join the movement

Organizing a union in your workplace is about gaining more rights and more power. Thousands of working people—all across the country and in all kinds of jobs—organize unions every year because being a union member is the most effective way to advocate for yourself, your profession, and those you serve.

If you and your colleagues are not organized, there are many important reasons you should consider joining the IFT family.

join the movement

If you are a new employee at an Illinois school, college, university, or in some state agencies, you may already be an IFT member! Find out who your building representative or worksite leader is and inquire about whether your colleagues have already organized a union and joined the IFT.



How do my colleagues and I form a union and join the IFT?

If you and your colleagues do not have a union and would like to begin the organizing process, contact Arnoldo Fabela, IFT Director of Field Mobilization.
Learn more about how to organize a union above.

Does the IFT control what happens in local unions?

No. Locals are autonomous and operate democratically, with members making decisions and acting in their own best interests. IFT is there to support - not to run - local unions.

Do I have to pay dues?

Yes. Your dues finance the work of the union – contract bargaining and enforcement; communicating our perspective with elected officials and the media; and harnessing the collective power of 103,000 members when we need it to advocate for education and public services and the best interests of our communities. Dues are not profit to the union, but only cover the costs of the benefits and services you receive through your membership. Dues are deducted from your paycheck, then distributed to your local union, the IFT, and our state and national affiliates based on amounts approved by the members.

How much are dues?

Dues are determined on a proportional, sliding scale, so they will vary depending on whether you work full or part time and how much you earn. A full-time teacher will pay the full dues rate based on his or her income, while a part-time food service worker will pay a reduced dues rate.

How does collective bargaining impact public education?

Studies by the National Education Policy Center, the Center for Evaluation and Education Policy, Harvard University and others have shown that collective bargaining rights correlate to increased student achievement.

When educators are part of a union and have a say at the bargaining table, they can use their voice to fight for smaller class sizes, professional development, academic freedom, school safety measures, and expanded services for students – all things which have a positive impact on student learning.

Why is collective bargaining under attack?

Because collective bargaining gives union members a voice, it also gives the middle class power. Billionaire CEOs, corporations, and politicians with ties to wealthy donors claim that collective bargaining is bad for the economy. They often advocate for so-called “right-to-work” laws, claiming they would benefit employees, businesses, and communities, but in reality, these policies widen the inequality gap and make the rich richer.

As a member, you are part of your local union, the IFT with over 100,000 members, AFT comprised of more than 1.4 million members, and the 10 million strong AFL-CIO.

Empower yourself. Check your voter registration status, register, find IFT-endorsed candidates, and other useful voter tools and resources.

IFT offers a wide variety of professional development programs taught by union members and staff who have been specially trained to meet your training needs.

IFT is committed to building power and engaging in social and economic issues. There are multiple ways to get involved in this important work.