UPDATE: National teachers’ union staff strikes, assembly canceled

Staff of the National Education Association (NEA) initiated a strike on Friday, July 5, stopping the union’s annual four-day NEA Representative Assembly. As a result of their work stoppage, nearly 300 staff members will be locked out of work until a contract between the NEA and their bargaining unit, the National Education Association Staff Organization (NEASO) is reached, reported Education Week.

NEASO is one of the NEA staff bargaining units and “a safeguard to ensure NEA upholds its union values,” according to the NEASO website. NEASO president Robin McLean called the NEA’s lockout “dangerous, reckless, and [a] reactionary move that undermines the rights of every union worker in this country,” according to Education Week. “These are clear union-busting techniques that will not be tolerated. I cannot imagine it lands well that the nation’s largest union is locking out its staff union.”

The three-day strike occurred one day after the Representative Assembly convened on July 4. In a statement to Education Week, the NEA criticized staff for “abandoning thousands of NEA members from across the country who traveled to the representative assembly, many at their own personal expense, and depriving them of the opportunity to convene and deliberate the business of the union.”

Included in proposed new business items were a number of anti-Israel resolutionsAccording to Educators for Palestine-NEA, NEA president Becky Pringle chose to skip over a handful of them — new business items #6-10 — on Thursday, July 4 (the one day the assembly met before the strike), and they were not brought to the floor for debate. “We will continue strategizing and working together to bring Palestine to the forefront of NEA, our state caucuses and our local delegations,” posted Educators for Palestine-NEA.

Pringle gave a speech on Thursday that included her repeatedly shouting about the union’s need “to win all the things” to “preserve our democracy” as she pounded the podium and flailed her arms about, reported the Daily Mail.

Pres. Joe Biden was scheduled to address the NEA Representative Assembly on Sunday, but canceled because of the strike, stating he wouldn’t cross the picket line.

According to Education Week, the NEA’s annual gathering “has only been canceled three other times since it began more than a century ago due to war and the COVID-19 pandemic.”