TTEA Fast Facts: Union Strong
What is a union?
A union is an organized association of
workers that was formed for the protection and
furthering of the rights and interests of those
workers. It is a collective bargaining unit, which
means that the entire union bargains for the
contract (i.e. the rights and interests) for all
members of the unit--each person does not need to
negotiate for themselves.
Where do the unions get their power from?
Any union draws its strength and power
from its greatest asset--its members. The greater
the number of members, the greater the strength of
the union. Union strength does not, however, come
from membership alone. It is the solidarity of the
members that brings the union strength. When the
workers stand united together on an issue, the true
strength of the union can be felt.
Does the union just negotiate wages and benefits?
While the issues of wages and benefits are
negotiated each year, these are not the only articles
that the union negotiates. Every year the union
negotiating team takes information from the
members and “sunshines” the most pressing issues
of the day. Working conditions and hours of
employment are always negotiated. The union,
however is about much more than negotiations.
How does the union help me besides negotiations?
The protections and benefits that the union
brings to its members is multifaceted: (This is not an
● The union negotiates and enforces the
● The union represents its members when there
is a work-related conflict (with union
representatives, the grievance process, legal
● The union provides opportunities for
professional development through
conferences, workshops, webinars, printed
materials, etc. The union also provides many
scholarships for these professional
● The union provides substitutes so that
members can observe other teachers, and
learn from their peers
● The union provides scholarships for members
and members’ children.
● CTA and NEA (the state and national teachers’
associations that all TTEA members belong to)
provide opportunities for discounts on life and
car insurance, discount rates on tickets to
theme parks, opportunities for credit cards,
● CTA and NEA also provide free-to-you liability
insurance and legal representation to
Unions sound great! Does it cost money to join the
Yes, union membership does have a fee. If
you are a member of TTEA, then you pay dues to
TTEA and to CTA. The benefits of your union fees
were outlined above.
At this point in time, all teachers in TTUSD
are either paying members of TTEA or they are
agency fee payers.
What is an agency fee payer?
Nobody can force someone to be in the
union. There are many reasons that people choose
not to join the union (i.e. religious or political
Forty years ago, the Supreme Court ruled (in
Abood v. Detroit Bd. of Education) that since unions
must by law represent everyone, everyone who
benefits from the work of the union must pay their
fair share. Fair share fees help defray the cost of
the services provided, and helps to promote
This means that there are teachers in
TTUSD who have decided not to join TTEA, but still
must pay their fair share. They still benefit from
the bargained contract and benefits, but they are
not receiving the ancillary benefits of the union
(including legal representation). Fair share fee
payers, or “agency fee payers”, can “opt out” of
paying full fees (specifically the fees that support
“non-chargeable” expenses, such as political
activities), and then can submit for reimbursement
of the non-chargeable expenses.
I am a member of the union, why do I need to
know about agency fee payers?
Fair Share has come under attack several
times by groups who think that it is
unconstitutional (specifically, that it goes against
the First Amendment). Several cases have been
heard in the Supreme Court, but Fair Share has
always been upheld. There is a current case,
however, Janus v. AFSCME, which will likely be
heard in early 2018, with a final decision to be
handed out by June 30, 2018. If Fair Share is
overruled by this decision, those who benefit from
the union, but are not members, will no longer have
to pay their fair share. There is more, though.
Instead of allowing agency fee payers to “opt-out”
of paying the political portion of dues, AFPs will be
able to opt out of ALL dues.
I’m already a member of the union, what does that
mean for me now?
You are STILL a TTEA/CTA/NEA member,
but we will ask you to re-enroll. This will establish
a new “anniversary date” for you. You will stay
continuously enrolled from that date on until you
either leave teaching, leave the district (but we hope
you will enroll in your new union at your new
district!), or withdraw your membership.
Why do I need an anniversary date?
You have the right to withdraw from
TTEA/CTA/NEA at any time. However, your ONLY
chance to withdraw from dues is in the window of
your anniversary date. Your dues will continue to
be withheld from payroll until you withdraw during
your anniversary window. Translated: You may
notify TTEA and CTA that you withdraw your
membership in October, but if your anniversary
(currently your hire date or thereabouts) is in
September, you will still have dues withdrawn until
the following anniversary date anyway.
Is TTEA worried about Janus?
The Janus decision is expected any day, and
CTA expect it not to be in our favor. TTEA will do
everything to ensure that the transition is as easy as
Any member already has the right to choose
not to be in the union at any time. If Janus is
upheld, TTEA is hopeful that members will
continue to choose the protections and strength of
Any union is only as strong as its members,
and TTEA is very strong! (99% of TTUSD certificated
staff are currently TTEA/CTA/NEA members!)