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Legal & Employment Guidance

The Benefits of Collective Bargaining

NEA members negotiate for more than their own economic security through collective bargaining. They are also securing vital resources to help communities bring in more public resources to improve education.
Published: July 2020

On average, union members earn higher pay, have better health and pension benefits, and have improved working conditions.   

The benefits of unionization are crucial to those who choose to work in education. Through collective bargaining, NEA members advocate for more than their own economic security. Union members tend to be more engaged in civic involvement and fight to secure vital public resources to adequately fund public schools.  

In good or bad economic times, a collaborative public education employer can better serve students and the community by negotiating in good faith with its union(s).  

Women and people of color especially gain from collective bargaining because it reduces wage inequities. 

Working with a broad group of stakeholders, including parents and other community partners during the negotiations process, NEA affiliates develop proposals to secure critical resources for students and ensure that all students have the support they need, no matter where they live.  

Bargaining improves student learning and teacher working conditions.  

Educators’ working conditions are students’ learning conditions. By addressing school and classroom issues, everyone wins.  

In negotiations, educators and their employers collaborate on student-centered issues such as setting limits on class size, identifying time for teachers and paraeducators to share effective classroom practices, addressing school health and safety issues, and ensuring teacher input into their own professional learning—all of which help students thrive. 

Collective bargaining helps attract and retain the highest quality employees.  

The educator shortage was a crisis well before the pandemic, but the pandemic has made it worse.  

Experts like the Learning Policy Institute and the Economic Policy Institute note that low pay, poor working conditions, and lack of support for new teachers all play a role in exacerbating the educator shortage.  

NEA affiliates, working with school districts and harnessing their members’ input, win for higher pay and improved and safe working conditions, as well as strong mentoring and induction programs for their members.  

Bargaining supports the fight for social justice and racial equity. 

NEA affiliates’ bargaining has evolved in recent years to have a stronger community focus. Many NEA locals and their employers have opened the negotiation process to include community partners and parents, who develop proposals together to gain critical resources for students and schools.  

In many communities, educators, parents, and community allies have come together with the realization that unless they unite to address systemic racism head on, we can never live up to our belief that every student deserves to succeed no matter where they live or how much money their families have.  

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Bargaining for the Common Good

Together, we can improve student learning and the educational environment, like smaller class size, fewer standardized tests, more recess and art and music classes, and additional counselors.
National Education Association

Great public schools for every student

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.