TUMWATER, Wash. (March 18, 2022) — Staff members of Washington Connections Academy (WACA), the state affiliate of a national network of online schools operated by the British multinational publishing and education corporation Pearson, have announced their intentions to join together with SEIU Local 925.
A joint letter signed by 29 staff members was sent to their co-workers this week announcing the effort. It reads:
Dear WACA Staff,
We wanted to be the first to tell you that we, the certificated staff of Washington Connections Academy, are standing together to form a union with support from SEIU Local 925, but HR just couldn’t wait! This is because so many of us have been talking with each other about the need for real change. They were correct about one thing, it is our right to unionize our workplace, in particular when employees have long expressed that WACA cannot sustain the expectations we hold for students with the resources Pearson gives us.
By using the strength of our united voice and the insight of our collective experience we can:
● Bargain for competitive compensation that respects our experience and expertise
● Recruit and retain talented, diverse, and passionate teachers and case managers
● Ensure we have the time and resources to do our due diligence as educators and case managers
● Insist on transparency throughout WACA to build trust between staff and administration
● Demand respect for and action on our insights in the decisions that impact our work
● Advocate for reasonable class sizes and caseloads in order to build the relationships with students that they need to thrive academically and socially
● Ensure we are at the table to have effective, organized, and proactive conversations about the systems we use to support our students and their families
We can create an environment with clear pathways and manageable expectations for staff to achieve that ideal we have so often discussed but rarely achieved: turning off the light switch on a Friday and not coming back until Monday.
Our goal for a union here at WACA is to build on the passionate responses we have seen in the Pulse survey and to consolidate and deliver our feedback in a way that elicits not just awareness from our employer, but results in discussion-based, transparent, evidence-based, and measurable change. We envision a fairer, healthier, more productive, and more sustainable workspace through this union, which will equip us to better serve our students, their families, and our own families.
We invite all WACA certificated staff to contact the members of the Organizing Committee from your personal email at WACAUnion@gmail.com. We know that a roar is stronger than one lone voice. Please join us so that we can build the WACA we know this school can be.
The letter also offers this helpful advice that applies to all workers exercising their freedom to join together in unions:
A KIND REMINDER FOR US ALL, IT IS ILLEGAL FOR YOUR EMPLOYER TO:
PROHIBIT you from promoting your union or distributing union literature at work in ways that do not disrupt work.
QUESTION you about your union support or activities in a manner that discourages you from engaging in that union activity.
FIRE, demote, or reduce your hours, or otherwise take adverse action against you, or THREATEN to take any of these actions, because you join or support a union.
PROMISE or grant promotions, pay raises, or any other benefits or improvements to discourage union support.
PROHIBIT you from wearing union insignia, such as buttons, t-shirts, and pins or from putting up union posters, while at work.
SPY on or record peaceful union activities and gatherings or pretend to do so.
SEIU 925 unites 17,000 people in Washington who work in education from early learning through higher education, as well as members who work in local government and nonprofits. We work together to provide quality education for children and students, to ensure that education remains a state priority, and to strengthen our workforce. We provide quality public services to our communities across the state.