New York State United Teachers recently secured three organizing victories, bringing more than 100 new members to the union.
The new units consist of teachers and staff from the New Roots Charter School in Ithaca, the Phyllis L. Susser School for Exceptional Children in New York City and School-Related Professionals in the Westfield Central School District.
The new 32-member bargaining unit at New Roots — known as the New Roots Charter School Instructional Staff — received voluntary recognition from school administration and trustees in February and is now working toward its first contract.
The unit, despite its name, will represent both instructional and non-instructional staff, ranging from teachers and teaching aides to kitchen workers and clerical staff. NYSUT officials said the goal was to keep all staff under a single bargaining
Organizers said New Roots employees were interested in unionizing as part of an effort to create an environment where teachers and other workers had the bargaining power to advocate on behalf of students, and where they had an active and guaranteed voice in deciding policies that affect their professions and their students.
Other goals New Roots members sought to accomplish through organizing were to enhance instruction by making teachers partners in choosing state-of-the-art professional development, and to ensure that student-centered policies result from a collaborative relationship between labor and management.
The new unit is currently working on developing committees to handle negotiations, as well as to develop by-laws and a constitution.
In Westfield, the Independent Association of Support Staff voted in March to affiliate with NYSUT. The unit has approximately 50 members.
Westfield is in the process of merging with the Brocton Central School District. Organizers said the pending merger made the case for affiliation an immediate issue.
In New York City, staff and employees at the Phyllis L. Susser School voted overwhelmingly — 58 to 1 — to be represented by UFT/NYSUT.
The organizing victory was especially satisfying given the school was represented by the anti-union Jackson Lewis law firm.
The Susser School offers a full range of academic subjects — as well as speech and language therapy, occupational therapy and counseling — for students with autism, and those who suffer from traumatic brain injury and other impairments.