D.C. charter school educators say, ‘Union, yes!’

Educators at Mundo Verde Bilingual Public Charter School, Washington, D.C.’s first “green” public charter school, voted by a 3-to-1 margin to unionize in a National Labor Relations Board election held May 15 on the school’s campus. The vote ensures that teachers and staff will have a voice in shaping school policy moving forward, and it signals a growing movement to unionize charter schools across the nation.

mundo verde group

Mundo Verde is the second charter school to organize in D.C., following Cesar Chavez Prep MiddleSchool. The 115 teachers and staff at Mundo Verde will be represented by the District of Columbia Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff; they join the nearly 12 percent of other charter schools in this country that have unionized. The AFT represents more than 240 charter schools in 15 states and the District of Columbia. 

“It’s so fitting the educators at Mundo Verde voted overwhelmingly for a union during National Charter Schools Week,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten. “Charters were supposed to be incubators, enabling parents and educators to have more of a role in students’ education, not competitors with public schools. And that’s what the educators at Mundo Verde want—an active role in the decision-making process at this school. 

“Like so many other educators, teachers at Mundo Verde believe that having a say in how their school is run and being treated with dignity and respect are good not only for them, but also good for their students,” she said. “They know the union is an important vehicle for having a voice at work and helping meet the needs of students. I just got off the phone after talking to some of these educators, and am so proud of them and their devotion to the students and to each other.”

Following the May 15 vote, Mundo Verde educators will move to bargain a first contract with the school’s administration to ensure additional accountability, administrative transparency, and more resources and time to effectively identify and address student needs, as well as the high teacher attrition rate, which was nearly 30 percent this past school year.

“I’m ecstatic that teachers and staff have demonstrated our spirit of collaboration and commitment to equity,” said fourth-grade lead teacher Dani McCormick. “We now have a real opportunity to be better advocates for our students and school community in the effort to make Mundo Verde the best version of itself.”

"While we teach our kids about social justice and equity, we do not always experience it ourselves,” said kindergarten lead teacher Andrea Molina. “Our teachers and staff are a strong, dedicated team; they work around the clock to make our school an amazing place to teach and learn and to set an example for other schools in the district. Our victory will ensure we are treated with the dignity and respect that reflects the commitment we each have made to our school.”

[AFT Media Affairs]