Before we get too worked up again about teachers’ unions vowing to organize charter school employees, we need to remember that this is an expensive undertaking in both money and manpower for the unions. Only the largest charter schools or networks are worth the trouble.
The Agora Cyber Charter School in Pennsylvania was one such target, since it employs roughly 500 teachers and others who would be eligible for union representation. The Pennsylvania State Education Association instituted a major campaign last fall, creating a web site and an online forum for those involved to debate back and forth. Agora responded with its own web site, highlighting PSEA’s less-than-friendly attitude about cyber schools.
There will be a lot of argument in the coming weeks about what exactly were the deciding factors, but there can be no arguing about the results. Two hundred employees voted in favor of the union, and 214 voted against.
PSEA calls this “a margin of only 8 votes,” by which it means if eight No votes had voted Yes instead, the union would have won. This tends to cloud where it failed in the election. The problem wasn’t that PSEA failed to swing 8 votes from No to Yes, it’s that it failed to get 15 non-voters to vote Yes.