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Voting for Your Union

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Imagine if a political party could stay in power for four decades without facing reelection. Thankfully, we have regular elections in this country. But for Pennsylvania teachers, this is reality.

Chances are you’ve voted for union officers, but never for your union. In fact, less than 1 percent of Pennsylvania schoolteachers represented by a union today had the opportunity to vote for that union. In Philadelphia, none of the district’s 8,086 teachers were employed by the district at the time the union was elected.

Once a government union is officially recognized—or “certified”—as representing employees, it is never required to stand for re-election.

Union decertification is technically possible, but it’s an extremely onerous process that can only be completed in a short window of time. Employees must demonstrate 30 percent of workers in the bargaining unit want a decertification election, and requests for decertification can be submitted only around a contract’s expiration.

It’s no wonder just 17 of 24,158 current teachers in Pennsylvania’s largest school districts were employed during the last union certification election.

Largest Pennsylvania School Districts by Teacher Workforce

School district

Total no. of teachers

Current teachers employed at election date

Percent of current teachers employed at election date

Philadelphia

8,086

0

0%

Pittsburgh

1,868

2

0.11%

Central Bucks

1,157

1

0.09%

Allentown City

961

0

0%

Reading

952

0

0%

Bethlehem Area

894

2

0.22%

North Penn

838

0

0%

Downingtown Area

815

1

0.12%

West Chester

801

1

0.12%

Erie City

780

0

0%

Council Rock

779

0

0%

Lancaster

774

0

0%

Upper Darby

774

0

0%

Pennsbury

750

4

0.53%

Central Dauphin

732

0

0%

Pocono Mountain

694

0

0%

Scranton

685

5

0.73%

Lower Merion

634

0

0%

Hazleton Area

632

1

0.16%

North Allegheny

552

0

0%

Totals

24,158

17

0.07%

Sources: Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board, school districts and Pennsylvania Department of Education

Just as Americans are guaranteed the right to regularly go to the polls, teachers should be guaranteed the right to regularly re-elect their union.

To find out the last time your district held a certification election contact connect@freetoteach.org. For more information on the right to re-elect and other ways to increase democracy in teacher unions read Bringing Democracy to Pennsylvania Labor Unions.

 

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