Teacher strike case study

What the district says about Premo

“Premo’s consultants get the big picture and have remarkable relationships with the media and key stakeholders; something you need when dealing with an inflammatory issue such as a school strike.”

Ira Weiss, renowned solicitor for several school districts


A major metropolitan public school system employing roughly 3,000 teachers, paraprofessionals, and clerical employees was threatening its first strike in four decades, potentially disrupting the lives of thousands of students and their families and generating a swarm of negative publicity for a superintendent who was new to both the job and the region, which has strong roots in organized labor.

Premo worked in close conjunction with the school district’s in-house communications team and legal counsel to quickly develop and execute a strategy that explained the district’s position in the most accurate and advantageous way possible without violating collective bargaining protocol or inflaming an already energized teachers union.


In crisis management, staying on top of fast-moving developments is essential. We worked hour by hour, including late nights and weekends, with the legal and in-house teams to craft messaging that communicated why the district had reached an impasse, a detail that was strategically excluded from interviews given by the teachers union leadership. In fact, many teachers who were represented by the union did not know some of the key offers that the district was making — a fact that could sway support for a strike authorization. Likewise, messages were crafted for both stakeholders (such as foundations and other potential funding sources) and parents/caregivers.


In addition to communicating what the district was offering, Premo also created talking points for all public-facing members of the district’s negotiation team, including the solicitor and superintendent. They were able to express consistent messaging without sounding robotic or as though they were “sticking to the script.” Rather than disparaging the teachers, which would have had an inflammatory effect on union members and possibly the public, the district representatives commended teachers and highlighted all the district accomplished under the new superintendent’s leadership.


Premo was able to leverage contacts in the local media market to place op-eds we wrote and television appearances that widely communicated our client’s stance in a compelling way. We also developed contacts within the union’s membership to gauge how rank-and-file teachers were perceiving these messages and which way they were leaning.


Premo simplified key messages in order to make them absorbable for a social media audience. We worked within legal parameters to ensure there was a social media presence and message as well as monitored parent and union pages for rumor control, responding as needed to the most egregious claims.


Because the strike vote was planned, Premo developed prepared statements and talking points for all public-facing clients that addressed every possible scenario. These were written in real time and reviewed by the client, ready to go on a moment’s notice when the vote happened. We also worked closely with those who would be giving the statements to make sure they were comfortable with the tone and wording, and with the legal team to make sure all statements fell within the boundaries of collective bargaining without using legal/labor jargon.


A strike was averted and a new contract was reached without the district resorting to any of its non-starter concessions. Positive, forward-thinking messaging was developed for the district to move forward post-crisis, allowing teachers and administrators to emerge looking collaborative, results-driven, and pro-student.

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