Once again the headline is a little misleading, just as when we covered the start of the Brooklyn Friends School strike, but it is accurate. Having a real union like the UAW behind you, instead of the feckless UFT, can make a real difference.
After striking faculty and staff caused the Brooklyn Friends School to close for three days this week, the administration at the Quaker private school finally ceded to the BFS union’s demands Wednesday evening. Head of School Crissy Cáceres and the school’s Board of Trustees promised to withdraw the petition they had filed with the National Labor Relations Board in August seeking to get the BFS union disbanded on religious grounds.
In turn, school employees unionized with UAW Local 2110 said they would call off their strike.
“At the moment, all that matters is reopening our doors (virtual and physical) for our students,” Cáceres said in a statement on the decision. “They need school and the care that it offers. They need closure and an opportunity for a renewed beginning.”
She added, “We will continue working towards a Collective Bargaining Agreement contract with the UAW that will allow us to open the lines of communication with the purposes of providing better care for our colleagues. That was always our aim and is consistent with our Quaker practices.”
When Cáceres and the school’s board filed the petition to decertify the union in August, they argued that negotiating with a “third party” would go against the school’s Quaker values—a statement members of the school and broader Quaker community have spoken out against in recent months.
In the three days that teachers and staff rallied outside the school, they have been joined by parents, students, and other community members. A GoFundMe started by parents at the school to support the strike fund raised more than $58,000 and some parents even said that if classes did continue during the strike, they would keep their children from attending in solidarity.
“I think this speaks to our solidarity and our strength and I’m just very happy they’ve done the right thing,” Sarah Gordon, a third grade teacher at the school and member of the union negotiating committee, told Gothamist Wednesday night.
Efforts to reach a resolution earlier Wednesday evening were touch-and-go, teachers at BFS told Gothamist. At first, the administration offered to rescind the petition only if the union signed a contract that included several provisions that were “no-go’s” for union members. One teacher said the contract that was presented had no guarantee of basic benefits such as retirement and sick days.
After the union rejected that offer, the administration agreed to withdraw the petition and start contract negotiations anew...
Congratulations BFS Teachers!
Union power really can work when you actually use it properly.
No to opting out of a union; YES to ousting the UFT leadership or replacing the UFT as the NYC public school teachers' bargaining agent with a real union. I'll help but all of you need to organize. A couple of teachers have contacted me.