – offer protection coverage, often at a fraction of the cost of union membership.
Q: What happens if I cross the picket line as a nonmember?
A: Nonmembers have more freedom than union members in choosing to go to work during a strike. The union has no disciplinary authority over nonmembers, so it cannot penalize them for working during a strike.
Q: What happens if I cross the picket line as a union member?
A: The union can penalize members who do not honor the strike through fines or other penalties.
Q: What happens if I go on strike as a nonmember?
A: Nonmembers who go on strike will be subject to the same potential repercussions as members who strike.
Not only are striking workers not paid during a strike, but under Illinois law, a government employer can replace striking workers. Depending on the type of strike, employees might not immediately be reinstated to their old jobs when the strike ends.
Q: How do I opt out of the union?
A: Fill out the form on leavectu.com. Letters will be sent to CTU and CPS on your behalf, telling them you are resigning union membership and demanding that union dues stop coming out of your paycheck.
Q: What if CPS or CTU doesn’t honor my request to opt out of the union?
A: You can opt out of union membership at any time and protect yourself against union punishment – such as fines – should you choose to cross a picket line.
But some employers, influenced by union misinformation, are not immediately stopping dues deductions after employees opt out of union membership. And some unions – including CTU – are refusing to stop deducting dues unless requests are submitted within a specific time window dictated by internal union rules. For CTU, that window is Aug. 1 to Aug. 31.
We believe it is unconstitutional for employers and unions to continue deducting dues from nonmembers’ paychecks. If you encounter any barriers in your effort to stop dues from being deducted from your paycheck or have any other questions regarding opting out of union membership, you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.