NEA and AFL-CIO announce national partnership

The National Education Association and the AFL-CIO announced a partnership February 27 that will allow local affiliates of both organizations to work together to meet the needs of working families. The agreement brings together the nation's largest independent union, representing 2.8 million teachers (preK through graduate school) and education support professionals, with a federation of unions representing 9 million workers.

"In this political climate, our organizations need to build on our common goals, and advocate together for our members and our children," said Reg Weaver, president of NEA. "Our unions, like our public schools, are fixtures of local communities. Through joint activities we can better strengthen our communities, strengthen our public schools, and strengthen our organizations."

NEA and the AFL-CIO will remain independent organizations. For the first time, though, NEA locals may become affiliated with the AFL-CIO. The locals must apply through NEA, and once approved may participate in the AFL-CIO's community labor councils.

"The agreement between the NEA and the AFL-CIO provides yet another way for unions to work together on the causes and issues of vital importance to our members," said MTA President Catherine A. Boudreau. "It will promote dialogue, and it will strengthen opportunities to build unity among educators and other workers. We have long worked closely with the Massachusetts Federation of Teachers and the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, and this initiative gives our locals an excellent means to strengthen those bonds."

NEA affiliates have previously worked with the AFL-CIO locally, but AFL-CIO policy prohibited the affiliates from joining the AFL-CIO. This agreement, which the AFL-CIO executive council approved this morning and NEA approved earlier this month, allows that relationship.

"By giving NEA local members the opportunity to unite with our members, we'll be able to wage stronger campaigns to help working families fend off escalating assaults on family incomes, education, health care, pensions, and public services," said AFL-CIO President John J. Sweeney. "And we'll be stronger in the fight for quality, affordable health care for all, retirement security, and a great education for our children."

Affiliates will collaborate on common local goals, like increasing parental involvement in public schools and protecting members' rights. Both organizations noted that students benefit when their parents earn living wages and have health benefits for their children.

This isn't the first time the two organizations have come together. NEA frequently works with the AFL-CIO to analyze federal and local policy on issues like health care. The two organizations collaborated on proposed Medicare reform legislation.

Already, over 220,000 NEA members are affiliated with the AFL-CIO through local and state joint affiliations with the American Federation of Teachers. The AFT, an AFL-CIO affiliate, has expressed its support for the labor solidarity agreement.

NEA also worked with the AFL-CIO's Center for Working Capital to educate members on pension issues, and the AFL-CIO has participated in NEA's retirement and benefits forum. Currently, NEA is working with other unions to coordinate a national strategy that will protect defined benefit pension plans.

The National Education Association is the nation's largest professional organization, representing 2.8 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

The AFL-CIO is the nation's largest organization for working families, with 52 affiliated unions representing 9 million men and women, in addition to the 1 million members in Working America—the AFL-CIO's community affiliate for people who do not have a union on the job.  The AFL-CIO speaks out for good jobs, health care, a secure retirement, workers' rights and other issues important to all who work.