Frequently Asked Questions


Why do we need unions?

Labor unions have been an important part of this country’s history.  Many teachers and education employees have sacrificed for the rights we now enjoy.  These early pioneers, perhaps one of your parents or grandparents, knew that only within the Union could they achieve on-the-job dignity and be better assured of decent wages, health benefits, reasonable working conditions, and job security—all foundations of Union representation.  Employers are organized.  They form organizations such as local Chambers of Commerce and state business and manufacturers’ associations.  These organizations advance employer interests with the state legislature, in the courts and at the bargaining table.  The only way employees can provide a check and balance to this power is to organize into unions.  Our union also advances your interests within the state legislature, state government departments (i.e. the Department of Public Instruction, State OSHA, Department of Workforce Development, etc.).  Having a voice to represent our interests is just good common sense.

What does the CEA do?

The CEA represents your employment-related interests with your employer and with the State and Federal governments, along with the Massachusetts Teachers’ Association (MTA) and the National Education Association (NEA).  The NEA is the largest union in America representing 2.7 million members from the education community in all 50 states.  To find out more about MTA  visit, and NEA, visit

What does the Massachusetts Teachers Association (MTA) do?

MTA together with CEA, your local Union, negotiates contracts, represents you in grievances and during disciplinary proceedings, works with you on legislative and political actions to advocate for the issues that affect you and your family, provides opportunities for education, informs our members about their union and workplace rights, offers scholarships for members and their families, and much more.

How do I join CEA and MTA?

Our Membership Secretary, Barbara Itkin, can be contacted at, plus she is present at the New Teacher Orientation.

What is a contract?

A contract spells out agreements between you and your employer including, but not limited to wages, benefits, holidays/sick/personal days, retirement benefits and any scheduling agreements.

Why is a contract so important?

There are several reasons:  It is a legal agreement between you and the your employer.  You have a voice in deciding your demands before contract negotiations begin.  A contract protects workers before contract negotiations even begin.  Without one you have little power in the workplace.  It requires a grievance system for resolving problems in the workplace.

How do I get a copy of my contract?

A current copy of the Unit A, B, D & E contracts can be found on the CEA website:

If I have a specific question about my right or the contract who do I contact?

Contact your building representative with questions or any member of the Executive Board:

How do I get involved?

We realize it is difficult to attend the board meetings each month, so here are other ways that you can get involved:

When I’m asked to cover do I have to? What if I don’t want to?

All Unit A members have by contract agreement, one (1) preparation period per day. This is a duty-free period. If you are asked to work or cover a class during your prep and you:

  1. Volunteer to do so: You are paid $25.00 covering pay.
  2. Don’t want to but are ordered to do so: You are paid your per diem rate.

If your principal/school secretary asks you to work/cover during your prep, you are free to volunteer to do so.

But if you don’t want to, then you must say:

“ I will work or cover during my prep only if you are ordering me to do so, and if I am paid per diem.”

If your principal orders you to work, you must do so; but you should be paid your per diem rate. Please notify whoever does payroll in your building to pay you your per diem rate. Keep a record and check your paystub.

What exactly is the dress code?

There is none other than “reasonable and appropriate”.