UNO teachers respond to right-wing Illinois Policy Institute interference.

Paul Kersey of the union-bashing right-wing Illinois Policy Institute has his nose all bent out of shape by the success of the union organizing campaign at charter schools run by the United Neighborhood Organization (UNO).

UNO teachers responded to Kersey’s interference in their affairs.

April 24, 2013

Paul Kersey
Director of Labor Policy Illinois Policy Institute

RE: Unwelcome interference

Dear Sir:

We are teachers and other education professionals leading the effort to organize a union at UNO charter schools with Chicago ACTS. We are building a union at our schools because we believe the best way for children to get the education they deserve is to have educators who have an organized voice in that process.

We suspiciously appreciate your timely interest in our efforts to build our union, but have found your characterization of the process to be “inadvertently” inaccurate and/or misleading.

Surprisingly, we don’t disagree with many of the claims and counsel in your email, such as:

1) “Having a union in our school will have deep and lasting effects.”

2) “Whether or not a union is right for your school is a decision you deserve to make on your own. You shouldn’t let anyone else make it for you. Take your time before you sign.”

3) “Read any union document carefully before signing.”

4) “Do not sign any union petition or authorization card unless you are certain that you want union representation.”

We have been very deliberate to ensure all of our co-workers are fully informed and completely understand the purpose and effects of signing a union authorization card. That is why a super-majority of them are ready to establish their union. That being said, we believe it is important to point out the egregious errors in your email:

1) That we are not fully aware of an agreement involving our charter school operator and Chicago ACTS Local 4343. (We are aware, and we fully support the agreement.)
2) That people will be harassed by union “agents” to sign a card. (We, the educators working at UNO schools, are the ones asking our co-workers to sign cards. We take offense at your suggestion that we might harass our colleagues.) That people might not make a fully informed decision about forming a union at UNO. (We have taken the time to have full discussions and provide opportunities for all questions to be considered.)

From our perspective, your email seems designed to sow distrust and confusion among our colleagues as we move forward on building our union. But we are confident our co-workers will not be cowed by your dishonorable, unscrupulous tactics, and your effort to meddle in our affairs. In fact, we believe they will be rightfully offended by the patronizing assumption that hundreds of us, dedicated professionals, might not be able to independently read, think, and decide what is best for ourselves and the schools in which we work. With all due respect, we are knowledgeable professionals, we are educators, and we don’t need your “advice” to determine what is in our own and our students’ best interests.

Forever united,
Members of the Union Organizing Committees at UNO schools

Robyn Vester and Bridgette Walsh, UNO Bartolomé de las Casas Laura Favoino et al., the Organizing Committee at UNO Sandra Cisneros
Megan Jensen and Ana Alicia Perez, UNO Galewood
Rob Heise et al., the Organizing Committee at UNO Maj. Hector P. Garcia MD
Karen Marcinek, UNO Rufino Tamayo
Derek Ault, UNO SPC Daniel Zizumbo 

8 thoughts on “UNO teachers respond to right-wing Illinois Policy Institute interference.

  1. Brother Peter,
    The organizing drive at UNO is the main current activity of the Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff, affiliated with the IFT/AFT. UNO is one of the largest charter operators in the city, so it is a big deal. The other Chicago charters which presently have ACTS contracts can be found at http://chicagoacts.org/local-4343/partner-campuses.

    -Fred

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