Urban Pathways K-5 teachers vote to unionize
This week, educators and staff at Urban Pathways K-5 Charter School in downtown Pittsburgh voted 15-7 to organize a union as part of the Alliance of Charter School. Employees AFT Local 6056, a branch of the American Federation of Teachers of Pennsylvania. .
According to the AFT, the 15-7 vote was uncontested ballots and Urban Pathways contested eight additional ballots. AFT officials said they were confident these contested ballots would all be favorable to the organization.
The vote comes after union leaders said Urban Pathways administrators were handing out non-renewal contracts to some employees and firing one employee in response to organizing efforts last month.
Arthur G. Steinberg, president of AFT Pennsylvania, said he was proud to welcome the union’s 34 new members.
“All educators and school staff — whether they work in a traditional neighborhood public school or in a charter school — deserve the protections provided by a union,” Steinburg said in a statement. “This is just the latest in a string of workers organizing unions in southwestern Pennsylvania, despite repeated attempts by the Urban Pathways administration to fight the unions.”
A request for comment to Urban Pathways K-5 was not returned.
Charter schools are publicly funded but privately operated. Over the years, hundreds of teachers from various charter schools in the Pittsburgh area have successfully unionized, including teachers from the Pittsburgh Environmental Charter School in 2018 and Propel Schools in 2021.
Linda Williams is a yoga teacher and member of the Urban Pathways M-5 organizing committee. She has worked at Urban Pathways for 12 years and said there has been high turnover in leadership positions at the charter school.
She said forming a union is “a big step toward stability for students and transparency for everyone in the Urban Pathways K-5 community.”