Newsletter and Office Hours invitation!

Dear Unite Summit members:

We are excited about the next steps with our union.  We believe an empowered teacher community and a strong union contract will help reduce turnover, create more stability, and make our schools even better. There are many ways to be involved in the next steps of the process.  If you have questions, or want to help, please let us know!

Next steps:

We filed for union recognition with the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) with over 75% support of our SPS colleagues in early January.  PERB is the California government agency that oversees labor relations for both public charter and district schools in California. Over the next month, PERB will review our union support petitions and compare them with a list of eligible SPS employees provided by administration.  Once they have determined there is majority support (legally only 50% +1 is required), PERB will move to certify our union Unite Summit/CTA/NEA.

While PERB is facilitating the legal process, we want to begin preparing for our union contract negotiations.  That includes four important steps:

  1. We have launched a union bargaining survey (see below). Our goal is to have high participation from across our schools.  Importantly, you are encouraged to complete the survey whether you signed the union support petition or not.  Everyone’s input is important!
  2. We are aiming to schedule bargaining input meetings at each site during the last week of February / first week of March, and we’re hoping to have as much survey data as possible to inform those meetings. Everyone is welcome! Please check with your site team for details.
  3. We will be choosing a representative bargaining committee to help lead our union team in negotiations over our union contract.  The goal is for the bargaining team to have representatives from our different school communities and academic areas.

Once we are done with the surveys, bargaining input meetings, and bargaining team selection, the bargaining team will begin putting together our union proposals.  Over the course of negotiations, the union bargaining team will have lots of opportunities to get additional input from all of our colleagues.

Seeking your input on the bargaining survey!

If you have not yet had a chance to fill out the bargaining prep survey, please try to do so Friday, Feb. 22. You can find the survey at: https://tinyurl.com/y2bkw6ag.

It is up to all of us to keep our union strong and our mission clear- we are here to better our campuses for the benefit of all students and teachers. This survey is your chance to suggest what issues we should prioritize during the contract negotiation process, and it’s also your chance to nominate members from your site to join the bargaining committee. Participation is key! Please make your voice heard.

Office Hours during PD Week: Room D5

On Tuesday, Feb. 19 and Wednesday, Feb. 20, members of the Organizing Committee will hold Office Hours to address any questions you might have about our union. The Organizing Committee is comprised of educators from each school in our network.  Please come ask us about your union or find out ways you can help!

We will hold Office Hours at Summit Shasta in room D5 during the following times:

*8:15 to 9 *Lunch *3 to 3:45

Answers to frequently asked questions:

Why unionize now?

Teachers have voiced concerns to SPS administration for years, and we feel as if we have not achieved change on two major issues: student support services and work-life balance. The primary goals of our unionization process are to support students through increased access to mental health services and better training for mentors and to improve work-life balance to increase teacher retention and reduce the high cost that turnover takes on students. Survey data shows only 56 percent of SPS teachers are definitely planning to return next year. We want to provide increased support and stability for our students and their families, and we believe acting collectively through the negotiation of a union contract is the best way for us to make progress on those goals.  

When do we start paying dues, and what do our dues pay for?

SPS educators will have a chance to join our union at the end of the negotiations process.  Once you have signed up as a member, you will begin paying dues to support your union. Dues are approximately $80-90 a month and go to support your Local (Unite Summit), State (California Teachers Association) and National unions.  Members start paying full dues after they have voted to ratify their contract (and can evaluate the improvements they have made through collective bargaining). 

Local dues are used to help support union meetings, trainings, materials, and release time for SPS educators elected to our union leadership team. Dues that go to our statewide and national organizations are used for legal support (all members have access to attorneys), liability insurance, member representation, trainings, conferences, organizing (dues of other CTA members are supporting our unionization), as well as efforts to better fund all public schools.

These slides address additional questions we’ve received. Check them out if you’re seeking further context! (Slides can be found at tinyurl.com/introducingUS.)

Success stories from other union charter schools:

By unionizing, charter educators have won big improvements in working conditions and a greater say in decisions at their schools.  Some examples of these improvements include:

  • Job Security: Many union charter educators have established a fair and transparent process where discipline and termination can only happen for demonstrated cause after a two-year probationary period.  This means educators are free to speak up about important concerns without fear of retaliation or not being rehired.
  • Work/life Balance: Union charter educators have won reductions in work duties, reductions in class size caps, reductions of total workdays over the school year, and increases in preps. Together such improvements make our work more sustainable over the long term.
  • Improved Salary and Benefits: Charter educators have won big increases in salaries and improvements in benefits through unionizing.  While few educators chose this profession to get rich, being able to afford living in the Bay Area while teaching is hard to do if our salaries don’t keep up with cost of living increases.
  • Voice in Decisions that Impact our Classrooms: Many charter educators have won a greater role in decisions about which new programs should be introduced to their classrooms.  This is important as sometimes network administration implements new policies that seem disconnected from on-the-ground learning needs.  

Since August 2018, educators at nine other charter schools in California have unionized: Pacific Collegiate School in Santa Cruz; Gompers Preparatory Academy in San Diego, and the seven Education for Change schools in Oakland. They join the close to 275 union charter schools in California. Charter educators at these schools organized for many of the same reasons that we unionized at Summit, including a desire to reduce teacher turnover and increase teacher voice in important school decisions.

Education for Change
Gompers Preparatory Academy

Stay tuned to www.unitesummitteachers.wordpress.com for further updates. You can also reach us at unitesummitteachers@gmail.com if you have questions or want to help with the next stages of building our union. Thank you for joining us in these exciting efforts to improve our schools in the service of students and teachers!

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