Northwest Suburban High School District 214 instructors who are members of their local teachers union have voted to affiliate with a larger state and national labor organization, officials said Thursday.
For more than three decades, the District 214 Education Association has operated as an independent teachers union -- one of only a few in the state -- but 88 percent of members voted to join Northwest Suburban Teachers Union, Local 1211 of the Illinois Federation of Teachers and its national umbrella organization, the American Federation of Teachers.
There's some 870 teachers from District 214's 11 school buildings that will now become part of Local 1211, which represents about 2,000 school employees, including teachers, secretaries and support staff in Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211, secretaries and support staff in Itasca Elementary District 10, and therapists in Palatine Elementary District 15.
Jim Arey, president of the District 214 Education Association, said surveys sent to teachers last year indicated many wanted to affiliate with a larger union. He said the partnership will allow District 214 teachers to have "a seat at the table" on public policy issues, increase opportunities for professional development, and provide access to a larger network of educators.
"We're joining ranks with people to improve public education and strengthen democracy in general," said Arey, a social studies teacher at Elk Grove High School.
The Illinois Federation of Teachers, which includes 103,000 teachers and other staff, is an affiliate of the larger AFL-CIO that represents other labor unions. The other major teachers union in the state, the Illinois Education Association, has 135,000 members.
Arey said teachers would see a small increase in their union dues under the new arrangement.
The teachers union inked a 5-year contract with District 214 in May 2014. It runs through June 2019.