California Charter School Teacher Files Petition to Kick Teacher Union Out from School

Employees at Gompers Preparatory Academy (GPA), a charter school located in Chollas View neighborhood, have signed onto a petition for a vote to remove the San Diego Education Association (SDEA) union from exercising monopoly bargaining power at the school. GPA teacher Dr. Kristie Chiscano recently submitted the decertification petition at the California Public Employment Relations Board (PERB). Chiscano received free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.

SDEA’s presence at GPA has been controversial due to how it established itself in January 2019 through a controversial “card check” drive. The union bypassed the traditional method of a secret-ballot election to certify the union as the monopoly representative of all educators in the school.

GPA went from being a regular public school to a charter preparatory academy in 2005. Parents, teachers, and administrators opted for this move after they came to the conclusion that the school district and union bureaucracies were not providing a solid educational environment for their children. They cited the school’s refusal to fight the issue of gang violence and teacher attrition at the school as the principal factors behind converting the school into a charter school.

Since the school unionized without a secret ballot vote back in January 2019, no monopoly bargaining contract has been agreed to. GPA parents and educators have accused SDEA agents of sparking divisions at the school. SDEA supported anti-charter school legislation, made disparaging remarks to school leadership during bargaining sessions, and plotted to keep California NAACP from awarding the school’s director, Vincent Riveroll, for his efforts to help minority students succeed.

Dr. Chiscano, a chemistry teacher, started to pass around the decertification petition in October 2019. She gathered enough signatures from her colleagues to activate a PERB-supervised secret-ballot vote to remove the union. This petition was filed with the PERB immediately after the one-year anniversary of the union’s installation.

In December, union officials acted preemptively by filing a charge at PERB that sought to extend the certification year. This would impede the educator’s right to remove the union from their workplace for another year despite having no evidence or even an allegation that any educator broke the law. These “blocking charges” are a tactic frequently employed by union lawyers to block regular employees from carrying out secret-ballot elections that could end up removing union officials from power as employees’ designated monopoly representative.

Dr. Chiscano sought the National Right to Work Foundation’s free legal aid to oppose this attempt by union officials to roadblock her and her colleagues’ right to hold a decertification vote to get rid of the union they believe does not have the support of a majority of the school’s educators.

“Rather than face a secret-ballot vote of the rank-and-file educators they claim to represent, SDEA union bosses are attempting to resort to legal trickery to trap teachers in a union they oppose by blocking their right to hold a decertification election,” declared National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “By using these coercive tactics to attempt to trap teachers in union ranks SDEA union officials do wrong by GPA’s namesake, AFL-CIO union founder Samuel Gompers, who himself urged devotion to ‘the principles of voluntarism’ and reminded all American workers that ‘no lasting gain has ever come from compulsion.’”