The Association of Field Service Employees outside the NEA RA in Denver.
(Washington, D.C.)—For months staff members at the nation’s largest union–the National Education Association–have been trying to negotiate a fair contract with their employer. Ironically, the very same employees who work on-the-ground to assist NEA teachers and education support professionals secure fair working conditions, have now been working without a contract for nearly a month. President of the union representing these employees, Sue Chase, issued the following statement:
“We have been at the bargaining table for months with NEA’s top management, trying to negotiate a contract for our employees that will allow us to adequately fight for and protect NEA’s members and the children they serve. We would like nothing more than to be able to show up to work, and go into battle for public education, free from distraction and fear in our own workplace.
“In public, NEA’s executive director John Stocks delivers passionate and fiery speeches about social justice unionism and activism. In private, however, his rhetoric does not match his actions. Mr. Stocks and and his spokespeople continue to say that they “support collective bargaining.” But he knows well that supporting the process is not synonymous with supporting union values.
“Throughout this process we have tried to negotiate a contract which restores dignity to our employees, recognizes our professionalism and demands respect for the work that we do. Instead we have found ourselves having to defend basic union values: we can’t even get Mr. Stocks to consider language that protects NEA staff from bullying.
“In a recent speech, Mr. Stocks said that NEA is prepared to play the ‘long game’ to defend against attacks from anti-union forces like the Koch brothers, and that ‘the power lies dormant within us until someone tramples on our core values.’
“On this playing field, no one knows the game better than NEA’s field staff. But how can Mr. Stocks possibly expect us to unleash our power if he doesn’t consider his own staff as part of his team, doesn’t give us the resources we need to win the game and demonstrates that when it comes to union values, he may not really be on our side?
“We go into battle for NEA’s members, and fight for rights which aren’t even guaranteed for us. If you want the community to treat NEA members with respect and dignity, and to recognize their professionalism, then you must also live these values. It is not enough for Mr. Stocks to say he believes in collective bargaining, he must demonstrate that he believes in union values, too.
“We would like nothing more than to get in the game for public education–our shared cause is too great to be stalled by these types of distractions. It is hard to win the game when our own coach isn’t rooting for us, and is, in fact, undermining our ability to be strong advocates.
“We hope Mr. Stocks reconsiders the plays in his handbook as we move forward in negotiations. The attacks on NEA’s members and the children they serve are real, and we don’t have time to play any more games.”
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – July 16, 2014
CONTACT: Valerie Wilk, (703) 598-0427, email@example.com
Facebook: Association of Field Service Employees-AFSE
Since 1973, the Association of Field Service Employees (AFSE) union representing field service employees of the National Education Association has been working to protect the rights and improve the working conditions of those NEA staff who advocate for NEA members in the field.