ALBANY, N.Y., February 6, 2009 - Despite a fierce anti-union campaign waged by administrators, staff at the Devereux Foundation's New York Red Hook School in Dutchess County has voted to be represented by New York State United Teachers.
The new 66-member Devereux Staff Association - composed of teachers, teaching assistants and behavioral specialists - voted by a 2-to-1 margin to join NYSUT and its national affiliate, the American Federation of Teachers.
"We enthusiastically welcome our new sisters and brothers, who stood together to improve their working conditions and professions," said NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi. "Their decision to organize in the face of adversity is another sign the labor movement remains strong and vital in New York state. Hopefully, with the passage of the Employee Free Choice Act, future workers will no longer face the anti-union tactics used at Devereux."
The Devereux school provides educational and related services to children suffering from a range of disabilities, including cognitive, emotional and physical. In the weeks leading up to the organizing vote, school administrators unleashed an aggressive effort aimed at intimidating staff and discrediting NYSUT, including anti-union e-mails and one-on-one meetings with employees.
Upon receipt of its certification by the National Labor Relations Board, the Devereux Staff Association will move toward reaching agreement on its first contract through collective bargaining.
"By voting in favor to organize, the Devereux Staff Association is simply assuring that its members have a voice when it comes to fair pay, job security, protection from unfair treatment and the conditions in which they work," Iannuzzi said. "We are pleased to represent these dedicated professionals."
NYSUT, the state's largest union, represents some 600,000 classroom teachers and other school employees; faculty and other professionals at the state's community colleges, State University of New York and City University of New York, and other education and health professionals. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association and AFL-CIO.