WASHINGTON—Teachers at Cesar Chavez Prep Middle School voted overwhelmingly to unionize in a National Labor Relations Board election held today on the school’s campus.
Teachers voted 31 to 2 to win resources for kids, a real say in school decision-making, a consistent and high-quality curriculum, and job security. They will now immediately move to bargain a first contract with the school administration.
The Chavez Prep educators are the first at a District of Columbia charter school to unionize. They join the wave of educators at charters across the country who are raising their voice for a union.
Science teacher Christian Herr said: "We're excited for the opportunity to work alongside our school board and our principal to make a school that we're really proud of into the envy of the district. We've got a strong team in place already, and the best students and families in the city, and we're ready to get to work on a contract that makes our school an even better place to teach and learn.”
History teacher Lashaunda Robinson said: "As an alum of a successful charter school that had a hugely positive impact on my life, I feel ecstatic that my kids are now going to have teachers who will feel comfortable being in it for the long haul. I am thrilled to continue working with the amazing administrators at Chavez Prep this year and to collaborate with the change-makers in our organization."
Educators organized under the umbrella of the District of Columbia Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff, affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers. They drew inspiration for their two-year organizing effort from Cesar Chavez, the co-founder of the National Farm Workers Association (which became the United Farm Workers), for whom their school is named.
Washington Teachers Union President Elizabeth Davis said: “A school named in honor of a leader whose legacy was organizing and empowering workers who thought they had no power, deserves teachers who can bargain collectively for better wages and working conditions. Sí, se puede!”
AFT President Randi Weingarten said: “Just like their school’s namesake, Cesar Chavez, these educators are joining together to win a real say over the decisions that affect their students and their work lives. Their goal is to forge a meaningful and productive partnership with the administration to improve curriculum and create a fair and safe learning environment for the long term. The Chavez teachers have made history today, and Cesar would be immensely proud of their effort to stand up for their rights and win.”
The AFT now represents 234 charter schools in 15 states and the District of Columbia, nationwide.