Charter school educators vote ‘yes’ to UFT

By Rob Callaghan

Academy of the City educators after their first chapter meeting.

Academy of the City educators after their first chapter meeting.

Educators at Academy of the City Charter School in Queens announced on May 21 that they have organized a union at the school and intend to join the UFT. Teachers and staff at the school believe that unionization will help them better support their students’ needs.

In letters given to the school’s principal and board of directors teachers outlined their reasons for organizing a union. The letters, signed by the entire teaching staff, called for a formal collective voice at the school and the recognition of educators as vital partners “to the success of our school and to the realization of its mission to empower students.”

Teachers and pedagogical staff at the Long Island City school have all signed union authorization cards indicting their support for a teachers’ union. The UFT filed a formal petition with the school’s board of trustees and notified the New York State Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) that Academy of the City teachers and staff are seeking union recognition.

“As teachers, we are the best advocates for the children we work with every day. In order to support our students, the staff at Academy of the City Charter School has to work as a unit. We are building the foundation of our school, and we need to put the students and their needs first. Forming a union will help us to work together to make informed decisions and support one another and our students,” said Samantha Feigelson, a kindergarten ELL teacher at the school.

First grade teacher Alice McNeil agreed, stating that “having a union at Academy of the City Charter School will give the teachers a strong voice in making decisions to best support the students.”

Academy of the City Charter School opened this school year, and currently serves approximately 100 students in kindergarten and 1st grade students; it will eventually serve grades k through 5.

With the addition of Academy of the City Charter School, the UFT now represents educators at 17 unionized charter schools throughout New York City.