Teachers’ union dues flow to Chicago, but rest of Illinois gets little

Mailee Smith

Staff Attorney and Director of Labor Policy

Mailee Smith
February 1, 2019

Teachers’ union dues flow to Chicago, but rest of Illinois gets little

Illinois public school educators are charged hundreds of dollars in union dues each year – but the state and national affiliates don’t send much money back to the locals. Most money flows to Chicago, or out of state.

 

Illinois educators pay hundreds of dollars each year in dues to teachers’ unions, but only a portion of the money goes to their local.

Most of the dues are passed to state and national union affiliates. Those state and national groups then funnel more money to affiliates in the Chicago area and out of state than they do to other Illinois bargaining units.

That’s according to the unions’ own federal reporting documents, which reveal a significant discrepancy between the amount of money state affiliates send to the Chicago area versus to affiliates south of Interstate 80. The reports also reveal that the national affiliates send significantly more funds to other states than they do to affiliates in Illinois.

The Illinois Federation of Teachers, or IFT, on average, directs more than 50 times more money to its Chicago-area affiliates than it does to affiliates south of I-80.

Between 2013 and 2017, IFT reported sending, on average, $3.8 million to Chicago and suburban affiliates – including $2.8 million a year to the Chicago Teachers Union – but just over $70,000 a year to all of its downstate affiliates combined.

The Illinois Education Association, or IEA, on average, directs more than twice as much money to Chicago-area affiliates than it does to affiliates south of I-80.

Between 2013 and 2018, IEA sent $7.7 million to Chicago and suburban affiliates, but only $3 million to its downstate affiliates.

The National Education Association, or NEA, sent just 4 percent of its affiliate disbursements to Illinois between 2013-2018.

During that time, NEA disbursed $681 million to member associations across the nation – but less than $29 million went to affiliates in Illinois.

 The American Federation of Teachers, or AFT, sent 5 percent of its affiliate disbursements to Illinois between 2014-2018.

During that time, AFT disbursed over $203 million to state, local and regional affiliates – but only $9.9 million went to Illinois affiliates.

Illinois’ public school educators have other options

Instead of sending hundreds of dollars in dues each year to state and national union affiliates that don’t prioritize local teacher representation, Illinois’ public school educators can choose to opt outof union membership and keep more of their hard-earned money.

Opting out simply requires resigning from the union and alerting the employer. Interested teachers can obtain forms to do so here.

Under Illinois law, teachers who opt outof union membership are still represented by the union and guaranteed all benefits included in the collective bargaining agreement. Examples may include the following:

  • Salary and raises
  • Health insurance
  • Pension
  • Vacation days, holidays
  • Seniority
  • Leaves of absence (including sick leave)
  • Representation in a grievance

What’s more, teachers can choose to obtain liability insurance and job protection coverage from alternative entities that frequently charge just a fraction of the price of union membership.

Teachers who want to support local educators and programs can still do so by directly donating funds to their local bargaining units or other organizations of choice. That helps to keep teachers’ money local, and more accountable.

For more information, visit leavemyunion.com.

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