Are charter school employees public or private?
In a closely watched case, the National Labor Relations Board has ruled that Chicago charter school firm is a private entity subject to federal employment rules and laws — counter to the arguments of the Chicago teachers union and its supporters, including the NEA and the AFL-CIO. (Ruling attached below.)
The union had sought to unionize workers at Chicago Math and Science Academy using Illinois state labor laws, which do not carry the same requirements as the federal standards. The state allowed the creation of a union based on a the vote of employees, while federal rules call for a secret ballot, something the charter operators called for.
Northwestern University labor relations expert Zev Eigen tells Chicago WBEZ radio that the case, in which national charter school associations also chimed in, could be seen positively or negatively, depending on who's talking. It stands to give charter school employees limited bargaining rights, but also casts charters as private entitites and gives them more leverage to push against unions.
As charter schools continue to expand in Florida and elsewhere, with concerns in right to work states that they might help "bust" unions, the case will certainly be one to watch. Stay tuned.