SDEA union officials used Facebook, Instagram posts to disparage teachers who backed a petition to hold a vote to remove the union from the school
San Diego, CA (December 28, 2020) – Gompers Preparatory Academy teachers filed unfair labor practice charges with the California Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) against the San Diego Education Association (SDEA) for illegal retaliation and for interfering with their right to refrain from union membership. The charges come after union officials posted comments disparaging the teachers, Dr. Kristie Chiscano and Jessica Chapman, who supported an effort to hold a vote to remove the union from the school.
The charges were filed with free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. Gompers teachers had been free of union officials’ monopoly forced “representation” since 2005 when the school converted to a charter school, but in 2019 the teachers were unionized without a secret ballot election through a coercive card check certification.
Many Gompers teachers were unhappy with the sudden presence of union officials in their school. As Dr. Chiscano put it “I chose to work at a school that didn’t have a union and now they’ve come in and they’re running everything about my contract and my work.” Chiscano led the effort to collect signatures for a decertification petition for a vote to remove the union from Gompers. That petition was filed in January with legal assistance from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation attorneys. However, union lawyers have so far blocked the vote from occurring despite significant support from teachers to remove the union.
Dr. Chiscano and Ms. Chapman were both leaders in the effort to decertify the union. According to their charges, in retaliation for their expressed opposition to the union, SDEA officials posted a slide presentation on its Instagram and Facebook accounts attacking the two for working with the Foundation to seek a decertification vote. California law makes it illegal for a union to intimidate or retaliate against employees who exercise their right to refrain from union membership.
The charges ask PERB to order the SDEA and its affiliates to post notices acknowledging that the posts about Dr. Chiscano and Ms. Chapman violated the teachers’ rights, and to remove the teachers’ names and photos from the slide presentation. Foundation staff attorneys also continue to represent Chiscano in her effort to obtain a PERB-supervised decertification election.
“Teachers should be free to express their opinions about union membership without union bosses’ harassment and intimidation tactics,” said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. “Gompers teachers deserve a vote free from union coercion, and educators who devote their lives to serving their students should be able to express their minds without fear of social media harassment.”
“If SDEA union bosses actually had the support of a majority of Gompers educators they wouldn’t be fighting so hard to block teachers from voting and attacking those speaking in favor of decertification,” added Mix.