First Unionized Charter School in Richmond, CA Faces Off Against Management

RICHMOND, CA — Last month, workers at Caliber: Beta Academy formed the first charter school union in Richmond, CA, filing for certification with the Public Employees Relations Board (PERB).

The Caliber Beta Academy school management has responded to their employees’ concerted activity with a ham-fisted attempt to nip their new labor union in the bud.

In the courtroom, school officials are inviting PERB case officers to play a carnival game of guessing how many candies there are in the jar by proposing a muddled bargaining unit based on an employee list that includes school principals as non-management staff.

"The Caliber Beta Academy administration knows that the PERB case officers will eventually sift out managers from the bargaining unit," said Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) Union Representative Cameron Crowell, "but with the time they buy themselves with this maneuver the school can attempt to discourage their staff by firing or intimidating union members."

"It’s hard to see this move by Caliber Beta Academy management as anything other than a way to delay speaking with us about the issues that matter to staff, students, parents, and ultimately the school’s future prosperity,’ said first grade teacher Morgan Hubbard.

Meanwhile, written evidence received by the IWW shows that Caliber Beta Academy management has engaged in an internal hunt for union leaders, choosing to fire teachers of longstanding who have been formally recognized for their professionalism by refusing to offer them a contract for the new teaching year; a standard practice that has been possibly designed to give management the freedom to keep good teachers on the job indefinitely while keeping an effective veto over anyone that might like to exercise their right to join a labor union. At the same time, the school has begun pulling individual teachers into meetings while announcing that talk of organizing at work is forbidden, a move possibly intended to create an atmosphere of fear.

In order to preserve our rights, the IWW has filed an Unfair Labor Practice complaint against the school related to this series of actions and we hope that with the cessation of such practices, to have a positive working relationship with the school moving forward.

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