On June 28th, the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) issued a terrific ruling that validated CAVA teachers long struggle to improve our school by unionizing with the California Teachers Association. What follows is a summary of what the agreement says and what it means for our colleagues who want to make CAVA the best possible place to teach and learn.
First, some background: PERB is a government agency that oversees certain aspects of labor relations pertaining to public sector workers in California. One important function of PERB is that they oversee the unionization process when public school employees decide to organize. PERB also adjudicates disputes between the union and management when either party violates the appropriate laws (EERA). CAVA is a public charter school, and thus falls under the EERA and the jurisdiction of PERB.
In May of 2014, CAVA teachers began the organizing process by collecting signatures from a super-majority of CAVA teachers expressing support for unionization and submitted them to PERB. We decided to unionize to fix many of the problems at CAVA and knew that if teachers had a stronger voice, they could make CAVA work better for our entire community.
In July, 2014, PERB verified that the majority of CAVA teachers supported unionization. At this point, almost all charter schools respect teachers’ democratic decision and recognize their union. Unfortunately, CAVA chose instead to contest our decision. They argued that we were not one statewide school, but rather 10 individual schools and therefore would have to be 10 different unions and bargain 10 different contracts. This didn’t make sense given the way CAVA is set-up. Furthermore, we were concerned that CAVA administration was making this claim to delay the start of bargaining in the hopes that CAVA teachers would give up on our dream of making CAVA a better school for students and teachers. But we were determined and will never give up.
After a five day hearing in March 2015, the PERB Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) determined that we were one statewide bargaining unit and officially certified our union in October of 2015. Unfortunately, rather than accepting the ALJ’s decision, CAVA administration filed an appeal with the entire PERB Board. The PERB board, makes the final decisions concerning disputes of EERA.
On June 28th, the full PERB board issued a decision that vindicated CAVA teachers’ long struggle to unionize. They officially certified our union and ruled that we are one statewide community that will bargain one collective bargaining agreement that includes all CAVA teachers statewide. We are very happy with the decision. If you have any more questions about specifics within this latest decision, please contact us. Or feel free to read it here [link].
What happens next: Now that we are certified, CAVA administration has 10 days to post the notice of the decision on Share Point and it shall remain posted for 15 days. Our union organizing committee has been putting together bargaining proposals in preparation for this decision for sometime, and we will be requesting bargaining dates from CAVA administration so we can commence bargaining this summer. CAVA is now obligated to bargain in good faith. We look forward to them now, finally, working with CAVA teachers to make urgently needed improvements to enhance the stability of our school. We believe working with management at the bargaining table to negotiate a fair contract is the best way to protect the interests of CAVA students and its teachers.
Much of our proposal creation is based on the extensive surveys and discussions we have had with our colleagues over the past year. More input and participation will be needed. Please email us if we don’t have your personal contact info, and also, let us know if you want to play a bigger role in this next phase of our important journey to #fixCAVAnow!