Friday, June 9, 2017

Will Chicago Become the Epicenter of Charter School Unionization? - Working In These Times

Will Chicago Become the Epicenter of Charter School Unionization? - Working In These Times:

Will Chicago Become the Epicenter of Charter School Unionization?

Image result for Karen Lewis charter school union

In a move sure to worry neoliberal education reformers, unionized charter school teachers in Chicago are voting this week on whether to formally join forces with the most militant teachers’ union in the country.

The proposed merger—which would be a potential first in the country—would see the more than 1,000 member Chicago Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff (ChiACTS), Local 4343 of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), amalgamate into a single union local with the nearly 30,000-member Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), AFT Local 1.

ChiACTS president Chris Baehrend said the potential merger “helps all Chicago teachers fight together on the same issues.”
Formed in 2009, ChiACTS is at the national forefront of organizing charter schools. Its members are not only winning union recognition across the city, but also showing a willingness to withhold their labor to win fair contracts, much like their counterparts in the CTU.

Since October, ChiACTS teachers have come close to going on strike at UNOASPIRA and Passages charter schools. But all three walkouts—which would have been the first charter school teacher strikes in history—were avoided by last-minute contract agreements.

In the words of Illinois Network of Charter Schools president Andrew Broy, “Chicago has become the epicenter of charter union organizing in the country.”

Though the CTU is undoubtedly opposed to the expansion of charter schools, as evidenced by the union’s successful effort to win a cap on new charters last fall, its leaders say they are dedicated to building teacher-to-teacher solidarity.

“Charter schools are here; they’re not going anywhere,” CTU president Karen Lewis recently said, continuing: “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 Will Chicago Become the Epicenter of Charter School Unionization? - Working In These Times:


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