18-Year Teamster Applauds Local 727 Benefit Funds
The rising cost of education is a concern across the nation — a fact that is not lost on CVS pharmacist Rose Hillmara.
Hillmara, an 18-year Teamster member, has two children in college, and she says her family is able to make it work thanks in large part to the Teamsters Local 727 Legal and Educational Assistance Benefit.
“The benefit has been amazing, and it’s a painless process,” said Hillmara, who works at the CVS Clinic at 845 W. Wilson in Chicago. “People need to know that these benefits are there for them to use.”
CVS pharmacists are some of the thousands of Teamsters Local 727 members whose collective bargaining agreements include the Local 727 Legal and Educational Assistance Benefit, for which employers pay all contributions.
The Legal and Educational Assistance Board of Trustees allocates funds each school year to provide tuition reimbursement for participants, their spouses, and all dependents under the age of 27 who are full-time college students at accredited colleges. In the past, participants have received up to $10,000 in tuition reimbursement per year per student. Participants also have received up to $2,500 in tuition reimbursement per year for attending an accredited college on a part-time basis (12 or more semester hours).
The Board of Trustees distributed a record $3 million in tuition reimbursement to participants in 2015. The Trustees have allocated another $3 million for tuition reimbursement in 2016. Since the program’s inception in 1999, the Board of Trustees has distributed more than $18 million in Educational Assistance Benefits.
Teamsters Local 727 negotiated for this unparalleled benefit in 2010 after CVS pharmacists made it clear how important it was to them. The union is preparing to begin negotiations with CVS management on a new contract for about 150 Chicago-area pharmacists, whose current contract expires May 7, 2016.
“It is incredible to see the impact this benefit has had on so many of our members and their families,” said John Coli Jr., President of Local 727 and Trustee for the Local 727 Benefit Funds. “We fought hard for it, and the results really speak for themselves.”
Hillmara’s son is a freshman and her daughter a junior at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and she has another daughter in high school who also plans to attend college.
“My dues money comes back to me and then some through these benefits — and that’s on top of having the union behind me,” Hillmara said.
For the legal portion of the benefit, participants can receive up to 45 hours of free legal representation per year for matters such as real estate transactions, traffic offenses and wills.
Illinois Advocates, LLC is the exclusive provider of legal representation for Local 727 Legal Assistance Benefit participants. The firm is located at 77 W. Washington Street, Suite 2120, Chicago, IL 60602. Their attorneys also are available to meet participants at their worksites, the Benefit Funds office or the local union office.
Paperwork for the 2015-16 school year Educational Assistance Benefit will be made available in June. This benefit is only available to members that have the Legal and Educational Assistance Fund in their contract.
For more information on the Legal and Educational Assistance Benefit, contact the Benefit Funds office at (773) 685-0340.