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.