The Unit Five Education Association (UFEA) represents more than 900 certificated personnel and the Unit Five Support Professionals Association (UFSPA) represents more than 300 full-time and part-time ESPs (Education Support Professionals). The leaders of UFEA and UFSPA are exploring the idea of becoming one union. Scroll down or use the navigation to get answers to frequently asked questions, ask a question of your own, get more information, give your feedback, or get involved!
Get Answers to Common Questions
Who is currently represented by UFEA and UFSPA?
The Unit Five Education Association (UFEA) represents more than 900 certificated personnel (those who hold a professional educator’s license), including teachers, guidance counselors, psychologists, social workers, library media specialists, certified school nurses.
The Unit Five Support Professionals Association (UFSPA) represents more than 300 full-time and part-time ESPs (Education Support Professionals), including Paraprofessionals/ Teaching Assistants and Educational Office Personnel (clerical and secretarial positions).
Don’t we have two separate contracts? Would it be a lot of work to combine them into one contract?
Yes, we do have separate contracts. However, over the years, both groups have made efforts to have their contracts line up with each other as much as possible. Substantial parts of the contracts are already very much in alignment, and many areas could easily be combined. The biggest areas of difference are related to schedules (for work day and work year) and compensation. There would need to be some separate sections in the contract for each, but this would not require a significant amount of work. And, moving forward it would be much more efficient to bargain one contract, even with some separate sections and pay scales.
What are the potential benefits of becoming one union?
Probably the single most substantial benefit of becoming one union would be power. Rather than two unions often advocating for the same or similar things separately, we would be one union advocating together.
Being one union would make it easier for all of us to communicate and collaborate. We’d have one structure of leaders and members working throughout the District rather than two separate structures. It would help us all develop an awareness of, and appreciation for, each other’s issues and interests, and would make it easier for us to work together to advocate around those issues and interests. We have different jobs, but we are colleagues and have similar interests.
The District would no longer be able to “play us off each other” at the bargaining table. We’d all be at the bargaining table together. Being one union would help insulate us against the attacks we currently face from those who seek to undermine and undo public education and collective bargaining. We’d be stronger and more stable in the face of those attacks and as we fight for our members, our students, and our schools.
How would the leadership structure work?
Once the new union was formed, a committee would need to do some work to create one set of local bylaws in alignment with the IEA model bylaws. Those bylaws would define things such as leaders, committees, and structure.
However, other locals have done this and there are models for us to follow. For example, it is likely that there would still be one President, elected from among all of the members (could come from the current UFEA or UFSPA group). Then, it’s likely we would look at having a Vice President from the current UFEA group and a VIce President from the current UFSPA group. We would work to create bylaws that provided for proportional and effective representation throughout the rest of the structure as well (internal committees, contractual committees with the District, building reps, etc.). Just as now, it will be important for leadership to be representative and responsive, and for members to feel their issues and interests are understood, and that they have a voice in the union.
Would UFEA become part of UFSPA, or UFSPA become part of UFEA? What would we be called?
The current leadership of both UFEA and UFSPA believe it would be best to create a new name for this new merged local – something we all will become part of together. We are currently considering ideas and are open to suggestions!
What would it take to become one union?
In order to become one union, we need to petition the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board. We would file paperwork with them indicating our desire to be recognized as one union. They would verify with the District who all would be covered by that one union (current members of UFEA and current members of UFSPA). Then we would have to “vote”. The Labor Board would allow that vote to be done by petitions, which they would then certify. So, if as we have conversations this fall it appears members are interested and supportive of becoming one union, we would begin that petition process, probably in January or February. At least half of all current UFEA members and half of all current UFSPA members would have to be in favor of becoming one union in order for it to become a reality. They would indicate this through the signing of a petition.
Ask A Question
Give Your Input
Please take this quick survey. It is important we hear from every member of UFEA and UFSPA!
We are hosting 4 Town Hall meeting open to all UFEA and UFSPA members. Please come to one (or more):
Monday, Nov. 6 from 6-7 pm at the IEA Office | Wednesday, Nov. 8 from 4:30-5:30 pm at Sugar Creek | Tuesday, Nov. 14 from 4:30-5:30 pm at CJHS | Monday, Nov. 20 from 6-7 pm at the IEA Office
We’ve also provided some resources to help you better understand UFEA, UFSPA, and the merger effort. Please take a look and then let us know if there are other resources or information you would find helpful!