More than 260 Head Start workers across Erie County have voted to join the state’s largest teachers union, New York State United Teachers.
Employees of the Community Action Organization of Erie County voted, 142 to 81, to unionize last week, capping a months-long campaign that began in April. NYSUT has more than 600,000 members statewide.
The new collective-bargaining unit – Early Childhood Staff Union – represents 263 members at 14 Head Start and Early Head Start facilities across the county, including teachers, substitute teachers, nutritionists and maintenance staff at those sites.
Head Start officials initially opposed workers’ attempt to be covered by one bargaining unit, insisting they should be covered by three separate units instead. Officials relented after workers signed a “We Are One” petition and made phone calls directly to the chief executive officer. The new union will soon begin working toward its first contract.
“We look forward to working collaboratively with management to develop policies that will both enhance the education of our students and strengthen our professions,” said Milikah Ramadan, a member of the team that helped organize the union.