What are my dues and where do they go are often two questions that get asked by union members. Those are very legitimate questions and I hope to give some clarity.
First let me discuss how dues are assessed. Unlike the teachers whose dues are based on the full time equivalency (FTEs), the dues for educational support professionals (ESPs) of which paraprofessionals are one of the categories are assessed dues based on their earnings. This is done by taking the state average salary for teachers and then breaking that down into percentages based on that salary. Currently, the average salary for teachers in Minnesota is around $64,000 per year. The different levels are 70% and up, 50% to 69%, 33% to 49%, 15% to 32%, 7% to 14% and 6% and below. In Bloomington the majority of paraprofessionals fall in the 33% to 49% category or below with some falling in 50% to 69% category.
So what am I paying for? Your dues that you pay are paid to four different unions in which you belong. First is the local dues which go to the BFP. The BFP charges a flat rate of $80 per year to all union members. Those dues are used to pay stipends for building reps and executive officers as well as to purchase office supplies and fund union items for members.
Next your dues go to Education Minnesota, our statewide union. For EdMN dues there are three flat rate assessments. They are $7 for organizing for settlement. This was formally known as the strike fund but since strikes are pretty rare, these funds are used for grants that locals can request for organizing in their union. The BFP is currently in the process of applying for one of these grants. The second assessment is $25 for the EdMN political action committee. The third assessment is for EdMN Foundation for Excellence In Teaching and Learning. This foundation provides grants to educators to purchase supplies and other materials for classrooms. Finally, the rest of your state dues are assessed based on the earnings as described above.
The last part of your dues pay for national dues. In Minnesota, we are members of both the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the National Education Association. These dues are also assessed based on the wages earned each year. These national dues are what pay for the $1,000,000 liability insurance policy as well as some of the benefit programs available through the national organizations.