North Dakota unions approve merger

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In historic votes on Feb. 2, the North Dakota Public Employees Association and the North Dakota Education Association approved a merger of the two organizations.

The combination, which will be known as North Dakota United, will become the state's largest public employee union with more than 10,000 members. The NDPEA is affiliated with the AFT, while the NDEA is affiliated with the National Education Association. Delegates from both organizations voted overwhelmingly in favor of the merged union, which will affiliate with both national unions and is slated to begin operations in September. 

"The creation of North Dakota United is a terrific outcome for the employees represented by this new organization and for all North Dakotans, who rely on the public services they deliver every day," AFT president Randi Weingarten says.

"This merger brings together employees who provide all citizens with the public services—from schools to safe roads to health programs—that are the foundation of North Dakota's quality of life. These workers will gain a louder, stronger and more united voice in their efforts to strengthen public services, and that is good for the entire state.

"The merger also will strengthen the labor movement in North Dakota and help ensure that all working families in every community participate in the state's economic success."

Discussions surrounding a possible merger of the two public employee unions have been ongoing since 2009, and members have been kept informed of developments through meetings, publications and online communication. NDPEA president Gary Feist stresses that the votes for merger were the culmination of years of collaboration between the two unions.

"Our organizations have consistently worked together on issues that are important to our members and affect the well-being of all North Dakotans," Feist says. "The new NDU will continue our shared mission: making it possible for our members to deliver the public services that are essential to the people of our state."

"One strong premise we have continually operated under in the last two years," says NDEA president Dakota Draper, "is that we either create a new organization that is better than the two organizations would be separately, or we wouldn't attempt the merger. We believe we have accomplished that premise." [Mike Rose, AFT press release, NDPEA]

February 2, 2013