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askOSSTF · What do I get for my union dues?

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askOSSTF

What do I get for my union dues?

askOSSTFThe Ontario Secondary School Teacher’s Federation (OSSTF) welcomes its new members whether they be teachers or educational workers and strives to provide them with the information needed to work safely and professionally. We also want to educate our new members as to their rights and responsibilities, both as members of OSSTF/FEESO and as employees.

OSSTF/FEESO, like every union, exists to protect and serve its membership — do not be afraid to ask questions or request assistance.

The five “Frequently Asked Questions” (FAQ) categories below will provide information about a wide variety of questions that new members often have about being part of a union in general or about OSSTF/FEESO in particular.

If you don’t find what you are looking for in any of the sections below, please fill in and submit the “Send us a message" form on the Contact Us page and someone will get back to you with an answer as quickly as possible.

Inside askOSSTF

How much do I have to pay in union dues?

Active members comprise the bulk of our membership. They are members who are currently employed by school boards or other education employers and who pay active member fees to OSSTF/FEESO. These union dues are currently 1.3% of gross earnings (plus local levies where applicable) and are deducted automatically from your pay cheque. Because it is a percentage-based fee, OSSTF/FEESO union dues are geared to your income level. In addition, union dues are also tax deductable.

What are my rights and responsibilities as an OSSTF/FEESO member?

Bylaw 2.1.1.6 of the Provincial Constitution and Bylaws outlines the “Rights, Privileges and Duties of Active Members” of OSSTF/FEESO:

• “Active Members shall have the right to seek the advice of the OSSTF on any matter of professional relationship between the Member and a fellow Member, an employer, their professional college(s), the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, a student, a parent or the public in general.“

• “An Active Member shall have the automatic right to representation in a professional difficulty with an employer or other external agency; such representation may include provision of legal counsel subject to approval by the Provincial Executive.”

In general, the responsibilities of OSSTF/FEESO members are outlined in our pledge:

“I solemnly dedicate myself to promote and advance the cause of education.
I will strive to achieve and maintain the highest degree of professional competence and will always uphold the honour, dignity, and ethical standards of my profession.
I pledge my loyalty and support to the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation and will comply with the Constitution, Bylaws, Policies, and established practices which govern its members.”

These responsibilities and duties are further described in specific Bylaws and Policies

• Bylaw 2.4.2 outlines the “Duties of Members to Other Members.”

• Bylaw 2.4.3 outlines the “Duties of Members to OSSTF.”

• Bylaw 2.4.4 outlines the “Duties of Members During Negotiations/Sanctions.”

• Internal Policy 1 of the outlines the “Ethics” that OSSTF/FEESO members are expected to uphold.

Do I have to join the Union?

All teachers (as defined in the Teaching Profession Act) are required by law to belong to the Ontario Teachers’ Federation as a condition of teaching in the publicly funded schools of Ontario. The OTF is made up of four unions: OSSTF/FEESO, ETFO, OECTA and AEFO. The specific union to which a teacher belongs is dictated by who hires him/her. All teachers in English-language public secondary schools automatically become members of OSSTF/FEESO. Similarly, all teachers in English-language public elementary schools belong to ETFO; all teachers in English-language Catholic secondary and elementary schools belong to OECTA; all teachers in French-language, public and Catholic, secondary and elementary schools belong to AEFO.

All other educational workers who are members of OSSTF/FEESO became members originally by choice, and subsequently, as a condition of employment as outlined in their collective agreement with their respective employers.

How would my job be different without the Union?

The School Zone video humourously explores the benefits and protection OSSTF/FEESO has gained for members through advocacy and collective bargaining. It highlights issues such as salary and benefits, retirement entitlements, working conditions, privatization, professional development and health and safety.

There is a great deal of discussion, primarily in the United States, about the move to privatize public education and to get rid of unions. The arguments presented consist of vague and unsupportable “myths” about unions; our response to those myths can be found in the document “Union Myth Information Debunked” which lists ten of the most common misconceptions people have about Educations Unions and provides a clear understanding of what OSSTF/FEESO, as a union, stands for and how it works for its members and champions the public education system.

What services does OSSTF/FEESO provide to members?

OSSTF/FEESO’s Going Strong: The Right Choice For You is a short video that highlights the union’s services and what it stands for. It provides an excellent overview of our Federation.

OSSTF/FEESO is a recognized trade union under the Labour Relations Act and as such, one of its primary roles is to negotiate and maintain collective agreements for its members. Separate collective agreements are negotiated between each of the over 140 bargaining units and their employers and are unique to each bargaining unit.

The section called What We Stand For goes into a little more detail about our principles related to public education, equity and social justice. Our principles drive everything we do for our members and for society.

Public education is the key to Ontario’s future. Our vision for publicly-funded education in this province, called Public Education – Investing in Ontario, has the goal of providing students with the ability and confidence to meet the new challenges of the 21st century.

OSSTF/FEESO’s three main services – Protective Services; Educational Services; and Communications and Political Action – are described in the What We Do section of the website.

We also provide rich professional development workshops and a wide variety of resourcesto assist our members to become better informed about their work, their union, their rights and their protections.

An outstanding collection of books and resources authored and edited by educators have been produced by OSSTF/FEESO, and are available for purchase by both members and non-members. Click on the individual book/resource titles below for further information and for an order form. (In addition to the resources on this page, a wide variety of other resources, available free of charge, can be found in the Resource Centre.) The Federation Store has clothing and other gear and gifts that can be purchased.

Where do I find information about contract negotiations?

The members-only section is available to active OSSTF/FEESO members only. User accounts are created by Provincial Office staff. Your OSSTF/FEESO Membership ID can be found on your OSSTF/FEESO Membership Card and contains digits only. Your password is included with the annual renewal stickers that arrive in member mailboxes within the first two weeks of December. If you are a new member and have not received a letter containing the necessary details, please contact the Membership Database department at Provincial Office to confirm your eligibility to access this site.

This section of the website will directly provide you with more sensitive information that is not meant for the general public and that you can review at your convenience. If you have any questions about the information posted here, you should first contact your local Bargaining Unit President for clarification.

What other benefits are there to being an OSSTF/FEESO member?

As an OSSTF/FEESO member, you have ready access to a wide range of services. They span the professional and protective needs of all members. In addition, there are a number of other services and products that members may choose to access.

Educators Financial Group has exclusively served members of the education community and their immediate family members for over 30 years with services such as:

• Planning – free professional financial planning and independent advice

• Investing – solid investment strategies, focused on performance, including RRSPs and RESPs

• Lending – low mortgage rates, and flexible options for educators

Educators Financial Group, established in 1975 by OSSTF/FEESO, is committed to serving only active and retired members of the education community (and their immediate family members). They are the only company in Canada which offers this exclusive service.

Ontario Teachers’ Insurance Plan (OTIP/RAEO) provides insurance and group benefit services for education employees and retirees. Personal insurance products include, auto, home, property, travel, life, and recreational vehicle insurance. Group benefits plans can include: long term disability, life, dependent life, extended health care, dental care.

OTIP/RAEO is a non-profit organization owned and jointly governed by a Board of Trustees representing Ontario’s four education affiliates (AEFO, ETFO, OECTA and OSSTF/FEESO).

In addition, each year, OTIP awards twelve $1,500 academic bursaries to six female and six male students across Ontario. Through an online application, members insured with OTIP can enter one of their relatives (e.g. child, step-child, grandchild, niece, sister, spouse etc.) for a chance to win one of the bursaries.

Edvantage offers great rewards and discounts to education employees and their families through partnerships with retailers and businesses throughout Ontario. OTIP/RAEO administers Edvantage on behalf of your teachers' association. Through continued support from our partners, Edvantage is able to offer great discounts, special offers and contests to you, our valued members. Your OSSTF/FEESO membership card serves a dual purpose as your association card and your Edvantage membership card.

Teachers Life offers life insurance to the education community. This insurance company started as a compassionate group of secondary school educators, who believed in the advantages of helping each other. Still true to their roots, 75 years later, Teachers Life has grown into one of the most innovative, respected and successful not-for-profit insurance organizations in Canada.

Where can I find pension information?

OSSTF/FEESO represents members who are contributors to the Ontario Municipal Employees’ Retirement System (OMERS), the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (OTPP) and university pension plans for support staff from Algoma, Brock, Laurier and the University of Ottawa. Visit our Pensions page for links to the various pension plans.

OSSTF/FEESO employs a Pensions Officer and additional support personnel to provide advice and assistance to members regarding their pensions.

The Federation's OMERS and TPP workshops focus specifically on pension planning and retirement. Whether members are 15 years from retirement or six months away, they'll discover common sense financial strategies and retirement planning ideas.

The workshops are approximately 2½ hours long and provide opportunities for members to ask questions during the presentation or to speak privately with the Pensions Officer and/or presenter. The schedule of workshops, by district, is posted on the website at the beginning of the school year.

Where can I find information about getting an OSSTF/FEESO Certification Rating Statement? (Note: relevant to Teachers and Occasional Teachers only)

OSSTF/FEESO has an internal system for providing Certification Rating Statements to its teacher members. These ratings are used to determine the pay rate for teachers by placing them in one of four possible groups. The Certification section of the provincial website contains information about how certification is done, how to apply, how to get upgrading information and also has its own FAQ section.

What social media does OSSTF/FEESO use to communicate with members?

OSSTF/FEESO has established a presence in social media. We encourage you to explore the various videos available on the OSSTF/FEESO YouTube channel. (Be sure to watch “The School Zone” in particular!) We have also created an OSSTF/FEESO Facebook page; if you have a Facebook account, check us out and feel free to “Like” us. Follow us on Twitter.