Norcross, Warren Urge Department of Defense to Treat Teachers on Overseas Military Bases Fairly
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Congressman Donald Norcross (D-NJ-01) and U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) led a letter to Director Thomas M. Brady of the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA), regarding urgent matters concerning contract negotiations between DoDEA and the Overseas Federation of Teachers (OFT).
“… [It] has been brought to our attention that DoDEA’s Labor-Management Employee Relations (LMER) representatives are refusing to bargain with the union over important professional practices… that are commonplace in school districts throughout our country,” the letter writers said.
“We have one of the most pro-worker presidents in decades, which means we also have one of the most pro-worker commanders-in-chief in decades,” said Congressman Norcross. “It is concerning that the DoDEA seems set on implementing the anti-worker executive orders of a former president which are completely contrary to the stated goals of the Biden administration. DoDEA educators deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, and that means negotiating with them in good faith.”
“DoDEA teachers do powerfully important work serving U.S. military children and families across the world,” said Senator Warren. “They deserve the right to fight for better work conditions and benefits. DoDEA should follow through on the Biden administration’s commitment to protect the federal workforce and ensure a meaningful right to collective bargaining for workers.”
American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten had this to say:
“We owe a special duty to our military families to ensure their kids in schools overseas have the best. That’s why there has been a decades-long productive and respectful relationship between our union affiliate, the Overseas Federation of Teachers, and the Department of Defense Education Activity that has helped get students and teachers what they need to succeed. Tom Brady and the current managers of DoDEA are changing this and trying to eliminate all voice and the ability of the educators overseas to accomplish the work they do.
“Brady never acted this way when he ran schools on the mainland; why is he engaged in this now? DoDEA is attempting to strip teachers of the agency Education Secretary Miguel Cardona repeatedly has said they need to meet the needs of children. They are denying resources that support classroom learning, including adequate technology to the children of those who are in the armed forces. They are refusing to negotiate on safety and diversity issues so that students and teachers feel safe and welcome in classrooms, and they are denying educators the prep time they need to plan lessons.
“We don’t want to lose the programs, practices, and trust that have made a huge difference in the lives of our military and diplomatic families and the educators they trust to teach their kids while they live and work abroad. It’s time for DoDEA to show OFT educators and the students and families of this community the respect they deserve.”
In addition to Congressman Norcross and Senator Warren, the letter was signed by a bicameral group of their colleagues on the Committees on Armed Services: Representatives Anthony G. Brown (D-MD-04), John Garamendi (D-CA-03), Andy Kim (D-NJ-03), Sylvia R. Garcia (D-TX-29), Seth Moulton (D-MA-06), Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ-11), and Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Jackey Rosen (D-NV).