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.