The teachers and staff at the Arts Academy in the Woods, a charter school located just outside Detroit in Fraser, Mich., voted 20-to-1 on Dec. 14 to form a union in order to collectively bargain conditions of their employment with the academy's board. This vote certified the Michigan Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff, an affiliate of AFT Michigan, as the official bargaining agent for teachers and staff at the Academy.
The Arts Academy in the Woods (AAW) provides a unique integrated arts and academics educational experience. According to the Michigan Department of Education's 2011 "Top to Bottom" ranking, AAW is one of the highest-performing schools in Macomb County.
The staff views the certification of their union as essential to the continued success of their school. Says English teacher Phil Cerrasco, "We formed a collective bargaining unit for many reasons: our desire for job security, stability, consistency, and to ensure our professional respect. We look forward to continuing to work with the school's administration to create a contract that reflects our mutual commitment to providing a high quality education and establishing a professional environment for the staff."
Russanne Bucci, who teaches social studies, adds, "I have been a teacher at Arts Academy in the Woods since the doors opened over 10 years ago. We have a very special school, and now that the faculty has united through the unionizing effort, there is a synergy that I have never experienced here before. It has been uplifting to see how positive and invigorated our staff has become since we decided to unionize."
AFT Michigan president and AFT vice president David Hecker welcomed the AAW staff. "AFT Michigan is committed to empowering teachers and staff to improve their school communities and working conditions through collective bargaining," he says. "The staff at AAW clearly shares these commitments and we welcome them to our union." [AFT Michigan press release]
December 16, 2011