The New York State Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) has voted to certify the teachers at KIPP’s AMP Academy as a recognized collective bargaining unit of the United Federation of Teachers. The decision was made during PERB’s monthly meeting in Albany, and clears the way for the teachers and their union to collectively bargain with KIPP.
“This ruling by PERB was a huge step toward creating a voice for teachers in KIPP’s quest for school excellence,” said UFT President Randi Weingarten. “We are pleased with KIPP’s reaction to the ruling, and likewise after talking with the teachers today, we are ready, willing and able to negotiate a contract that is good for kids and fair for teachers.”
“On behalf of our union, we are excited about this step forward for our KIPP AMP team and family. It will allow us to find even better ways to educate our KIPPsters,” said Luisa Bonifacio and Leila Chakravarty, two members of the union organizing committee.
“Charters have a place in public education,” continued Weingarten, “and unions are not impediments to their success, despite some claims to the contrary. We need to get past the politics of conflict by working together and making sure that all New York City public school children attend a quality public school. We also need to make sure that educators are respected, supported and have a professional voice. In the spirit of cooperation and collaboration that both parties are moving forward with, we look forward to meeting with the teachers at KIPP Academy and KIPP Infinity in the coming weeks to have a conversation around the issues they have raised.”
The KIPP AMP Academy Charter School was founded in 2005 and currently serves approximately 260 students in grades 5 – 8. The school day has extended hours, and students also attend programs on the weekends and during the summer.
In January, a majority of teachers at KIPP AMP signed union authorization cards to be represented by the UFT. In a letter the organizing committee delivered to the school’s co-principals on January 13th, the teachers said that they had decided to unionize in order to secure a stronger voice in their school and to develop a more collaborative workplace.
The UFT operates three unionized charter schools, the newest of which is a Bronx High School run in collaboration with Green Dot, a successful and labor-friendly charter school operator and educational reform organization based in Los Angeles. The UFT also represents educators at several other successful charters in New York City.