Teachers unionize at sixth Cleveland charter school

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Educators at Ohio College Preparatory School join union colleagues at charters across the country as movement to win resources for kids grows

CLEVELAND—Teachers at Ohio College Preparatory School, a charter school run by I Can Schools, have won their union after voting today to join the Cleveland Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff (ACTS).

A majority of teachers voted for representation in an official National Labor Relations Board election held at the Maple Heights school; they will now move to secure job protections, more planning time and improved labor-management relations through a collectively bargained contract.

Last year, Cleveland ACTS, affiliated with the Ohio Federation of Teachers and the American Federation of Teachers, won elections at three other I Can charter schools. In January, the union formed by educators at Northeast Ohio College Preparatory School was voluntarily recognized by I Can management. And last month, educators at the separate Stepstone Academy in Cleveland also decided to unionize.

Margaret Wellman, a kindergarten teacher at Ohio College Prep, said: “By creating this union, our school will be able to continue to serve our students and families, by creating a culture of empowerment for us all. We’re joining together to be part of a school where collaboration between teachers and administration works to ensure the best education for our students, and to make positive changes to create a secure work environment for teachers that will in turn foster a safe and secure learning environment for all of our students. This way, we can come together to improve our school and make it a safe and happy learning environment.” 

Sandra Williams, a third-grade teacher, said: “We are forming a union because we want our students to be successful. For that to happen, we have to be free to run our classrooms with less stress, free from anxiety of an unknown future, short-term and long-term.”

Melissa Cropper, president of the Ohio Federation of Teachers and an AFT vice president, said: “Strong teacher-administrator collaboration is necessary for student success. We are proud of the educators at Ohio College Prep for stepping up on behalf of their students. We welcome these dedicated professionals to our union.”

Charter educators at 232 schools across 15 states are now represented by the AFT, as the movement to bolster resources for students at charters across the country gathers momentum.