WEA and Unionism FAQ

Why should I join a union?

The WEA offers you a variety of protections. You have a contract, a contract that cannot be amended without your permission. You have 200 additional peers who stand behind you in everything. You have the 47,000 teachers in the OEA behind you and the 3.2 million teachers in the NEA behind you. There is power in numbers. Unions built the middle class in this country.

What specifically can WEA do for me?

In any situation where you are unsure if you are being treated appropriately or fairly, WEA is there to back you up. You have a building rep for any meeting at the building level, you have uniserv representatives and the OEA who know the law, and you have lawyers at your disposal. There are protections in place for you.

What are my dues and where do they go?

Your $100 (for 10 months of the year) funds the WEA, the OEA, and the NEA. You are a member of each of these organizations and you have an equal voice in how they are run. Your dues do not pay for political candidates or decisions. Your dues pay staff salaries and provide funds for the various services OEA offers to members.

Why should I contribute to Political Action Funds?

The people in charge of our government make decisions regarding every level of public education. By contributing to political action you contribute to education friendly candidates who listen to the OEA and the NEA and try to make public education the best it can be. Currently this includes candidates who: do not believe in merit pay, do not believe in high stakes testing, and who want to find a better way to make sure education is consistently funded.
In addition the funds go to defeating and passing ballot measures. In Oregon, dues have been spent over the years defeating ballot measures that are very damaging to education, mostly written by Bill Sizemore. Remember, all of your donations, up to $50 a year, per person, are tax deductible.

What if I don’t want to be in the Union?

OTSD is a fair share district. That means that teachers who do not join the union are still required to pay their “fair share.” So, if you don’t join you pay the money and get none of the services. Most of the districts in Oregon are fair share. Of the few that aren’t, David Douglas being the largest, most still have around 90-95% membership.

What is my job as a member of a union?

As a union member you have a few responsibilities. They are in the WEA constitution:
1. Attend meetings and participate in deliberations of the association.
2. Nominate candidates for leadership positions and vote in all elections
3. Vote on contract ratification
4. Run for office if you want to make change or want to help out
5. Ask questions when you have them

Who do I go to if I have a union issue?

There is a chain of command. Talk to your building rep. They should be able to get you in contact with who you need. Plus, it’s usually easier to talk to someone you know rather than someone you see twice a year at a large meeting.

Where do I get union information?

You will get information from a variety of sources. First and foremost your building rep will hold a monthly 10-minute meeting that will update you on executive council actions. Second, you will receive a monthly newsletters in your box from WEA, uniserv, and sometimes OEA. Read them. Also, each of these associations has up to date websites, check them out on a regular basis. There are links to the left.