The NEA and its state affiliates represent to teachers that union membership is the only way to have job protection and liability insurance coverage. However, teachers have a number of options besides belonging to the NEA or one of its state affiliates.

Considering that union dues for most full-time members in Colorado range from $700 to $900 per year (multiplied by the number of teachers in the district who are members), the initial evaluation should involve an analysis of whether the cost equals the value received. Many teachers have come to the conclusion it is not a good value, but are not aware of their options.

One option available for teachers is the creation of a local only teacher union (LOTU). A LOTU is a local union that represents teachers for collective bargaining negotiations and grievance administration, but the organization is not affiliated with the National Education Association or the American Federation Teachers. A LOTU allows teachers to continue to be covered to by the terms of a collective bargaining agreement, have an established grievance procedure, and have a salary schedule.

A LOTU can be established in one of two ways:

  1.  Severing the affiliation relationship between the local and the state and national associations by amending the local union constitution and bylaws; or
  2. Decertification of the NEA or AFT national and state chapter while simultaneously certifying the local education association as the sole bargaining representative.

If a union has not been certified as a bargaining representative, a group of teachers may choose a LOTU on the initial representation petition filed at the time that the teachers pursue an election.

Alternately, a third option is the creation of a personnel committee, which may consist of employees of all different classifications, i.e. certified as well as classified, who work with the administration to create a positive work culture and establish the policies and practices that allow for optimal employment relations for all of the staff members.