Written by Ashton Snyder on
 July 7, 2024

Biden Chooses Not to Attend NEA Event Amid Staff Strike

President Joe Biden canceled his scheduled appearance at the National Education Association (NEA) conference due to a strike by the union’s staff.

President Joe Biden canceled his planned appearance at the National Education Association (NEA) conference in Philadelphia due to an announced strike by the union’s staff, as the Washington Examiner reports.

The National Education Association Staff Organization (NEASO) initiated the strike after filing two unfair labor practice complaints against the NEA. The strike is occurring at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia, where the NEA’s 103rd Representative Assembly is being held.

Union Files Unfair Labor Practice Complaints

NEASO, representing the NEA's staff, made their concerns public on Friday. The union accused the NEA of wage theft, claiming the association removed holiday overtime pay unilaterally. Additionally, NEASO filed a second complaint regarding NEA’s "failure to provide information requested by the staff union on outsourcing more than $50 million to contractors,” further igniting tensions.

In response to the escalating dispute, the NEA has threatened to host the conference virtually to circumvent a physical picket line. NEASO President Robin McLean criticized this potential move, describing it as reprehensible and indicative of NEA abandoning its union values.

President Biden’s Decision

The Biden campaign released a statement affirming the President's support for unions and his decision not to cross a picket line. The campaign also mentioned that Biden still plans to travel to Pennsylvania this weekend, with further details forthcoming.

Biden's absence underscores the growing friction within the NEA. Despite the NEA’s offer to increase the average salary for employees from $124,004 to $133,218, the dispute remains unresolved.

Responses from NEA and NEASO

NEA spokesperson emphasized the association’s commitment to a fair bargaining process and expressed concerns about misinformation impacting ongoing negotiations. According to the NEA, the propagation of such misinformation not only distorts the facts but also undermines the integrity of their efforts.

On the other hand, McLean accused the NEA of preferring to cancel a highly costly convention rather than comply with labor laws. He reiterated the importance of adhering to union values, particularly in times of conflict. The ongoing strike at the Pennsylvania Convention Center highlights a fundamental disagreement over wages, overtime compensation, and the transparency of financial decisions.

Future Implications

Biden’s refusal to attend the conference amidst the strike is a significant gesture of solidarity with the striking union. It also places additional pressure on both the NEA and NEASO to find a resolution. The planned virtual conference could offer a temporary solution, but it may not address the underlying issues driving the strike. As the situation develops, both parties will need to engage in effective dialogue to find an enduring resolution.

Robin McLean's statements reflect a sense of disillusionment with the NEA’s current stance. The call for adherence to union values sets the groundwork for future negotiations and decisions affecting the association going forward.

Summary of the Dispute

President Joe Biden’s planned address at the NEA conference was canceled due to an ongoing strike by the union’s staff, represented by NEASO. The staff union filed two major complaints against the NEA, citing wage theft and a lack of transparency in outsourcing financial decisions.

As this situation unfolds, both the NEA and NEASO must navigate the complexities of labor negotiations amid high stakes and public scrutiny.

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About Ashton Snyder

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