Brooklyn Friends School withdraws NLRB petition, ending strike

On the evening of Wednesday, October 7, Crissy Cáceres, the head of Brooklyn Friends School (BFS) in Brooklyn, N.Y., announced that she and the Board of Trustees had agreed to withdraw their August 14 petition to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The BFS union immediately ended their strike and called on employees to return to work the following day, Thursday, October 8.

The August 14 petition had called for the NLRB to clarify if employees should continue to qualify for union representation at a Quaker school.

On September 21 the BFS Union voted 120 to 5 in favor of a strike if the petition was not withdrawn.

“The Head of School and Board of Trustees’ action in filing a petition to decertify our union, citing a Trump administration precedent, leaves us with no choice but to ensure the preservation of our democratic union rights,” read a September 17 note clarifying the strike authorization.  “Over the past month, since the School’s petition was filed, we have made numerous attempts to persuade the Board and Head of School to change course.”

BFS employees and their supporters picketed in front of the school on October 5 and 6.

Three former clerks of the BFS Board of Trustees and members of Brooklyn Meeting—Nancy Black , Alice Pope and Benjamin Warnke—had been working to mediate the conflict. On September 25 they wrote to the current board:

It may be possible for the school to weather a strike in terms of finances and operations. However, there may be irrecoverable damage to relationships within the school community, to relationships between the school and the Quaker community, and to the school’s reputation. We fear that the school’s essential character—its Quaker culture—will be sacrificed if you do not act immediately to resolve the conflict with the union and avoid a strike.

In the October 7 announcement, Cáceres and the BFS Board agreed to “continue working towards a Collective Bargaining Agreement contract with the UAW [United Auto Workers Local 2110, which represents BFS employees] that will allow us to open the lines of communication with the purposes of providing better care for our colleagues. That was always our aim and is consistent with our Quaker practices.”

FJ News Editor

Erik Hanson and Windy Cooler are the news editors for Friends Journal. They contributed to the reporting of this story. Do you know about any Quaker news stories we should be covering? Send us tips at [email protected].

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