Teachers Strike in Brooklyn
Upscale private school teachers walk out after decertification attempt by owners
Union members at the Brooklyn Friends School (BFS) have gone on strike after the school administration attempted to dissolve their faculty and staff union.
The strike which started Monday, came after the head of school Crissy Caceres told parents and teachers that the school would be using a religious exemption to get rid of the union that covers all teachers, aides, and support staff at the school. They are represented by UAW Local 2110. After the school refused to stop their union-busting campaign, the teachers said they had no choice but to walk out. The members voted 120-5 to authorize the strike.
Local 2110 said they were willing to call off the strike if Caceres rescinded her petition to decertify the union, but she refused. Instead Caceres and the school’s Board of Trustees sent a letter to parents on Friday saying that they would hire scabs to replace the teachers. In the letter the school claimed to have used a Kokua, a substitute teacher staffing organization, to hire the staffers, although Gothamist reported that once Kokua found out their teachers would be used as scabs the company canceled the contract. BFS currently has an ad on Indeed looking to hire scab teachers. They were forced to cancel school for Monday and Tuesday after they realized they would not be able to hire enough scabs in time.
In a letter sent out to parents on Sunday night, BFS said that both the school and the union were meeting to come up with a resolution to solve the dispute.
Parents at the $45,000 a year school have rallied around the teachers. One parent, Katie Bednard, said her children will not be attending remote classes during the strike. “Our teachers are what makes BFS,” Bednard said. “They are the ones who deliver the curriculum. They give meaning to the mission and I think that’s why there’s so much support.”
Actor H. Jon Benjamin, who voices Archer on the popular FX series and whose son is a senior at the school told Gothamist “I’m obviously on the side of the teachers and staff members who voted by majority to unionize and certainly don’t support the school’s efforts to try to change that, especially considering the pandemic, when the union is probably most needed.”
Parents even launched a GoFundMe page to support the union’s strike fund. As of the time of publishing, the fund has raised over $52,000 for the teachers.