NEW YORK (May. 18)
The attorney for the Brandeis Teachers Association (BTA), which has been on strike since last September 15 against a Long Island Conservative Jewish day school, said today that the National Labor Relations Board, in issuing an unfair labor practice complaint against the Brandeis School, had rejected the school board’s contention that, as a religious institution, the 417-student, day elementary-high school is exempt from NLRB jurisdiction.
Joseph Rosenthal told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that, in issuing notice of a formal hearing on the labor dispute, scheduled for October 4, the NLRB indicated that it did have jurisdiction. This may be one of the first times that the NLRB has issued an unfair labor practice complaint against a Jewish day school.
In the hearing notice, the NLRB noted that the school was involved in the course of its operations, in interstate commerce, and was "an employer engaged in commerce within the meaning" of the National Labor Relations Act. The school is in Lawrence, N.Y.
Under terms of the complaint, both the union and the school board were invited to seek a voluntary settlement of the dispute. Rosenthal told the JTA that the board had remained adamant in its refusal to resume negotiations with the BTA.
FACTORS IN THE STRIKE
Raphael Ellenbogen, the Brandeis School executive director, said the principal difference was money, adding that the school board offered an 8.5 percent pay increase for the first year of a new contract and 8 percent in the second year, with pension increases. The BTA asked for a 13 percent increased in a one-year agreement.
Ellenbogen said the principal factor was money but Ronald Nanulin, BTA president, said that under terms of the contract offered by the school board, most full-time teachers would be dropped to part-time status, lose tenure and benefits, be barred from union membership and subject to immediate dismissal.
Ellenbogen denied the board was engaged in "union-busting" but said Brandeis, as a private school, could not afford the salary increases sought by the union. He said when the deadline passed, "we had to have teachers" and the board hired 22 teachers to replace the secular teachers who had walked out, along with 22 Hebrew teachers.
ELEMENTS IN THE NLRB COMPLAINT
According to the NLRB complaint, the union accused the board of by-passing the union to bargain with the Hebrew teachers "to induce them to abandon the strike activities and return to work." The Hebrew teachers did return to work.
The NLRB complaint added that board members promised those teachers "wage increases and other benefits in excess of those it had offered to the union during the negotiations" which failed to bring about a new contract and led to the walkout.
A BTA spokesman said the union hoped that the hearing could result in an order to the school to reinstate the striking teachers and pay them back wages. The school is a member of the Solomon Schechter Day School Association.