It has been documented, at least on this website, that charter schools do not hire union teachers because these charter schools want to make a profit and the greatest expenditure on the balance sheet is the cost of the teaching staff, particularly if they are unionized.
An example of this is a story that was recently written about Opportunity Charter School in Gotham Schools, After Union Bid, Fired Charter School Teacher Allege Retaliation.
Earlier this year, a small group of determined teachers at Opportunity Charter School marched into Leonard Goldberg’s office and confronted their boss.
They carried a letter that detailed their complaints with Goldberg’s response to their recent bid to unionize. Not only had Goldberg refused to recognize the staff’s vote to join the United Federation of Teachers, they said, he had begun waging an anti-union email campaign.
Goldberg, the school’s CEO, declined the letter and ordered them to leave, according to a teacher present at the meeting.
“He was screaming and yelling,” said the teacher. “He said ‘You’re not welcome in here,’ and threw us out of the office.”
By the end of the school year, that teacher and 13 of her pro-union colleagues – as well as one who opposed the union – were notified that their contracts would not be renewed. Five, including the teacher who described the Goldberg meeting, were members of the organizing committee that steered the union vote.
The school says it is a coincidence, but former teachers and union organizers believe the firings were calculated retaliation. They say Goldberg’s behavior in his office and his emails are just examples of his antagonistic attitude toward his teachers’ attempt to unionize.
“Opportunity Charter School has taken a negative stance since day one of the staff forming a union,” said UFT charter school representative Miles Trager, who met personally with Goldberg. “The firings further confirm their intention of quelling teacher voice at the school. “
The teacher on the organizing committee rejected the reason given to her for termination: that she had been persistently late. Instead, she said, she thinks her pro-union vote cost her job.
“Could it be the union? Sure,” said the teacher, who like others, spoke for this story on the condition that their identities be withheld so as not to hurt future job prospects. “Could it be anything else? I really don’t think so.”
Is this what we want in Seattle?