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Bargaining for the Common Good

Racial Justice Guide
Inequity is sewn into every social system in our nation. These inequities make their presence known at every schoolhouse door, and in every other element of far too many communities.

How to use this toolkit

In this resource guide, you will learn more about what makes a Bargaining for the Common Good campaign, along with tools and resources that your local can use to work with partners in your area to run a BCG campaign.

Download this toolkit as a pdf


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Principles and Values

Principles and Values

Bargaining for the Common Good

With Bargaining for the Common Good, union members partner with the community around a long-term vision for the structural changes they want to see in their communities. Together, they use collective bargaining and advocacy as critical components in a broader campaign to win that change, advance racial equity, and build people power.

Educators partner with parents and community members in order to identify issues and utilize bargaining, or other forms of advocacy, as a vehicle to make demands for the entire community.

In states with collective bargaining, contract negotiations provide an opportunity for educators and their unions to involve the larger school community in the vision they want for their school and neighborhood. Instead of going to the bargaining table alone and isolated in negotiations, unions join together with parents and the community, which builds our power. In states without collective bargaining, unions and community groups align to push for policy changes that require school districts and corporate actors to meet the demands of the community.

When we expand the continuum of bargaining, we build power and go on the offense in order to fight for social and racial justice for our students, schools, communities, and the future.

With Bargaining for the Common Good, we not only fight for better pay and benefits for educators, we also fight for students and communities. When stakeholders come together, they can determine what their community needs. NEA members have successfully used the Bargaining for the Common Good strategy to win:

  • Less testing
  • Smaller class sizes
  • Educator recruitment and retention programs
  • Equitable school discipline policies
  • Mental health support
  • More nurses and counselors
  • No ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) collaborations
  • Implementation of restorative justice
  • End random backpack checks
  • Institute and/or expand ethnic studies for students

Bargaining for the Common Good works in both areas that have collective bargaining and areas that do not. The mechanics may differ, but the fundamentals are the same.

In addition to salaries that keep up with inflation and smaller class sizes, Oakland educators held the line for almost seven days on what are known as, ‘common good demands’. Common-good bargaining refers to agreements that go beyond issues of wages and benefits in an attempt to have a positive impact on the broader community. Under the new tentative contract, the Oakland Unified School District agreed to educators’ demands to utilize unused school buildings for nonprofit housing developments, provide resources for unhoused students, and fund programs such as the Black Thriving Community Schools that would empower Black students with leadership opportunities . . . The groundbreaking common-good demands won in Los Angeles and Oakland are proof that by standing together, educators have the power to effect change outside of normal bread-andbutter issues. Now, students and communities will benefit from the hard work that educators have put in to achieve these victories.

Cecily Myart-Cruz, President of UTLA and Bargaining for the Common Good Advisory Committee member, “The California Teachers’ Strikes Have a Vital Lesson for the Labor Movement,” The Nation, May 19, 2023.

Racial Justice in Education Framework Principles

NEA has a vision for quality public education for every student. We know that institutional and structural racism are barriers to achieving our vision. We will leverage the power and collective voice of our members to end the systematic patterns of racial inequity and injustice that affect our Association, schools, students, and education communities.

It is our belief that these Framework principles are essential to accomplishing our vision of racially equitable and just schools:

  • Our collective work promotes a vision for public education that advances inclusion, equity, and racial and social justice in our schools, Association, and society.
  • Our collective work must dismantle white supremacy, and ensure that bigotry and discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation, disability, or national origin is not part of our Association, classrooms, educational curricula, classroom management, school policies, and discipline practices.
  • Our Association and schools must be safe for all students, and free from state-sanctioned, racialized, and gender-based violence. Our work must actively divest from prison cultivation and invest in counselors and positive discipline practices.
  • Our work must result in action—programs, campaigns, policies, and capacity-building efforts for local NEA members that dismantle institutional racism now and into the future. Initiatives should create sustainable infrastructures that can continue to create systemic change and hold decision-makers, elected officials, and institutions accountable.
  • Our current governance leaders must recruit, engage, and promote leadership by educators of color to share the ladder of opportunity because we are stronger together.
  • Programs, campaigns, and projects must be driven by goals that are clearly outlined, tracked, and measured, and that have accountability systems that explicitly promote racial justice.
  • Our work must promote education policies, professional practices, and curricula that highlight and honor the histories and cultures of Native People and People of Color.
  • We must work to ensure that all students have access to a safe and quality education, regardless of their country of origin or immigration status.
  • Our work must promote and support the engagement of students of color and LGBTQ students in shaping policies that directly impact their educational experience and foster safe and inclusive schools.
  • We must work to dismantle discipline systems that create the School-to-Prison Pipeline and replace them with practices that encourage inclusion and are free from racial and ethnic bias.

Connecting Framework Elements

Throughout our history, the NEA has joined in partnership to move policies that would address inequities in education, but we understand now that racial justice in education requires movement beyond racial equity. A lack of movement will keep us at the precipice of doing a lot with limited ability to sustain it.

It will require that:

  • We have a deep understanding of racial history and the associated trauma and are able to acknowledge the presence of this trauma within current systems, norms, practices, and policies.
  • We focus on solutions that will build power (e.g., political, economic, civic, community) for the most sharply impacted communities and people.
  • We effectively use racial impact assessment tools and develop racial justice action plans.
  • We shift and share power, programs, and resources.
  • We adopt anti-racist and racial justice protocols and practices.
  • We shift culture and narrative.
  • We use data to drive results/impacts.

The NEA Racial Justice in Education Framework was developed in conjunction with the principles and concepts embedded in the “Wheel of Change” model (adapted from the Rockwood Wheel of Change). This Framework centers and guides our systems change work, including our approach and implementation of Bargaining for the Common Good campaigns.

Wheel of change model


Goal: Develop and strengthen our collective awareness and understanding of the causes and impacts of systemic (i.e., institutional and structural) racism in education and both the necessity and centrality of racial justice in achieving NEA’s mission.

  • Build racial equity awareness and analytical capacity across our Association.
  • Foster understanding of key concepts such as systemic (institutional and structural) racism, implicit bias, racial equity, and multiracial systemic solutions.
  • Develop shared knowledge and conceptual clarity that supports normalizing explicit and constructive conversations about race.

Capacity Building

Goal: Equip and prepare members and leaders with skills to use the strategies to take action to advance racial justice.

  • Equip members, leaders, staff, and partners with the skills, tools, strategies, resources and relationships to be effective leaders and advocates in the fight for racial justice in education.
  • Develop tools and resources to support organizational and cultural change through policy, practice, and behavior changes.


Goal: Equip members and stakeholders with tools and skills to advocate, organize, and mobilize to disrupt institutional racism and advance racial justice in education.

  • Engage and activate members, leaders, and stakeholders in on-the-ground efforts to combat institutional racism and advance racial justice.
  • Support external organizing efforts to advance changes in our schools and communities.
  • Support internal opportunities to implement equitable practices that positively impact the Association’s work and promote culture change.

Principles and Values Takeaways

We need to run Bargaining for the Common Good racial justice centered campaigns because class and race are not separate.
If we want to win real people power, we have to build campaigns that include racial justice.

Elements of Bargaining for the Common Good

Elements of Bargaining for the Common Good

Center Racial Justice in your Demands

Campaign demands should address the role that employers play in creating and exacerbating structural racism in our communities.

What does it mean to center racial justice demands?

Racial dynamics, disparities, and divisions permeate our society, communities, schools, and classrooms. Systemic racism is so deeply rooted in our history, culture, and institutions that there is no escaping it. Visible or not, the impacts are ever-present. Racial justice is the systematic fair treatment of people of all races, resulting in equitable opportunities and outcomes for all. Racial justice (or racial equity) goes beyond “anti-racism.” It is not just the absence of discrimination and inequities, but also the presence of deliberate systems and supports to achieve and sustain racial equity through proactive and preventative measures.

To engage in a systems analysis of a racial issue and develop solutions or to test if the campaign demands center racial justice, good discussion questions to have with partners and union members include:

  • Problems: What racial inequities are you noticing or experiencing? What are the impacts on different racial groups? Who benefits most and who is hurt most?
  • Causes: What institutions, policies, or practices are causing or contributing to the inequities? What social norms, popular myths, or cultural biases may be contributing?
  • History: How did things get this way and are thing worsening or improving?
  • Solutions: What solutions could address the root causes and eliminate the inequities? How would different racial groups be impacted by the proposed solutions?
  • Strategies: What strategies and actions could be used to advance the solutions?
  • Leadership: Who are the stakeholders most affected by the inequities? Are they involved in naming the issues and solutions? What kinds of active leadership roles could they take to advance the proposed solution?

Other Tools you can use to Ensure a Deliberate Anti-Racist Campaign

Racial Equity Impact Assessment

A racial equity impact assessment is used for making decisions with deliberate attention to racial justice, social justice, equity, and inclusion. It provides a guide and protocol for race- and equity-conscious decision-making that is thoughtful, transparent, participatory, and systematic. This type of tool can be used to analyze policies and contract language, institutional practices, programs, plans, and budgetary decisions.

Fix L.A. was a community-labor partnership that fought successfully for:

  1. The creation of 5,000 jobs, with a commitment to increase access to jobs for Black and Latino/a/x workers.
  2. The defeat of proposed concessions for city workers.
  3. A commitment from the city to review why it was prioritizing payment of bank fees over funding for critical services.

“Bargaining for racial justice is a radical idea and will not be easily won. It will require concerted direct action targeting the real decision makers in both the public and private sectors that have a vested interest in keeping racial inequities in place.”

Maurice Weeks and Marilyn Sneiderman, In These Times, “Why Labor and the Movement for Racial Justice Should Work Together”, September 02, 2016.

Bargaining for the Common Good Demands

Bargaining for the Common Good campaigns are rooted in winning racial justice demands. Many have generated amazing wins and demands across the country. This booklet provides concrete examples of common good demands that unions and community groups have bargained for across the country. Some of these demands have been won in bargaining or outside the negotiations table, and some are still being fought for.

NEA locals have been at the forefront of winning BCG campaigns. They have identified and won racial justice demands across the country. Demands can be about a range of issues from public health and safety, safe working and learning conditions, academic success, and social and emotional well-being. The list of sample demands includes:

  • Acknowledge the pandemic was not experienced equally by all communities and populations, particularly in rural areas and communities of color. Listen and learn how different families handled virtual learning.
  • Provide and prioritize housing, food, health, dental, and job services in neighborhood schools because it is a common-sense way to begin to address racial justice issues and the racial inequities they create and exacerbate.
  • End attempts to re-segregate our school communities with charters, vouchers, and other privatization schemes that funnel resources away from public schools.
  • Ensure school plans for in-person instruction are inclusive and equitable for all educators and students by humanizing learning environments and designing spaces that are situated in the experiences of communities of color, not just through white, cis-hetero, and ableist lenses.
  • Ensure adequate time is provided for classroom community-building activities and consider additional staff to allow for the development of restorative practices in schools.
  • Prioritize hiring, retaining, and promoting educators of color.

Building your Racial Justice Team

Building the right team to make decisions and move this work is critical. Your racial justice campaign team should include a leadership team, organizing/mobilizing team, communications team, political team, and in a collective bargaining campaign, a bargaining team. There should also be team members who lead the research work and legislative/policy development.

  • The leadership team will direct and oversee the entire campaign. They have a bird’s eye view and focus on advancing the campaign forward. They provide the vision and make the tough decisions with input from the rest of the team.
  • The organizing and mobilizing team is responsible for recruiting impacted people and new partners and mobilizing members and activists. They communicate frequently and engage members and activists in two-way conversations about the campaign’s vision, strategy, and action plan.
  • The communications team drives the internal and external communications. They educate and agitate activists and members, work with the media and develop social media to define the narrative, and build public support.
  • The political team leads the efforts to build support from elected officials, work with political partners who support the campaign, and hold those who do not accountable.
  • The research team is responsible for pulling together information, data, and facts to support the campaign. They ensure that any data being shared is sourced legitimately and correctly. They are critical in identifying and building a case around the bad actors.

None of these teams work in silos, they work together. They can be a combination of staff, paid release members, and/or volunteer teams. It may be that the political team is from a community partner group and the research team is from the local union. Either way, the teams should understand their roles and how they interact with each other.

It is important to note that sometimes a team is one or two people depending on resources, size of the local, and staffing capacity. The different teams should develop the racial justice demands and be able to drive the campaign forward through a racial justice lens.

Centering Leadership of Native People and People of Color

The term Native People recognizes the first people of this land, having sovereign national and tribal status, as well as a racialized identity. The term People of Color refers to Asian American and Pacific Islander, Black, Latino/a/x, Middle Eastern and North African, and Multiracial populations. It isn’t enough to have Native People and People of Color activists in the campaigns. Centering means Native People and People of Color have a leading voice, are listened to, trusted, and have decision-making power within the partnership.

Engage Community Allies as Partners in Issue Development and the Bargaining Campaign

Bring in community partners on the ground floor and develop issues, goals, and strategies together. Common good is about building long-term community-labor power.

diverse students sitting together

Building Long-Term Community-Labor Power Takes Times

Community building is an integral part of a Bargaining for the Common Good campaign, which means it takes time to develop, create, build, and move demands forward. It is important to remember that organizing does not end when the contract is settled or the campaign demands are met or won. As shown in the timeline below, before the launch of a campaign, there are a few steps that can take anywhere between six months to a year or more.

Racial Justice Timeline

Community Building is the First Step

Whether you live in a big city, a suburban town, or a rural community, there are people who care about the same issues and share your values. But to build a sustainable, long-term relationship, work is required upfront. This may include many 1-on-1 meetings, group presentations, follow-up calls, and more follow-up calls, Zoom calls, emails and more follow-up calls. It is not just about building your member list, but also building relationships. What do the leaders care about? Why do they do this work? What problems are their communities facing? What solutions do they see? Where do you share common ground and where do you have differences in your organization?

Basic Steps to a Bargaining for the Common Good Campaign

This outlines steps starting about 1.5 years before bargaining to after settling the contract. Bargaining for the Common Good campaigns are about building long-term power and changing the power dynamics in our communities, so it is important to think about the work as multiyear that continues after the contract campaign ends.

Bargaining for the Common Good Assessment Tool

This tool is to help reflect on how to build and strengthen a Common Good strategy for your organization or union. This will help you assess where to focus your time and resources to build towards developing transformational relationships, running strong campaigns, and winning Common Good demands!

Community Mapping

Community mapping is about learning about your community and identifying resources and important networks and relationships. Community mapping includes:

  • Surveying your membership and identifying where you have existing relationships and connections to community leaders, organizations, and networks.
  • Developing lists of key contacts/social networks—this is the organizer’s network of power.
  • Proactively developing relationships with these existing networks and organizations makes it possible to mobilize their resources around a shared campaign.
  • Prioritizing and focusing outreach to build relationships with the networks that most deeply represent the community, not just those that are familiar and comfortable.

Community Listening Tours

Listening sessions are helpful to build relationships and understand partners’ interests, the problems they see in the community, and potential solutions. Listening sessions can be conducted through one-on-one meetings, community meetings, or surveys.

Engaging Community Leaders and Rank and File Members

These are not transactional “we do this for you and you do that for me” relationships. These are sustainable relationships built on trust, respect, and a shared analysis of the conditions and mutual goals to build people power. It is critical that community and labor develop and build the campaign together from the beginning. These relationships will continue after the campaign, so it is important to start with a solid foundation and build with intentionality. This includes:

Creating a Shared Vision

Working with union and community partners to identify priority issues, solutions, and a vision for the campaign is crucial in creating a shared vision. Union members and community partners understand the problems that they are facing in their workplace and communities and have ideas for solutions. It is important for rank and file members and community activists to assist in identifying priority issues and solutions, including why and how it will benefit workers and the community at large, and the vision for building long-term power.

Watch a webinar that shows how a strong community-labor partnership works in action and wins people power! United Teachers Los Angeles former President Alex Caputo-Pearl; Ruby Gordillo, Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Parent, Rudy Gonzalves of the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE); Amy Schur of the Alliance of Californians for Community Engagement(ACCE), and other community leaders and parents discuss the strategies and lessons learned from the recent victorious Bargaining for the Common Good campaign and strike.

Developing a Joint Strategy

The strategy is your guiding star of how to win the demands. You may choose to launch a corporate campaign, or push the school board to change a policy or a town council to pass legislation, or fight for state funding. All partners must be clear about the pathway to winning and decisions stemming from the strategy. Strategies may need to change if an assessment is made that they are not effective or a campaign may have multiple strategies. For example, a campaign may call on the state legislature to fulfill its constitutional funding requirement for public education and target the corporations that do not pay taxes.

Developing a plan in partnership takes time. There are many decisions to make such as assessments, organizing plans, communications strategies, and more. A written plan is critical to ensure that all stakeholders understand the decisions made, what is happening next, and the campaign progress. Review the following to help develop your campaign plan:

  • Local campaign plan: A comprehensive campaign planning tool for locals and partners.
  • Power Mapping Activity: Sample exercise developed by the Colorado Education Association to analyze the power structures, influencers, and stakeholders in your community.
Developing an Organizing Plan

Organizing gets people fired up (agitated) and identifies what is at stake so that participants understand how the cause is personally relevant to them and take action. At the beginning of a campaign plan, start with mild actions and escalate. Examples of mild forms of action are collecting petition signatures or wearing a union button at the workplace. Strikes or civil disobedience are bold actions.

  • Use the issues that are happening in the BCG campaign to motivate members to take collective action.
  • During the life of a BCG campaign, members should be able to articulate why they are taking action and what they hope to achieve before taking action.
  • Different tactics will be required to move different targets.
  • Evaluate in real time if the actions are helping, hindering, or not effective and why.

Escalation tactics or direct actions are important to any campaign that is designed to build long-term power. The goal of escalation tactics or direct actions goes beyond highlighting the problem and getting media attention. Escalation tactics or direct actions have four key elements:

  • ESCALATE THE CRISIS: Deliver a message that exposes the crisis. Create the narrative about who is responsible for that crisis—target.
  • ESCALATE THE TARGET: Expose the target; turn the target toxic. Cost the target resources—votes, money, time, influence, etc.
  • ESCALATE YOUR VOICE: If the target ignores the tactics/actions, escalate the tension on a specific demand. Force the target to choose between ongoing direct action or meeting the demand.
  • ESCALATE YOUR BASE: Develop and energize your leaders and base.

Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue.

Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from a Birmingham Jail

Possible actions may include:

  • Walking out of a meeting en masse
  • Speaking to the media
  • Calling a meeting of supporters
  • Reaching out to parents
  • Meeting as a small group
  • Striking
  • Running a social media profile picture campaign
  • Wearing red on Thursdays
  • Stickering up
  • Circulating a public petition and deliver it to the school board
  • Rallying, for example, have staff rally outside school before the start of the school day and walk in together
  • Presenting signage and/or protesting in a high-visibility public space
  • Red out: staff decorating their rooms in union colors
  • Distributing flyers to parents at the school choice fair
  • Informational picketing
  • Open bargaining
  • Setting up lawn signs
  • Visiting corporate actors defunding public schools/supporting charter schools
Identifying Clear Asks

Not many people spontaneously get involved. It takes an invitation to participate or an ask for people to take action. Most people will volunteer or donate to a cause that shares their values when asked. In campaigns, the same principles apply. If you can connect to their value systems and the ask is clear and concise, people will get involved. Recruiting activists, rank and file members, and members of the public to join the campaign means having a clear ask and showing why their involvement matters.

Affirm, Answer, and Redirect is a useful organizing tactic when faced with an individual who blocks or objects to the vision of the campaign or action plan.

  1. Affirm:
    Although you may disagree with the person, or not share their experience, it is important to show that you hear their frustration, and try to understand where they are coming from.
  2. Answer:
    It is very important to give an honest answer. If you can give them information that responds to their question, or helps them see the issue differently, do it. If you made a mistake, own it. If there is information that you do not know, tell them you will research it and get back to them (and make sure you do).
  3. Re-direct:
    At the end of the day, the power to win depends on one thing: the involvement of the people—union members and community partners. So look for ways to re-direct their frustration towards participating in a collective project that will help them see that the campaign is powerful (like the next action). Then repeat your ask.

Expand the Scope of Bargaining Beyond Wages and Benefits

Identify issues that resonate with members, partners, and allies and that impact our communities. Put forth demands that address structural issues, not just symptoms of the problem.

Develop and Deepen Leaders' Shared Political Analysis

With an intentional approach to developing and deepening leaders’ shared political analysis, BCG campaigns move away from short-term mobilization efforts that develop little to no power and instead harness collective power to develop long term and major wins for our schools and communities. This can take form in different ways like short workshops, training sessions, organizing conversations, and more.

Political education should:

  • Be grounded in the racial justice demands and explain the racial dynamics that the demands are addressing.
  • Articulate a clear connection between Bargaining for the Common Good demands and the problems workers and communities are facing.
  • Include space for labor and community partners to share their stories, interests, and lived experiences that build trust and connections across all participants.
  • Build activists’ confidence and effectiveness in engaging hesitant colleagues and recruiting members of the public to join the campaign.
  • Make it clear what is at stake, who the bad actors are, why the target has power, and how the campaign plan will motivate the targets to meet demands.
  • Meet people’s education level, literacy proficiency, and language needs. It may mean investing in translators and interpreters and/or an experienced popular educator.

Expose the Bad Actors

Go on offense in your campaign by identifying, exposing, and challenging the real villains; the financial and corporate actors who profit from and increasingly drive policies and actions.

Do the Research

Scarcity politics and financialization of the economy have devastated our communities and schools for decades and driven funding to the one percent. Research to identify who and how divestment happened in your community is key. Groups like LittleSis and Hedge Clippers are good sources to help map out the financial and corporate actors.

Massachusetts Teachers Association (MTA) called on state and federal elected officials to fund public education through progressive revenue. The MTA and its partners identified 19 billionaires in Massachusetts whose wealth grew while state coffers were depleted during the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak. They used the data to agitate and gain the public in support of the campaign’s three key demands.

Target the Power Broker

Identify the decision-makers who can meet the demands. Power mapping can help identify and map the power relationships, who influences power brokers, and your groups’ relationships to them. Some general questions to start the identification process include:

  • Is it a corporate entity and who in the corporation has the power? Is it the CEO of the bank?
  • Is it a government entity? Is it one person or a group of decision-makers? Is it the mayor or city council? Is it the school board?
  • Where do they get their power? Who is in their circle of influence?
  • What do they care about?

Power Mapping

The Power Mapping tool can help the campaign identify the power dynamics within your community, including allies, opposition, decision-makers, and influencers.

Generate Public Support

Building public support is about agitating the public against the bad actors. Be clear in your messaging as to why the bad actor is responsible. Your communications team can help generate stories for traditional outlets like radio and newspaper. Rank and file members and activists can use social media to build up the campaign. The message and narrative should be clear, concise, and consistent across platforms. The following are samples and guidelines for effective messaging:

Strengthening Internal Organizing, Membership, and Member Engagement

These campaigns must deeply engage the memberships of both unions and community organizations, and there must be opportunities for deep relationship building and joint visioning among the members of the different organizations.

Engaged groups produce transparent, useful, relevant, and frequent member communications, such as printed or electronic newsletters. Most importantly, leaders should be open and transparent, which means producing relevant and frequent updates to keep members engaged and active. You should feel comfortable contacting your state/national affiliate communications department for assistance and best practices.

Contract Action Team (CAT)

Establish a new internal union network of member activists to engage and activate members using a two-way pipeline of communication. The union’s ability to successfully win demands for members and the community depends upon the union’s strength and power. Strength and power derive from a solid foundation of organizing union members and community stakeholders that increases activism, engagement, and solidarity.

By creating vital new roles and delegating responsibilities, your local can position itself to build capacity and develop enough power to win demands. It also enables your local to identify new activists and leaders to continue to build on its successes for the future along with a strong and sustainable democratic movement.

Build the CAT Structure


Your members, especially your stewards or mobilizers, are crucial to the success of the campaign. This requires continually building the team and communicating with them frequently, so they can organize at their workplace and in their communities. Stewards should have a WhatsApp or Signal group and an email list for their building. They should have a weekly plan of how they will communicate with other members, updates and an action plan for the day or week and an explanation of why the action is important, and a role for the members.

1-on-1 Organizing Meetings

The heart of organizing is about building relationships, which means 1-on-1 organizing conversations. A strong organizing conversation is not like a chat with a friend or loved one. It’s a guided conversation that builds connection, engages people in collective action, and helps develop leaders. When a worksite has good, strong leaders who can educate and move their co-workers into action, it’s harder for the boss to pit workers against each other.

1-on-1 Organizing Conversation Guide

10-Minute Meetings

A fundamental way to disseminate information and empower leaders at the worksite level is to develop a 10-minute meeting system. Short, concise, and frequent meetings increase attendance. Be sure your 10-minute meetings make time for two-way communication. Campaign updates can easily be broken into basic 10 minute meeting agendas. You can break up complex topics related to contract proposals, legislative initiatives, or policy demands into bite-sized pieces within these meetings. Plus, it allows decentralized conversations and a place for local action-taking/planning for early tactics such as button wearing, petition circulation, etc.

Sample 10-Minute Meeting Agenda

Group Texts

Texting is an immediate communication tool for quick updates, reminders, and time-sensitive information sharing, but it does not replace the face time necessary for developing relationships and trust with members and community allies.

Before you send your first text message—remember that there are federal laws that prohibit bulk text messaging. Contact your attorney, as well as your state affiliate or NEA, to learn more about different texting platforms you can use to reach our members and supporters within the law.

Website/Online Resource

Creating a landing place for members and allies to reference information can be important for the campaign, but it isn’t always necessary. Only use a website if your campaign would benefit from a landing page to publicly post resources or documents. Always add a link or directions for how to take action.

Social Media

Use social media platforms that make sense to our audience—members/potential-members and community supporters. It is also a great tool for producing media during various parts of the campaign. NEA offers local leaders and staff a variety of additional social media best practices.

Elements of a Bargaining for the Common Good Campaign Takeaways

Bargaining for the Common Good Campaigns are rooted in building people power in our local unions and communities.
The five elements of a BCG campaign are: Center racial justice in your demands, Engage community allies as partners in issue development and the bargaining campaign, Expand the scope of the bargaining beyond wages and benefits, Expose bad actors and Strengthen internal organizing, membership, and member engagement
Community building is an integral part of the strategy and tactics, which means it takes time to develop, create, build, and move forward. To build a BCG campaign, planning begins two years in advance.
We need to clearly express who the bad actors are and ensure there is a clear connection between the bad actors and the demands.
Bargaining for the Common Good campaigns require ongoing organizing, base-building, and leadership development.
Freedom to teach

Success Stories

Success Stories

Columbus, Ohio

The Columbus Education Association (CEA) won an agreement to help address racism and racial disparity. As part of their newest contract, CEA earned professional development opportunities for bargaining unit members in the school board’s ongoing Strategic Plan.

Jefferson County, Colorado

The Jefferson County Education Association fought successfully to implement a staffing and classroom diversity program, including recruiting and retaining staff that reflects the racial, ethnic, and linguistic diversity of the student body, and a mentorship program for staff of color. In addition, they formed an Equity Accountability Committee responsible for addressing equity in the district, which would engage the school community.

Minneapolis, Minnesota

The Minneapolis Federation of Teachers (MFT) established the Anti-Bias Anti-Racist Educator Development and Support Council, which set up sub-committees specifically tasked with recommending establishing initiatives for recruitment, retention, and development of educators of color and the improvement of district-wide climate and culture. These sub-committees will continue to work to instill a sense of permanency in anti-bias anti-racist initiatives and development.

St. Paul, Minnesota

Read about how St. Paul teachers, parents, and students organized for the schools their students deserved and won: “Teacher-Community Unionism: A Lesson from St. Paul: How one teachers union brought parents and students into the bargaining process—and won.”

Seattle, Washington

Following a weeklong strike by more than 6,000 educators of the SEA, a new three-year contract was settled with major wins for both the students and educators of Seattle Public Schools (SPS). Seattle was facing a multitude of systemic problems such as increased class sizes, workload, and staffing cuts; racial inequality of resources and services; unsafe learning and working conditions; unaffordable cost of living for many lower-wage staff; and a looming educator shortage crisis. They established a Joint Task Force for multilingual education and language immersion to improve inclusionary services and student equity and create incentives for teaching.

Sacramento, California

The Sacramento City Teachers Association included parents, business leaders, and community members in their contract negotiations in their bid to make Sac City the destination district in California for students and educators.

San Diego, California

In coordination with community partners, parents, and students, the San Diego Education Association (SDEA) identified several bargaining goals with a heavy emphasis on racial justice. To address historical divestment across districts in schools located within communities of color, demands will focus on curriculum, ethnic studies, allocation of resources, educator pipelines, restorative practices, and support for educators and students of color. All these issues run parallel to their advocacy for community schools, staffing, and class size. Bargaining by the local is underway as of summer 2023.

Success Stories Takeaways

Victories are feasible in different political conditions but we have to plan and organize.
Organizing doesn’t end when we settle the contract or win the campaign. These victories are possible only if organizing is ongoing.


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The National Education Association (NEA), the nation's largest professional employee organization, is committed to advancing the cause of public education. NEA's 3 million members work at every level of education—from pre-school to university graduate programs. NEA has affiliate organizations in every state and in more than 14,000 communities across the United States.