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Understanding Collective Bargaining

Collective bargaining is the strongest and most empowering way to give educators a voice in advocating for great public education for every student.
union and collective bargaining art build
Collective bargaining and advocacy ensure we enhance student learning and improve educator working conditions–benefiting our students, schools, and the community as a whole.   

With collective bargaining, educators advocate not only for their working conditions, but also for student learning conditions. We lift our voice for fair compensation and benefits, and also for:

  • Smaller class sizes
  • Less testing and more time for learning
  • Increased staffing of nurses and counselors
  • Community schools that meet the needs of students and the community

How Collective Bargaining Works

Kember Kane
When unions negotiate for teacher working conditions, they also negotiate for the conditions that our children learn in."
Quote by: Kember Kane, Kindergarten Teacher

Is there collective bargaining in your state?

States have a patchwork of laws that determine how educators can advocate for pay, benefits, and student learning conditions.
  • Washington, D.C.
If there is no bargaining in your state, there are still many ways we can show up for our students and ourselves and make change happen.

Your Voice in Non-Bargaining States 

Even if bargaining is not permitted in your state, NEA locals can still leverage political and community power, using Bargaining for the Common Good and other advocacy principles to gain greater control over their workplace.   

Affiliates use the collective power of their members to win on issues such as increased pay, improved benefits, stronger salary schedules, and better working conditions. 

We fight from city halls to state legislatures for increased funding for schools and higher education and for improving student learning outcomes.   

Together, members organize to enhance educator input into workplace decisions and to elect pro-public education candidates at the local, state, and national levels. 

RedforEd Rally

Collective bargaining is good public policy.

Download our new report to learn: a brief history of public-sector bargaining; why collective bargaining is important and how it benefits educators, students, and the wider community; and the key elements of a strong public-sector collective bargaining law.

The Benefits of Bargaining 

Teacher with elementary school students

Join the Movement

Becoming a member of the National Education Association connects you with a movement of educators supporting each other. We are a community that will help you advocate for the funding, resources, and support you and your students deserve.
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.