I heard this morning that the teachers at Passages charter in Chicago won a late night agreement on a union contract. If they hadn’t, Passages would have been the first charter school strike in the United States.
“Chicago has become the epicenter of charter union organizing in the country,” complained Andrew Broy, president of the Illinois Network of Charter Schools.
We’re number one!
Andrew should have known. Chicago is a union town.
WBEZ reports that the Passages contract gives their teachers a 21% pay increase. More details will be released later.
“It’s not about destroying charter schools,” (CTU President Karen)Lewis said. “Charter schools are here; they’re not going anywhere. So the key is, how do you make them a bitter pill to their management companies? It’s the management companies we have the issues with, not the charter teachers, not the students, not the parents. The key is, organize people to fight for fairer conditions of work, and then that’s good for everybody.”
The CTU, which represents traditional public school teachers, is supportive of the separate union representing charter schools. That union is the Chicago Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff, a branch of the American Federation of Teachers and a statewide affiliate of the Illinois Federation of Teachers.
Chris Baehrend, president of Chicago ACTS Local 4343, said, “A growing number of teachers are coming to a realization that when they are organized, we are in a better position to protect conditions in the classroom.”
The Chicago charter union said it represents about 1,000 teachers at 32 charter schools in Chicago, which is about 25 percent of charter schools citywide. That’s double the national percentage: About 12 percent of charter schools nationwide are under a collective bargaining agreement, according to Aviva Bowen, spokeswoman for the Illinois Federation of Teachers.
If the school privatizers are going to use charter schools as a weapon to destroy teachers unions, Chicago is as good a place to make our stand as any.
We are a union town.