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Teachers’ Unions and Collective Bargaining

Collective bargaining entails a process of negotiations between a union and an employer over employees’ working conditions and/or wages. In K-12 education in the United States, teachers’ unions negotiate with local school districts or school boards over the contents of collective bargaining agreements (CBAs)—the contract put in place for all district teachers between the union and the district. Local teachers’ unions and school districts are the key actors in these collective bargaining negotiations.

Teachers’ unions have been important actors in U.S. education policy and governance since the early 1900s. They are key actors at all levels of education governance—federal, state, and, above all, at the local school district level. The two main teachers’ unions—the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers—have active affiliates in ...

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