On October 26th the CAVA Union Organizing Committee held its first All Staff Union Meetings at 4pm and 7pm. These meetings were an opportunity for CAVA teachers to learn where we were in our organizing process, share their concerns, ask questions, and have the opportunity to become more involved in the process of improving CAVA. We had a great turnout at both meetings. The teachers in attendance openly shared their concerns, vision for fixing the problems and asked great questions. For those of you who were unable to attend, below is a recap of the meeting. We have also compiled an FAQ document based on the questions asked during the meeting. You can find the FAQ posted to the union tab in Sharepoint.
The members of the Organizing Committee presenting during the meeting shared that their effort to unionize began in the fall of 2013 with a small group of concerned teachers in Northern California. They reached out to the California Teachers Association for help and after several phone calls and meetings, submitted a petition signed by CAVA teachers in May of 2014 to the Public Employment Relations Board [PERB]. PERB verified that a supermajority of the teachers at CAVA supported unionizing. Rather than recognizing our union, CAVA administration decided to try to delay the process through legal maneuvers including arguing that we should be eleven separate unions (for each CAVA school) rather than one state wide organization. In March a hearing was held at the PERB offices in Glendale. On October 30th PERB ruled in our favor and officially certified our union. We look forward to beginning the process of bargaining our union contract and working with CAVA/K12 Inc. administration improve our school.
Our reasons for organizing are simple, our students, teachers and the people of California deserve better. We want to be sure that the nearly 15,000 students enrolled in CAVA are receiving a high quality education. As teachers we know what is best for our students but historically we have been shut out of the decision making process at CAVA. We want to have more of a voice in the way our school operates as well as the ability to advocate for our students without the fear of reprisal. Furthermore, in recent years there has been a mass exodus of great teachers from CAVA. Low pay, low morale and the lack of job security are causing teachers to seek opportunities elsewhere. By improving CAVA, we can attract and keep great teachers. That stability will help improve the learning conditions at our school. Finally, millions of dollars in state education funds flow through CAVA to K12 Inc. HQ in Virginia. We want more transparency and accountability from CAVA and K12 Inc. to ensure our students are receiving the resources and support they need.
The concerns shared by other teachers in our Town Hall meetings included the excessive amount of clerical duties, problematic attendance procedures, fear of termination without cause, reprisal for union activities, confusing and contradictory policies and ever changing job responsibilities and expectations. We share these concerns and appreciate our colleagues for being so forthcoming. Before meeting with administration at the bargaining table, we will be surveying the staff on the issues that they feel are most important and focus our negotiations on those issues.
We are already acting like a union. Several members of the organizing committee have acted as peer reps for our colleagues in disciplinary actions and we have sat down at meetings with CAVA administration to discuss concerns. Additionally, in a settlement of one of the Unfair Labor Practices filed by CTA on behalf of a CAVA teacher, it was affirmed that we are protected by EERA rights. In the meeting we covered what EERA entails and how those rights entitle us to form a union without fear of reprisal from administration. We also discussed our union bylaws created by a subcommittee of our Organizing Committee. Our plans for the structure of our union are ready to be put into place so we can get to work on making CAVA great. To share your ideas with us on what issues we should focus on, please fill out the following short survey: http://goo.gl/forms/WgGjApTT6F
If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to any of the members of the organizing committee. An easy way to reach us is to e-mail the person who sends you your union newsletter. You can also send an e-mail to email@example.com. Also, be sure to check our website http://cavirtualeducators.org/, our facebook page, California Virtual Educators United and the union tab on Sharepoint for the latest info. We thank you for your continued support!