December 2, 2015
By JoAnne Powers Workers Independent News
Virtual school teachers in California recently won a major victory in the effort to organize the state’s charter schools. The state’s Public Employee Relations Board ruled in October that 750 teachers working for the state’s largest online charter school, California Virtual Academies, could be represented by California Virtual Educators United, part of the California Teachers Association.
Although publicly funded, CAVA is run by a for-profit corporation. CAVA teacher Sarah Vigrass says the union will benefit both teachers and students across California: [Sarah Vigrass]: “A lot of times charter schools are being run by for-profit corporations, and I think that having a for-profit company so involved in a public school creates a conflict that’s bad for our students. By bringing a teachers’ association to CAVA, it’ll help bring more accountability, more transparency. Being recognized as a union really paves the path to making it easier for other schools in our state to unionize. In addition to wanting a voice in how CAVA operates, there are several growing frustrations the union hopes to address at the bargaining table: [Sarah Vigrass]: “CAVA, I assume, as a cost-saving measure, has teachers do a lot of the attendance work, other office work, instead of hiring support staff to do that.
We do a lot more administrative work than we do teaching, which is frustrating because we got into this profession to teach. At CAVA we make about half what a traditional teacher would make in California. We have no due process, which makes it difficult for us to advocate for our students. Oftentimes, if teachers complain too loudly they’re let go or the following year their contract isn’t renewed.” Although CAVA is appealing the PERB decision, the union is hoping to start bargaining a new contract at the beginning of 2016. To hear the audio click the following link http://www.laborradio.org