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September 29, 2005 - Image 9

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2005-09-29

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We reluctantly make public our concerns over the Board's decision to withdraw recognition of the union.
Unfortunately, you denied our requests to speak with you privately before your meeting on Sunday,
August 21, 2005 and at a meeting of your Board on September 14, 2005.

The current climate of dissent and sadness is unique in the history of Hillel Day School. Forty years ago,
the Hillel Federation of Teachers was formed and organized by dedicated educators and people of vision.
There was a mutual recognition that collective bargaining, for the professional staff, could only enhance
the growth of the fledgling school. In subsequent years — administration, teachers, parents and students —
have all benefited from that nourishing relationship as we have built a school of which all of us are proud.

Today we stand on shifting sands. On August 16, 2005, the ruling of the Michigan Court of Appeals stated
that private parochial schools do not have to recognize "unions." This decision in no way prohibited teach-
ers from forming an association and being recognized by the school's leadership. However, the Board
hastily and summarily dismissed our "union" without any discussion with the persons most affected, the

We realize the Board has given us verbal assurances. For example: Hillel is "an independent Jewish school
conducted according to Jewish values. You have nothing to fear." But, your actions belie your words. Fear
has been a tactic when you abruptly withdrew our recognition within days of concluding a new contract.
All Jews agree that respect for teachers is a cardinal Jewish value. Where was that Derech Eeretz when you
presented the stunned staff with a final offer letting us know that it must be accepted within 48 hours or
we could lose our jobs? Who would deny that fear was a potent tactic in that instance? Integrity is a Jewish
value but did integrity rule when the information given to the public represented that the final offer was
identical to the provisions of our then existing contract?

In addition, to be told by the school's leadership "that we will be taken care of" is insulting and demean-
ing. We are not children. We are indeed the professionals you have so carefully selected to nurture your
children both intellectually and Jewishly. We have accepted that trust. Yes, we have returned to our class-
rooms. Yes, we continue, day in and day out, to give our hearts, souls and passion for learning to our chil-
dren. This reflects our professionalism. But do not delude yourselves or others into believing that the
teachers are satisfied, let alone "happy."

We agree with you that relationships are based on trust and not alone on contracts. But teachers were
intimidated, pressured, misled, and publicly humiliated by administrators. We struggle with the ramifica-
tions of your actions and the possible erosion of our conditions of employment.

You have a sacred trust placed in your hands. We ask you to restore the partnership to further perpetuate
Jewish education in our community. We ask you to not dictate to us, but dialogue with us. It is not too
late for you to demonstrate courage by reversing your decision. Restoring our dignity does not diminish
yours; it only serves to restore our faith in the integrity of your intent and to once again be partners in
Jewish education.

"Justice, justice, you shall seek."

Hillel Federation of Teachers


September 29 . 2005

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