Thunderclap Augurs New Deals Between NEA, AFT, SEIU & AFSCME

Last December we reported on secret negotiations among the largest labor unions in the U.S. over who gets to organize whom and where. We can now report that a number of agreements have been bargained and drawn up, and now await ratification by each union’s representative bodies.

Details of the agreements are unavailable to union outsiders, but EIA has learned they include a renewal of the current jurisdictional agreement (“no raid”) between the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, and at least two other deals involving NEA, SEIU and AFSCME – one a “solidarity” agreement similar to that negotiated between NEA and the AFL-CIO in 2006, the other an “organizing for power” agreement, which would seem to lay out the terms for cooperation on various issue campaigns.

What this might entail was demonstrated last week, when NEA, AFT, SEIU, AFSCME and others joined together to produce a Thunderclap, which is an online tool for simultaneously tweeting the same message from hundreds or thousands of participating Twitter accounts. As SEIU reported, “At noon Eastern Time, 5,977 people sent our #JobsNotCuts message to more than 1,869,096 people. It was the largest political Thunderclap in the history of the Thunderclap. Thank you to those who participated!”

Ratification of these agreements is considered to be a formality. Despite continued independence from both the AFL-CIO and Change to Win, this ushers in a new era of NEA identifying with and, indeed, driving the broader U.S. labor movement.