DETROIT – The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has filed a complaint against New Urban Learning (NUL)/Inspired Education (InspirED), alleging that former New Urban Learning CEO Lesley Redwine created an alter ego corporation, InspirED, to avoid bargaining with staff at University Yes Academy after the teachers overwhelmingly voted for union representation.
In 2015, the teachers at University Yes Academy, a charter school authorized by Bay Mills Community College, voted for union representation.
“We formed a union with the Michigan Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff (Michigan ACTS) to ensure meaningful teacher voice in decisions at our districts, and to improve learning and working conditions,” said Hannah Chapman, an elementary school teacher at UYA. “But days before our election, the private company that managed our school announced they were leaving. This meant that we were laid-off and had to reapply for our jobs. We were also told by InspirED that our vote didn’t count and that they would not bargain with us because they were a new management company.”
Although Redwine announced to students, parents and staff that NUL would no longer manage UYA, the CEO quickly formed InspirED and entered into a contract with the academy. When Michigan ACTS requested to meet with her but she refused. Redwine now faces a federal charge for refusing to bargain with Michigan ACTS. The NLRB has schedule a hearing for June 6, 2016.
“Teachers voted to form a union, this gave them the right to collectively bargain. This charge shows that even though charter schools will try to bend the rules, our union and the NLRB will hold them accountable to the law,” said David Hecker, President of AFT Michigan. “We were incredibly disappointed that the leadership of New Urban Learning chose to play an organizational shell game. They would rather break the law instead of honoring the choice their staff made.”
This is not the first time the NLRB has had to step in at UYA. Last year, Redwine and the Labor Board reached a settlement after teachers were retaliated against for forming a union.