Frequently Asked Questions
Why are we organizing a union at Alliance?
As the Alliance grows to over 12,000 students in 28 schools, it is our duty as teachers to make sure that the educational values that guide our work remain at the very center of the Alliance’s mission. Only by partnering in decision making with families, administrators, and students can we as educators ensure that our students are able to meet their full potential in the classroom.
What is a union?
Broadly defined, a union is a group of educators who work for the same employer who come together to collectively, as opposed to individually, advocate for ourselves and our students. Our union is a democratic organization of teachers and counselors at the Alliance who together have the power to advocate for what we need, keep what we like, and make improvements in our schools.
How many educators at independent charter school are already in UTLA?
Nearly 1,000 teachers, counselors, and health and human service professional are already in UTLA at the following charter schools:
- Birmingham Community Charter HS
- Granda Hills Charter HS
- Montague Charter Academy
- Palisades Charter HS
- Pacoima Charter Elementary
- Global Education Academy
- The Accelerated Schools
- Ivy Academia Entrepreneurial Charter School
- El Camino Real Charter HS
Do we have a legal right to organize the union?
Yes. Teachers and other certificated staff in charter schools have a legal right to organize under California’s Educational Employment Relations Act. It is illegal for any employer to interfere with, discriminate, retaliate or fire staff for union activity.
HOW dOES HAVING A UNION GIVE US A VOICE IN DECISION-MAKING?
Organizing our union will give us the ability to collectively bargain the issues we decide are important to our students and our profession. As educators, we will be able to bring our professional judgment and direct classroom experience to the negotiating table on how to better improve our students’ learning conditions and our working conditions.
WHAT IS COLLECTIVE BARGAINING?
Currently, Alliance can make unilateral decisions over our conditions of work. Once we are certified as a union, we have the legal right to collectively bargain to maintain what is working and to improve what needs improving. It means that we, teachers and counselors, have a seat at the table as equal partners with the Alliance to negotiate over our salary, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment. Once our union is certified, the Alliance cannot implement changes without first negotiating with us.
WhaT DO WE GET TO COLLECTIVELY BARGAIN WHEN WE HAVE OUR UNION?
California state laws guarantee our rights to negotiate conditions of work and economic issues. This includes evaluations, just cause and due process rights, class size, hours of work, compensation, health and welfare benefits, and retirement benefits. In addition, the Alliance is obligated to, at a minimum, consult with the educators about educational objectives, curriculum, selection of textbooks, and more.
HOW DOES cOLLECTIVE BARGAINING WORK?
- We, teachers and counselors at the Alliance, decide as a group what we want to improve through surveys and membership meetings.
- We, teachers and counselors at the Alliance, will elect a team of our colleagues to represent us at the bargaining table. This team will be representative of all grade levels, departments, schools, etc.
- We hold regular membership meetings where we discuss the status of bargaining and make collective and democratic decisions on how to achieve the improvements we’d like to see.
- Finally, we vote to ratify a full tentative agreement reached with the Alliance, which if approved by a majority vote of members becomes our union contract.
CAN WE lOSE WHAT WE ALREADY HAVE THROUGH BARGAINING?
In bargaining, we start with what we have now. The only way we can lose something is if we, teachers and counselors at the Alliance, agree to accept less than what we have now.
What are we asking of our employer?
As educators, we invite the Alliance management to sit down with us and work together to address the challenges and fix the problems we encounter in the classroom, so that we can improve upon the educational experiences and outcomes of the students in our schools. We know that management will agree that our students deserve nothing less.
As the first step in that process, we call upon the Alliance to respect our collective decision to come together in a union, and to not exercise influence or interference with our choice. We ask Alliance to come to an agreement with us for a fair and neutral process to organize our union.
What are union dues?
Members’ dues are how we pool our resources to strengthen and empower us in advocating for ourselves and our students and supporting professional issues. Dues are not required until we vote to approve our negotiated contract. However, teachers can voluntarily pay dues at anytime. Current UTLA monthly dues are $82.35.
What can I do to join with other educators to support organizing a union at the Alliance?
If you’re an educator at the Alliance and want to join us in organizing a union, the first step is to read and sign our public letter.