Alliance Charter Educators Win Union Recognition
By Julian Peeples
Educators at three Los Angeles-area charter schools are now represented by United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) with another two schools anticipated for union certification following a ruling May 21 that ordered Alliance College-Ready charter schools to recognize the union as the exclusive representative of their teachers and begin the bargaining process.
The 93-page ruling by the California Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) concluded a five-year struggle by educators to organize, which included Alliance’s refusal to recognize UTLA as their union as well as a frivolous lawsuit challenging the teachers’ filing. The PERB decision confirms UTLA’s right to bargain at three schools in the Alliance College-Ready charter network: Alliance College-Ready Middle Academy 5, Alliance Judy Ivie Burton Technology Academy High School, and Alliance Gertz-Ressler/Richard Merkin 6-12 Complex.
Educators at two other Alliance charter schools–Alliance Leichtman Levine Family Foundation Environmental Science High School and Alliance Morgan McKinzie High School–filed to unionize last year. These petitions were put on hold pending the outcome of the PERB case and now it is expected UTLA will also be the exclusive bargaining representative of these two schools as well.
“Now that PERB has made it clear that we filed appropriately at our schools, we’re ready to sit down at the bargaining table, says Gertz-Merkin physical education teacher Kemberlee Hooper. “I’m excited that we’ll have an equal voice in decision making, and I look forward to bargaining over issues like professional development and a fair and meaningful evaluation process.”
CTA President E. Toby Boyd says the victory is a true testament to educators’ ongoing courage and commitment to prioritizing student success and educational equity at Alliance College-Ready schools.
“This ruling paves the way for educators at Alliance College-Ready Public Schools to have an equal voice in matters that directly impact their students,” says Boyd. “We are proud to welcome these educators into our union, and we will make sure their voices are heard as they set out to improve the learning environment for their students.”
Bargaining will now begin at the schools, with organizing continuing at the remaining 21 Alliance charter schools to unionize educators. Forming a group called Alliance Educators United, these Alliance College-Ready charter educators joined UTLA to unite their voices, protect each other and defend the more than 11,000 students who they support and nurture every day.
“I look forward to us having an equal voice in decision-making and bargaining over educational policy and practices that will strengthen the Alliance in the coming years,” says history teacher Edgar Hermosillo.
Alliance has been fighting against union certification since educators at the first three schools filed for recognition in May 2018, with two more filing in 2019. In this decision, Alliance educators prevailed after a two-year legal delay intended to deny educators their right to bargain and to organize. In a statement, UTLA urged Alliance to start setting a better example for students and the Alliance community by respecting PERB’s decision and its own educators.
“It’s more important than ever that educators have an equal voice in decisions impacting their students, their schools, and their profession,” UTLA leadership said in the statement. “Alliance educators simply want to sit down with Alliance as real decision-making partners and together decide what will make their schools the best place to work and learn.”