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Staff at UCP school vote to join UFT

New York Teacher
Bruce Cotler

Employees of the Adapt Community Network school on Manhattan’s Upper West Side celebrate their decision to choose the UFT as their bargaining representative.

By a 28-0 vote, employees of the Adapt Community Network (formerly United Cerebral Palsy of NYC) school on Manhattan’s Upper West Side have elected the UFT as their bargaining representative. This is only the second United Cerebral Palsy school program to join the UFT’s United Cerebral Palsy of New York City Chapter.

The UFT chapter represents direct care workers and other support staff at United Cerebral Palsy residential facilities citywide, while teachers, teacher assistants and support staff at the schools, clinics and adult day programs are organized on a location-by-location basis.

The United Cerebral Palsy chapter was founded in June 2003 and has since grown to represent more than 800 members in locations in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan and Staten Island. Members work with cognitively and physically challenged children and adults, teaching them academic and adaptive skills and assisting them with daily activities.

“My colleagues and I are excited to become part of the UFT family,” said Aundrey Azeez, a teacher assistant at the school and a leader in the union organizing campaign. “We knew of the UFT’s reputation and generally were in consensus about joining the union.”

Azeez said the main reason he and his co-workers embraced the union was for job security. “We also liked the idea of having a voice that represents the staff as a whole,” he said.

The organizing effort got a lift from several workers at the Upper West Side school who had begun their careers at the UFT’s original United Cerebral Palsy school location at Lawrence Avenue in Brooklyn. Other members of the UFT’s United Cerebral Palsy chapter also encouraged the school employees to join the union.

“The thing I’m most proud of is that the people we represent thought enough of us and our representation to reach out to this new site and urge them to vote to join our union,” said UFT Secretary Howard Schoor, who helped organize the election.

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