Appeal asks PERB to eliminate standard which lets union bosses use unsubstantiated allegations to block employee votes
San Diego, CA (June 10, 2020) – Educators at Gompers Preparatory Academy (GPA) charter school are appealing a decision by a California Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) regional attorney, which let San Diego Education Association (SDEA) union bosses block the educators’ right to vote on whether the union should remain at the school. The educators, who submitted a valid petition to initiate a vote to remove the union, are led by chemistry teacher Dr. Kristie Chiscano. Dr. Chiscano and her fellow educators are receiving free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.
The appeal follows SDEA union officials’ so-called filing of “blocking charges” against the charter school. The union charges allege that school leadership committed unfair labor practices, and were accepted by the PERB administrator as a reason to stop the election to remove the union. This happened despite the union not alleging or proving any wrongdoing on the educators’ part, and despite the PERB never holding a hearing into whether the charges had any merit. The appeal seeks to overturn PERB Regulation 32752, which allows union bosses to “plead unproven ‘facts’ that a Board agent or attorney must accept as true” which “will almost always guarantee a secret-ballot election will be stayed (stopped).”
SDEA union officials were installed at the school in January 2019 after conducting a controversial “card check” union drive, bypassing the more reliable method of a secret-ballot election whether to certify a union as the monopoly representative of all educators in the school. Since the school’s unionization, no monopoly bargaining contract has been approved and educators and parents have accused union agents of divisive activity, including supporting anti-charter school legislation.
Dr. Chiscano began circulating the decertification petition in October 2019. She soon obtained the signatures of well over the number of her fellow educators necessary to trigger a PERB-supervised secret-ballot vote to remove the union. However, the appeal notes, SDEA union officials “filed a strategically-timed unfair practice charge against GPA in December 2019” to block the educators from exercising their right to vote on whether to remove the union. Despite the educators’ Foundation-provided attorneys submitting a brief explaining why SDEA bosses’ unsubstantiated allegations had nothing to do with the employees’ desire to vote, the PERB attorney stayed the election in May 2020.
The appeal asks that the PERB alter the standard used to process employee petitions for a decertification election because the current practice “is the antithesis of employee free choice” in that it grants union bosses the privilege to “block a secret-ballot election based on mere strategic pleading in an unproven unfair practice charge.”
Also pointed out is that, after a “blocking charge” is filed, “it becomes the employees’ and employer’s burden to show why the unproven allegations in the unfair practice charge would not affect the election process.”
The appeal proposes that the PERB adopt a new standard that requires union officials who file “blocking charges” to, during a hearing, prove a “causal nexus” between the unfair employer conduct they allege and “any effect on employees that would prevent them from making a free choice in a secret-ballot election.” Dr. Chiscano’s case, the appeal says, should be reconsidered under that standard.
“Dr. Chiscano and her coworkers just want to be able to exercise their right to vote, free of coercion, on whether or not SDEA union bosses deserve to maintain power at their school,” observed National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Instead of letting them vote, power-hungry SDEA union bosses who, ironically, oppose charter schools like GPA, have exploited the PERB’s anti-worker choice standards to hold these educators captive under their so-called ‘representation’ for more than 17 months.”
Mix added: “The PERB should immediately reform its standards to stop allowing union officials to use totally unproven allegations to block employees’ right to free themselves of an unwanted union.”