|Detroit's Cesar Chavez Charter School|
Today's Detroit News reports:
Employees at the four-campus academy had pushed for unionization since last year, said Eva Coleman, an English teacher at its high school. "We noticed that parents didn't have a voice, we didn't have a voice," Coleman said. "Only a select group of people made decisions for everyone."This should put to rest the ongoing debate that Leo Casey and I had with anti-union charter backers --Eduwonk (Andy Rotherham) and DFER (Joe Williams) going back to 2007. Leo and I pointed out back then, the hypocrisy of naming a charter school after a great union organizer like Cesar Chavez, where teachers were working without a contract, without a real voice in educational decisions, or without union representation.
Rotherham called our arguments "preposterous." DFER's snarky response was, "No one's holding a gun to their heads." In other words, if teachers really wanted a union they would have one, or if they didn't like the conditions at school like Chavez, they were free to leave and go elsewhere.
Of course these arguments completely discount the years of charter operators' active resistance to teacher unions, including the use of high-paid union-busting consultants and claims that charters were actually private schools and that teachers weren't really considered by law to be public employees.
Detroit AFT organizer Nate Walker says the schools private operators, The for-profit Leona Group, which operates in Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio, had refused to recognize the union without a formal election, and has used intimidation tactics to discourage organizing.
According to Eva Coleman, an 11-year teacher at Cesar Chavez, teachers want a voice through collective bargaining. She said mistreatment of some employees and a poor working environment had driven good staff members away.
“When I first started working here, we were united,” Coleman said. “It’s not that way anymore. Certain people are favored over others. “We’re there for the students, and the parents…to make sure everyone succeeds, and make it more of a family environment.”What makes the Detroit teachers' victory even more impressive is that Michigan is a Right-To-Work state, making unionization twice as difficult.