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Gompers Prep Academy Teachers Begin New Effort to Oust SDEA Labor Union

California law makes it illegal for union officials to intimidate or retaliate against employees

By Katy Grimes, March 23, 2023 11:11 am

The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation reports that teachers at Gompers Preparatory Academy, a public charter school in San Diego, have joined together again to vote San Diego Education Association union bosses out of power at the school.

The educators tried back in 2020 to vote the union out but were blocked by union bosses as well as biased California Public Employment Relations Board regulations. However, a majority of educators have already signed the new petition asking California PERB for a vote on whether the union deserves to stay, so the renewed interest is strong.

“The new decertification effort at Gompers Preparatory Academy pits concerned educators against California’s most entrenched special interest – public sector union bosses,” said National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “In their last endeavor, Gompers teachers, who simply wanted to exercise their right to vote on whether SDEA union bosses deserved to remain in power, faced specious allegations meant to block the vote, union attacks on social media, and even pressure from union-label politicians.”

According to the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, the attempt is the second in just over three years by Gompers educators to vote SDEA union bosses out of power. In 2019, Gompers chemistry teacher Kristie Chiscano submitted a petition that also contained enough signatures to prompt the PERB to hold a vote to decertify the union, but SDEA bosses manipulated unproven charges of Gompers management to stop the effort.

National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys are providing free legal aid to Gompers computer teacher Sean Bentz, who just submitted a petition to the California Public Employment Relations Board (PERB), requesting the agency hold a vote among his colleagues on whether to oust the union. The petition contains signatures of a majority of the teachers under the SDEA union’s control.

Bentz’s petition marks the second time in just over three years that Gompers educators have attempted to boot the SDEA union from the school. Gompers chemistry teacher Dr. Kristie Chiscano submitted a decertification petition with Foundation legal aid in October 2019. Despite this petition also having the backing of the requisite number of teachers to spur a decertification vote, SDEA union bosses attempted to avert the election by filing so-called “blocking charges” containing allegations of employer misconduct.

Union officials often manipulate “blocking charges” at the PERB and other state and federal labor relations agencies to stifle worker attempts to eliminate unpopular union “representation.” Despite the PERB never holding a hearing into whether SDEA union bosses’ claims had any merit or whether they were related to the workers’ dissatisfaction with the union, PERB officials denied a decertification election to Chiscano and her colleagues in October 2020.

State Labor Agency’s Rule Aided Union in Blocking Vote

Chiscano’s case defending the first petition to remove SDEA union agents from the school also sought to overturn PERB Regulation 32752, which requires PERB agents and attorneys to accept union bosses’ “blocking charge” allegations as true – a stipulation almost guaranteeing union defeat of any worker attempt to vote a union out.

The initial union decertification effort took place not long after SDEA officials gained power at the school in January 2019 via “card check,” a process that bypasses the traditional secret-ballot vote system to install a union. Gompers made an impressive transition to being a union-free charter school in 2005 after years of being plagued by unresponsive union bureaucracies, violence, and poor academic achievement, so many teachers and parents viewed the reinstallation of union power at the school with suspicion. Some accused SDEA agents of actively sowing division at the school, including by supporting anti-charter school legislation and needlessly disparaging the school’s leadership.

“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,” Chiscano said at the time.

Union Agents Targeted Teachers Who Led Effort to Vote Out Union

Even worse, 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. California law makes it illegal for union officials to intimidate or retaliate against employees who exercise their right to refrain from union membership.

Union boss-aligned state legislators even chimed in to pressure Gompers management to give in to union demands. In a letter to Gompers management, then-Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez attacked the National Right to Work Foundation simply for providing legal aid to Gompers educators as they sought to exercise their right to hold a decertification election. Gonzalez was best known during her tenure for authoring AB5, a California law that drastically reduced opportunities for freelance workers and independent contractors across the state.

Teachers’ Union Decertification Efforts Expose Massive Power of California Public Sector Unions

Sean Bentz filed the new decertification petition renewing the fight to oust the union at the earliest time permitted by California labor regulations, which immunize union officials from employee-led decertification efforts for all but a tiny window while union contracts are active. But the new decertification attempt will likely face the same roadblocks of “blocking charges” as the old one.

“Foundation attorneys will proudly fight alongside Gompers teachers to vindicate their rights, but ultimately this effort should expose how California’s labor laws prioritize union bosses’ desire for control over schools and other public services far above the rights of the employees who provide these services,” Mix added.

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6 thoughts on “Gompers Prep Academy Teachers Begin New Effort to Oust SDEA Labor Union

  1. The irony is the academy is named for Samuel Gompers, founder of the American Federation of Labor. I bet that’s why it was targeted by outsider dis-organizers for decertification.

  2. It’s sad to see how Democrats and union thugs have destroyed the city of San Diego and it’s public schools.

  3. So glad to see this major pushback from Gompers Academy charter school teachers. It really FROSTS me that such teachers, who have already painfully sought to remove the teachers’ unions’ talons from their necks, have to THEN continually fight these unions, again and again, in charter schools where the unions were supposed to be absent. It really says something about these bullying union parasites that the teachers’ passion to be free of them continues strong.

    It seems that the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation has become the new Thin Blue Line that separates, by a hair’s breadth, the upholding of teachers’ rights from the union feeding frenzy that would otherwise occur on public charter school campuses.

    The freedom that charter school teachers seek is likely also desired by many other public school teachers. Maybe THEY would like to see the hovering nasty unions disappear in a puff of smoke too. Public school teachers who would like to get helpful information and/or other help about how to best extricate union interference from their lives should explore the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation website, linked above in Katy Grimes’ article. Below is the link to the “Know Your Rights” section of the site:

  4. This article has so many misleading facts and it is very biased. The most pressing is that only 30% of teachers signed that petition, not a majority. Those 30% are the most disrespectful and hateful teachers at that school. They teach at a school that is 100% students of color, but all those anti union teachers are white and treat the students with a ton of disrespect.

  5. It is sad when only a couple of teachers hold the school hostage, they lie to the parents, they abuse teachers who want better working conditions, they treat their coworkers like crap, and for what? Because they themselves are mislead into believing that not having a union will make their lives better. Most of those anti-unión teachers barely teach their students academic skills, instead they instill fear. I know this because my children use to go to that school for many years. I know this because I have talk to many teachers from that school. I pulled them out when I founded out their anti-unión teacher was making my child feel like an outcast. If this school really cares about their students then they should listen to the students and their families not to a small minority of teachers.

  6. Thank you for writing this article. I wish you could have wrote about these evil and demonic teachers who have forced a union on me and my coworkers. They are just pure evil. They remind me of the force who are against our real and innocent President, Mr. Donald Trump. He is fighting for us, for me, and against these same demonic forces. We support our President! Let’s go Brandon!

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