Opt Out Today

IFT

To opt out of IFT dues:

1. Enter your information into the form below and click “submit.”
2. On the resulting page, click the link to open your customized form. You will also receive an email with a link to your form.
3. Print the form. If you check the appropriate box about needing a printed version, we’ll mail you a copy of the form.
4. Sign and date the form.
5. Mail the completed form to the address at the top of the form. We highly recommend sending it via certified mail.

The Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) is the designated union for approximately 80,000 teachers, school support staff, higher education faculty, and other public employees throughout Illinois.

For years, public employees in Illinois have been forced to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment, allowing unions like the IFT to take their members for granted. However, because of the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in Janus v. AFSCME (2018), public employees can no longer be required to financially support a labor union against their will.

The court ruled that the mandatory dues requirement violated workers’ First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and association, and that public employees have the right to choose for themselves whether to pay any union dues or fees.

You can opt out of IFT dues by filling out the form above, printing it and mailing it to the union.

Note: Although your local association may go by a different name, it is an affiliate of the IFT. In most cases, it is appropriate to send your opt-out form directly to the IFT.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens after I send my resignation to the union?

You should receive some acknowledgement of your request from the union within a few weeks.

In most cases, union dues are automatically deducted from employees’ paychecks. Monitor your paychecks to make sure the dues deductions stop. If the deductions continue for more than a couple pay periods after submitting your opt-out request, contact the union.

Finally, keep in mind:

Opting out is your constitutional right. However, unions like the IFT sometimes place restrictions on when they will accept opt-out requests. If the union refuses to immediately cancel dues deductions from your pay, ask them to provide you with written documentation and contact us for assistance.

How much are IFT dues?

According to federal filings, IFT charges $380 per year in dues, in addition to what members pay to its local and national affiliates.

Will the union continue to represent me if I opt out?

Yes. The IFT has arranged to be the “exclusive representative” of its bargaining units, meaning it is impossible for workers to get out of the terms of the contract, even if they cease paying dues.

In exchange for the monopoly on this particular service, the IFT is legally obligated to represent all employees in the workplace, including those who choose not to join the union as members.

The collective bargaining agreement negotiated by the union and your employer will continue to set the terms and conditions of your employment and the union will continue to represent you in grievances, contract enforcement, discipline assistance or other proceedings governed by the collective bargaining agreement.

Will I lose wages, health care, retirement or other benefits if I opt out?

No. Under state law, a union contract is binding on all employees in a bargaining unit, regardless of whether they are technically union “members.” Your compensation, health benefits, retirement, and anything else governed by the collective bargaining agreement will remain unchanged if you opt out of the IFT.

How will my relationship with the union change if I opt out?

While the terms of the contract will still govern your employment, union officials commonly prohibit nonmembers from participating in internal union affairs, such as attending union meetings, voting for union officers or participating in contract ratification votes. You’ll also be ineligible for any special “members only” benefits, such as discounts on additional insurance, scholarship programs, or deals the union has arranged with businesses. You may no longer receive the union newsletter or similar publications.

Why do people opt out of the union?

People have many reasons for not wanting to support the union. Some simply do not believe the services the union provides are worth the dues it charges. Others may find the union’s one-size-fits-all agenda does not serve them well because they are new to the profession, have a specialty that is not acknowledged in bargaining, or they believe their effectiveness is undercompensated. Some resent the union’s role in enabling and defending underperforming employees. Many find the union’s political activity and use of dues to advance partisan causes, candidates and ideology distasteful. Still others believe that union officials are corrupt and unaccountable to their membership.

Unions representing public employees are not governed by the usual consumer protection or anti-trust laws, so abuses are common. Unions can charge whatever they wish. They can spend dues money on anything they want. Often, they do not have to disclose how dues money is spent to members. They can speak for employees without consulting or informing them. They can injure some members’ interests while advancing the interests of others. Unions even have the ability to prevent employees from getting help in their workplace from other sources. They are not governed by any obligation to provide quality service, and almost never have to seek approval of the people they represent in an election to continue as the exclusive representative.

Sometimes people have a faith-based objection to unions’ expenditures. To learn more about some of the major public unions’ expenditures in light of common faith beliefs, click here.

How does IFT spend my dues money?

Illinois Federation of Teachers

IFT collected $25 million in dues and fees from its members in calendar year 2020, according to reports the union must file with the U.S. Dept. of Labor.

In 2020 alone:

  • $922,000 was spent by IFT on political activity and lobbying.
  • $33,000 was spent on hotels, including $17,000 spent at a four-star resort near Chicago.
  • $160,000 was spent on attorneys and private consultants.
  • $5,200 was spent on food and catering.

IFT paid 127 officers and employees in 2020. Of these, 51 were paid six figures and nine were paid over $200,000. Director of field service Michelle Standridge received $231,400.

Also, as of the end of 2020, IFT has accumulated a stockpile of $13 million in spare cash.

IFT’s most recent LM-2 reports are available here: 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016.

A portion of the dues paid by IFT members also goes to support the American Federation of Teachers.

American Federation of Teachers

AFT collected $186 million from its members in fiscal year 2020.

  • $31.3 million was spent by AFT on divisive political candidates, causes and lobbying. This includes a $150,000 contribution to Emily’s List, an organization whose mission is to put Democratic, pro-abortion women into elected offices.
  • $8.5 million was paid or contributed to various organizations, many of which are ideologically driven.
  • $5.6 million was spent on airfare, hotels and travel. This includes $197,000 spent on a conference at the Flamingo Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. AFT also paid $85,000 for limousine and luxury chauffeuring services.
  • $9.7 million was spent on private attorneys and consultants.
  • $84,000 was spent on food and catering.

AFT paid 374 officers and employees in 2020, 235 of whom were paid six figures. AFT president Rhonda Weingarten received $453,000.

AFT’s most recent LM-2 reports are available here: 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016.