Nov 13, 2023 - Business

Staffers at the nation's largest labor union just voted to authorize a strike

Illustration of a large picket sign next to a group of smaller picket signs.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Labor unrest is so intense this year that even labor unions are facing internal staff rebellions.

Driving the news: The 48 employees who make up the field staff of the National Education Association, the teachers' union, voted unanimously on Monday to authorize a strike.

State of play: The NEA is the largest union in the country, representing about 3 million education professionals from pre-school to graduate school — and has been without a contract since May 2023.

  • The vote by the Association of Field Service Employees is the latest sign of the strong labor resurgence. The AFL-CIO is facing similar issues with the union that represents its staff.
  • Unless the parties reach a deal this week, a two-day strike would begin Friday at midnight with a picket line in Atlanta at an NEA conference.

Zoom out: It's a busy time generally for the NEA there's an ongoing teachers' strike in Portland, Ore. that staff members are working on. They're also working in Florida to fend off efforts to curb union power in the state.

What they're saying: The union is asking for raises to catch up with inflation over the past few years, and says that the NEA hasn't made bargaining a priority.

  • Staff is asking for the same kinds of benefits that they're going out and fighting for every day, LaToya Johnson, the staff union's bargaining chair, tells Axios.
  • "The NEA is going to have step up and honor the values of the organization," she says.
  • "NEA has engaged in negotiations in good faith," a spokesperson said in an emailed statement. "[A]nd continues to apply a solutions-based approach to resolve the outstanding issues in a manner that addresses articulated priorities of AFSE while also balancing the strategic priorities of NEA and its members."

This story has been updated with more information on the potential AFSE strike.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to say there are 48 employees in the NEA field staff union; not in the NEA overall.

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