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Labor board seeking injunction over Alliance anti-union efforts

Craig Clough | October 20, 2015

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UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl

The California Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) will be seeking an injunction in Los Angeles County Superior Court to stop what it says is illegal interference by officials at Alliance College-Ready Public Schools against a unionization effort by some of its teachers.

The LA teachers union, UTLA, is currently attempting to unionize the teachers at the charter school organization, which has 27 schools in the Los Angeles area and employs around 700 teachers who are currently not represented by any union.

Alliance leaders have been vigorously fighting the unionization efforts, and UTLA claimed those attempts went too far and violated state laws. PERB agreed, and in August filed a formal complaint in state court.

“It’s been pretty shocking what is happening at the Alliance schools,” UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl said in a statement. “Alliance has played hardball and used illegal tactics inappropriate for any workplace and totally unacceptable in publicly funded charter schools. We are pleased the labor board acted swiftly and decisively. It was the right thing to do.”

A hearing has been set for Nov. 2 before an administrative law judge regarding the complaint. PERB’s intent to file an injunction was outlined in a letter to a lawyer representing UTLA.

“Evidence reviewed by state authorities shows that Alliance’s managers had interrogated school employees about their pro-union sympathies, unfairly forced a highly-regarded physics teacher out of his job, and routinely conducted unlawful surveillance of educators,” a press release from UTLA said.

Catherine Suitor, a spokesperson for Alliance, said PERB was basing its ruling on misleading and false information from UTLA.

Suitor said UTLA’s effort to get a majority of Alliance teachers to support unionization is “stalling” because they have not garnered enough support, and the interference accusations is “sort of a last ditch legal effort on their part” to keep drawing the process out to buy more time. In a letter to its staff sent after UTLA asked for injunctive relief, Alliance claimed 80 percent of its teachers have expressed no interest in joining UTLA.

The administration of Alliance has all along made no secret of the fact that it opposes its teachers’ joining UTLA but has said its efforts have simply been an information campaign to educate its teachers and parents about UTLA.

“We refute the charges that they have said. We have all throughout this from day one, ever since they announced the campaign, we have sought legal counsel on not only the letter of the law, but the intent of the law,” Suitor said.

Suitor also suggested the PERB board was biased in favor of unions.

“Three of five members are former attorneys or leaders with labor unions, including two who worked with CTA,” Suitor said in an email, referring to the California Teachers Association, to which UTLA is affiliated.


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