Kyle Olson
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Now we know why unionists were fighting so hard for a federal “card check” law. Organizers can unionize private and public employees, forcing them to pay hundreds in union dues, before they even know anything about it.

That's the situation at the Cape Cod Lighthouse Charter School in Orleans, Massachusetts.

Last week news broke that the reputable charter school was the second in Massachusetts to be organized by the American Federation of Teachers.

Various sources indicated that the unionization effort was somewhat less than forthright. Several teachers complained that they were never informed about the process and were never asked to vote on the issue.

"The union effort was coordinated by group of teachers and staff that did not include all employees," one teacher wrote. "In fact, a number of employees were not approached at all and found out, quite by accident, that a union had been formed without our input.

"A full vote of the faculty and staff was never taken and plans to unionize went ahead, anyway."

Unionization without a vote of the staff? That sounds like the nasty little practice of "card check," which allows pro-union employees to gang up on co-workers and pressure them to sign a union membership card. Once 50 percent of them do so, the union is automatically certified.

There are no private ballots involved in the process. Those who refuse to sign are exposed to all the pressure and intimidation that the union can muster. Under those conditions, it probably doesn't take very long to gain 50 percent approval.

Our research confirmed that Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick signed a bill in 2007 making "card check" union organizing legal for charter schools.

So now an outstanding charter school has been transformed into a den of collective bargaining through a back-door coup. The longtime director of the school reacted by resigning and transferring her own children to a different school. Parents of other students began to wonder if they should do the same.

We have to wonder if this would have happened if the school staff had been allowed to privately vote on certification, without union supporters looking over their shoulders. We will never know.

We also have to wonder if the infiltration of Lighthouse will spell eventual doom for the small K-8 school. That is, after all, the stated goal of the AFT.

Infiltrate and destroy

Charter schools have always been perceived as a mortal threat by teachers unions.

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Kyle Olson

Kyle is Founder and CEO of Education Action Group Foundation, a non-partisan non-profit organization with the goal of promoting sensible education reform and exposing those with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo.