Press Release

Capital City Public Charter School in D.C. Votes for a Voice on the Job

All 200 Teachers and Other School Staff Will Be Members of  DC Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff, DC ACTS, AFT

For Release:


Kelley Ukhun


WASHINGTON—Teachers and all other school staff at Capital City Public Charter School in Washington, D.C., voted tonight to unionize, joining the membership of the District of Columbia Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff, DC ACTS, an affiliate of the AFT.

Capital City Public Charter School has 200 employees, including teachers, instructional assistants, counselors, librarians, secretarial staff and custodians, all of whom will be represented by DC ACTS. The school educates 1,000 pre-K through 12th-grade students. DC ACTS also represents all employees at both Mundo Verde Public Charter School campuses in D.C.

“Capital City educators and other employees want to have a voice when the school makes decisions about the education of their students. They are the folks who are in the classrooms every day and who work the closest with the kids and know best what’s needed for them to thrive and excel. Only through a union can this be accomplished,” said DC ACTS Acting President Kelley Ukhun, adding that she hopes to be able to negotiate a first contract in the coming months.

Besides having a voice in decisions made about their school, Capital City employees said they want to end a “right to work”-contingent atmosphere in which every staff member was subject to annual contract renewal, making it increasingly difficult to recruit and retain staff given the precarity. Educators and staff also indicated a collective desire for better retirement benefits, a more progressive and transparent discipline procedure (including a grievance and arbitration system) and a duty-free lunch period.

Guadalupe Campos, a Capital City high school Spanish teacher, strongly supports the union.

“I believe that all workers, regardless of rank or position, deserve the opportunity to participate in decisions that affect students, our families and ourselves. United, we can create a healthy, equitable and sustainable environment for all,” she said.

Kate Lenegan, an after-school teacher, said: “I support this union because our staff is what makes Capital City great, and our students deserve the best from us.”

AFT President Randi Weingarten said this labor victory reflects a growing trend of workers organizing across the country, growing the labor movement so that we can be a force that improves the lives of workers, their families and their communities.

“Whether it’s at a traditional public school or college, or whether it’s at a charter school or any other workplace, working people are seeing the value of a union as a vehicle to access a better life for themselves, their families, and the communities they serve,” Weingarten said. “That’s why the AFT has seen unprecedented organizing growth, organizing 146 new units across multiple sectors, including education, higher education, healthcare and public service since our last convention in July 2022.

Charter school educators see this, Weingarten said. The AFT represents about 7,500 educators and school staff across the country at more than 250 charter schools. More than 1,000 teachers and staff at more than 15 charter schools have organized with the AFT just since the start of the 2022-23 school year, and hundreds of those have already won strong first contracts at their schools.

“Union membership can be transformative in the life of any working person. I am so glad the educators of Capital City have elected to join us. We are so happy to welcome them. We want working folks everywhere to know: The AFT is the home of the people who make a difference in other people’s lives. We fight for real solutions that make our workplaces and our communities safer, stronger, and more democratic, and we show up when it counts. Together, we can win the future,” Weingarten said.

The Washington Teachers’ Union, which represents educators at District of Columbia Public Schools, applauded the Capital City employees’ vote.

“All staff, whether in regular public schools or charter schools in the private sector, deserve the rights and respect afforded to them through union membership. We are all stronger together, and the WTU looks forward to working in partnership with DC ACTS as it grows with this exciting win at Capital City,” said WTU President Jacqueline Pogue Lyons.


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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.