Fahari Academy recognizes teachers’ union

Fahari Academy teachers are all smiles as they anticipate what a union can do for their school.

By Rob Callaghan and Dan Gursky

Management at the Fahari Academy Charter School in Brooklyn has agreed to voluntarily recognize the United Federation of Teachers as the educators’ exclusive collective bargaining representative.  The agreement comes just weeks after teachers at the school organized a union.

Fahari educators at the school announced they had organized a union on Oct. 4 A majority of the educators signed union authorization cards, and the UFT filed a formal petition on their behalf for recognition with the school’s board.  On Nov. 2, the board agreed to voluntarily recognize the union.

The school’s educators say they look forward to working with the administration to create a contract that will solidify their mutual commitment to providing the highest quality education for the students and a professional environment for the staff.  Freddy Viera, an alternative education teacher, says he is eager to work with the administration to build the best learning environment for children.  “Now that we have been recognized, we can focus our full attention on student achievement,” he says. ” I look forward to working in partnership with administration for the betterment of our students.”

Special education teacher Jeffrey Embleton notes that there is a connection between teaching students problem-solving skills and taking part in the union effort.  “As we teach students the skills to practice critical thinking and problem solving, it is essential that teachers also have the space to engage in constructive dialogue and be active participants in the process of taking ownership and practicing empowerment in our workplace.”

While organizing their new union, the teachers and staff sent a letter to the school’s board outlining their vision of a strong learning community and their commitment to Fahari’s mission of instilling in its students the “core values that are critical for academic, social and professional success—perseverance, respect, independence, discipline and excellence.”

The union and school’s board have begun negotiations and are working toward a first contract at the school.