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NEA To Explore Why Merger Failed

July 6, 1998

NEW ORLEANS (AP) _ A day after rejecting a proposed merger with a rival teachers union, members of the National Education Association voted Monday to have their leaders analyze why the proposal failed.

The vote called for coming up with a more acceptable road map to ``unity″ with the American Federation of Teachers.

Delegates representing the nation’s biggest teachers union also voted at their convention in New Orleans to encourage the two unions to continue their agreement not to raid each other’s members, and to establish procedures to make it easier for state locals to merge.

And the NEA delegates voted to have their union continue to work, in a joint council with the smaller AFT teachers group, on issues of teacher quality, school safety and school construction.

Voting on Sunday, the delegates representing the 2.4 million members of the NEA soundly rejected a merger with the 950,000-member American Federation of Teachers, in a major setback for the leaders of both groups.

The merger would have created a super-union of public employees and brought the now-independent NEA under the AFL-CIO umbrella. The AFT is part of the labor federation.

Many delegates said after the vote Sunday that they agreed with the idea of a merger, in principle, but didn’t like the plan their leaders had negotiated.

Among the objections: The plan weakened the rank-and-file organization of the NEA in favor of the more top-down approach at the AFT and it put teachers into the AFL-CIO.

The NEA delegates, in the vote Monday, told their leaders to survey delegates to see why they objected to the merger proposal, and use that information to guide any future negotiations with the AFT.

The resolution approved by the delegates affirmed the union’s ``historic commitment to the concept of unity with the AFT.″

``The dream of uniting America’s educators in a single organization is very much alive,″ said NEA President Robert F. Chase.

Meanwhile, the AFT intends to vote on the merger July 18, also in New Orleans. Two-thirds of the 4,000 delegates to the group’s convention would have to approve the merger in what has become a largely symbolic vote.

Should the NEA agree later to a merger under terms different from those rejected Sunday, the AFT would have to vote again on the amended plan.

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