Staff at Detroit's first unionized charter school have a tentative contract

Jun 8, 2014

Cesar Chavez teachers and staff demonstrate in favor of unionizing in 2012
Credit American Federation of Teachers Michigan

Teachers and staff at Detroit’s first unionized charter school have reached a tentative collective bargaining agreement.

Teachers at Detroit’s Cesar Chavez Academy formally joined the American Federation of Teachers in February 2013.

They had struggled to reach an agreement with The Leona Group, the for-profit management company that runs the charter school.  The negotiation process included charges of bad-faith bargaining and labor law violations.

But negotiators made a breakthrough last week, and both sides reached a tentative deal.

AFT organizer Dan Kukuk admits negotiations were sometimes “tense,” but says this process was new ground for both sides.

“This is the first major charter school in Detroit to organize, and one of the first with a for-profit management company,” Kukuk says.

Kukuk calls the deal a “fair and transparent agreement” that covers everything from salaries and benefits to class sizes and teacher evaluation procedures.

Union members still need to ratify the deal next week.