Stepstone charter school educators vote 'union yes'

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CLEVELAND—Charter school educators at Stepstone Academy will move to bargain a first contract, after they voted convincingly for union representation in a National Labor Relations Board election. The results were officially certified by the board today.

Stepstone educators voted 17-5 to join the Cleveland Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff (ACTS), the Ohio Federation of Teachers and the American Federation of Teachers, their national affiliate. Educators will now negotiate a collective bargaining agreement that improves resources for kids and ensures educators have a say over school decision-making.

The Stepstone teachers join their union colleagues at four I Can charter schools in the Cleveland metro area, who also elected to join Cleveland ACTS in the past year.

Summer Flowers, a 5th-grade teacher, said: "I wanted to form a union at Stepstone because I believe teachers deserve a voice. I believe fairness and equity is imperative to the progress of schools, and by unionizing and having a voice, we can work toward those things. I am confident that unionizing will contribute to a positive and healthy environment for teachers and students."

Lana Miller, a 1st-grade teacher, said: "We formed a union so that teachers will have a say-so in the decision-making process at Stepstone Academy. In addition, we feel that the formation of the union will attract and keep quality teachers who will stay in the field of education rather than opting out onto another career path."

Melissa Cropper, president of the Ohio Federation of Teachers and an AFT vice president, said: "We are honored that the charter school educators at Stepstone Academy have elected to form their union with the Ohio Federation of Teachers. OFT members pride themselves on professionalism and doing all they can to help students explore the world around and beyond them as they learn, grow and succeed."

Educators at 230 charter schools across 15 states are now represented by the AFT, as the movement to boost resources for students and win a voice at work gains momentum.