Last spring, 70 teachers announced their plans to form a union at Los Angeles’ largest charter school chain, Alliance College-Ready Public Schools. The news could not have come at a worse time for the city’s business community, led by the Broad Foundation, whose unprecedented plan to make the district 50 percent charter was leaked a few months later. Alliance College-Ready, led by the Broad Foundation’s former managing director, was to be at the center of these plans.
However, a union breakthrough into the city’s largest charter operator, just as this 260-charter school expansion was supposed to begin, would fundamentally undermine the Los Angeles boosters’ union-free vision for the nation’s largest-ever charter school district.
Almost immediately after the announcement, Alliance’s private management organization began crafting plans to counter the campaign. Only a month after the drive launched last spring, an internal memo was leaked, advising administrators on how to discourage staff from unionization, noting candidly, “the goal is no unionization.”
Documents, obtained by The Nation, show that Alliance’s leadership has made efforts not only to discourage pro-union teachers, but also to pit parents against these teachers. Emails from last May, for example, show that Alliance coached paid alumni, hired through the California Charter Schools Association, to phone-bank parents with an anti-union script and collect parent signatures against the union. The documents also show that Alliance has been working with top political consultants to mobilize “parent captains and parent supporters” against the union campaign.
According to one version of the anti-union script, as of May 2015, former Alliance students were paid to call parents and read the following: “Having a teachers’ union would be a big change for the Alliance. It would end the independence that the Alliance has to make decisions on behalf of kids. And—I don’t know about your kids—but I chose to go to the Alliance because of the small class sizes, great teachers, and personalized attention. [Add any other reasons you chose to attend the Alliance.]” (emphasis original)