Sunday, October 2, 2011

The OEA is our Organization. What does it do for us?"

We are the OEA
And the CTA and the NEA as well

As Substitute Teachers, we support our organizations with our dues.  .
What do our organizations do for us in return?
Quite a bit.  More than many of us realize.

The Oakland Education Association is our organization.  It represents us,
several thousand Oakland teachers, as well as certain other OUSD employees.  It
negotiates salaries, benefits, and conditions of employment on our behalf.  Over
the years, through the OEA we have obtained substantial improvements in our
terms, including increases in substitute teacher rates.  In recent years, during
an ongoing fiscal crisis, although our rates have not gone up, through the OEA
we have fended off efforts by the district to reduce compensation and rescind
improvements to conditions in our work, such as classroom size.

The OEA also represents us in the event that we have problems with our work as
substitutes.  Over the years, it has corrected payroll problems, restored
substitutes to site assignments, and resolved other disputes.  It has created
opportunities for substitute teachers to purchase medical insurance, and to
obtain benefits and full-time work as substitutes.  The contract between the OEA
and the OUSD that sets forth terms for teachers is posted on the OEA web site

Sections of the contract that pertain specifically to substitute teachers are at
Section 21.18, pages 81—85 of the contract.  Many other sections of the contract
also apply to substitute teachers.

The OEA also is our voice in seeking improvements in our work.  It has taken the
initiative, often in partnership with OUSD officials, to develop curriculum, to
incorporate teacher suggestions in a variety of policies.  During this difficult
economic period, and during an intense and often acrimonious debate about a wide
range of education policies, the OEA is our voice, speaking out in support of
public education, the critical role that teachers play in preparing our next
generation of citizens, and for support for our work and efforts.  OEA
activities are set forth in our web site,

The OEA is also affiliated with state and national organizations that support us
in many ways.  The California Teachers Association is the largest employee
organization in California, with about 350,000 members.  Most of our dues monies
go to the CTA.  In return, it provides us with direct support, including several
full-time staff who work in Oakland on our behalf.  It also provides funding for
training, special projects, and campaigns to support education.  As the largest
employee organization in California, the CTA also plays a major role in
political campaigns and ballot initiatives in support of public education and

The National Education Association, with over 3,000,000 members, is the largest
employee organization at the national level.  It plays a similar role at the
national level as the CTA and OEA play at state and local levels, advocating on
behalf of teachers and support for education.

In addition to their general advocacy, both the CTA and NEA provide a variety of
member services.  These services include legal services, specifically where
members face legal problems as a result of their classroom work.  The CTA and
NEW also offer financial advice, access to insurance, credit cards, and other
services at favorable rates.  They offer travel and other consumer discounts.
They also offer professional support and advice, training programs, and other
resources for us as teachers.  Their web sites, with detailed information about
activities and services, are at http://www.cta.organd

Our organizations ultimately depend upon our support in order to be effective on
our behalf.  Indeed, although the OEA has several paid professional staff to
provide support, most of its activities are carried out by unpaid volunteers,
members who have seen the importance of participating in actions for the good of
all, and who have also come to gain a great deal of satisfaction from their

Our substitute teachers site within the OEA web site,, provides more information concerning issues
of interest to substitute teachers as well as ways in which substitute teachers
may become more involved in working for improvements for us all.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Oakland Education Association Dues and Membership Rules

The Oakland Education Association represents all classroom teachers employed by the Oakland Unified School District, including substitute teachers. The OEA and OUSD bargain to set compensation rates, employee rights and responsibilities, and other terms of employment for all OUSD classroom teachers.

Among terms of employment, all classroom teachers, including substitute teachers, must pay a fee a condition of employment with the OUSD. The fee is the equivalent of dues established for membership in the Oakland Education Association.

The Oakland Education Association is affiliated with the California Teachers Association, the largest employee organization in California, which sets membership dues rates.

At present, annual membership dues for substitute teachers are $408.50. By agreement with the OUSD, this sum is collected from substitute teachers by deductions from monthly earnings during the ten months of the school year, September through June. Thus, with two pay periods per month, $20.43 is deducted from each paycheck received by an OUSD substitute teacher. The amount deducted will not vary regardless of how many days within the pay period the substitute teacher has worked. That is, $20.43 will be deducted whether the substitute teacher has worked just one day or ten days within a pay period.

Substitute teachers are not required to join the OEA, and deduction of the equivalent of OEA dues does not automatically provide membership status. To become an OEA member, a substitute teacher must complete an OEA membership application, and submit it to the OEA. That’s all—no additional membership fees or dues are required.

OEA membership has important advantages. The OEA represents OUSD substitute teachers; membership allows substitute teachers the right to participate in the OEA, to vote for its officers and representatives, to participate in its meetings, and to vote on all manner of policies and decisions that the OEA undertakes.

OEA membership also provides automatic membership in the California Teachers Association and the National Education Association. Both are important advocates for public education and for classroom teachers. Both also provide important benefits for members. The CTA provides members access to a credit union, other financial services, auto and homeowners insurance, legal services, and consumer discounts. Both organizations sponsor trainings, conferences, and other professional development resources. Their websites are CTA.Org and NEA.Org.

OEA membership is maintained month-by-month for every month in which full monthly dues are paid. Thus, OUSD substitute teachers who do not work in both payroll periods of a month will have their membership lapse for that month. The OEA has never sought to deny any substitute teacher any benefit of full membership for a period in which for which full monthly dues were not deducted or otherwise paid. Some substitute teachers, however, prefer to pay their full annual dues at once, at the beginning of the school year, to be sure to maintain their membership. Any substitute teacher who chooses to do this should speak with Linda Smith, at the OEA office, to find out how to submit annual dues, and to follow a procedure to be sure that additional dues are not deducted from OUSD earnings.

Some OUSD substitute teachers also work as substitutes for other school districts. Some have dues or fees deducted from their earnings in these other districts as well, and are concerned that they are paying multiple dues. Dues deducted from OUSD earnings, as well as those from most school districts, are apportioned between the OEA, or other local affiliate, the CTA, and the NEA. Dues retained by the OEA or other local affiliate are kept at the local level. Dues submitted to the CTA and NEA from more than one local affiliate during the same month do, however, represent duplicate payment of dues to the CTA and NEA. A substitute teacher may request a refund of such duplicate dues to the CTA and NEA. To pursue such refunds, Linda Smith recommends that a substitute teacher inquire with the local affiliate with whom the substitute teacher has the least employment.

Substitute teachers who work for school districts where classroom teachers are represented by affiliates of the other national teachers organization, the American Federation of Teachers, will not be able to pursue refunds of any dues paid to either the OEA or to the AFT affiliate for the same month. The two organizations are independent of each other, and thus, dues paid to both are not duplicate payments, but rather payments to two separate organizations.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Overview of the OUSD substitute teacher assignment system

Did You Know?

The OUSD substitute teaching system is complicated, intended to balance the District’s need to fill hundreds of positions each day on short notice while offering available assignments to the large pool of substitute teachers in a fair and reliable manner. In recent years, the OUSD substitute teacher assignment system has been able to fill 94 percent of requests. During the same period, most substitute teachers seem to feel that they have obtained all the assignments that they were available to accept.

A majority of assignments are made through requests for a specific substitute teacher. Both regular classroom teachers and school site administrations are able to make such requests. Many substitute teachers have developed contacts and relationships with individual teachers and school sites and as a result receive requests for substitute teaching assignments.

Substitution assignments are also posted by the OUSD online, and are available for substitute teachers to peruse and select on the District’s Web page, SmartFindExpress. The District also maintains an automated telephone callout system that calls substitute teachers at random to offer them assignments.

Substitute teacher needs and interests are varied. Some are available for only occasional assignments; others seek assignments for every day. Although there are days when assignments are not made to all available substitute teachers, and although some substitute teachers obtain assignments only through persistent efforts through the system, most substitutes seem to be satisfied with the system.

A good overview of the substitute teacher system, Substitute Teacher Handbook, 2010—2011, which includes instructions for using SmartFindExpress as well as District help lines, was distributed at the August 2010 District orientation and training for substitute teachers.

How about you? Do you have problems with the system? Do you have suggestions for its improvement? Other comments? Send them in, to Substitutes@OaklandEA.Org, either for posting on our Substitute Teachers Blog, or for OEA Substitute Teachers Caucus representatives to take up with the OUSD substitute office.

Monday, January 3, 2011

January 2011

OUSD Substitute Teacher Payroll is going paperless!  No longer will subs have to submit time sheets at the substitute office at the end of every payroll cycle.  Instead, the payroll system will draw information from employee records and assignments posted on SmartEmployeeExpress to prepare paychecks.  

Against the obvious convenience of not having to go in person to the substitute office to file a time sheet every pay period, substitute teachers would do well to document their substitution assignments and confirm that their assignments have been posted on SmartEmployee Express.  
The January Substitute Teachers professional development in-service morning training, to be conducted on January 28, at the McClymonds Auditorium, will focus on training in using the new payroll system.  

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Latest Word - December 2010

The OUSD online, automated substitute teacher assignment system, SmartFindExpress, is unchanged from previous years.

In late September, Interim Executive Officer Barbara Gee sent notice to all OUSD substitute teachers that the OUSD had been forced to lay off an unspecified number of regular classroom teachers, and that under the California Education Code these laid off teachers had preference for assignment to work as substitute teachers.

At the same time that this notice was mailed, substitute teachers and school sites experienced problems in using the OUSD online system for requesting substitute teachers and for obtaining substitute teaching assignments.

As a consequence, a number of substitute teachers became concerned that the established online system for assigning substitute teaching assignments had been disrupted by an obligation to first offer substitute assignments to laid-off teachers.

This was not the case.

In discussions with OEA representatives, OUSD officials have confirmed that the online assignment system, SmartFindExpress, has not been changed. In fact, only four laid-off OUSD teachers have asserted a right under the CA Education Code for preferential assignments to substitute teaching assignments. Their right to preference has been met without any change to the normal system as used by OUSD substitute teachers. There have been instances of problems with the online assignment system, but these problems have been quickly resolved and are completely unrelated to an obligation to provide assignment preference to laid-off teachers.

To learn more about how the OUSD system for making substitute teaching assignments works, please go to the Did You Know tab on the OEA Substitute Teachers site.

Should any substitute teacher experience problems with SmartFindExpresss or with other aspects of the OUSD substitute teaching assignment system, please inform your OEA representatives via email at Substitutes@OaklandEA.Org.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Latest Word November 2010

Welcome to the Sub Café

In this corner of the OEA web site, we hope to include a monthly Substitute Teacher e-newsletter. We aim to have column from the Substitute Caucus Chair Andy Young, letters to the editor, the blog, Sub Life and articles addressing other sub issues.

Current articles being researched include: An assessment of what benefits are included in union membership and what benefits might be available from California Teachers Association and the Oakland Unified School District for free or a fee. We are also following up a report that sub may face dismissal from the district using a measure of reaching the forth of four negative work place infractions or events without being able to document any of the infractions or events but the last.

We also hope to follow up on the letter from anonymous about changes in job referrals.

Get involved. Please stay a while.

Your wait staff

Thursday, October 21, 2010

"Why it is Harder to Find Jobs: and Why it Oughtn't be Ex-Teachers vs. Subs”

By Anonymous

This is my third year being a substitute teacher for OUSD. I try to work as many days as I can, up to five days a week. And each year it seems incrementally harder to find work than the last. Talking to older subs, I have heard them say that they used to get tons of calls for jobs, back when it was all done telephonically, when the demand for needed substitute positions far exceeded the supply of substitute professionals, before the recession. But this year has been special. And although not an expert on the subject, I can tell you some of "what" has changed and also some of the "why.”

At the OEA Substitute Caucus two years ago, I remember sitting in on a Bargaining Session (with the same team in 2008/2009 as now in 2010/2011!!!) when there was talk about trying to "bargain" into the OUSD-OEA contract some "language" for rewarding long-time subs with some sort of benefits package. This idea was based on a precedent set in Los Angeles that substitute teachers who work at least 100 days in the previous year are awarded a form of benefits if they continue to work a certain amount of days the following year. Uninsured, this was and still is a very important issue for me. Ultimately the Bargaining team had to back off of this proposal. The following school year (2009/2010) there was a large number of teacher lay-offs in LA, and these laid-off teachers were given priority status over (regular) substitute teachers for acquiring substitute jobs within their district. At the time, this was a big deal because it became harder for long-time subs to maintain their benefits package through working consistently. This generated some animosity between the two groups. I don't know what has become of that situation today...

So, mirroring LA last year, OUSD has laid off a large number of teachers this year. I received a memo in the mail with some confusing jargon about teacher lay-offs that I thought was unrelated to how I go about getting jobs in this district. A fair number of my jobs come from teachers I have subbed for before, requesting me to come back, who put my employee ID directly into the system. Sometimes the secretary or assistant principal does this for them. But as I now understand it, this year there has been a change in the way substitute jobs are created. This request-method may have been replaced with a system where all jobs are listed on the Smartfind Express website to be offered first to laid-off teachers and second to (regular) substitute teachers. SO. That may be why there are less jobs on the system these days. This is what I believe the memo, which you may or may not have received, was trying to communicate.

A final point: This obviously won't generate the same ex-teacher vs. sub animosity it did in LA, particularly because benefits aren’t on the line. I still believe that this is neither groups’ fault. With no official contract and an attempted imposed contract still looming from last year (and the year before that), it is especially important to stick together as coworkers in the crazy profession of teaching: substitute or otherwise.