We’ve been certified!

We have two pieces of exciting news to share today:

  1. The California Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) has certified Unite Summit as the union for all Summit teachers in California! This means we can begin negotiating our contract.
  2. PERB has issued a complaint alleging that Summit broke the law by firing three teachers in June

Certification
Since April, Summit has been trying to delay recognition of our union–Unite Summit/CTA/NEA– by arguing that Home Office staff and deans should be included in our bargaining unit (the “bargaining unit” is the positions represented by our union). We formed a union of teachers; Summit’s rationale for including positions other than teachers has never really made sense to us.

On Monday, we learned that a Senior Regional Attorney from PERB certified that our bargaining unit consists of only teachers and does not include Home Office staff or deans. We are not surprised that PERB made this determination; it is the case we’ve been making since Summit initially denied recognition of our union back in April. 

This decision is very clear (you can read the decision for yourself here or see our summary below). The PERB attorney rejected every argument that Summit made about why they thought our bargaining unit should include non-teaching staff. And the PERB attorney validated our right to create a union of only teachers at Summit. We are now certified as the union and after months of legal delays, we can begin bargaining our contract. 

While Summit could try to further defy teachers’ decision to unionize by appealing this certification to the full Public Employment Relations Board, the PERB attorney’s 16 page determination is clear. Summit’s arguments are baseless and an appeal would be futile. Appealing to the PERB Board would not be a decision based on any legitimate legal arguments.. Importantly, we will continue to be certified as the union during the appeals process, which means we can begin negotiations even if Summit decides to appeal. We will be asking Summit for negotiating dates in January so that we can sit down to the bargaining table without further delay and work together to improve our schools and better support our students.

Our students and teachers — especially the Rainier community — shouldn’t have to face any further legal delays. We are eager to begin negotiations with Summit to address our core issues: improving student support services; decreasing teacher turnover and making our jobs more sustainable; and giving teachers a greater voice in decision-making. As we are seeing with the closure of Rainier and the chaos created by this decision, it is essential that teachers actually have an equal voice and can bargain over the issues that impact our students.

We urge Summit to respect PERB’s determination and begin negotiations in good faith without further delay.

Complaint

On the last day of the 2018-19 school year, Summit fired three teachers who had been given contracts for the 2019-20 school year. These teachers were active in building Unite Summit, and we filed an Unfair Labor Practice charge with PERB, alleging that their firing was in retaliation for union activity and therefore broke the law.

Our charge persuaded PERB to issue a complaint alleging that Summit broke the law. Summit now has 20 days to respond. The PERB attorney will also be setting up an informal settlement conference (basically a mediation) to try and resolve the matter before it goes to a judge for a hearing.

We are not surprised that PERB filed a complaint; we’ve always believed our case was strong. Unite Summit will continue to vigorously support our colleagues, and we call on Summit to respect Summit teachers’ legal rights to unionize, to own their responsibility to refrain from intimidation, harassment, threats or retaliation, and to immediately reinstate the three fired teachers.

If you have questions about our union’s exciting legal victories, or want to know more about why Summit administration is using legal delays to try to delay our efforts to improve our schools, please email us at UniteSummitTeachers@gmail.com If you want to read the legal documents, you can find them here (certification and complaint). Also, below please find a summary of the legal decision by PERB.

Summary of PERB’s Decision to Certify Our Union

In the administrative determination, as summarized below, the PERB senior regional attorney lays out why Summit’s arguments to include Home Office staff and deans are wrong.

  1. Unite Summit has always sought to represent teachers. The determination affirms that we have the right to create a union of teachers and that Summit cannot force non-teaching staff into our union. 
  2. Most of the Home Office positions that Summit argued needed to be included in our union no longer exist or are vacant, due to the transition to TLP. In other words, Summit spent months arguing that PERB needed to include 70+ positions in our union that no longer exist. The PERB attorney found that the filled Home Office positions (6 people) don’t belong in our union and that it didn’t make sense to make a determination on the vacant positions or positions that no longer exist. 
  3. Summit argued that having only teachers in the union would prevent teachers and Home Office staff from working together. The PERB attorney noted that there is “no evidence that recognition of a teacher’s unit would stop teacher collaboration with other Summit employees” and that “Summit has not provided concrete evidence that recognition of a unit of classroom teachers would unduly impair Summit’s operations.” We agree. 
  4. The PERB attorney found that non-teaching staff don’t share an inseparable  “community of interest” with teachers: they don’t spend the majority of their time teaching and their job duties, salary schedules, and work year are different from teachers. Therefore these positions do not need to be included in our bargaining unit. The determination states “the evidence sufficiently shows that the classroom teachers at Summit have a community of interest with each other. Further, the evidence sufficiently shows that Summit’s other certificated classifications (including the Home Office Classifications and deans) are not so similar in duties and interests such that they must be included in the same unit as classroom teachers.”
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