In October of 2013, amidst growing frustrations with the direction of our school and the lack of communication with administration, a group of California Virtual Academies teachers met with organizers from California Teachers Association to discuss forming a union to give our teachers more of a voice in the school and make some positive changes for our staff and our students.
An Organizing Committee was formed with nearly 50 teachers. This committee reached out to our colleagues through a calling campaign and gathered petitions to organize throughout the spring of 2014. In May of that year we filed for union recognition with the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB)*. The board determined that we did have majority support.
*PERB is a government agency that oversees certain aspects of labor relations pertaining to public sector workers in California. One important function of PERB is that they oversee the unionization process when public school employees decide to organize. PERB also adjudicates disputes between the union and management when either party violates the appropriate laws (EERA). CAVA is a public charter school, and thus falls under the EERA and the jurisdiction of PERB.
May 2014 - CAVA teachers began the organizing process by collecting signatures from a super-majority of CAVA teachers expressing support for unionization and submitted them to PERB. We decided to unionize to fix many of the problems at CAVA and knew that if teachers had a stronger voice, they could make CAVA work better for our entire community.
July, 2014 - PERB verified that the majority of CAVA teachers supported unionization. At this point, almost all charter schools respect teachers’ democratic decision and recognize their union. Unfortunately, CAVA chose instead to contest our decision. They argued that we were not one statewide school, but rather 10 individual schools and therefore would have to be 10 different unions and bargain 10 different contracts. This didn’t make sense given the way CAVA is set-up. Furthermore, we were concerned that CAVA administration was making this claim to delay the start of bargaining in the hopes that CAVA teachers would give up on our dream of making CAVA a better school for students and teachers. But we were determined and will never give up.
After a five day hearing in March 2015, the PERB Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) determined that we were one statewide bargaining unit and officially certified our union in October of 2015.
June 28th, 2016 - full PERB board issued a decision that vindicated CAVA teachers’ long struggle to unionize. They officially certified our union and ruled that we are one statewide community that will bargain one collective bargaining agreement that includes all CAVA teachers statewide.
2016-2017 CVEU Highlights
September 2016: CVEU began bargaining its first contract with CAVA administration.
December 2016: High school administration requested a meeting with CVEU regarding their desire to change the spring semester schedule.
January 2017: CVEU members met in-person in Anaheim with our sister union, IQTA (IQ Academy union).
April 2017: CAVA teachers presented a Collective Voice letter to administration signed by nearly 200 teachers. The bargaining team presented data from our member survey to CAVA administration in a highly strategic contract bargaining session.
May 2017: CVEU held its first election of officers. CVEU members spoke to parents and teachers at testing sites regarding union efforts. Teachers began receiving contracts for the 2017-18 school year.
June 2017: First time elected officers and representatives met in-person in Los Angeles in conjunction with the CTA State Council.
January 2018: We are certified for Fact-finding
March 2018: Fact-finding takes place over two days in Simi Valley
April 2018: We settle our first contract!
May/June 2018: CVEU works together to uphold the articles set forth by our new contract!
September 2018-19: CVEU Bargained for a 2% retro raise, added compensation for Test Site Coordinators and Honor Society Advisors as well as define guideline for teacher evaluations and reimbursements.
2018-19 School Year - Insight teachers become recognized as a union and joins CVEU. They negotiated their first contract, which limited teaching hours and gained a retroactive pay raise, among other major wins.
2019-20 School Year - CVEU bargained for a broader definition for bereavement leave, more union rights such as more release time for the bargaining team and president, another retroactive pay increase of 2%, a timeline for expense reimbursement payout, and a $30 stipend per student for 1:1 testing.
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