WASHINGTON—In a historic first for the District of Columbia, a tentative union contract has been reached between the leadership of Mundo Verde Bilingual Public Charter School and the District of Columbia Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff. In May, educators and staff voted to unionize, becoming only the second group of D.C. charter school educators to do so.
The proposed agreement, bargained over several months, respects the unique culture of Mundo Verde and the high-achieving school’s values of student instructional success, inclusion, sustainability and flexibility. The contract embodies joint priorities agreed to by the union and the school, namely equity across staff, the financial sustainability of the school, and student success. It provides the time, tools and trust for teachers and staff to do their jobs and devotes significant resources and time to ensure employees can grow in their professions.
Mundo Verde educators and staff will vote to formally ratify the contract in coming weeks.
Marina Gutierrez, a lead third-grade teacher and bargaining team member, said: “I am really proud of the work we did at the bargaining table—on both sides. The leadership and staff came together to tackle some tough issues, but we negotiated together in a spirit of collaboration and open dialogue. When we talked about a problem and a possible solution, we really felt like equals working toward the common goal of helping our kids thrive.”
Andrea Molina, a lead kindergarten teacher and bargaining team member, said: “I feel like we all lived our school’s values and came to an agreement that benefits students, respects the hard work of our staff, and ensures our leadership has the flexibility to manage the school. I’m looking forward to casting my ‘yes’ vote for the first-ever charter school contract in D.C.”
Kristin Scotchmer, Mundo Verde's founding executive director, said the North Star during negotiations was the common goal of strengthening outcomes for students. “Our leadership team and bargaining team members demonstrated the true spirit of negotiation, engaging respectfully, openly and directly. Both sides made appropriate concessions to address what matters deeply to our staff, while also ensuring the long-term financial sustainability of our school and, most importantly, the success of our students,” Scotchmer said.
“This agreement uniquely provides for equity across the bargaining unit, upholding a living wage and quality benefits, and access to professional development for all instructional and non-instructional Mundo Verde employees—from the kitchen to the office to the classroom."
Dahlia Aguilar, Chief Schools Officer added, “Our teachers work hard at the science and craft of teaching. They embody what it means to be quality educators. We have a unique opportunity in this contract to recognize the value of life-long learning, professional growth, and quality performance in teaching and other school based work.”
AFT President Randi Weingarten said: “This is how collective bargaining is supposed to work. It’s refreshing to see administrators and educators come to the table to problem solve, and as a result the Mundo Verde community has created an agreement that responds to the instructional needs of students and respects the work educators and staff do each and every day.”
“The contract is proof positive that by working together, we can help make the school an even better place for kids to learn and thrive. It treats educators as the professionals they are – and provides the resources to back it up. It ensures hourly staff are paid a living wage and increases teacher voice in decision making by including equal number of teachers and management on decision making committees. And it develops an objective evaluation system that provides clear expectations, benchmarks and supports.”
“Mundo Verde is a shining example of the type of ‘win-win’ labor-management partnership we rarely see in the charter school sector. The agreement is a model, not only for other DC charter schools, but for thousands more around the country,” Weingarten added.