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UNO Charter says teachers can form union

Teacher unions took another step into Chicago's charter world with the news that one of the city's larger charter networks, run by the politically connected United Neighborhood Organization, had agreed to allow its teachers to unionize.

The new agreement between Chicago ACTS, the city's charter teacher union which already represents teachers at 14 other schools, doesn’t mean UNO's 13 campuses and 300-plus teachers are unionized yet.

The agreement does establish that UNO will be neutral toward the unionization effort. “It protects them from things charter operators do most of the time when teachers try to organize – hold captive audience meetings where they make veiled threats and intimidation” and bringing in union-avoidance consultants, said Chicago Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff President Brian Harris.

It also sets up a broad process where an arbitrator will decide whether to recognize the union and will have the power to resolve other disputes – potentially avoiding years of costly legal battles. By using an arbitrator, the union and management can avoid using either the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board or the National Labor Relations Board to resolve their complaints.

Harris says teachers trying to organize a union at UNO didn’t necessarily face these obstacles before but that “a lot of UNO teachers are very unhappy with their working conditions.” 

The agreement gives the arbitrator the task of determining whether a majority of teachers are interested in forming a union, but doesn't set the process. This could happen when teachers sign union cards or a petition asking for the union.

Chicago ACTS says that at two of its 14 campuses – Chicago Math and Science Academy, and Latino Youth High School – union efforts have been dogged by litigation asserting that charters aren’t covered by the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act. Management at Chicago Math and Science Academy recently won a federal ruling dissolving the union there.

As a result, Chicago ACTS’ future efforts to unionize charters may face more roadblocks. The union will be subject to a lengthier federal process that requires a secret ballot election, with time for both management and the union to campaign. That’s very different from the easier state process that ACTS has relied on so far for its unionization drives. 

“We first went under state law when we organized Civitas. We had 75 percent of the staff signing union cards before the employer even knew what was up,” Harris notes.


Ed Dziedzic wrote 1 year 44 weeks ago


Did Rangel do this out of the goodness of his heart? No. This has Mike Madigan's fingerprints all over it. Good news: Rangel is getting slapped. Bad news: he probably won't go to jail now.

Wlma Horton wrote 1 year 44 weeks ago

School Closings

There was only one school in the school closing Networks that belittle its old staff. The sad thing about the probation is the leadership manned the ship and the school has been sinking since new leadership took over. The children deserve better than to stay in a school that is under utilized (meaning there are not enough children sitting in the seats during instruction time). It means that seats are empty. Lots of them. Anyone can store chairs and books in a room and call it utilized. Some Principals are trying to pull the wool over BBB"s eyes. But she is a smart lady and can see there is a severe children shortage. Too much empty space. Money being wasted. If parents had kept their neighborhoods up where the most schools are on the list; then this wouldn't be happening. But they didn't. Now the children deserve the best also. She is trying to help the children; and not the pockets of staff who led the children down probation lane for many years. And if this is not done; the children at these schools will get that farther behind. The children needs an opportunity like the other children that are in schools that are meeting or exceeding. They will be fine after the change has been done.

Ed Dziedzic wrote 1 year 44 weeks ago

Right Wlma

How much did they pay you to sell your soul?

Anonymous wrote 1 year 44 weeks ago


Wilma, empty seats = small class size, get it? You think these children deserve to be in rooms with 40 students? My school is on the underutilized list...we have 27 students on average in each room. Some days that's too much. I don't think I could handle 40. I don't know who could. Also after the final list is disclosed what do you think the rest of the year will look like at these schoos?. We will see a HUGE jump in absences, HUGE problem with classroom managment and a HUGE problem with student and teacher apathy. All of this planned chaos will never be reported by the "Rham" media. I shudder to think what our schools will look like after March 31. Anyone else out there worried? I sure am!

Anonymous wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

School closings

You are so misguided in your response! Do your homework before you praise the board for lying and perpetuating a false crisis. How can over 50 schools be underutilized? The formula does not take into account autism classrooms that must be capped at 12 legally or special education classrooms that must be capped at 16 legally. Oh and then there is the space required for computer labs for 21st century learning, and all of the liberal arts classes like dance, art, and drama that the longer school day provides. I just think that before any school is closed members of the board should have to visit the school in order to make a fair decision. Schools that have been on probation year after year are products of failed policies and educational trends rooted in kickbacks that have come from the board.
When did teaching become so dishonorable? The fact that you have an opinion and can express it you should thank a teacher.

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