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EIU AFSCME Local 981

Frequently Asked Questions

What is AFSCME?

Serving as the nation’s largest public services employee union, AFSCME was formed in 1936 to represent public sector and service industry workers around the country. We are the largest union in the AFL-CIO, with over 1.6 million members internationally, 90,000 members in Illinois (housed under Council 31), and close to 140 strong in Local 981. AFSCME is now a leading voice for working families in Illinois.

When can I join?

You may sign a membership card any time after your first day of employment.  We offer the option of signing a card at all membership meetings and events.  You can also contact an officer for a card.

What are the advantages of becoming a full member?

The most important reason that an employee should become a member is to maximize our union’s strength and ability to secure better wages and benefits, working conditions, and fairness on the job.  We gain strength by everyone joining our union, and that gives you a voice in the workplace.  As a full member, you can attend monthly membership meetings, participate in officer elections, and vote on important issues, such as contract ratifications, strike authorizations, program sponsorships, etc.  After one year of membership, you may run for local office.

How does collective bargaining work? 

A committee of our members — chosen by the membership — sits down and hammers out an agreement known as a “union contract” on every issue of concern to our bargaining unit. The committee sits at the bargaining table as equals with management.  The union bargaining committee represents the united strength of all union members. The majority of members must approve the agreement before it can become accepted as a contract.

Does having a union mean there will be strikes? 

Not necessarily. A strike is just one tactic available to workers to pressure their employer and is a last resort.  It is rare when AFSCME members have found it necessary to strike to achieve dignity on the job.  Only members have the ability to vote on decisions related to a strike.

How much are dues?

Member dues are currently $29.02 per pay period (2024).  Dues are automatically deducted from your paycheck.

What happens to my dues?

Your dues pay for a wide range of resources, staff, services, and supplies that all exist for one reason: to help members improve their pay, benefits and working conditions.  Locals retain a portion of the dues to cover operations needs as determined by the membership and the Executive Board. Operating needs, for example, may include postage, posters, apparel, conference travel, member events, and other costs related to representing members and enabling them to participate. Council 31 and affiliates receive the largest portion of the dues to provide assistance to locals and members in areas such as contract negotiations, arbitration, research, and organizing. The International Union also receives portion of the dues to coordinate actions and to provide expert assistance to locals, councils, affiliates, and their members on a national level.

Do my dues pay for contributions to political candidates? 

No. Under federal law, and many state laws, union dues cannot be used directly to fund political candidates.

How does AFSCME support its political action? 

AFSCME members have a voluntary, independent political organization called PEOPLE — Public Employees Organized to Promote Legislative Equality. PEOPLE is the union’s political, legislative, and fundraising arm. It is supported by members’ voluntary donations and is one of the biggest political action committees in the nation. PEOPLE is run by AFSCME members who participate in committees at the local, state, and national levels. PEOPLE committees raise funds and work to elect politicians responsive to the needs of public service and health care workers.

Am I still represented if I do not join?

Yes, you will still receive the same representation and wages as full members.

What is a union steward?

The primary role of a union steward is to communicate with you and your co-workers. Stewards make themselves available to answer questions and assist employees with union issues in the workplace.  Stewards have been trained to resolve workplace problems and carry out grievances.  Each unit (Building Service, Clerical/Technical, Dining Service, Food Court/Catering) has a steward assigned to it.

How do I locate my steward?

A list of current union stewards is posted on our bulletin board at Old Main and they are listed on our Officer Roster.

When are meetings held?

General membership meetings are held the first Thursday of the month at 9:30AM, 1:00PM and 10:00PM.  You are contractually allowed one hour of paid time per month to attend.

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