NEA staff authorize strike against nation’s largest union
June 16, 2021
NEASO members approve strike authorization by 98 percent, sending clear message to NEA Management: Uphold union values
WASHINGTON — Members of the National Education Association Staff Organization (NEASO), which represents employees working at the headquarters of the largest union in the country, the National Education Association (NEA), have voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike for a fair and just contract that reflects union values.
The strike authorization vote was requested by the NEASO Board of Directors, following a slew of anti-union delay tactics at the bargaining table from NEA Management. In a secret-ballot vote, which took place Tuesday to Wednesday, NEASO members voted overwhelmingly — 98 percent — to authorize its bargaining team and Board to call a strike.
The following statement can be attributed to NEASO President Robin McLean:
“NEA staff are dedicated to supporting and advocating for our nation’s educators and students — day in and day out. We believe deeply in the mission and vision of the National Education Association. Striking is a last resort, but it is something we are ready to do. We refuse to back down from management’s anti-union tactics that fly in the face of NEA values and the entire labor movement.
“Let us make this clear: NEA is the largest union in the country, and its managers are asking staff to accept stagnant pay now and well into the future at a time when inflation and the cost of living are skyrocketing. NEA Management is also trying to hike healthcare costs and slash retirement benefits that were promised to employees who dedicated their careers to the union’s mission.
“NEA Management’s proposals are not just a slap in the face to the hard-working staff who have put so much into advocating for our educators this past year; their behavior goes against every union value we hold dear. NEASO members bargain local union contracts, help ensure healthcare benefits and retirement security for NEA members, helped secure billions of dollars for public schools in the passage of the American Rescue Plan, lobby Congress for universal free meals for students, help NEA members to be better educators through effective professional development, provide technology support for NEA and its affiliates, turn NEA’s racial and social justice mission into a reality, and so much more.
“Our work is a labor of love, but labor deserves fair and just compensation. We are the largest union in the country; it’s time for NEA Management to look inward and act like it behind closed doors.”
In their own words, NEASO members are reacting to the strike authorization and NEA Management’s anti-union negotiation tactics:
“Normally I’m unapologetically proud of where I work and of what we do. But these days, it feels like respect for union values is one-sided. It’s disappointing. NEA can’t talk the talk to others, if it’s not walking the walk with its own.” —Stacey Grissom, 15 years of service
“I’m ready to strike because it’s past time for NEA to respect the staff and the work that we do. I’m ready to strike because NEA wants me to walk away from the table with less than I have now. They’re telling me that I’m not worth the salary and benefits I’ve earned.” —Branita Griffin Henson, 35 years of service
“When the nation went fully virtual because of the pandemic, our work on the digital engagement team became even more vital. We helped educators understand their rights and adapt to new ways of teaching. We helped our supporters advocate for — and secure — billions of dollars in COVID relief for schools. We mobilized our members in record numbers during the election and now there is an educator and NEA member in the White House. We supported locals on strike when in-person actions were prohibitive. We created new models to recruit and retain members. We work hard for educators, and we want NEA to respect us with fair pay, fair benefits and retirement security.” — Annie Rosenthal, 1 year of service; Justin Conley, 3 years of service; Natieka Samuels, 3.5 years of service; Erin Wagner, 3.5 years of service; Shumway Marshall, 3.5 years of service
Read more personal accounts from NEASO members and find all the latest news on pickets, strike authorization, and solidarity pledges on our new website http://www.neaso.org/strike.
NEA staff accuses nation’s largest union of abandoning its union values
June 15, 2021
With launch of a new website, NEASO members react to NEA’s anti-union negotiation tactics
WASHINGTON — The National Education Association Staff Organization (NEASO), which represents employees working at the National Education Association (NEA) headquarters in Washington, has been in negotiations with management over a new collective bargaining agreement. The three-year contract covers everything from employee salaries and healthcare benefits to retirement security and healthy working environments.
But the management team at the nation’s largest union — which represents 3 million educators, public employees and healthcare workers — is using the very same crony corporate playbook against its staff that NEA stands up against everyday across the nation. Dragging its feet on negotiations, NEA Management has adopted tactics that look more like Amazon or Walmart negotiations than that of a proud union. NEA has repeatedly gone against union values, like stripping NEASO members of their union leave before being forced to reinstate it.
“NEASO members care deeply about NEA members and the students they serve, and we know that they are often called to go above and beyond,” said NEASO President Robin McLean, who has worked for more than 20 years at NEA, making sure all students have access to a great and just public education, no matter what they look like or where they live. “Despite our demonstrated commitment to our members and public education — especially after this extremely difficult year — NEA Management still refuses to recognize our hard work and dedication with a fair, just and respectful contract. The nation’s largest union has abandoned its union values.”
That’s the reason behind NEASO’s new website, www.neaso.org/strike, which gives advocates of union values a way to support NEASO in pushing NEA management to reverse its course at the bargaining table. The website features the stories of people who work behind the scenes to keep the organization moving and delivering excellent services to NEA members.
“NEA Management will send the same tired, boilerplate response that they support the collective bargaining process, but their actions have not backed up the empty rhetoric,” added McLean. “We want people to hear and see from the NEA staff who actually do the work that directly impacts millions of educators and the students they serve in public schools and on college campuses.”
In their own words, NEASO members are reacting to NEA Management’s anti-union negotiation tactics:
“My colleagues are beyond extraordinary. NEA works because we do and without our brains and muscle, not a single NEA wheel can turn. This is a moment of reckoning for all of us. And I think one of the questions we have to ask is, ‘is it okay to work under a set of values and respect for the members we serve and not demand the same from the organization that employs us?’ The answer is clearly, no. And therefore, we must use our power and the passion for our members to remind them of how extraordinary we are.” —Therman Evans, 15 years of service
“NEA is only as strong as our staff — NEASO staff — make it. We tirelessly advocate for fair contracts for our members across this nation. At the very least, we should expect the same for ourselves — a fair contract with wages that keep pace with inflation and security in our retirement.” —Heather Griffin, 19.5 years of service
“Over the course of a career in labor relations that now spans three Brood X periodical cicada visits and 400-500 contract negotiations, the closest thing that I have seen to NEA’s behavior in this round of bargaining is when the Tea Party started taking over school boards and tried, sometimes successfully, to break the union.” —Andy Jewell, 7 years of service
“I have been working with other NEASO members to make sure that NEA members can provide school meals to students during the pandemic. We are pushing Congress — day and night — to do the right thing to make sure that all children have access to free school meals so that no child falls through the cracks as we build back from the economic crisis. We have put in countless hours, and we don’t want to stop because those children need us to fight for them.” —Christin Driscoll, 8 years of service
“I build, secure and maintain NEA’s computer systems, but I also help the state affiliates when they need a hand with new technology. I work in the field of cloud computing where technology is constantly evolving, and change is never-ending. My union values — such as good-faith bargaining, solidarity, following the negotiated contract, and looking out for my brothers and sisters — have remained constant. The state affiliates that I support would be appalled at the stance that NEA Management is taking.”—Jay Hunter, 14.5 years of service
Read more personal accounts from NEASO members and find all the latest news on pickets, strike authorization and solidarity pledges on our new website www.neaso.org/strike.
CONTACT: NEASO Communications
The members of the NEASO advance the work of the National Education Association, the nation’s largest union, championing justice and excellence in public education. We help educators bargain for fair contracts, advocate for their students, and grow professionally.