Though I have written about the fact often, it bears repeating that the National Education Association and its affiliates are employers. Between them they hire thousands of workers to perform a variety of tasks. Virtually all of these workers are covered by collective bargaining agreements in which the teachers’ union is management – bosses, to put it plainly. Union employees use the contract to set salaries, benefits, working conditions and protections against arbitrary actions by union executives.
About 500 people work at NEA national headquarters in Washington, DC. A handful of unions represent them, the largest being the National Education Association Staff Organization (NEASO). NEA and NEASO negotiated a 136-page collective bargaining agreement in June 2012, and it runs through the end of May 2015. I have posted the full document on EIA’s Declassified page, but to save you the energy of mining it yourself, here are a few provisions I thought were worthy of highlighting:
* It is explicitly noted that “An employee shall be permitted time off as necessary to use the restroom.”
* NEA must assume financial liability for an employee who is prosecuted or sued “because of any act taken by him/her in the course of his/her employment.” Under these circumstances, unless the employee is guilty of “gross negligence or gross irresponsibility,” he or she “shall be paid at his/her regular hourly rate for all time spent in jail.”
* NEA can fire or discipline an employee for just cause. Just cause for immediate termination includes “habitually being under the influence of alcoholic beverages or drugs during working hours to the extent that the employee is unable to perform adequately his/her assigned functions,” which implies that you can’t be immediately fired if you only do it once. Immediate termination can also occur for an “unprovoked assault on or threats to an NEA representative or another employee during working hours,” which implies assaulting or threatening someone during off-hours will not result in immediate termination.
* Outside of the usual crimes and misdemeanors, the only thing that will get you immediately fired is failure to pay NEASO dues.
* NEA reimburses employees for valet service if they travel for five consecutive days.
* NEA reimburses employees for loss or damage of personal items during travel if not covered by insurance.
* If NEA is forced to cancel an employee’s previously approved vacation time, it must “reimburse the employee for any deposits or other similar out-of-pocket losses necessarily sustained by him/her as a result thereof.”
* Employees can be reimbursed up to $700 for “technical equipment with a business purpose,” including broadband and Internet.
* NEA is required to provide “an appropriately furnished lounge” for employees at union headquarters. The contract specifically requires NEA to “make an ice machine available to employees in the building.”
* “An appropriately equipped and staffed health services unit shall be open during normal business hours at NEA Center. A registered or licensed practical nurse shall be on duty during those hours.”
* The contract dictates that computer monitors must be “equipped with a screen designed to reduce glare” and NEA must provide employees who work at computer monitors for an average of two hours or more per day a vision examination once every two years. NEA will reimburse employees for special lenses and frames for computer monitor use which are prescribed at that exam.
* Any “conceptual design decisions regarding the configuration of NEA office space” must be referred to joint labor-management council.
* NEA may be liable for job-related injuries or illnesses that occur while an employee is working at home.
* NEA grants administrative leave during national periods of mourning and on Inauguration Day.
* NEA provides no more than 214 parking permits for its headquarters building, and so must issue a $60 monthly commuting benefit for those who use the DC Metro, or $10 per month for those who bike to work. The contract requires NEA to maintain a bicycle rack. The issuance of parking permits is an important issue, as is evident by this paragraph:
If a non-bargaining-unit employee who holds a parking permit is moved to a bargaining-unit position, he/she shall be placed on the waiting list for a parking permit according to his/her most recent date of hire, unless his/her seniority would make him/her immediately eligible for a permit, in which case he/she shall retain his/her permit.
If a contract between union employees and union employers looks like this, it is only sensible to assume that unions believe such provisions are an essential part of the collective bargaining process. Do you?