August 28, 2020
I’m writing you as a member of the Board because you, unlike the rest of us, are empowered to change what is currently an untenable situation for BFS faculty, staff and families. I’m the mother of a rising kindergartener, Toby, who started in the Green Room last year. Toby has loved his teachers, his classmates, and the school community and is thriving at BFS.
Nevertheless, I will withdraw my child from the school at the first available opportunity if the Board and the school administration do not withdraw the pending NLRB petition.
I will not have my child attend a school which pays lip service to Quaker values and social justice, while insisting on unilateral decision-making authority which denies colleagues a true voice at the bargaining table. Before my current position at Princeton, I directed the campaign finance reform system at the Brennan Center for Justice. I am neither reflexively pro- or anti-union any more than I am pro- or anti-corporation. But procedural fairness and equal representation are core values for me, and I cannot support an institution that has run roughshod over these values.
As a factual and legal matter, it is simply untrue that union representation prevents the administration from communicating individually with BFS colleagues. The vast majority of BFS colleagues made a decision that in addition to acting as individuals, they would also like the mutual support of collective action and bargaining. I am not from a Quaker background, but I am unable to understand how petitioning the NLRB to forcibly silence that collective voice can be seen as advancing Quaker values.
The NLRB petition is the nuclear option in this negotiation, and I am absolutely dumbfounded that the administration would exercise this option without apparent consideration of the fallout both for the BFS community and for labor relations writ large. Whether or not the NLRB petition “succeeds,” how can BFS be a healthy community when such heavy-handed tactics were used to silence the voice of the vast majority of BFS colleagues? How can BFS attract new families and colleagues if the school is notorious as a toxic labor environment? There are some tools that are too dirty to use—the use of so-called “religious exemptions” as an excuse to strip away protections for the disempowered and marginalized are among such tools. I am particularly troubled that the Board would take such drastic actions at a time when, contrary to its bylaws, no BFS staff member has a seat on the Board.
At this incredibly stressful time for many, including the parents of young children, the action of the Board and the administration in filing the NLRB petition has vastly increased the uncertainty, tension, and heartbreak of this time. I will not walk Toby to his first day of kindergarten across a picket line. I urge you to use your power to vote to withdraw the petition so this community can move toward desperately needed healing.