AFT Local 420 teachers and staff at KIPP high school joined by Labor, faith allies in demand for a first contract


St. Louis – Teachers and staff at KIPP St. Louis High School, members of the American Federation of Teachers St. Louis (AFT Local 420), held an informational picket and leafletting action at the school on Sept. 21, demanding KIPP management bargain in good faith and negotiate a first contract.

Their demands are simple: a safe school, adequate staffing and fair wages.

They were joined at the informational picket by members of the United Auto Workers (UAW), Communications Workers (CWA), Teamsters, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU), the Ecumenical Leadership Council and the Missouri National Education Association (MNEA).

“We organized and joined our union to help improve our school and conditions for both the students and staff,” said Nate Gibson, a KIPP history teacher and member of the bargaining team. “We deserve an administration who will bargain in good faith.”

Teachers and staff at KIPP voted to organize with Local 420 in November of last year.

“We’re really out here for the kids,” Gibson said. “We think that what we need as teachers is what they need as students. We need a contract that’s going to retain staff. We can’t do this job with 50 percent turnover every year. It’s September and we’ve already lost five teachers. Our kids deserve better.”

“We are definitely trying to work with KIPP,” said Leonette White-Hilliard, a teacher in the social studies department, who also has a student at the school. “It took them seven months to even come to the table. We didn’t want to do this action but we have to now because it’s getting really unsafe as far as supervision inside the school with the kids. There are just not enough of us to supervise.”

“My child is being taught math two years in a row by a LAUNCH (virtual instruction) computer,” White-Hilliard said. “And some of my sophomore kids have three classes that are computer-based because teachers are resigning in the middle of the year. We have no math department. There are no human math teachers in our building. We have people covering classes that are not certified in them because they can get a 20 percent pay increase to go to St. Louis Public Schools or another district.”

“We firmly believe that KIPP employees deserve a seat at the table where decisions are made, and we thank our allies and community partners for turning out in support of KIPP students, parents and our union brothers and sisters,” said Local 420 President Ray Cummings.

Among the contract demands, Cummings is calling for the formation of a joint employee/management health and safety committee to address issues at the school.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top