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Springfield NEO event

New Educator Organizing

Ensuring every Oregon educator understands their legally protected right to join their union.
In Oregon, educators have the legally protected right to join their union - the Oregon Education Association - to collectively advocate for better resources for their students and improved working conditions and compensation.

How to use this toolkit

  • Read about the history of collective bargaining in Oregon, and the rights you have as an educator to join your union and engage in collective action.
  • Learn how to speak effectively with other educators about the benefits of joining their union.
  • Explore resources to help you become an effective member organizer in your local district.
Viewing: Toolkit Section Title


The recruitment of new union members is a year-round effort. The material in this guide is intended to focus on a particular aspect of that year-round effort: the “back-to-school” season, the heart of which is new hire recruitment.

New hire recruitment is often centered around a fall “New Employee Orientation,” or “NEO,” and this guide will reflect that reality. However, attention must be paid to ongoing efforts made after the NEO to connect with new hires, as well as the reality that many employers experience substantial hiring throughout the year and may have many “NEOs”--even monthly.

There is reason to be hopeful. The information contained in this guide reflects the learnings from our own Local Associations in Oregon and the best practices learned from education unions around the nation. Furthermore, the incoming generation of educators brings with them the highest levels of pro-labor sentiment of any generation in decades.



How we speak about the union to new educators is important. At events like new hire orientations or during other organizing opportunities, use inclusive "we/us" language and try the following narratives to ensure that educators know what we stand for, the collective power we have, and how the union will advocate for them.

3 Key Narratives

Our Work Matters

“Our union leads the fight to improve public education in Oregon. Your union membership is a part of strong advocacy to lower class sizes, increase school funding, and improve teaching and learning conditions.”

We're Stronger Together

“As individuals, we have a limited impact on decisions that are made in our employers and across Oregon. Coming together as members of a strong union is the best way to have a seat at the table to fight for students and good working conditions.”

We've Got Your Back

“You never know when you might need your union to advocate for you. Most educators don’t think they will ever need help from the union - until they are faced with a schedule that does not honor the right for a 30-minute duty-free lunch, or adequate prep time. Our union protects us as professionals.”

Best Practices


Try to implement these best practices when organizing new educators in your district, particularly at your New Employee Orientation.

Try This
Communicate how excited you are for new hires to join us in building the schools students deserve!
Instead of
Feeling apologetic for explicitly asking attendees to join.
Try This
Create space in the agenda for a variety of speakers who represent the demographics of the new hires themselves!
Instead of
Having the Local Association President or a single member speak the entire time.
Try This
Brag about your pay & benefits AND the fight to secure them!
Instead of
Downplaying or overlooking recent bargaining victories (or highlights of your salary schedule)
Try This
Uplift “every day” supports, such as survival guides for parent-teacher conferences, member-led professional learning, and more!
Instead of
Focusing solely on the “bad day supports” that union membership provides, such as a legal representation.

Art for Organizing

Ready, Set, Grow!

OEA provides high-quality, member-led professional learning to help educators improve their professional practice, support student success and excellence, and build community with other educators across Oregon.
Broken pencils

Together, we will claim victories for public education

Join thousands of your fellow Oregon educators in contributing monthly to OEA-PAC and make your voice heard!

Keeping the Promise of Quality Public Education

The Oregon Education Association (OEA) is a union committed to the cause of providing the basic right of great public education to every student. OEA represents about 41,000 educators working in pre-kindergarten through grade 12 public schools and community colleges. OEA’s membership includes licensed teachers and specialists, classified/education support professionals (ESPs), community college faculty, retired educators, and student members. OEA members also belong to the 3.2 million members of the National Education Association (NEA).