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LFNO Educators Win Union Election


May 13, 2024

LFNO Educators Win Union Election

NEW ORLEANS, LA - Today, educators at Lycée Français de la Nouvelle-Orléans won their union election 52-12. The election was conducted by the National Labor Relations Board at two of the three campuses for LFNO. The educators, collectively known as Union des Educateurs du LFNO (UELFNO), voted to join the United Teachers of New Orleans (UTNO).

“We are beyond thrilled to win our union at Lycée Français!” said Raina Benoit, a Louisiana native and LFNO Art teacher. “As educators, it's critical for us to be included in the decision-making that affects student learning outcomes. The current administration’s corporate model for education has not been working for our students, who are more than just numbers and data. It has also not been working for our faculty, who are treated as completely disposable. With our union, we will be able to use our collective voice to fight to improve our school–without the fear of being fired. Without teachers, there is no Lycée!

On January 18th, 2024, UEFLNO leaders requested that the school’s leadership voluntarily recognize their union chapter by presenting the school’s administration with a petition with . The school chose not to voluntarily recognize their Union, despite the fact that they also presented the school’s administration with the Union chapter’s Mission Statement, which was signed on to by a supermajority of their coworkers.

“Once again, teachers have come together to raise their voices in unison. Their voices resonate with teachers around the world and back through time, as they connect their struggle to the struggles of the people in their many countries of origin and also to the UTNO educators who came before them,” said Dave Cash, UTNO President. “This is a great day, not just for the teachers at Lycée Français, but for working people across New Orleans and far beyond. We welcome them as our newest siblings in struggle, as we continue the fight to make our schools better places to teach, learn, and grow,” 

The latest in a recent string of wins for New Orleans charter school employees, UELFNO hopes to be a part of creating more sustainable, respectful workplaces for educators. LFNO administration openly opposed the teachers’ effort to unionize, spending school funds to delay an election through National Labor Relations Board proceedings and holding multiple anti-union meetings during time set aside for professional development. However, the NLRB ordered the school to proceed with an election that included all teachers, who overwhelmingly voted ‘union yes.’

“We organized because we deserve better work-life balance,” said Ed Lackaye, 2023 Teacher of the Year at LFNO. “Burnt out teachers don't want to keep teaching–and when teacher retention suffers, students suffer. As a former union teacher in New York State, I've seen how a union can create stability for the entire school community. I know that LFNO can and will benefit from that stability.

“This is the culmination of over over a year’s work speaking to and organizing with our coworkers,” said Hugo Fontanel, CODOFIL teacher at LFNO from Ardèche.  “Now we’re ready to begin the work of collaborating with Administration to ensure that we have better working conditions and that our students have better learning conditions.”

The AFT represents over 7,500 members at 236 charter schools in 15 states and the District of Columbia. AFT President Randi Weingarten said:


“Educators, no matter where they teach, deserve dignity, respect and family-sustaining wages. They’re tired of walking on eggshells and look to a union as the best way to win improvements to make a difference for their students, families and communities. And today, the educators at Lycée Français stepped up for a voice on the job and to safeguard their unique multilingual learning environment for their kids.”  


The victory, just days after two major organizing wins at DC charter schools, adds to the recent charter school organizing wave—more than 1,200 teachers and staff at more than 16 charters have organized with AFT just since the start of the 2022-23 school year, and hundreds have already secured strong first contracts. The AFT has seen unprecedented organizing growth, with 146 new units across multiple sectors, including education, higher education, healthcare and public services since July 2022.


“Whether it’s a traditional public school or college, a charter school or any other workplace, working people are seeing the value of a union as a vehicle to access a better life,” Weingarten added. “I am so proud that the educators at Lycée Français have elected to join us. We want working folks everywhere to know: The AFT is the home of the people who make a difference in other people’s lives. We fight for real solutions that make our workplaces and our communities safer, stronger, and more democratic, and we show up when it counts. And together we are stronger than we would ever be alone.”

Larry J. Carter, Jr, President of Louisiana Federation of Teachers and School Employees added “Through the power of organizing, teachers at Lycee Francais demonstrated that when you stand up and raise your voice, you can accomplish far more than you could ever achieve alone. As they move to the bargaining table, rest assured that I and their state-affiliated union (LFT) will have their backs as they work to have their concerns addressed. Addressing their concerns will make their school an even better place to teach and learn. I am so proud of the teachers and their effort, and of how they put hope over fear and aspiration over adversity in this fight. It is a victory not only for themselves but for the students they teach and the community they serve."


UTNO, AFT Local 527, is the Local affiliate to the Louisiana Federation of Teachers and School Employees (LFT) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). UTNO is also an affiliate of the Louisiana and Greater New Orleans AFL-CIO.

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