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Friends’ Teachers’ Union


The Friends Seminary Teachers Association (FSTA) is the school’s Teachers Union and has been an integral part of the Friends community since the association’s founding in 1976. The Union stands up for teacher’s rights but also ensures that teachers comply with the school’s contractual obligations.

Led by Co-Presidents Victoria Ford, Josh Goren, Matt Schlee, and Eli Sidman, the FSTA spends three months every three years renegotiating its contract with the school. They discuss salaries, benefits, duties outside of the classroom, and much more. Eli Sidman summed up the role of the Co-Presidents as being “the stewards of the contract” between the Union and the school. The FSTA will advocate for their members as long as it is lawful and in accordance with the school. They have to make sure that the contract is upheld on both sides: the teachers and the school.

All teachers who teach two or more classes are automatically accepted into the FSTA, even during their first year of teaching at Friends. Like most unions, members of the FSTA are obligated to pay annual dues which are used to keep a lawyer on retainer and to host events near the end of the year.

The FSTA was founded at the height of union membership in the United States. Many sectors like aviation, industry, railroads, and public schools have historically had a high percentage of unionized workers. Although the immensely powerful American Federation of Teachers (AFT) has supported its public school teachers greatly, Independent schools have been slow to unionize and still have one of the lowest rates of unionization in the United States. Friends Seminary still remains one of the few unionized independent schools in New York City, with other notable ones being Fieldston, LREI, Brooklyn Friends, Bank Street, and UNIS.

The Friends Seminary Teachers Association stands as a committed advocate for its teachers while fostering a collaborative relationship with the school administration. In an educational landscape where unionization is rare, the FSTA’s commitment to fair dealing between its members and the school at large serves as an essential aspect of the teaching experience at Friends.

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About the Contributor
Sebastian Tirschwell, Junior Editor
Sebastian is in 11th grade and is serving as Junior Editor this year. He loves to travel and play tennis. He is an editor on The Insight because he enjoys journalism and its process.

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