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Year-Round Organizing Ensuring educator voices are heard

NEA members and staff are working together to grow our union so can win on the issues educators care about most.

Our Framework

NEA's Year-Round Organizing Framework centers around key field strategies that naturally flow through each of the four seasonal components of a typical school year. Each campaign builds on the momentum of each other, helping members and staff work together to grow our union and create the change our public schools need.

The Five Key Field Strategies

If our union members strategically engage educators throughout the year, we will activate a greater number of member leaders to grow our union’s membership and increase member engagement.
Acquire Employee Lists

Improve the processes and policies related to acquiring employee lists. Systematic list acquisition practices allow state affiliates to assess their member density and target their organizing resources. After getting lists:

  • Enter lists obtained into a NEA Data Ecosystem
  • Determine target districts based on number of new hires or potential members
  • Share lists with local leadership, Building Representatives, Member Organizers, and worksite leaders
Engage New Hires

Engage with new hires, potential members, and current members throughout the year. Reaching out before the orientation and throughout the year allows Local Leaders, Member Organizers, and Building Representatives to initiate one-on-one conversations that establish the Association as a trusted resource.

Sample tactics:

  • Train member leaders and Member Organizers on one-on-one organizing conversations and data tracking
  • Build a membership ask and data tracking into all Association events
  • Use the Year-Round Organizing card as a tool to develop engagement opportunities of interest to your members and  potential members
Membership Asks at Every Event

Create a statewide plan to make a membership ask at every New Employee Orientation and Association Event. Make a game plan that helps local Associations approach, recruit, and follow up with potential members year-round.

Sample tactics:

  • Support an Early Career Educator in sharing their personal union story from the front of the room during NEO and  Association Events
  • Execute one-on-ones and small group conversations, and address “what is a union?” “why do we pay dues?” and “why are we politically engaged?”
  • Prepare to capture data electronically at NEO and other Association events via SMS short code, a short form that can be filled out on mobile devices, etc.
Worksite Follow-Up

Focus on in-person follow-up conversations. Members are the most effective recruiters of new members. A strong follow-up plan supports Association Representatives, Member Organizers, and worksite activists in having targeted one-on-one organizing conversations with new and potential members at the worksite immediately following orientation and Association events.

Sample tactics:

  • Assess new member, identified potential member, and outstanding potential member data to determine priority worksites and individuals for outreach
  • Identify and/or create professional learning trainings that may be applicable or useful to educators based on their Year-Round Organizing card preferences
  • Utilize Join Now “abandoner lists” list to follow up with potential members
Use Data to Plan Outreach

Use data to drive decision making and resource allocation. The Year-Round Organizing Campaign survey data identifies  opportunities to develop organizing campaigns, issue-specific education, and professional supports.

Sample tactics:

  • Leverage NEA and state affiliate resources for data-informed follow-up engagements  
  • Organize Early Career Educator networking, professional supports, and other engagement opportunities targeted to YRO contacts and other Early Career Educators
  • Utilize telephonic organizing and other digital/social media tactics to promote engagement events and use social media platforms to celebrate recruitment and engagement events

Tools to Help You Get Started

One of the most effective ways to build more meaningful relationships with our members and supporters is through content. ​We've identified key pieces of content streams that highlight the value of the union to potential members and develop processes to engage educators with those streams, capture data, and put them on a path to membership.

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    Year-Round Organizing Cards

    The Year-Round Organizing card is an important tool for gathering the contact information of educators who are interested in learning about or getting more involved in the union. For more information about Year-Round Organizing cards and how to access the data gathered, visit our organizing toolkit.
    union and collective bargaining art build

    Year-Round Organizing Grants

    The Center for Organizing has resources available in support of strategic organizing projects that are developed collaboratively between state affiliate leadership, affected locals and NEA.
    educators at a table for collective bargaining

    Organizing Resources at Your Fingertips

    Our Recruitment Toolkit has the resources you need to support your membership drive! Access find videos, graphics, downloadable posters, and more to help you spread the word and recruit new members.

    NEA's Text Program

    Our text tool allows educators to connect with their union straight from their phones! All they need to do is text of these key words to 48744 to receive personalized resources:

    • JOIN to find out how to join the union in your state
    • CONNECT to fill out their state-specific Year-Round Organizing cards
    • UNION to explore the ways members help educators nationwide
    • ACTION to find ways to take action for public schools 
    • PRACTICE to connect with tips and tools designed to help them grow within their profession

    You can make the most of this tool by putting the text number and keyword (i.e. Text JOIN to 48744) on social media graphics, in speeches, on event banners, podiums, and posters...Your creativity is the limit!

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    Union 101

    The National Education Association is the largest labor union in the country. Find explainers on union lingo, collective bargaining, the benefits of membership, and more in our 101 series!

    More Tools to Help

    Excited about the five key field strategies? Dig deeper with our NEA Organizing Guide! These guides provide expert insights and tips designed to help strengthen your organizing program.
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    Guide to Worksite Visits

    Worksite visits are great ways to have one-on-one organizing conversations with as many members and potential members as possible. Use this guide to make the most of your time, whether you are making a solo visit or hosting a worksite blitz.
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    Guide to Building Strong Lists

    Building strong lists allows organizers to more effectively and efficiently reach educators and protect public schools. This guide shares helpful tips on where to find and maintain data for your campaigns.
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    Guide to Transformational Conversations

    One-on-one conversations are the most effective way to share the importance of membership to fellow educators. By following the tips shared in this guide, you or your members will be able to communicate the transformational benefits of joining together as a union.

    Have Questions About Year-Round Organizing? 

    Please email [email protected] if you’d like to be connected with the AFSE Organizational Specialist assigned to your state affiliate who can assist you with developing an organizing campaign tailored towards your affiliate’s specific needs.

    Contact Us

    The Back-To-School Campaign

    Two teachers walk through a hallway

    As educators begin a new school year, organizers have new opportunities to engage new hires and reengage members to remind them of the power of coming together through their union. 

    We have tools designed to help members and staff grow the union during this important time of year:

    • Strategies and Tactics
    • NEA's Guides to New Employee Orientation
    • Messaging Guidance

    Back-To-School Organizing

    Texas Red for Ed rally

    The Winter Worksite Campaign

    In between Back-To-School and Early Enrollment recruitment periods, Winter Worksite is a campaign that focuses on building union power by directly supports educator voice campaigns to grow and strengthen local and state affiliates. 

    Winter Worksite campaigns can create a policy agenda for local school board races, inform the state affiliate’s legislative priorities, and help shape the revenue demands that the affiliate will make of the state legislature and governor.

    Winter Worksite Organizing

    The Early Enrollment Campaign 

    The Early Enrollment Membership Program is offered to support your spring or summer membership organizing efforts by inviting First-Time Active members and Aspiring Educators to experience the transformative impact of being part of the Association for no immediate cost.

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    Between April 1 - August 31 educators can join without paying dues until the new school year starts.

    First-time Active or new Aspiring Educator recruits will become members effective September 1 and receive immediate access to NEA Educators Employment Liability Program coverage (liability insurance) and NEA Member Benefits programs. 

    Early Enrollment Organizing

    The Education Summer Campaign

    The Education Summer Campaign (Ed Summer) supports state and local associations in advancing organizing campaigns, membership growth, and planning for new hire recruitment (NEOs). This includes: 

    • Strength Building Goals: Organizers work on building structural supports, including but not limited to the following: Contract Action Teams (CAT), school board action teams, political action teams, organizing committees, and early career educator committees.
    • Organizing Building Goals: Building membership and structural organizing capacity are critical steps to prepare the union to lift educators’ voices, build power, and leverage this power to win for our students, educators, and communities. Examples of organizing goals include anti-privatization measures, contract campaigns, increasing public education funding, and passing progressive school board policies.

    Ed Summer Organizing

    Educator listens to a conversation

    Important organizing resources

    We've compiled a complete library of resources to promote a culture of organizing at your affiliate.
    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.