Your Union

Let’s Dispel the Myths about Unionism

Myth: I don’t need a union

Fact: OECTA research in 2004 shows that 84 per cent of beginning teachers would choose OECTA over other unions. Teachers are stronger when they face management together through their membership in OECTA. OECTA’s departments of Counselling and Member Services, Contract Services, Professional Development, Government Relations, and Collective Bargaining are serving members when they need help most.

Myth: Unions have outlived their usefulness

Fact: OECTA helps members manage a range issues, including performance appraisals, career counselling, professional development, pension and retirement planning, interpersonal disputes and personal crises, including allegations of criminal action. In addition to workshops on theses issues, members have access to professional learning opportunities, annual conferences and leadership training.

Myth: Unions protect teachers who deserve to be fired

Fact: School boards hire and fire teachers, not unions. OECTA’s role is to defend members from harassment and baseless accusations from employers, colleagues and parents. If dismissal of a teacher is justified, the collective agreement ensures that fair and lawful steps are followed.

Myth: Unions have a “me and mine only” attitude

Fact: OECTA members generously give time, professional expertise and financial support beyond the Association in many ways. Through our Educational Aid Fund, we grant two per cent of annual net revenue from fees to teacher and community organizations worldwide. OECTA has made a multi-year commitment to support Summer Literacy Camps for Aboriginal Youth. Project Overseas sponsors teachers from across Canada, including OECTA members, to volunteer assisting teachers in a developing country. OECTA supports Campaign 2000, the Campaign Against Child Poverty and the Ontario Coalition for Social Justice to improve conditions for all Ontario families.

Myth: The Union “bosses” control their members

Fact: Unions are democracies; collectives of people who are united in their commitment to support each other. OECTA’s activities are guided by the 43,000 teacher members of the Association, who are represented by over 500 voting delegates at the AGM. Delegates elect OECTA’s Provincial Executive, pass resolutions and can amend the constitution. The Council of Presidents, composed of the presidents of local bargaining units, advises and directs the Provincial Executive, which administers the affairs of OECTA according to the constitution and directives passed at the AGM. The 65 staff at OECTA’s provincial office implement the decisions of the Provincial Executive, Council of Presidents and AGM on behalf of the membership. OECTA’s 19 provincial committees, comprised of classroom teachers, make many of the decisions that affect OECTA members.

Myth: The union is OK without my involvement

Fact: Strong unions rely on an informed and involved membership. Encourage your members to read their collective agreement, attend local unit meetings, get to know their school rep and share concerns with them, talk about the union with their colleagues. All these good efforts will keep OECTA relevant and effective, on behalf of all its members.

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