Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Strike Deadline Looms for UNO Charter School Network, Teachers Union | Chicago Tonight | WTTW

Strike Deadline Looms for UNO Charter School Network, Teachers Union | Chicago Tonight | WTTW:

Strike Deadline Looms for UNO Charter School Network, Teachers Union



Some Chicago parents may be facing a teachers’ strike this week, even though Chicago Public Schools narrowly avoided one just last week.
On Wednesday, 8,000 students could be out of the classroom if management for the UNO Charter School Network can’t reach an agreement with its teachers union by Tuesday night.
One of the big differences between UCSN and the United Educators of UNO, or UEU, is a matter of compensation. Class size and the term of the contract are also points of contention.
UCSN operates 16 schools at 15 campuses across the city, mostly on the South and West Sides, but several on the North Side as well. Just this month, 531 of the union’s 532 members voted to authorize a strike.
Teachers say management is proposing something that will sound familiar: the pension pickup. Currently, UCSN pays 7 percent of the teachers' 9 percent pension contribution. The network is asking to roll that back, but not entirely, as CPS asked of the Chicago Teachers Union. They’re asking teachers to pay 4 percent of that 9, instead of the current 2 percent they’re paying.
The union is also concerned about the salary schedule for its lowest-paid members.
“We also have support personnel throughout our class, so anybody who helps with IT, our clerks at the front office, and all of our special education aides, so, somebody who works full time with a student who has high needs or some kind of learning disability. And then, our kindergarten classes also have what we call an apprentice, but it’s basically a teacher’s aide, because there’s 32 5-year-olds in one room, so they need that extra help,” said Erica Stewart of UEU.
“Those people all did not get any raises at all this year, and they’re only being offered 1 percent moving forward to next year.”
Stewart says that the proposed pay cut is in addition to the extra pension contribution management is requesting.
Last week, the union picketed UCSN’s downtown offices. The union says the network could save hundreds of thousands of dollars on cheaper office space in a neighborhood closer to the students it serves, and says the network is management-heavy, overpaying too many executives in those downtown offices.
The union is also requesting a cap on class sizes at 32 students per class, and opposes a proposed “reopener” where management could reopen the contract if school funding is reduced further.
If there’s no deal by Tuesday at midnight, teachers say they are prepared to walk out. It would be the first time a charter school in the country has faced a teachers strike.
There were more negotiations Monday afternoon between the two sides, and more are expected Tuesday. For now, management at the network isn’t saying much to reporters. Though they are working to keep parents informed of what would happen in the event of a strike.
If a walkout does occur, the network’s 16 schools would be closed. Also, sports and extracurricular Strike Deadline Looms for UNO Charter School Network, Teachers Union | Chicago Tonight | WTTW:

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