Frequently Asked Questions

Who Is Eligible For Education Fund Services?

To be eligible for services, you must:

  • Work in a participating SEIU bargaining unit position for a contributing employer. (Union-sponsored opportunities are also available for some SEIU 521 and 1021 members: learn more.)
  • Have completed your initial probationary period
  • If you are a benefited regular full or part-time employee who meets the two qualifications above, you are eligible for all our services including career counseling, College Courses, Tuition Support and, for Kaiser Permanente, Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette and Legacy Health System employees, Wage Replacement.
  • Effective June 1, 2020, “on-call”, “per-diem”, “services-as-needed” and “short-hour” workers who have worked a minimum of two shifts each month, for the most recent six months are eligible for most Ed Fund programs and services, with the exception of Wage Replacement. (Those who have worked fewer than the required minimum are only eligible for Ed Fund programs and services that are under 40 hours.) View an FAQ about this expanded eligibility.

How Do I Get Started?

The best way to start is to meet with an Education Fund Career Counselor, explore your options, and create an education plan. Call 1-888-872-4606 to make an appointment with a counselor.

How Can I Find Out About Which Jobs Are In-Demand At My Employer?

For current hiring needs, you can check with your Human Resources (HR) department and look at job listings. For longer-term employment trends, call 1-888-872-4606 to make an appointment with an Education Fund Career Counselor.

What are the tax implications of the educational benefits?

The financial assistance we provide to you for taking Ed Fund educational* programs generally falls within the IRS tax-exempt limit of $5,250 per year per student. The $5,250 cap applies to the sum of all Ed Fund financial assistance provided for all educational* programs paid within the calendar year. By law, tax-free benefits under an educational assistance program are limited to $5,250 per student per year. The Education Fund does not withhold federal, state, or local taxes from your student reimbursement. You may have a taxable event if the sum of all payments made to you for educational* assistance exceeds the tax-exempt limit of $5,250 per year. Please consult your tax professional with any tax questions.

*Assistance for the Ed Fund’s Wage Replacement program is considered a stipend, not educational assistance, and is therefore 100% taxable. A separate 1099 is issued for Wage Replacement vs. all other educational program financial assistance.

What Programs And Services Does The Education Fund Offer?

Our main services are career counseling, short-term training to build skills and knowledge, and financial support for employees who want to upgrade into a new position with their current employer. Contact a career counselor today, or browse the Education & Advancement and Continuing Education sections of our website to learn more.

How Do You Decide When To Do Apprenticeship Programs?

Apprenticeship programs are jointly implemented and are offered through coordination with our union and employer partners. These programs are often based on position need when employers can confirm there will be jobs available at the end of the training program.

Can My Children Access This Benefit?

No, this benefit is only for people who currently meet our eligibility requirements described above.

I Want To Take Classes But My Supervisor Won’t Give Me The Time Off. Can The Education Fund Help?

The Education Fund is a separate organization from your union and your employer, and cannot get involved in workplace issues. We can provide a letter explaining the Education Fund benefits which you can give to your supervisor. You can also ask your union steward for assistance.

Where Does The Education Fund’s Funding Come From?

Our funding comes almost entirely from employer contributions, along with some federal, state, and local grants to our sister organization, the Shirley Ware Education Center (SWEC). Employers are required to pay into the Education Fund through their contracts with your union. The Education Fund does NOT receive union dues money.

What Exactly Is A Labor-Management Education Fund?

The Education Fund is a benefit obtained through the collective bargaining process that exists to provide training and educational opportunities for eligible employees. Just like your union bargains for healthcare and pension benefits, they also bargain for the education benefits which are provided by the Education Fund. Separate from your union and employer, the Education Fund is an independent Taft-Hartley Trust Fund under IRS tax code 509(c)(9).

How Is The Education Fund Governed?

The Education Fund is governed by a Board of Trustees – equally representing participating unions and participating employers. Trustees, whether they represent a union or an employer, are responsible individually and collectively for ensuring that Education Fund monies are used for the benefit of employees. View a legal document about the Fund’s governance.

How Did The Education Fund Get Started?

In the late 1990’s, many employers began experiencing difficulty in recruiting staff into entry-level healthcare positions. A group of long-term care employers, in response to Union complaints about understaffing, asked the Union to assist with the recruitment of Certified Nurse Assistants (CNAs). The Union responded with a plan to recruit, train and support people from low-income communities in Oakland to become CNAs. The first programs were funded by the City of Oakland with money from the federal government.

This led to the birth of the Shirley Ware Education Center (SWEC). SWEC worked with employers, such as Kaiser Permanente, to provide training for employees. This training was funded primarily through public and private grants. At the end of the initial program, 98 percent of participants successfully completed the training program and were subsequently hired into upgraded positions. Hundreds of workers have since benefited from training. A key to the success of these training programs was that they were labor/management partnerships offered through SWEC. SEIU and employers worked together to ensure success. While these programs were successful, there were limits to what could be done working with grants only.

In 2004, SEIU UHW-West and a number of employers bargained a Labor Management Education Fund, which became the SEIU-UHW West & Joint Employer Education Fund. SWEC has since been integrated into the Education Fund.