NEA departments were carrying hand-made signs, such as: “Got Contract?” and “United We Can Achieve a Fair Contract.”
The line of march, starting on the eighth floor, flowed downward, along the entire length of each floor, with people on the next floor down politely waiting to join in. You could hear continued “Sssh” sounds along the way. But people just couldn’t keep quiet.
Consultants waiting to use the stairwell asked Con Lehane (IM) what was going on. “It’s a long story,” Con replied. That could be the title of today’s event.
By the fourth floor, lines of march merged from two opposing directions, to flow down the stairs. There were lots of new faces in the march.
As the whole line of march descended the stairs from the second floor to the Atrium, folks on the floor applauded them and chanted “NEASO!” and “Be Fair.
Speakers, on the second floor balcony, were chief negotiator David Schlein (CBMA) and NEASO Executive Director Dan DiJames. There were two nervous -looking people shifting around in the Human Relations office. This was a bit beyond their comfort level.
“Last week was a dark day in the history of NEA,” said Schlein, “because they put forth a proposal that was an insult [to] the great work you do for the union. We have told NEA in no uncertain terms that we will reject it…You have told them last week and here that you will not accept the takebacks they are proposing. We want what’s fair, what will move us forward—not a contract that moves us back 30 years.”
Schlein spoke of “Mr. Wilson’s” Morale Initiative. “Who’s got morale now?” he thundered.
Looking at an Atrium filled with black-wearing protesters, DiJames said, “It’s a dark day when NEA steps away from its principles.” The Morale Initiative, he noted, was meant to turn the NEA workplace into a diamond, “but it’s turned into a piece of coal. We need to pressure them, brothers and sisters, to turn a piece of coal back into a diamond!”