Educators at the International High School of New Orleans are asking a federal labor board to organize their union election, and the charter school’s board plans to discuss related potential litigation this week.
It’s the fourth New Orleans charter school with teachers involved in unionization for collective bargaining, and the second whose union-minded educators have filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board. United Teachers of IHSNO say the school’s board did not respond to a request for voluntary recognition.
Attorney Brooke Duncan, who represents the school board, confirmed that the board has taken no action and declined to comment further. *
More than three-quarters of the school’s educators signed the union petition, according to a press release issued by United Teachers of New Orleans. United Teachers of ISHNO is an affiliate of the United Teachers of New Orleans and the American Federation of Teachers. They have tentatively scheduled a union election for May 27.
The request to the federal board came shortly after the United Teachers of New Orleans filed the same paperwork regarding Lusher Charter School. After a board vote to voluntarily recognize Lusher’s union failed 5-6, the United Teachers of New Orleans filed with the labor board for a representation election.
The first two charter schools to establish collective-bargaining units in the city post-Katrina were Morris Jeff Community School and Benjamin Franklin High School. Morris Jeff’s board voted voluntarily to recognize the union, as did Franklin’s.
Franklin’s board eventually negotiated a collective-bargaining agreement in March of 2015.
Morris Jeff’s board President Heather Schwartz said the board is still engaged in the bargaining process and talks are ongoing.
It is unclear if International High’s leadership plans to challenge the union, as Lusher’s administration did in a filing with the federal labor board, contending it does not have jurisdiction over the school.
The charter high school’s board plans to meet behind closed doors Tuesday evening to discuss strategy regarding the unionization effort..
The school is required to file a statement of its position by noon on Thursday.
Union attorney Louis Robein said the regional labor board’s representation hearing for IHS will be held Friday at the F. Edward Hebert Federal Building at 9 a.m.
*Update: The story previously said neither Head of School Sean Wilson nor Board President Harry Blumenthal responded to requests for comment. The story now reflects remarks from the attorney representing the school.