San Diego Charter School Teachers Charge Union with Illegal Surveillance
Union officials made Facebook, Instagram posts criticizing teachers for supporting union removal
Los Angeles, CA (April 19, 2021) – Two teachers at The Gompers Preparatory Academy charter school in San Diego filed unfair practice charges against the San Diego Education Association (SDEA) teachers union for posts it made about the educators on the union’s social media accounts. The teachers filed charges with the California Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) with free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.
Dr. Kristie Chiscano and Jessica Chapman are vocal advocates for a union decertification vote at Gompers, which would give teachers an opportunity to have a secret ballot election on whether to remove SDEA union officials as Gompers teachers’ monopoly bargaining “representative.” More than a year ago, Dr. Chiscano circulated a decertification petition and obtained well over the required number of signatures for a vote, but an election has been delayed because of union legal challenges.
When the SDEA obtained monopoly bargaining authority over the school’s teachers in 2019, Gompers teachers weren’t allowed to have a private, secret ballot election. The SDEA instead took advantage of the controversial “card check” unionization process, during which union organizers pressure individual teachers into signing cards that are counted as “votes” for the union.
According to the charges filed by Dr. Chiscano and Ms. Chapman, union officials are again using public pressure tactics, this time to stymie the decertification effort. In retaliation for their expressed opposition to the union, SDEA officials posted a slide presentation on its Instagram and Facebook accounts attacking the teachers for working with the Foundation to seek a decertification vote.
The slide presentation included pictures of both teachers, and examples of their calls for decertification. As the charges state, the union’s social media posts made it clear that union bosses were keeping tabs on the teachers’ decertification efforts. As their filing explains, under longstanding labor law precedent, it is illegal surveillance which unlawfully interferes with employee rights when an employer or union “openly engages in record-keeping of employees participating in protected activity.”
The SDEA’s posts about Dr. Chiscano and Ms. Chapman violated the law because they publically demonstrated that union officials knew about and were collecting evidence of the two employees’ opposition to monopoly representation.
Under PERB precedent, unlawful surveillance is considered an implicit threat that the information will be used to the detriment of those being surveilled. The teachers are seeking to have the posts removed, and for the SDEA to send a notice to all Gompers teachers acknowledging the posts violated the law.
“The posts SDEA officials made attacking Dr. Kristie Chiscano and Jessica Chapman are a blatant violation of their right to advocate for self-representation without union harassment,” said National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation President Mark Mix. “These posts send a message to other teachers that if they speak out against the union, they could face similar online attacks.”
“The PERB should condemn these attacks on independent-minded teachers, and allow Gompers educators to have their long-overdue vote on whether to remove the union officials who are attacking the very educators they claim to represent,” added Mix.
If you have questions about whether union officials are violating your rights, contact the Foundation for free help.