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How would I benefit from joining the LCEA?
Involvement in professional issues
Free Financial Planning
Legal protection, including legal services and access to a Legal Defense Fund to help uphold contractual/legal rights of members
Involvement in union decisions
$1,000,000 professional liability insurance
Representation in grievances
Lobbying and political action
Full time professional staff assistance
Support for National Board Certification
Regular newsletter / publications
Public relations for the teaching profession
Low cost group insurance opportunities
AFT member discount benefits
Does everyone have to join LCEA?
There is a collective bargaining law in Florida that gives an individual the right to join or not join a union. Of course, we believe anyone who benefits from LCEA’s efforts would want to join our organization. Furthermore, it’s one of the marks of a professional to join and support one’s professional organization in working to improve the profession.
It would be wonderful if we could go to the bargaining table with the strength of all teachers in Lake County behind us when LCEA makes its proposals to the School Board. Our contract is directly representative of LCEA’s power and influence.
A majority of the teachers presently employed in Lake County are members. However, our goal is to contact all non-members personally and ask them to join LCEA so we can truly speak and act as one united voice before the School Board, the community, and the Legislature.
Do members and non-members receive the same benefits just because LCEA is the exclusive bargaining agent with the School Board?
No, not entirely. Florida law says that a union does not have to represent non-members in grievances, and LCEA has formally adopted a policy to coincide with that law. Legal counsel, in the event of duty-related difficulties, is limited to members only. Also, certain insurance plans are available only to LCEA members, as well as opportunities to serve on official committees representing teachers.
How are my dues determined?
Local dues are no more than .00951 of the beginning teacher salary of a bachelor degreed teacher in Lake County. As Lake County teachers’ salaries increase, dues automatically go up. In addition, per capita dues are collected to pay to our affiliates AFT, FEA, NEA, and AFL-CIO.
What if I’d like to belong to the union, but I can’t afford it?
You can’t afford NOT to belong. Some people can’t afford to be sick but that doesn’t mean they never have to go to a doctor. Union membership is protection when you need it. Let’s hope you never need to file a grievance or get transferred against your will. But if you do, LCEA is there to help you with legal counsel and/or professional help.
Most of all, the power of LCEA at the bargaining table is directly related to the number of members in our organization. Benefits derived from discount buying, low cost insurance, higher salaries, etc., more than offset the cost of your dues.
With which organizations is LCEA affiliated?
LCEA is affiliated with the Florida Education Association and with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the National Education Association (NEA). When you join LCEA, you automatically become a member of these organizations. As a result, you have representation at the local, state and national levels. Because the AFT is affiliated with the AFL-CIO, we gain additional support for public education. The AFL-CIO, whose 16 million members include many parents of students in our public schools, lobbies vigorously in the State Legislature, in Congress, and before school boards for items that will benefit schools and children. It is the one group that has consistently supported public education for 100 years.
Has LCEA been involved in activities pertaining to educational improvement and reform?
Yes, LCEA has been very active in these areas.
We are currently working on certification to begin our own program of professional development, at no cost for our members, to be held at the LCEA meeting room. We provide leadership training to building representatives and members.
Through joint committee work, LCEA has provided teachers with opportunities to collaborate on development of the district’s research-based teacher evaluation system (TEAM), to help design specifications for and monitor employees’ health/hospitalization insurance, and to share in establishing guidelines for implementation of exemplary teacher recognition.
Within our membership are many people who have made outstanding contributions to education locally, statewide and nationally. As a result, LCEA is considered an organization on the forefront of meeting today’s educational challenges.
If LCEA is a union, couldn’t we be required to strike?
No. There is a No-Strike provision written in our contract that prohibits strikes for the duration of the negotiated contract. Also, strikes are against Florida Law. Even if future conditions change, all members of LCEA would determine locally by majority vote if they wished to strike over a particular issue. No outside person or group could require or force LCEA to take strike action.
Who conducts the business of the LCEA?
Twelve officers and board members who are elected by secret ballot conduct the business of our organization. The President and Vice President, who are part of the twelve members, are released by the School Board from teaching duties to be a full time president/vice president/staff persons for LCEA. Their salary is paid by LCEA from dues money.
A Building Representative at each site who is responsible for seeing that information is disseminated, grievances are handled, and questions are answered at his/her school.
Who negotiates my contract?
LCEA is the exclusive bargaining agent for all Lake County teachers.
Is our contact a good one?
Yes, we have one with excellent provisions, but any contract is only as good as its enforcement. When you suspect any part of your contract is not being adhered to, contact your Building Representative at once. He/she will advise you about the necessary steps to take.
Name some things LCEA has negotiated in our contract with the School Board.
Improved salaries; mandatory duty-free lunch time; a written grievance procedure ending with binding arbitration; five paid holidays; Board-paid health and life insurance; salary supplements for special duties; paid personal leave days; daily planning periods; and much more.
The current contract is available electronically at the Lake County Schools websites. A hard copy or disc of the contract has been provided to each school’s media center.
Does LCEA have an office?
Yes, we do. In fact, we own the building we use as an office. It is located at 1707 South Street in Leesburg. We have a full time Office Manager.
What if I don’t always agree with some things the union does?
Do you agree 100% with what any organization, church, or political group you belong to does? As a member, you have a voice in changing LCEA’s policies. Only members have the right to run for office, vote on decisions that are made, elect delegates, and choose a Building Representative for your school.
If you feel a change is needed, there is a way to do it. Become involved yourself and urge your friends to do likewise. Remember, every member has one vote.
Since LCEA represents all the teachers in our school system, be a member and let your opinion help shape the decisions made.
When teachers file grievances, does this mean that LCEA must protect teachers, even if they are incompetent?
LCEA does not have the right to judge the competence or incompetence of teachers. That is the job of the school system administration. What we do accept responsibility for is seeing that every teacher is provided with due process. In this way, a teacher can be assured of having his/her rights protected under the law. At the same time we urge all teachers to be aware of their professional responsibilities and to seek to demonstrate the highest standards of professional performance.
I believe teachers and administrators should be allies. After all, they are all educators too. What do you think?
LCEA has a good working relationship with the school administration in Lake County. Our organization tries to be cooperative whenever possible, and we believe the administration feels the same way toward LCEA.
Of course, we may sometimes disagree on certain policies or on some negotiable items, but ultimately, we are able to work out our disagreements amicably.