As this school year winds down, we find ourselves busy with classes, grading, graduation, enrollment, administrative tasks, as well as the various responsibilities and challenges of our home lives. In the midst of this chaos, it is important that we begin to think about the improvements at CAVA that will be most important to accomplish in order to make our school the best possible place for skilled teachers to work and for our wide range of students to learn. That is what comes next in our unionizing process.
A Brief History
For years teachers at CAVA have talked informally about the many challenges we face while trying to provide the best possible education to our students. Some of this has taken the form of complaining. Sometimes we tried to change policies through discussions with administration. Often our colleagues just left. Turnover was high and neither complaining nor our efforts to change policies proved successful at fixing the persistent problems our students and faculty faced.
About six months ago, some of us began talking about shifting from informal complaints to positive action. We began identifying specific areas that needed fixing to improve our school. It was about this time that we started to build an organizing committee. We figured the best chance to create positive changes at our school was if it was teacher led. We figured the best way to get the maximum number of our colleagues involved was to build a committee comprised of teachers from both K-8 and the High School, and from regions throughout the state. That way we could make sure to get input from as many teachers as possible.
We started having conversations and decided it made sense to organize a teachers’ union here at CAVA. We talked to our co-workers about building a union and asked for their support and participation. The response was enthusiastically supportive. We quickly built supermajority support for our union amongst our CAVA colleagues. We are proud of the support from all regions of the state, in both K-8 and High School.
Preparing for Bargaining
Last week we filed our union support petitions with the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) following the requirements of California state law. PERB will go through a process that will take approximately two months (give or take) to verify our majority support, at which point we look forward to CAVA administration recognizing our union.
While that legal process is unfolding we will take advantage of the time to begin the process of preparing for contract negotiations. There will be many opportunities for our colleagues to participate, provide input, select bargaining team members, and learn about other charter school, virtual school and traditional school union contracts.
It is very important that everyone have an opportunity to give input to our bargaining preparation. This includes those who did not support our majority decision. Everyone’s input is worthwhile. Over this next phase, we will be reaching out to staff to discuss next steps in more detail and create opportunities for everyone to share their valuable experiences.
As always, if you have any questions, please contact one of the organizing committee or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.