Teachers at seven charter schools in Pembroke Pines, Fla., voted overwhelmingly last week to join the local teachers’ union.
About 300 teachers in the schools, which are run by the city of Pembroke Pines in Broward County, voted 181-46 in favor of joining the 10,000-member Broward Teachers Union. The union is an affiliate of the Florida Education Association, the National Education Association, and the American Federation of Teachers. Negotiators will bargain a separate contract for the charter teachers.
According to organizers for the AFT, the teachers are the first in a network of charter schools to unionize through a representation election. They are also the first teachers in a Florida charter school to join a union.
The Pembroke Pines charter schools, which serve about 5,000 students, have consistently earned high rankings under the state’s accountability system and have gained the city national notice for its venture into education. (“Using Charter Powers, Booming Fla. City Opts To Build Own Schools,” Sept. 24, 2003. )
Gary Stevenson, an organizing chief of the AFT, said the teachers sought a greater voice in school arrangements, such as planning time, more protection for their rights, and job tenure. Representatives of Pembroke Pines could not be reached for comment.
A version of this article appeared in the January 31, 2007 edition of Education Week