Skip to Main Content



Deciding an important issue for charter schools, the National Labor Relations Board has held that a private, non-profit company that established and operates a public charter school is indeed an "employer" within the meaning of the National Labor Relations Act. As such, the employer is subject to the jurisdiction of the NLRB rather than the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board.

Reversing the decision of Region 13 in Chicago, the NLRB found that the employer was not a "political subdivision" of the state of Illinois that would be exempt from the NLRB's jurisdiction. As such, both NLRB cases on this important issue have held that the NLRB, rather than the IELRB, has jurisdiction. The distinction is important because, among other reasons, the NLRB's procedures entitle employees to a secret ballot election on the important issue of union representation; to the contrary, under the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act, unions can organize by a petition or card check procedure — without any election at all.

Goldberg Kohn filed an amicus curiae brief in the NLRB proceedings in support of this outcome on behalf of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, the leading national nonprofit organization committed to advancing the charter school movement. Mike Sullivan and Jon Klinghoffer of Goldberg Kohn handled the first of the two cases on this jurisdictional issue in Illinois. In that case, Region 13 of the NLRB held that teachers employed by Civitas Schools, LLC were subject to the NLRA and entitled to a secret NLRB election. See Civitas Schools, LLC and Chicago Math and Sciences Academy (Case No. 13-RM-1764 2009).

For more information on this or other labor issues affecting charter schools, please contact Mike Sullivan or Jon Klinghoffer.