WASHINGTON—Over 80 percent of teachers and staff at Mundo Verde Bilingual Public Charter School have signed authorization cards to join the American Federation of Teachers—and have asked the school’s board to voluntarily recognize their union.
The petition at the high-performing school in the Truxton Circle neighborhood comes after a monthslong organizing effort to honor the school’s values of collaboration and cooperation and to win more resources for kids. If recognition is granted, Mundo Verde would become the second unionized charter school in the nation’s capital.
Members of the Mundo Verde Union wrote to the school’s board to ask for recognition on April 12. The school responded last Friday, proposing meetings this week. The school’s “wall-to-wall” bargaining unit includes 115 teachers and school support staff who are eager to work with management to negotiate a flexible and mutually beneficial first contract.
Under federal labor law, a union can be voluntarily granted recognition by an employer, or workers can file a formal petition with the National Labor Relations Board that may lead to a contested election. Educators are calling on the school’s management to embrace the first, less contentious, path.
Fourth-grade teacher Danielle McCormick said: “Mundo Verde staff are profoundly committed to the school’s vision of social justice, equity and sustainability. A union is crucial to ensure that we make this vision a reality for all of our students and families. Right now, we lack clear systems of accountability, communication and support for all stakeholders, and a union is the avenue that will help us collaboratively build these systems with our administration.”
“We are fighting to manage our real-life stressors so we can focus completely on our students and our mission,” kindergarten teacher Andrea Molina said.
“We’ve experienced some uncertainty and disappointment around our healthcare coverage,” she added. “We now understand that important, even life-changing, benefits like healthcare should be negotiated openly, with all the i’s dotted and t’s crossed in a signed agreement.”
Mundo Verde educators are organizing under the umbrella of the District of Columbia Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff, affiliated nationally with the 1.7 million-member AFT.
AFT President Randi Weingarten said: “Like so many other educators at charter schools, those at Mundo Verde want to form a union to have a real impact on the decisions that shape their lives and their students’ lives. They’re honoring the values of cooperation and collaboration on which the school is premised and want to ensure those values are firmly rooted. I am so proud of them, and the AFT will be by their side as they work to make Mundo Verde an even better place to teach and learn.”
Parents and the school community have come out in force to support the union, with more than 170 signing a petition urging the school board to voluntarily recognize the union.
Adrien-Alice Hansel, a parent of two children at the school, said: “The educators at Mundo Verde are skilled and passionate professionals who love their students, love their school, and believe in its mission. I support their right to unionize and believe that their insights will help Mundo Verde live up to its academic and social justice values. I have seen my kids’ love of learning, of the world, and of justice blossom thanks to their educators’ patience and work. I trust them with my kids’ learning, which means I believe that they are the right people to have a voice in how the students of Mundo Verde are educated.”
The AFT represents 7,500 members at 237 charter schools in 15 states and the District of Columbia. Since summer 2017, educators at 12 charter schools have joined the union.