Introducing OSEA’s Membership Incentive Program

The OSEA Board of Directors has determined that building and maintaining a high level of chapter membership is OSEA’s top priority. To support this goal, the Board recently authorized the creation of the Membership Incentive Program (MIP), which it believes will help OSEA to continue delivering the services, representation and advocacy its members expect and deserve.

MIP allows OSEA to invest in its members by giving chapters an annual monetary incentive based on their percentage of dues-paying members. Chapters must achieve at least a 70 percent membership rate to receive an incentive. The chapter may, in turn, use the incentive in any way authorized by its governing documents.

“We want MIP to encourage chapters to take an active role in promoting OSEA through membership drives,” OSEA Executive Director Rick Shidaker said. “The incentive is just another tool to assist chapter leaders in building membership — the essence of what “A Member’s Union” is all about.”

Chapter leaders were told about MIP in early March. Already, about two-thirds of chapters across the state are on track to receive an incentive by doing the hard work of building our “Member’s Union” through membership drives and one-on-one conversations. As of March 15, at least another seven or eight chapters were within striking distance of qualifying for an incentive.

Why OSEA created MIP

OSEA President Tim Stoelb said the anticipated loss of “fair share” as a result of Janus v. AFSCME was a major reason the Board created MIP. The U.S. Supreme Court case will decide whether fair share agreements (where nonmembers pay a fee for their share of union representation) are constitutional.

Stoelb said there is a high likelihood the court will ignore 40 years of legal precedent and rule these agreements illegal. The loss of fair share could result in a 30 percent drop in OSEA’s revenue and hamper the union’s ability to deliver the services members depend on.

“Nevertheless, OSEA will weather this storm by focusing on members and keeping membership levels high,” Stoelb said. “If we have the backing OF and can speak FOR the majority of employees, we have the power to protect the things our families need, such as fair wages, quality health benefits and paid time off to care for our loved ones. Strong membership numbers will enable us to advance our Work Shouldn’t Hurt campaign, defend PERS from legislative threats, strengthen our position at the bargaining table, as well as protect the contracts we all have fought so hard for.”

How MIP works

The incentive is based on the chapter’s membership rate, which is the percentage of dues-paying members in a bargaining unit. For example, a school district with 100 classified employees may have 70 people who have signed OSEA membership applications, resulting in a chapter membership rate of 70 percent.

OSEA will use the membership rate it has on file as of May 1 to calculate the incentive. Chapters with a membership rate of:

  • 95–100 percent get an incentive equal to 10 percent of their annual state dues
  • 80–94.99 percent get an incentive equal to 5 percent of their annual state dues
  • 70–79.99 percent get an incentive equal to 3 percent of their annual state dues

A chapter’s annual state dues are the total amount of membership dues (and currently fair share fees) deducted by the employer, excluding any local chapter dues. The incentive will be based on the actual amount received by the State Office over a 12-month period (April 1 to March 31). For example, if the State Office receives $150,000 in annual state dues for a chapter with a 95 percent membership rate, that chapter would receive a $15,000 incentive.

When chapters get the incentive

Chapters will receive their incentive before May 31 each year (the end of OSEA’s fiscal year) and be recognized for their achievement at our annual Conference in June. Incentive funds are paid to the chapter. Payments will be made to the local chapter’s bank account either through direct deposit or a check sent to the chapter’s treasurer or president.

If a chapter does not have its own bank account, it will need to establish an account with Columbia Bank to receive the incentive. The State Office will assist chapters that need help establishing a new account.

How chapters use the incentive

The incentive is a way for chapters to invest in their membership. Some ideas include using the money to fund:

  • Membership drives
  • Chapter-building social events, such as a classified employee appreciation night at a local movie theater or a bingo night
  • Sending delegates to Conference
  • Emergency assistance program to help chapter members in need
  • Chapter scholarship programs

The incentive can be used in any way that is allowed by the chapter’s constitution and bylaws. Some chapters may need to change their constitution to address these incentives. If a chapter does not have any constitutional language regarding local chapter dues or how to manage funds, it should contact the State Office for assistance in crafting best-practice language.

How MIP helps chapters

Shidaker said building and maintaining chapter membership helps ensure OSEA continues supporting those it represents while avoiding the need to reduce staff, programs or services.

“We hope providing a financial incentive will encourage chapters to make building and maintaining membership a top priority,” Shidaker said. “Strong membership numbers will also translate into strength at the bargaining table.”

What if a chapter needs help?

OSEA is ready to help chapters that don’t currently qualify for an incentive.

“OSEA is here to provide the support and resources you need to grow and maintain your chapter’s membership,” he said. “You don’t have to do it alone.”

OSEA organizers and field representatives can help train chapters in how to conduct an All In Membership Drive, as well as assist members with site visits and drive logistics.

Chapter members may also take advantage of OSEA’s time-release program, which reimburses the member’s employer for time spent on union business during the workweek.

To begin a membership drive or access state resources, chapter leaders should contact their field representative or call the State Office at 800-252-6732.

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