This is Your Association
Building Solidarity in the Labor Movement
NEA and its affiliates unite with other unions in the fight for social justice
by John Rosales
“These cuts mean more students crammed into already overcrowded classrooms, shorter school weeks, 4-year-olds cheated out of early childhood education, and dreams dashed for aspiring college students,” says Lily Eskelsen, NCCESEU chair and NEA vice president. “With this coalition, we have a unified vote. We are a national power that can urge Congress to replace these cuts with a balanced approach that requires America’s wealthiest citizens and largest corporations to pay their fair share of taxes.”
Founded five years ago, NCCESEU is a coalition of state and national unions working to maximize the influence of its united voice on behalf of public school support staff. Along with NEA, coalition members include the California School Employees Association, Minnesota School Employees Association, SEIU 284 (Service Employees International Union), and Public School Employees of Washington/SEIU 1948.
While NCCESEU represents almost 1 million school support professionals, the coalition is also an example of NEA’s ongoing collaboration with other labor organizations.
“We’re continuing to create new alliances and partnerships,” says NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. “Those who side with the rich have a lot of power. Those who side with the middle class need a strong voice…and labor unions are the only organizations that can provide that voice.”
That strong voice is gaining volume with NEA’s national jurisdictional agreement with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT).
Another important step was taken when NEA signed the National Labor Solidarity Partnership Agreement created in 2005 with the AFL-CIO. Today, approximately 45 NEA locals representing almost 45,000 NEA members participate in the program, which provides NEA affiliates with the opportunity to join AFL-CIO central labor councils and state federations.
And solidarity agreements with SEIU, a union of 2.1 million members, and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), which represents 1.6 million public service workers, have combined the power of three unions that together represent 45 percent of the nation’s unionized workforce.
Along with AFT, the three unions recently targeted key members of Congress via a television and online advertising campaign focused on budget cuts. The labor organizations are also collaborating around other critical issues, including immigration, gay rights, and affordable health care.
NCCESEU is also leveraging solidarity in the fight to win passage of the National Classified School Employee of the Year Award Act. The measure would provide overdue national recognition for the outstanding contributions made by public school paraeducators, clerical assistants, bus drivers, custodians, security officers, school nurses, skilled trades, and food service workers.
“We have worked to build support for this measure in Congress,” says Van Roekel. “I’m confident we will win…because we are right!”
Show Your Support!
Visit EducationVotes.org and sign the petition supporting the National Classified School Employee of the Year Award Act.