California Educator

August 2016

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Historic PERB Ruling Helps CAVA Teachers Unionize By MIKE MYSLINSKI C alifornia's Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) decided June 28 that the 11 nonprofit charter schools that make up California Virtual Academies are one bargaining unit, and that CTA is the exclusive representative. CAVA is operated by for-profit K12 Inc., based in Virginia. The major labor board ruling is apparently the first of its kind in the nation against any state's K12-managed schools. CAVA teachers filed for union recognition more than two years ago. Teachers organized to secure additional classroom resources and increased teacher support, and to win workplace protec- tions that will allow teachers to more effectively advocate for students and to improve learning conditions at their school. Despite educators' clear demonstration of a supermajority support for unionization, over the past two years CAVA administration utilized a range of legal maneuvers to delay union recognition, including formally appealing an October 2015 state labor board decision declaring CAVA teachers across the state as a single bargaining unit represented by CTA. "We are excited to have CAVA teachers join the 325,000 educators throughout California as we, together, continue to work to provide all students with the quality public education they need and deserve," said CTA President Eric Heins. CAVA teachers were cheered by the recent $168.5 million settlement the state attorney gener- al's office reached with K12 for alleged violations of California's false claims, false advertising and unfair competition laws. (See story on page 35.) "Teachers are extremely encouraged by both the state attorney general's bold action and the certification of our union by the state labor board, and we look forward to getting to the bargaining table so we can continue the important work of improving our school for our students," said Sarah Vigrass, a 10-year CAVA K-8 teacher in Riverside. CAVA high school math intervention teacher Kelly Walters of Aguanga in Riverside County agreed. "Now is a critical time for online public education in our state, and it is urgent that CAVA administration sit down with teachers and work with us to make CAVA the best it can be for our students and our communities," Walters said. To see the full PERB ruling, see ICYMI: Updates on Friedrichs, Vergara lawsuits By LEN FELDMAN In case you missed it (ICYMI): Working men and women, and labor unions, came out ahead in recent decisions by the courts. Friedrichs v. CTA: On June 28, the U.S. Supreme Court denied plaintiffs' request to rehear Friedrichs v. CTA, aer the court deadlocked and affirmed a lower court ruling in favor of CTA March 29. The decision not to rehear means the case is officially over. "This is a victory for educators and all public employees, but most importantly a victory for the millions of students of California and across the U.S.," says CTA Pres- ident Eric Heins. "By upholding current law, the Supreme Court rejected a political ploy by the wealthy corporate special interests backing this case to make it harder for working families and the middle class to come together, speak up for each other and get ahead." Educators such as CTA member Reagan Duncan, who teaches kindergarten and first grade at Maryland Elementary School in Vista, have been vocal about the bene- fits of collective voice and action. "Through negotiations between my union and the school district, we were able to secure smaller class sizes for our students," Duncan says. "Smaller class sizes help teachers focus on each student's individualized needs and allow for more one-on- one attention. Parents oen thank us for being their advocates in securing classes that allow their children to learn freely and to love what they are learning." Vergara v. California and AB 934: In April, the 2nd District Court of Appeal in Los Angeles reversed a lower court's decision in Vergara v. State of California, reaf- firming that the state's system to attract and retain quality teachers is consistent with the state constitution. The reversal upheld arguments of educators, civil rights groups, legal scholars and education policy experts that state statutes affirming edu- cator rights do not harm students. "Stripping teachers of their ability to stand up for their students and robbing school districts of the tools they need to make sound employment decisions was a wrong-headed scheme developed by people with no education expertise, and the appellate court justices saw that," says Heins. AB 934 (Bonilla, D-Concord), a bill similar to Vergara, was introduced in March and would have added a third year of probation and taken away teacher job rights. Nearly 1,000 CTA members made phone calls to the Senate Education Committee offices, and about a dozen members visited legislators in person to urge a "no" vote. The bill failed in the committee in June, but is up for reconsideration in August when the Legislature convenes. Sen. Andy Vidak (R-Hanford) talks about upcoming bills with Chantaine Fauntleroy, Leslie Keir, Stacey Preach, Deborah Behm and Don Tarquin. All of Vidak's visitors are CTA members except Preach, a former charter school teacher. 36 advocacy

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