NEA, SEIU and AFSCME in Secret Negotiations
posted at 4:51 pm on December 10, 2012 by Mike Antonucci
The National Education Association is working more closely than ever before with its counterparts in organized labor. NEA, SEIU and AFSCME teamed up to fund a series of ads targeting key lawmakers in the fiscal cliff negotiations and they are the driving force behind today’s “day of action” rallies in a number of cities.
While three of the largest public employee unions in the nation are cooperating on external communications and operations, they are also crafting an internal agreement that would establish a détente over competition for members. A group of high-level NEA officials met with teams from SEIU and AFSCME last week to put together a deal that would establish jurisdictions for the individual unions, similar to the arrangement NEA made with AFT after the failed attempt at national merger in 1998.
The two national teachers’ unions and many of their state affiliates made “no raid” agreements – pledges not to try to recruit the other organization’s members. There have been hiccups along the way and a number of affiliates that refused to go along, but for the most part the cutthroat competition for members is a thing of the past.
SEIU and AFSCME don’t represent teachers, but they sometimes compete with the teachers’ unions for education support employees. Nevertheless, it shouldn’t be too much of a hardship for each side to agree to stay away from the other’s members. Once that’s in place, it will pave the way for all the public sector unions to cooperate more frequently and efficiently.
The days when NEA stood far apart from the broader labor movement are gone. The AFL-CIO was once shunned by NEA delegates, but now more than one-quarter of NEA members are affiliated with the labor federation. This helps NEA in projecting political power, but could hurt its “professional association” image and embroil it in issues far removed from education.
Today’s union movement is almost entirely a public sector union movement. It only stands to reason that the largest public sector union would take a larger part.