A look inside surprising move at Brooklyn Friends School:
> Employers usually don’t welcome unions, and they can adopt ugly tactics to prevent workers from organizing. But Brooklyn Friends isn’t the average workplace. The school is famously progressive. Parents hear of its commitment to social justice on orientation tours. Second-graders study the lives of labor leaders Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez as part of a curriculum on “changemakers.” The school’s union – which includes about 200 teachers, maintenance staff, and office workers, and is represented by United Auto Workers Local 2110 – seemed like a natural extension of its left-wing ethos. At least to staff.
Quakers have long had a complicated history with unions. The complaint that unions get in the way of one-on-one relationships between the bosses and workers was not uncommon in nineteenth century Quaker circles. It disrupted the family model of social organizing that early American Friends had developed at least in part to justify their slave holding. While Friends finally turned against slavery the attitudes of workplace paternalism remained strong.
But it’s 2020. I don’t know a lot of Friends who would be opposed to unions on this kind of ideological ground. We’re a diverse group so I’m sure there are some I’m sure there are some who would agree with Brooklyn Friends School but ideological anti-unionism doesn’t enjoy any kind of consensus among contemporary American Friends. That BFS is trying to make this a religious freedom issue is insulting.