Five hundred educators who work for the huge Acero/UNO charter company are back in classrooms this morning following a historic week-long strike.
They will vote on the agreement later this week.
It is big news on two counts.
It appears that most of the bargaining demands of the Chicago Teachers Union have been met: Smaller class sizes, more services for students’ social and emotional needs, a salary schedule that more closely aligns with the CPS traditional teacher contract (state law forbids CPS charter teachers from working the same CBA as traditional CPS teachers), and sanctuary status for undocumented students at Acero.
Acero schools are concentrated in Chicago’s large Latinx immigrant neighborhoods.
The agreement also has national implications. While there is still more charter teacher organizing to do in Chicago and more contracts to bargain, nowhere in the country has there been the growth of organizing the unorganized among charter educators as there has been in Chicago.
It should inspire the work everywhere.
It was not so long ago that the idea of the two major teacher unions organizing charter teachers was a controversial topic.
For years I attended teacher union national conventions were some delegates argued that organizing the unorganized implied approval of charter schools by the unions.
As if organizing workers ever meant approval of management or bosses.
Even this time around I heard from those who argued that the Chicago win meant a loss for traditional public schools, teachers and students.
“It’s a zero-sum game,” I was told by some.
No it’s not. Acero has millions in the bank. No money for anything in the new contract will be taken from one single pubic school student, teacher or classroom anywhere else.
Is the system of charter schools a drain on public resources? Of course.
That is a different battle. It is why we demand a stop to charter school expansion and for turning charters into fully public schools.
The “zero-sum game” argument is one I have heard for years. I heard it every time I bargained our own CBA.
We were told by the board and others that any benefits that went to teachers came out of money that needed to go to programs and classrooms.
That was also nonsense.
I heard it when we fought to defend public school pensions. Legislators told us that contractual payments to the pension fund would come from programs for the homeless and needy children.
If you want to keep it from being a zero-sum game, tax the wealthy. They can afford that.