September 23, 2020
Dear Crissy and members of the board,
We are disappointed to be writing again, but compelled by the unsurprising news that the colleagues in the BFS Union have voted to authorize a strike. As we face further disruption in a difficult year, we implore you to reconsider your attempt to decertify the BFS Union, avoid a strike, and demonstrate the leadership we need to move forward.
We continue to dispute the assertion that a collective bargaining relationship is inimical to Quaker decision-making process. I'm sure you have seen today's letter in support of the BFS Union from the employees' union at the American Friends Service Committee—an organization whose very existence illustrates how unions can work effectively in a Quaker organization.
With the mediation offer from the former BFS clerks, you have the tools at your disposal to bring about a peaceful resolution to this issue. In contrast, if the petition succeeds, you are facing the loss of your best employees, a loss of morale among those that remain, and the disillusionment of the families who have invested in BFS.
Our children and the colleagues who work with them are the heart of this school. Please put their needs first and rescind the petition to the NLRB.
September 16, 2020 (reply to letter below)
I want to first thank you for your email and for offering your input on this issue. Our Board of Trustees and School leadership genuinely value and respect that there is a diversity of perspectives at this moment and that the opportunity to express those is foundational to our community. Please know that you have been heard.
In regards to this issue, which we addressed directly through several statements as well as today's letter regarding the strike authorization vote, I want to assure you that it was only after a great deal of time as well as collective and individual seeking and care that we came to unity on this decision with the utmost respect and appreciation for our students, families, and colleagues. We plan to proceed as we originally stated and will continue to address your questions and concerns through this FAQ document which provides a great deal of context and shines light on why we believe this is ultimately the right course for our School.
September 16, 2020
We hope you are holding up in this start to the school year, through what we imagine is a difficult time for your personally and what is certainly a devastating time for many members of the BFS community.
We had also heard about the vote authorizing a strike, and had planned to send you a note this evening to ask whether you will heed the many calls to pull the NLRB petition, or push forward on this path that has caused so much disruption and disharmony. It seems from the below that we have our answer, but we are hoping that in the spirit of Quaker dialogue, you are remaining in a state of open listening.
Our understanding is that the petition will not just clarify the position of the school, as you indicate below, but that a ruling against the union would decertify the existing union and remove the right of BFS colleagues to unionize in the future. If that is the case, then we certainly understand why that would provoke an action as extreme as a strike.
We can also understand why the colleagues might feel that only such an extreme action would be successful in making their voices heard. In the four weeks since the announcement of the petition set the community reeling, we have had heartfelt conversations with BFS parents and colleagues who share our astonishment at this action. We had hoped to also hear the other side of the story, and to better understand why the administration felt that this was the only option, what options the administration had tried first, and what positive outcome could possibly result. But our August 17 e-mail requesting an open forum to better understand the issue went unanswered. The only communications we've received have been increasingly defensive and obfuscating mass e-mails. The entire community is suffering from the lack of dialogue that might bring the beginning of resolution and unity.
We believe that the offer to mediate this issue, from Nancy Black, Alice Pope, and Ben Warnke, remains on the table. We know that the union has agreed to this mediation. We very sincerely hope that the administration and the board will change their position and do so as well.
The very last thing that we want to do right now is tell our kindergartner and second grader, who are so thrilled to be back at school, that they'll need to stay home again. But if we have to do so, the colleagues are not the ones we'll hold responsible.