An Unlikely Bargain: Why Charter School Teachers Unionize and What Happens When They Do

Ashley Jochim and Lesley Lavery:

For nearly two decades teachers unions and charter schools have formed an “us vs. them” narrative that pits one against the other. Unionization efforts by charter school teachers could scramble that narrative. With this report we set out to understand trends in charter school unionization, document teachers’ motivations for unionizing, and assess whether collective bargaining agreements in charter schools differ from those in traditional school districts.

We spoke to sixteen teachers at nine schools where teachers had either recently unionized or were undergoing campaigns to decertify their unions. We also compared the content of their collective bargaining agreements with those in local school districts and analyzed national data on charter school unionization. We learned:

Nationally, charter schools are no more likely to be unionized today than they were a decade ago. However, unionization is gaining traction in some localities and states like Illinois, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania