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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

exhaustive list)

● 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

council, etc.).

● The union provides opportunities for

professional development through

conferences, workshops, webinars, printed

materials, etc. The union also provides many

scholarships for these professional

development opportunities

● 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

bargaining stability.

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

the union.

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!)

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TTEA is the local teachers union in Tahoe-Truckee, CA representing about 280 educators. It is an affiliate of the California Teachers Association which represents over 325,000 educators across CA. TTEA/CTA members are also members of the National Education Association representing over 3 million educators nationwide.

The Tahoe Truckee Education Association exists to protect and promote the well-being of its members; to improve the conditions of teaching and learning; to advance the cause of free, universal, and quality public education; to ensure that the human dignity and civil rights of all children and youth are protected; and to secure a more just, equitable, and democratic society.  

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