May 20, 2022
For immediate release:
Teachers at Blue School to strike after the school, founded by the Blue Man Group, refuse to bargain with their union
New York, NY – Teachers and staff at Blue School to strike on Tuesday, May 24, after the School, an independent school founded by Blue Man Group, announced that it will refuse to recognize their union.
The School’s refusal is in defiance of a bargaining order issued by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The union, Local 2110 UAW was officially certified by the Labor Board on April 7, 2022, after numerous unsuccessful attempts by the School to halt unionization.
This is the latest development in more than a year-long effort by the School’s teachers and school workers to unionize, which started in December of 2020 after the School imposed a round of job and salary cuts. Blue School has retained Littler Mendelson, the same notorious anti-union law firm retained by Starbucks and Apple to prevent unionization.
“Unionizing is our right as workers and it’s consistent with the School’s educational philosophy,” said Sarah Konowitz, a Fourth Grade Lead Teacher. “In my past four years at Blue School, we’ve been encouraged to create an environment in which students have a voice and learn to be collaborative. Unionization will create a more sustainable, equitable workplace, so that teachers and staff can just focus on our jobs —supporting students.”
The tactics employed by the School to thwart unionization are the same as those used by Blue Man Group when the stagehands union sought to organize the Las Vegas theater where the Blue Man Group was performing in 2005. Matt Goldman, founder of the Blue Man Group and current Vice-Chair of Blue School’s Board of Trustees, originally pledged to honor election results in the stagehands’ vote to unionize, but later refused to recognize the union and continually appealed the results of the election.
Unionization is common in the public schools and in universities and colleges. It is increasingly on the radar for workers in private secondary schools. In the last few years, workers at Brooklyn Friends School, City & Country School, Manhattan Country School, Studio in a School, and Common Ground have all joined Local 2110, with many voicing similar concerns about low wages and lack of security. The pandemic exacerbated the precariousness of non-unionized workplaces and has itself been a major impetus for organizing in this field.
“Blue School brands itself as offering a progressive approach to education. The curriculum we use even includes studies of activism and labor union history. It’s hypocritical for them to fight our union this way,” said Ari Bloom, Middle School Math Teacher. “We are striking because we want Blue School to stop abusing the legal process and come to the bargaining table.”
Maida Rosenstein, President, Local 2110 UAW