FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
May 28, 2021
Bricolage Academy Educators Win Union Election
NEW ORLEANS, LA - Today, Bricolage Academy Educators won their union election 42-18. The election was conducted by the National Labor Relations Board at the school this morning. The teachers, collectively known as Bricolage Academy Educators United (BAE-United), voted to affiliate with United Teachers of New Orleans (UTNO).
“We’re feeling overjoyed that after 2 years of organizing we finally have a recognized union!” said Brittany Scofield, a Bricolage Academy music teacher. “ Our union will help promote equity and democracy in the workplace. Teacher working conditions are student learning conditions, and now that we have a real voice, we will help make decisions that benefit our students.”
Bricolage is the fifth charter school in New Orleans to successfully unionize, since Hurricane Katrina. Before the storm, UTNO represented employees across the district in a single bargaining unit. “I want to congratulate the teachers who won today. UTNO has a proud history of courageous actions and in forming your union you are stepping into that proud history.” said Wanda Richard, UTNO President.
Through this victory, BAE-United seeks to demonstrate to staff in other schools what can be accomplished through positive collaboration and solidarity. Bricolage Academy openly opposed the teachers’ effort to unionize, but overwhelmingly teachers decided to continue to pursue collective bargaining and today they voted ‘union yes.’
“This campaign was hard fought, but now that we have won recognition, I’m looking forward to working closely with our administrators and fellow colleagues to develop a collective bargaining agreement that reflects the unique needs of Bricolage students and staff,” said Leigh Topp, 5-7 Reading Interventionist at Bricolage Academy. “This is the first step in a larger vision of our school to organize wall to wall. Just like UTNO Teachers organized before paraprofessionals and clerical workers, we will stand with our co-workers in their efforts to organize.”
“As a member of the Bricolage Academy support staff, I firmly support the union drive of the dedicated teachers of Bricolage Academy. They are passionate and committed to the cause of educating our students.” Said Ms. Theresa Fields, Receptionist at Bricolage Academy “I look forward to the support staff unit making its own union drive in the near future.”
Across the country, AFT represents over 7,500 members at 236 charter schools in 15 states and the District of Columbia. American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten cheered the vote: “This victory enables Bricolage Academy Educators United members to have the representation and voice they need to help their kids thrive by pressing for educational excellence, workforce stability and fair wages. Teachers and school employees at charter schools throughout the country are joining unions so they can have the dignity and conditions necessary to provide the education their students need and deserve. I am so proud of their persistence, and they will have the AFT’s support as they move to the bargaining table and beyond. And while this is a huge moment for staff, it is also a win for the entire New Orleans community, which has endured—and overcome—so many challenges, for so many years.”
Louisiana Federation of Teachers & School Employees President Larry Carter formerly served as the President of UTNO. He added his congratulations on Friday as well: “Teachers in direct-run charter schools, like those at traditional public schools, need and deserve a union. Whether you know it or not, you are an example to teachers across the city, the state, and even the country. We look forward to supporting you through the next phase of your union journey: bargaining your first contract.”
UTNO is the Local affiliate to the Louisiana Federation of Teachers and School Employees (LFT) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT).