Caliber Public Schools Found Illegally Intimidating And Retaliating Against Workers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE October 28, 2021 Contact: Maxim Baru ([email protected])

Public Employment Relations Board sides with staff in Unfair Practice Complaint charging Caliber Public Schools with illegal anti-union action

RICHMOND, CA (October 28, 2021) — Caliber Public Schools, a non-profit that runs a pair of charter schools in Richmond, CA and Vallejo, CA has broken the law when it acted against its employees’ effort to unionize, says a new complaint issued by California’s Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) earlier this month.

Administration at the two charter schools operated by Caliber Public Schools, The Beta Academy & The ChangeMakers Academy, was found culpable in violating the law in 5 counts when they:

  • Refused to offer one of its employees a new work contract for the school year in retaliation for his union activities
  • Surveilled, questioned, and investigated staff about the union activities, which is forbidden due to its predictable chilling effects
  • Ordered employees to refrain from talking about their effort to unionize during school hours, and on campus
  • Censored emails in the internal system between workers expressing support for efforts to organize a union
  • Denied employees rights to union representation

Typically settlements include offers for reinstatement with back pay for workers who faced retaliation, statements of wrongdoing and a commitment to not do so again in the future, along with training for management on workers’ EERA rights, among other things.

“This comes as an enormous relief”, said Tyler Powell, fourth grade teacher, who was not offered a new contract for this year’s school term in retaliation for his union activities. “The PERB complaint sends an important message that workers who advocate for a union cannot be fired, even in a roundabout way. Every worker deserves a right to have fair representation, ultimately that’s what we aim to do for each other with our union.”

“Being put on the spot and questioned about my co-workers’ concerns by managers was  incredibly stressful and disappointing, ” said Thomas Binz, Computer Science teacher. Trying to pressure us into disclosing private conversations to stop us from advocating for one another  undermines our mission to nurture the development of good moral judgement in our students. It’s important that we ensure this never happens again, so our school can work together, free from intimidation from management.”

“One of Caliber Public School’s goals is to equip students with the real world skills to become agents of change in their communities and the world,” pointed out first grade teacher Morgan Hubbard adding that “when the school acted to stop us from talking about getting unionized, they’re breaking a promise they made to parents, families, students, and investors to uphold the basic values they want to cultivate among the students.”

“Many employers have gotten accustomed to acting as if their company is their own personal fiefdom where anything goes,” said Cameron Crowell, IWW Organizer. Employees are treated, at best, as personal property, and at worst an enemy that needs to be pushed out at the earliest sign of independent thought. But this PERB complaint reminds everyone that the people who perform the work are entitled to fight for a healthier workplace free from interference.”

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The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) is a labor union representing nearly 9,000 workers across North America. Established in 1905, the IWW is known for its high standards of democracy, transparency, multinationalism, and active use of the right to strike.