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Thursday, July 18, 2024

Teachers Union Gets Taste of Its Own Medicine as Staff Strike Forces Conference Cancelation

'We have witnessed excessive, even exorbitant, spending on just the NEA president’s physical appearance...'

(Molly BrunsHeadline USA) The nation’s largest teachers union faced a strike of its own, in what was called an unprecedented event, according to Education Week.

The strike disrupted National Education Association’s annual conference in Philadelphia, and led President Joe Biden to cancel his planned appearance on Sunday in awkward solidarity with workers in the union-versus-union dispute

“President Biden is a fierce supporter of unions and he won’t cross a picket line,” a spokesperson told EdWeek.

The strike, which began on July 5, was conducted by the National Education Association Staff Organization—what essentially amounts to a union within the union, comprising roughly 300 staff members employed by the union.

They held signs outside the Pennsylvania Convention Center calling on the NEA to “uphold union values.”

Among its complaints was that the NEA had denied holiday pay, despite requiring the staffers to work over the July 4 holiday weekend.

The NEA, however, accused the union staffers in a statement of “abandoning thousands of NEA members from across the country who traveled to the representative assembly … and depriving them of the opportunity to convene and deliberate the business of the union.”

The purpose of the assembly was to vote on the union’s priorities, budget and strategic plan for the upcoming year.

After being forced to cancel the convention just one day into it, for only the fourth time in the organization’s century-old history—once for war and twice for COVID—NEA retaliated against the striking workers by threatening to lock them out of the organization’s Washington, D.C. headquarters until a contract agreement could be reached.

The previous contract expired at the end of May, and negotiations between the two unions have been tense since then.

It also allegedly cut the striking workers’ business phones and accounts, as well as their hotel rooms and flights back from the Philadelphia conference.

The aggressive moves by the NEA shocked many members of the NEASO.

“The NEA management’s punitive lockout of its own employees is a dangerous, reckless, and reactionary move that undermines the rights of every union worker in this country,” NEASO President Robin McLean said.

“These are clear union-busting techniques that will not be tolerated,” she added. “I cannot imagine it lands well that the nation’s largest union is locking out its staff union.”

Exacerbating tensions were recent allegations that NEA President Becky Pringle spent $8,500 on a three-day hairstyline session paid for with union dues.

“We have witnessed excessive, even exorbitant, spending on just the NEA president’s physical appearance,” McLean said.

“Their failure to provide basic details about outsourcing makes us wonder what else the National Education Association is hiding,” she added. “For a public-service union that purports to oppose outsourcing members’ work, it is unconscionable that NEA would spend hundreds of millions of NEA member dues on contractors while union-busting and shrinking its staff unions.”

Not only was Pringle slammed for the allegations about her hairdo—costing more than the average starting teacher would make in two full months—but she was also ridiculed for her opening day speech at the convention, in which she was accused of plagiarizing Dwight Schrute from the sitcom The Office during an episode in which he, in turn, mimicked Benito Mussolini.

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