Each time NSO members gather for a major function, such as the Winter Advocacy Retreat or the Representative Assembly, they have the opportunity to participate in an Emerging Issues session. Members have the chance to discuss the impact of current issues on their local affiliates across the county and on NSO in general.
At the 2015 Winter Advocacy Retreat, the following topics fostered discussion:
- Attacks on existing benefits-concessionary atmosphere
- Subcontracting of unit work using NEA Grant money
- Governance micro-managing and defining staff roles at the state level
- Fair share (and the loss of) and its impact on staffing levels
- Getting new hires involved
- Failure to fill vacancies
Session participants grouped many of the topics together to make discussion easier and generate solutions.
For the broad topic of NEA, participants advised:
- Generate conversations with power players (staff managers, governance, Executive Director).
- Build relationships with state executive directors through relationships NSO has with them.
- Show data where NEA is losing members and money.
- Define “organizing.”
- Have conversations with colleagues within each state regarding “what is organizing” in relation to the issues and strengths.
- In terms of diluting the role of UDs—what does “solidify membership” mean to NEA?
- NSO can do power mapping of NEA’s Executive Committee and Board to find people who have influence and can move the organization forward.
- Build strong leaders and capacity.
- Provide basic information and data to governance.
- Assess “audience” interests to build a shared interest discussion.
- Share what an affiliate does and hears when meeting with a Regional Director.
Under the topic of bargaining, participants shared these ideas:
- Governance is usurping management rights/roles.
- “Broke” positions not being filled.
- Committees formed to study various compensation issues can’t make changes; they can only make recommendations.
- A joint task force should be formed to look at salary schedules and make recommendations.
- Salary schedules are not sustainable.
- Changes to health care for both active and post
- Legacy costs
- ACA and Cadillac tax
- Changes in benefits to help keep the cost of insurance down
- Target dates for benefits—if someone is hired after a certain date, they don’t receive benefits.
- Use the mole.