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The Rockford Education Association (REA) is the local professional union representing teachers, certified nurses, psychologists, social workers, and other faculty in the Rockford School District No. 205. We are affiliated with the Illinois Education Association (IEA) and the National Education Association (NEA). We use the term professional union to describe our organization because we are both a professional association and a union.
We are a professional association because we spend a great deal of our time and resources in trying to improve education for all the children in the district. We provide training opportunities for our members, professional consultation, research, and interact with the administration and school board to improve student learning and promote member professionalism.
We are a union because we are recognized by Illinois law as the bargaining representative of the members, and we negotiate a Professional Agreement that determines the salary, benefits and working conditions for our members. We are also an advocate for our members, providing legal and other forms of support for members who have employment problems. It may mean providing an attorney if a member is in trouble or ensuring that our labor agreement is enforced, or just providing consultation if a member thinks something wasn’t done right by our employer. We also engage in political action and lobbying supporting “friends of education” and supporting legislation that benefits kids and education as well as school employees.
Finally we are also a union that is committed to social justice. We are involved in alliances to help all students succeed. We believe that all educators have to be engaged with the community and the world. We believe that everyone is responsible to protect children and provide for their growth and education.
We are a democratically run association operating with a group of dedicated unpaid Association Representatives in each school building in Rockford. Our elected governance sets the policy for our association and determines what programs we will provide for our members. Every member participates in electing our leadership.
Both the REA President and Vice President and our other leaders spend countless hours throughout the year representing the interests of members with the administration and with other governmental agencies. They are elected by the membership for two year terms. Besides our elected leaders, our state affiliate, the Illinois Education Association/NEA provides our association with two professional and two associate staff members who help carry out our policies and programs and ensure that your rights are protected. We all have offices at 4949 Harrison Avenue # 102 in Rockford, IL 61108 (815-398-0995).
The REA is also a member of the IEA Region 21 UniServ Council. This council is the organizational vehicle that helps develop and provide all of the services that we offer for members and conducts elections for our state and national affiliates. The other IEA/NEA affiliated unions of District 205 employees that are members of the Council are the: Educational Office Personnel Association (EOPA) of school secretaries; the Rockford Building Maintenance Association (RMBA) that represents tradesmen; and Educational Interpreters Association (EIA) composed of hearing interpreters.
The Illinois Education Association is our statewide organization. When someone joins the REA he/she automatically becomes a member of both our state and national affiliates because we are unified. Part of your total dues supports the state program and part the national program. We are all one organization working at the local, state and national level.
IEA is an organization of over 133,000 members with a focus at the state of Illinois level. It can also be characterized as a professional union because they spend a great deal of effort and resources focusing on student achievement, school innovation and professional development for all of our members.
IEA is also a union in that it supports our collective bargaining efforts at the local level providing staff assistance, research and legal counsel in support of our efforts. It also plays a big role in helping the REA provide support for members with employment problems. Our attorneys come from or are paid by IEA; they provide support and legal research with all of the state agencies that control our member’s employment.
IEA represents teachers and other school employees throughout Illinois in school districts, community colleges and universities. The IEA is governed by the policies passed at a Representative Assembly held each year. IEA is one of the largest democratically run associations in Illinois. They have state-wide officers, a wide range of staff specialists and a Board of Directors. The headquarters is located in Springfield. You can get a lot of information about our state affiliate at www.ieanea.org.
The Consortium for Educational Change (CEC) is a nonprofit organization affiliated with the Illinois Education Association that works with teachers, school and district administrators, school boards and unions to improve student learning and achievement. The REA and the Rockford School District are active members. CEC was founded in 1987 and has over 80 district members. To become a CEC member, district superintendent, board president and teacher’s union must all agree to work together. The CEC fosters continuous learning and improvement through evidence-based best practices, facilitates purposeful collaboration with school boards, administration and teachers unions, and disseminates learning and proven best practices. See www.cecillinois.org
The National Education Association (NEA) is our national affiliate. Every state in the United States, as well as overseas locals, has a statewide affiliate like IEA which is a direct affiliate of NEA. As a result, NEA has over 3.2 million members with over 8,000 local associations across the country.
The NEA performs many of the same functions as IEA except at the national level, lobbying Congress and federal agencies to support student achievement and employee rights. In this regard, the NEA is also a professional association and a union. Working through the state affiliate and our local they also provide many services that support individual member professional development and personal financial products. Like IEA, they help support our member advocacy by helping to subsidize the cost of our staff and legal expenses. They also provide many valuable conferences and cutting-edge training programs to our leaders and members.
NEA is the largest democratically run organization in the country. Each year over 13,000 delegates elected from locals like ours meet in a large arena to pass Resolutions and New Business Items to govern the program and the priorities of the NEA. They elect national officers and approve the dues. Each state affiliate also elects NEA Board of Director Members who govern the NEA the rest of the year. The NEA has a very instructive Web-site at www.nea.org.
All three organizations are political action committees formed under the laws of Illinois and the United States to support and make financial contributions to candidates for elected office who support education and the rights of school employees. RPACE is the Rockford Political Action Committee for Education and supports our efforts to elect responsible school board members and other elections. IPACE is the Illinois Political Action Committee for Education the political action arm of the IEA. Its purpose is to recommend the election of education minded legislators and constitutional officers in Illinois. The NEA Fund for Children is the companion political action committee of the National Education Association and serves the same purpose at the national level. We have three separate organizations because of the campaign and election laws of the state and the federal government.
Our members make voluntary contributions to these organizations through payroll deduction that is collected at the same time that their dues are paid. Committees of the three organizations decide how and the amount of contributions that will be made and how we will participate in various campaigns.