ASPIRA Voces

We are a group of charter school educators who aim to develop and nurture a positive learning and working environment by uniting to form a union at ASPIRA.
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Last month, we wrote to you about new Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charges that we filed with the National Labor Relations Board against ASPIRA of PA for its new restrictive and discriminatory policies on  discipline and social media. We are jubilant to announce that we have reached a settlement with ASPIRA of PA on all outstanding cases.

This is huge victory for our campaign. ASPIRA of PA knows it is being watched and it cannot continue to foster an atmosphere of fear and intimidation in our schools. This is a step in the right direction.   However, we must also continue to keep up the pressure. Let’s keep on signing the petition to let ASPIRA of PA know it needs to do the right thing and respect its staff’s right to form their union.

My colleagues and I appreciate your continued support on our campaign. Your advocacy tells ASPIRA that we cannot be ignored and we are not alone. We will not be silenced at a time when Philadelphia’s school children and educators must be heard. We are that voice.

Remember to visit our Tumblr blog, like us on Facebook and follow us on twitter (#ASPIRAvoces #phled).  If you haven’t yet shared this petition in support of our campaign, please use this link to sign and share now.  With you, our voice is amplified. 

In Solidarity,

Chris Bishop, Math Teacher, ASPIRA Olney High School

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What’s a better alternative to haranguing your critics in a Twitter tirade? How about working with your teachers and negotiating a union neutrality agreement?

Hello,

My employer does not want you to read this. ASPIRA of Pennsylvania does not want me to have a public voice in my school, or speak out about my students’ educational needs. ASPIRA of PA has issued a NEW policy that is designed to prevent staff from using social media to communicate about our union organizing campaign and the financial decisions ASPIRA is making. ASPIRA has threatened “disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment” if they are offended or embarrassed by anything I say in social media. What’s most shocking about ASPIRA’s new social media policy is that it is retroactive to 2011.

We are fighting back. We know the National Labor Relations Act protects our right to organize and to talk about it. We have filed a charge with the National Labor Relations Board and the Philadelphia Inquirer has written about it. Now, we need your support.

Will you sign this petition to let ASPIRA know that it’s wrong to silence teachers and staff? Once you have signed, please share with your friends and encourage them to sign also.

My colleagues and I love our school and our students. At ASPIRA of PA, we know our schools are more than buildings – they’re also homes to the young people who count on us for stability and academic support. In fact, our loyalty to our students is what drives us to push for a seat at the bargaining table with management so that we may advocate for the best teaching and learning conditions for everyone.

We interpret this excessively restrictive move as a nod to our success in garnering strong community support.  An independent film company produced the video on their website which has attracted a lot of attention. A YouTube video has received hundreds of hits. Twitter lights up when we make news (#phled #aspiravoces). Our Tumblr blog has a loyal following. And Philly’s charter school teachers have more than 650 friends on Facebook. Have you liked us?

We have been organizing our union since last March. It is time. We want a voice in our workplace.

ASPIRA may not want to hear from us, but they need to hear from you and your friends.

In Solidarity, 

Erina Pearlstein, Music Teacher, ASPIRA Olney High School

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A union that has been involved in organizing teachers at Olney Charter High School is set to file an unfair labor practice charge Monday over a new social-media policy the union said was an attempt to silence staff.

The Alliance of Charter School Employees, a local affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers Pennsylvania, alleges that Aspira Inc. of Pennsylvania, the nonprofit that runs Olney, bars workers from making negative comments about their employer on social media, including in blogs and online forums.

Union representatives allege the policy violates national labor law by infringing on the rights of employees during an organizing campaign. The charge will be filed with the regional office of the National Labor Relations Board in Center City.

"The whole issue of social media has come to the fore in the last couple of years," said Sam Lieberman, an attorney with the AFT. "These type of policies are more common than we would like."

The Aspira policy says it “is focused on social-media activities inside and outside of work that could affect your work performance, the performance of other employees, or the academic and business interests of the Aspira schools.”

Employees suspected of violating the policy can be subject to discipline, including losing their jobs.

The 43 teachers hired at the start of the current school year were required to sign the policy, the union said. Employees already on staff were told during the fall the policy applied to them, too.

The alliance has been working to unionize Olney’s staff for months in a hard-fought campaign. Teachers supporting the drive have used social media heavily.

Documents provided to The Inquirer that will be sent to the NLRB say that, among other things, teachers who support the union have made comments about the campaign on Facebook and Twitter. They started a blog called aspiravoices.org in June.

The union contends Aspira’s leaders devised the social-media policy over the summer to chill communications and retaliate “for the extensive use of social media” in the organizing campaign at Olney.

The Philadelphia School Reform Commission in 2011 authorized Aspira to merge Olney East and West High Schools into a single school and convert it to a charter as part of the district’s Renaissance program to turn around low-performing schools.