In Partnership with The 74

Alliance charter network cleared of six more teacher union complaints but found in violation of one for not responding to a letter

Sarah Favot | June 29, 2017



Alliance teachers in a post on a Facebook page for teachers that support unionizing efforts at the charter network. (Courtesy: Alliance Educators United Facebook page)

A judge has dismissed more complaints lodged by the local teachers union against Los Angeles’ largest charter school network.

In a ruling Tuesday that covered seven allegations that Alliance College-Ready Public Schools was unlawfully preventing United Teachers Los Angeles’ efforts to organize, six were dismissed. The administrative law judge with the Public Employee Relations Board found that Alliance was in violation on one of the allegations and that the charter network must respond to a letter from UTLA seeking a meeting. The judge found that not responding to the letter was unlawful even though Alliance is not obligated to meet with the union.

The other allegations, including that Alliance had retaliated against a teacher who was involved in the organizing efforts, conducted surveillance of unionizing activities, petitioned staff to oppose UTLA’s organizing efforts, and denied access to a school were all dismissed.

The ruling was the latest in the more than two-year-long battle by the union to organize teachers at Alliance. But the battle is far from over, Catherine Suitor, Alliance’s chief advancement officer, said Thursday.

UTLA has filed nine complaints against Alliance with the PERB. Four of the complaints have been decided, although UTLA has appealed one of the rulings. The five other complaints are similar in nature to the previous complaints, according to Suitor.

“We are extremely pleased with Judge Cloughesy’s findings that again demonstrate that we consistently respect the rights of Alliance teachers and counselors,” Suitor said in a statement. “We hope this second legal ruling will cause UTLA to rethink its strategy of attacking charter schools and attacking Alliance without merit. Isn’t it time for UTLA to stop spending its own members’ money on losing lawsuits?”

UTLA did not respond to a request for comment.

UTLA has been attempting to receive support from a majority of Alliance’s roughly 600 teachers to join the union since March 2015. The union has not yet gotten enough people to sign on.

Suitor has said that UTLA representatives are “very active” on Alliance’s 28 campuses, which are located in South LA, central and east LA, Pacoima, and San Pedro.

In the latest ruling, which is 70 pages long, the judge said that Alliance must post a notice acknowledging it violated state labor laws. In its statement, Alliance said it would follow the rule of etiquette of responding to letters going forward.

In response to two previous complaints, an administrative law judge with the PERB issued a mixed ruling about a year ago regarding a number of violations UTLA alleged against Alliance. Highlighting the disagreement, both UTLA and Alliance characterized the ruling as a win. UTLA has appealed the ruling to the PERB board.

That ruling faulted Alliance for blocking UTLA emails to its employees through spam filters, interfering with UTLA access to school campuses and for a threatening statement made by a principal to a teacher. (The principal no longer works for Alliance.) The judge sided with Alliance regarding its communications to teachers about the unionizing efforts.

In a news release after Tuesday’s ruling, Alliance said in a headline it was the “second consecutive PERB ruling to overwhelming side with Alliance and against union.”

Earlier this year, the state auditor released an audit that found Alliance did not misspend funds on a nearly $1 million campaign to counter the unionizing efforts. The audit was requested by state Sen. Tony Mendoza.

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