What is the NSEA?
The Nebraska State Education Association was created in 1867; it is the oldest of the major professional associations in Nebraska. Since its creation NSEA has served as an advocate for teachers and students in the Nebraska public school system. In 1967, collective bargaining was realized in Nebraska, thus giving teachers a voice in determining their working and teaching conditions. NSEA began to provide members assistance in bargaining local contracts and dealing with member rights issues. In 1998, NSEA changed its bylaws to allow education support professionals to join the organization. The NSEA is an affiliate of the National Education Association.
What is the purpose of joining NSEA/NEA?
The purpose of joining would depend upon your individual or local needs. If your goal is to create a bargaining group and put what your employer is currently providing to you into a contract so that your benefits can be protected and not be arbitrarily taken away, NSEA can assist you. If your goal is to gain access to liability insurance, discount auto insurance, credit cards, home mortgages, homeowners insurance, car rental program or a magazine service at a reduced or potentially less than your current rate, NSEA can assist you. Membership to NSEA/NEA will give you access to training to improve your bargaining skills and to the NEA Member Benefits program.
What can NSEA/Local Educ. Assoc. achieve when bargaining for Education Support Professionals?
The more appropriate question is, "What can NSEA provide ESP members in the bargaining process?" The NSEA can offer bargaining tools to be utilized by the ESP members in their pursuit to improve working conditions. Many of the same bargaining tools that are used by teachers to bargain and maintain the contract will be extended to ESP members. Assistance will be available for things such as: selecting and training a bargaining team, setting bargaining goals and strategies, data gathering, developing and presenting proposals, and grievance processing. These and many more resources are available through NSEA to be utilized by ESP members to address changing working conditions.
I don't understand the $1 million liability policy? What is it?
The liability policy is provided with your membership through NEA. The policy is designed to protect association members from personal financial liability for incidents covered by the policy arising out of their educational employment activities or duties. The program provides insurance coverage of $1 million per incident for a variety of situations, and includes legal defense for incidents covered by the policy. If you are ever involved in an incident or situation where you believe you may be sued for something that happened while you were on the job, contact your Organizational Specialist.
What assistance can I expect from NSEA if I have an employment related concern?
As a member you will receive Field Staff assistance:
- To address a complaint or grievance with your employer.
- To deal with a disciplinary action with your employer.
- To protect rights you may have in a contract.
Field Staff and, as provided by NSEA policies, Attorney assistance is available:
- If a member is involved in a corporal punishment case.
- If a member is involved in an insured negligence case.
- In an unemployment compensation case where the facts show that a member's statutory rights have been violated.
- During a contract dispute where the facts show that the contractual rights of the member(s) have been violated.
- Limited attorney assistance may be provided in a Workmen's Compensation issue for the sole purpose of reviewing the status of a member's claim.
I get along fine with my supervisor, why should I join?
Regardless of how well you get along with your supervisor, you still need the Association. It's the only vehicle we have to work cooperatively for our own interests, to solve problems, to provide protection, and to help us do a better job. The Association is a stable force not dependent upon whim or "buddyism;" Association goals are clear and our strategies can be very effective. People experience more self-growth and satisfaction if they do for themselves rather than rely on paternalism or whim. Your supervisor could leave the school district and your new supervisor may not be willing to continue your current benefits.
The dues are too high I can't afford it!
You can't afford not to! Many occupation groups pay dues that are more than ours. They do it because they realize that dues are an investment in their future welfare. You get what you pay for. You get free legal protection, representation services, professional development opportunities, discount economic benefits and more. In April 2001, the NSEA Delegate Assembly adopted a new dues structure for ESP membership. The new dues structure is based on the annual salary of the member and recognizes "negotiations" as a benefit of membership. Visit the NSEA ESP DUES site for more information.
I don't like unions.
A "union" is no more than a name that an organization of employees chooses to call itself. Some traditional private sector unions in the U.S. use the strike as a means to resolve their problems. In Nebraska, strikes are illegal. Under the collective bargaining law, contract disputes are settled through the Commission of Industrial Relations - not strikes. Because NSEA and NEA do far more for members than simply provide bargaining support, we choose to call our organization an "association." Whatever we call ourselves, the fact remains that we're an organization of people helping people. We can be no better nor worse than our members allow us to be by their support.
I am interested, so how do I join?
If you are interested in becoming a member of NSEA, you can contact the office at 402-475-7611 or 1-800-742-0047. If you know who your Organizational Specialist is, ask to speak to that person and you will be provided the necessary information. If you do not know your Organizational Specialist, inform the receptionist that you wish to join and need a membership form.
Q: Who is entitled to ESP Membership?
A: Employees who are not required to hold a certificate as an educator but are part of the staff supporting the education of the students are Education Support Professionals. This may include paraeducators, secretarial personnel, food service, custodians, transportation personnel, maintenance personnel, skilled trades services, health and student services, security services and technicians.
Organizing the local and the bargaining unit
Q: Can ESP members organize and bargain Collectively?
A: According to state statute, all public employees have the right to form, join or participate in an employee organization. This statute also gives all public employees the right to bargain collectively. However, there are questions of recognition and the composition of the bargaining unit that may need to be defined by the CIR.
Q: Can ESP be included in a local association with teachers?
A: Yes. It is possible for the ESP to be included in the local education association. In order for this to be possible, it would be necessary for the local association to change the bylaws to allow ESP to be included.
Q: If Education Support Professionals are included in the same local association with teachers, does this mean that the teachers would be bargaining for the ESP with the school district?
A: Yes, ESP could be in the same bargaining unit as teachers only IF the school district recognizes the expanded bargaining unit for purposes of collective bargaining or if the expanded unit is certified by the CIR. In this situation, the ESP and the teachers would be on the same bargaining team.
A: No, IF the school district and the CIR resist incorporating ESP and teachers into a bargaining unit, the ESP could proceed to establish a separate bargaining unit but remain under the local association umbrella.
Q: What benefits would ESP have access to through the Association?
A: ESP would have access to all the NEA Member Benefits. They would have access to the assistance and training provided by the NSEA Field staff and to legal assistance in accordance with the NSEA Legal services policy. ESP would have access to the benefits in a contract that were negotiated with the school district.
Q: Do ESP have the same job protection rights as teachers?
A: No. Only certificated school employees have guaranteed due process through state statutes. Job protection for ESP employees will have to be gained through bargaining and or legislative action.
Q: What statutory and constitutional rights do ESP have relating to unfair dismissal, reprimand, or suspension?
A: ESP do not have any specific statutory job security. Job security rights would have to be established either through negotiated agreements or legislation. Currently, ESP rights are those of any other citizen - their rights are found via constitutional prohibitions/rights or statutory constraints. For example, Education Support Professionals are granted some protection via the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Q: What are the dues for ESP?
A: ESP dues are based on salary ranges and whether or not the local association is the bargaining agent. If the local is not yet bargaining for ESP, the dues would be located under the "Not Bargaining Agent" column. This status continues until the year following recognition by the school district. Full-time/part-time ESP status is already calculated into the NEA dues. If the ESP receives a pay increase after joining NSEA the member should notify their Organizational Specialist or NSEA so dues may be adjusted, if necessary.
If you have additional questions, contact NSEA at 1-800-742-0047.