12 Days of Unionism

Every year, the IEA advocates for more state funding for higher education, P-12 education and early childhood education.🔔🎶

Your union helped pass the historic evidence-based funding model for our P-12 schools, helping to make our schools more equitably funded instead of relying so heavily on local property taxes. Over the last several years, the Illinois budget has included additional monies for education, totaling over $1.5 billion.

With adequate funding, our schools, colleges and universities can make sure they are providing the best possible public education to all of our students.

Safe travels to those visiting family and loved ones this weekend. Stay warm!


The Educational Support Professional Council Openings

The Education Support Professional currently has openings in the following positions.

  • NORTH/CENTRAL SECTIONAL REP. ALTERNATE (INTERIM) – Members from North Central Regions: 15-25, 37, 38, 40, 44, 49, 51, 53, 54, 60, 61, 63, 65 and 66 can apply to fill
  • SOUTH/CENTRAL SECTIONAL REP. ALTERNATE (INTERIM) – Members from South Central Regions 1-14, 45, 47, 48 and 62 can apply to fill

If you are interested in filling one of these positions on an interim basis until the spring election please reach out to your region chair and have them nominate you at the next IEA Board of Director’s meeting.

Consider running for the IEA Education Support Professional Council in the spring election.

Please review the current ESP Council roster to see the upcoming openings in this spring election. It is extremely important that we have a full roster so ESPs have the representation they deserve at the table. For information, please contact Arlene Criglar at arlene.criglar@ieanea.org .


The 12 Days of Unionism

It pays to be an IEA member.

Benefits include: free term life insurance, additional insurance for disability, long-term care, pet and home, low interest and reward credit cards, NEA auto buying and car rental program as well as hundreds of discounts and coupons on the My Deals app.

IEA’s Opportunity Coalition works to reduce the impact of the opportunity gaps facing students in our community.

We offer leadership development as well as financial & technical support to educators interested in racial, social and educational justice.


12 Days of Unionism

As we have been getting closer to the holiday season it’s been extremely busy and stressful. I know you all can relate!! The truth is I just haven’t been able to keep up with the daily posts, but I don’t want to miss sharing these important reminders so here we are…catching up with days 1-8.

🔔 We have more work to do…please go to www.iearespect.org to see how we can advocate and bring the change we need so members can get the compensation and rESPect they deserve.

🔔 Unionized workers make 20 percent more than nonunion workers. And unions significantly reduce the wage gap for women, people of color and other minority groups.

🔔 In 1983, the IEA worked with the General Assembly to pass the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act (IELRA) which gives Illinois educators the right to organize and collectively bargain.

🔔 Prior to the IELRA, it was ILLEGAL for educators to go on strike. Members would often end up in jail – just for using their voice to advocate for a fair contract.

🔔 Your personal information is protected by law, thanks to the IEA. It is illegal for school districts to provide your private information, even when someone files a FOIA to get it.

🔔 In 2019, the IEA helped pass Senate Bill 1794 into law. The law prohibits employers from disclosing the following information of any employee: home address, DOB, personal phone number and email, union membership status and communications with labor organizations.

🔔 IEA launched the rESPect campaign to improve the economic conditions for Education Support Professionals (ESPs) – nurses, secretaries, paraprofessionals, bus drivers, mechanics, cooks, custodians, library aides and others.

🔔 We are advocating for higher wages, affordable health insurance, a Tier 2 pension fix, and opportunities for growth.

🔔 Have you taken the pledge? Voice your support: bit.ly/IEArespect

🔔 The IEA worked to make sure the right to collectively bargain was added to the Illinois Constitution. Voters passed the Workers’ Rights Amendment this November. It means our right to collectively bargain our wages, pensions, hours, working conditions and so much more are now protected and enshrined in the Illinois Constitution.

🔔 IEA looks out for your quality of life, ensuring your contract provides for work/life balance and good, affordable healthcare.

🔔 In 2022, the IEA passed a law to help support staff and teachers/professors who had exhausted their sick and personal time because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The law provided COVID administrative days for all employees to use for any COVID-19 related reason and also offered paycheck protection to hourly employees in the event their school should close.

🔔 Education is the only profession that received COVID administrative days.

🔔 Due to efforts by the NEA, over 360,000 educators and public service workers have received $24 billion in student loan forgiveness through the Limited PSLF Waiver. Working to cancel student debt not only provides relief to current educators, but also makes higher education more accessible for aspiring educators.

🔔 Drafted by the IEA, HB 12 has expanded coverage of the Family and Medical Leave Act to thousands of education support professionals (ESPs) across the state.

🔔 Previously, to be eligible for FMLA an employee must have worked 1,250 hours during the previous year. This disqualified many ESPs due to the limited number of days they are able to work during a school year. HB 12 reduces the minimum threshold to 1,000 hours, so that more ESPs can qualify.



Virtual Professional Development: Proactive Behavior Strategies for ESP

Date: January 12th, 2023 Webinar: Free to IEA Members

Presenter: Sue Lyons, 321 Insight Description: As we start the new year, we will continue to be managing some challenging behaviors!

This session will provide strategies for IEA ESP members allowing them to implement the strategies right away to address the challenging behaviors and often preventing them from happening. During this session IEA ESP Members will:

· Gain a deeper understanding of the root causes of many behavior challenges

· Understand the importance of educator mindset to have a positive impact on the overall effectiveness with students

· Learn proactive strategies you can implement right away to prevent many challenging behaviors

Register at: https://forms.gle/FQc79N8ptzdfRCNP9

For more information contact Mary Jane Morris at maryjane.morris@ieanea.org


Education Support Professional Awards, Grants, and Scholarships

Don’t miss these great opportunities.
ESP STAR award: 
Nominate one or more special ESPs for a STAR award! Nominations accepted monthly.

SCORE grants: Grants for up to $1,000 are available for IEA members and their local associations to collaborate and create opportunities for community service or school projects. Apply for a SCORE grant by Jan. 15. Please watch and share SCORE grant recipient Jennifer Finley’s video  about her project that put books and comfort animals into emergency vehicles in her community for kids in traumatic situations.

Athletic grants: California Casualty’s Thomas R. Brown Athletics Grant program will award $1,000 grants to school athletics programs. Apply for an athletics grant by Jan. 15.

$2,500 for college: The Burroughs Education Scholarship, sponsored by Woodruff Johnson & Evans Law Offices, will be awarded to a college-bound high school senior with at least one parent who is a school employee. Applications will be accepted through Jan. 31.

NEA State and Local grants: Funded grant requests range from $3,000 to $25,000 and focus on building family/community partnerships or supporting educators across their career continuum to ensure student success. 2022-23 grant program information and application.

Did you get your ESP Insider yesterday?

The ESP Insider is a digital newsletter for Education Support Professional members of the Illinois Education Association. It has important updates, dates, and ESP Celebrations. We definitely deserve some celebrations. If you haven’t received your ESP Insider in your personal email contact IEA Connect at https://ieanea.org/ieaconnect/ for support.

  • Did you know we are bring RESPECT to our members? We need you. Click to find out more.
  • Did you know you have an Education Support Professionals Council that advocates for you? Consider joining our team in this spring IEA election. Nomination forms will be due in mid January. Questions to Arlene.Criglar@ieanea.org.
  • Did you know IEA has been building and creating more and better resources and job related professional development for education support professionals? Go to your Insider for more information.

You will need to log in to Members Only to view using your member ID. Contact IEA Connect for assistance.


Join RESPECT today!

RESPECT | Raising Education Support Professionals by Elevating Careers Together is a statewide effort by support staff in Illinois schools, Pre-K through college, with the support of IEA staff, to improve working conditions. This is a long-term campaign made up of short-term goals. In 2022-23, we hope to:

  • Pass legislation to improve wages and retirement security; including a $20/hour minimum wage.
  • Create a library of model contract language for support staff locals.
  • Organize, organize, organize!

Whether you are a school secretary, paraprofessional, groundskeeper, bus driver, cafeteria worker, librarian, safety personnel, or you provide support to your school/campus in any other way, this campaign is for you.

Sign Up and Make Your Voice Heard!



Welcome!! IEA announced a new organizing victory in Lansing District 158 and welcomed LEFA (Lansing Education Foundation Association), a new ESP local, to the IEA-NEA family! 🥳

Congratulations!! Membership increase in the Sycamore Education Support Staff Association (Region 22): Beginning last winter, more than 40 secretaries, nurses, receptionists, and security assistants campaigned to join their district’s existing support staff local. The local is now roughly 120 members strong and has grown by over 50% in this victorious campaign. *Congratulations, Sycamore Education Support Staff Association! *🥳