Oregon Virtual Academy Teachers Seek Union Recognition

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Friday, June 4, 2021
 
OEU - Oregon Virtual Academy Educators United logoNORTH BEND, OR — Teachers at the Oregon Virtual Academy (ORVA) in North Bend today presented a petition to the Board asking for recognition of their newly formed union, ORVA Educators United (OEU). The petition, signed by nearly 80% of ORVA’s teachers, asks the Board to voluntarily recognize the new union at its next meeting on Tuesday, June 8. 
 
OEU, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, formed because teachers seek a real voice in decisions to improve student success and to be able to collectively bargain over issues like equity, transparency, competitive compensation packages, and increased workloads. These conditions have resulted in instructor turnover rates above 20% annually. 
 
“Student success is impacted when teachers are replaced in the middle of the term,” said Ally Fisher, an instructor at ORVA. “I'm excited to have a union to ensure teachers have a voice at the table to advocate for our students, our school community and ourselves.”
 
“In my six years here at ORVA, we have lost too many excellent secondary teachers to higher paying jobs with equitable and respected working conditions.” added Jane Rice, an ORVA math instructor. “I envision a future where ORVA educators and staff have a respected voice at the table. By working together, we can foster a collaborative and stable work environment.” 
 
Jaime Rodriguez, President of American Federation Teachers - Oregon, said, “We are proud to welcome OEU as the latest addition to the AFT-Oregon state locals. I call on the ORVA Board to voluntarily recognize OEU, but we will file for a union election if they try to keep ignoring us.”
 
The petition was signed by a supermajority of over 75% of ORVA’s educators. The full text of the petition reads:
 

To: Our Colleagues, Students' Families, Administrators, ORVA Board of Directors, Students and Community;

We, the undersigned, are a group of dedicated and passionate educators at Oregon Virtual Academy, organizing our union, ORVA Educators United (OEU) with the American Federation of Teachers. OEU is a union of professionals that value excellence in education. We are committed to forming our collaborative, effective, proactive and self-governing union in order to fulfill the mission of ORVA, based upon the following core values: 

  • Staff continuity and retention as an important factor in providing a relationship-based and nurturing environment for ORVA students and families. 
  • Competitive and transparent salary and compensation structures that ensure effective retention and recruitment of highly effective educators. 
  • Fostering explicit care and connection amongst and between all ORVA staff members. 
  • Exemplary service to our diverse population of students throughout Oregon. 
  • Fostering a collaborative culture of trust and continuous improvement. 
  • Prioritizing student achievement to best prepare our students for success in careers, college and citizenship, using researched-based, student-centered curriculum. 
  • Equitable distribution of workload in order to foster a climate that prioritizes teaching and learning for our students. 
  • Just cause and due process rights so that we can advocate for ourselves, our community and our students without fear. 

We believe it is essential for us to establish a unified and collective voice that will provide fully transparent governance, institute and maintain fair and just practices, and create equity in decision-making, with the goal of ensuring the quality of our students’ education. For all of these reasons we stand together in organizing our union. 

It is our sincere hope that you, the ORVA Leadership Team and Board of Directors, will react positively to our decision, acknowledging the benefits of a stable and dedicated staff and committing to work with us to strengthen our school through the remaining steps of this process.