In the spring of 2016, Arts Academy in the Woods, a charter school in Fraser, negotiated with their administration and school board. The entire membership came together to negotiate the contract, build solidarity and increase negotiating power.
“We all came together as coworkers for our students” said Abigail Ewart, member of AAW-ACTS, “Our members are more likely to stay at the school when they make competitive wages, and we know that staff retention leads to student retention and the sustainability of the school we love.”
The agreement signed by management and the union enforced a 3% pay raise with potential for a 5% raise if the school maintains maximum student enrollment. As a charter school, AAW takes a unique approach to student recruitment by allowing staff to host art shows, dance competitions, plays and spoken word events for the surrounding communities. These events attract new students and the staff is eager to contribute directly to positively impact student enrollment and retention.
Brandon Moss, member of AAW-ACTS and President of Michigan ACTS, explained how unionizing has strengthened the relationship between staff, administration and the school board. “Since we’ve unionized, we have worked hard to cooperate with our administration to make decisions together. Our voices are not only heard, they’re taken seriously. We work collectively to move our school forward, and coming together to form a union was the first step.”