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National Education Association staff vote to strike, demand union provide similar benefits it championed for educators
National Education Association President Rebecca Pringle speaks during the Get Out the Vote Rally in Detroit, Michigan, in October 2022. (Photo by Dominick Sokotoff/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

National Education Association staff vote to strike, demand union provide similar benefits it championed for educators

Employees at the National Education Association, the largest labor union in the country, voted Monday to authorize a strike, Axios reported.

The union's 48 employees are demanding that the NEA provide its staff with benefits similar to those it advocated for teachers to receive. The NEA, representing approximately 3 million education professionals, has supported multiple strikes in recent years that have allowed educators to secure more competitive salaries and other benefits through its contract bargaining.

Employees at the NEA claim the union's wages have not kept up with inflation. Staff have been without a contract since May. One must be secured this week, or the union's staff is scheduled to launch a two-day strike beginning Friday at midnight. Employees plan to picket at an NEA conference in Atlanta, Georgia, Axios reported.

More than 4,500 teachers in Portland, Oregon, backed by the NEA, recently went on strike after months of failed negotiations. The union outlined 50 reasons the educators are on strike, including large class sizes and low salaries.

Portland Public Schools submitted its latest contract offer Sunday, which officials called "significant" but "not without trade-offs," KOIN reported. It was rejected by the Portland Association of Teachers, with educators calling the new offer "insulting."

PAT president Angela Bonilla stated that the proposal was "unconscionable" and "negligent."

"When it comes to class sizes and case loads, there was no improvement," Bonilla said. "For planning time, it's the status quo for a majority of our members and less planning time for a portion of our educators. When it comes to a cost of living increase, there was no movement beyond a small one-time cash bonus."

"We know that there is money. There is $105 million in their general fund," Bonilla continued. "There's over $20 million coming in each year, according to [the Oregon Department of Education] that they did not project was going to come in."

The NEA also supported teachers' strikes in Massachusetts and Ohio last year.

LaToya Johnson, the staff union's bargaining chair, told the outlet that the union needs to "step up and honor the values of the organization."

A spokesperson for the NEA told Axios that the union has "engaged in negotiations in good faith."

"[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," the spokesperson added.

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