A group of California charter school teachers say they will have “more joy” in the classroom now that they’ve left their teachers’ union after a four-year effort.
Teachers at Gompers Preparatory Academy in San Diego voted 25-17 last week to leave the San Diego Educators Association (SDEA), which some teachers felt forced to join in the first place, Fox News reports.
“There is definitely a lot more joy that’s going to be in classrooms now, instead of a burden with the union,” Cynthia Ornelas, a sixth-grade teacher at Gompers, said to KPBS.
In addition to feeling forced into the union, Ornelas claims SDEA wasn’t transparent with its members about decisions it made, leading teachers to file a formal complaint with the California Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) in 2019 and begin an effort to leave.
“The union was making decisions for us, oh my goodness! We never knew what they were deciding because they didn’t communicate with teachers,” Ornelas said.
The school’s teachers didn’t always have a union, but once they did, the union quickly began “running everything.”
“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,” said Kristie Chiscano, who taught chemistry at Gompers.
The teachers’ efforts to depart were assisted by National Right to Work (NRTW), a non-profit which aims to “eliminate coercive union power and compulsory unionism abuses through strategic litigation.”
NRTW accused the SDEA of stonewalling teachers’ efforts to decertify the union and said teachers were “targeted” by union officials after their initial decertification efforts fell short in 2019, leading them to file charges.
“Shortly after the PERB’s ruling halting the original decertification effort, Chiscano and another Gompers educator filed charges maintaining that SDEA agents targeted them on social media for opposing the union hierarchy,” NRTW’s press release said.
Now, four years after the battle began, the teachers have successfully decertified the union.
“Gompers educators witnessed that SDEA union officials were not acting in the best interests of the students or the school community at large, and fought courageously for years to bring back the independent environment that made Gompers a success,” said Mark Mix, president of NRTW.
“Gompers teachers endured years of legal roadblocks just to exercise their rights, and that’s to say nothing of the retaliation they faced from union officials and even pressure from union-label policymakers,” Mix added.
SDEA did not respond to Fox News’ requests for comment.