Charter school teachers in Los Angeles are trying to unionize within one of the largest charter school chains -- Alliance College-Ready schools. After being told by charter school managers that they would remain neutral, the opposite has happened.
Teachers are receiving letters encouraging them not to organize and in some cases principals have conducted meetings with them to discourage any union activity.
One of the big appeals of charter schools, for the hedge funders and politicians who support them, is that they're a way to break unions. But as charter schools become more entrenched, and their teachers see the problems that come with high turnover, low wages, and lack of due process protections, they're starting to unionize. Which was definitely not the plan of the charter industry. Earlier this month, teachers at the largest Los Angeles charter chain, Alliance,launched an organizing drive, because:
"We believe that when teachers have a respected voice in policymaking it leads to school sustainability and teacher retention," said Elana Goldbaum, who teaches history at Gertz-Ressler High School, a member of the Alliance group. "We have a lot of talent and we want to see that stay. We want to see our teachers be a part of the decision-making and we want to advocate for our students and ourselves."
Alliance hasn't held up their promise to remain neutral.
Alliance has now launched an anti-union website as part of a broader effort to keep teachers from joining together to get collective bargaining and other union rights. Not exactly neutral, though I guess Alliance management isn't yet saying teachers don't have the right to unionize, they're just saying they really don't think teachers should exercise that right. Since Alliance is publicly funded, these anti-union messages are being paid for with public money; teachers are enlisting community support in the request for true neutrality.
No charter school chain wants teachers to join a union. After all, their primary reason for existing is to break unions so they can turn a profit for the ones who funded them. In LA, charter schools have been a huge battleground for the hedge funders and billionaires who are anxious to profit from public education.
Teachers have put up a petition at MoveOn.org asking the CEO of Alliance to remain neutral. You can sign it here.