Chicago: Unionized educators at charters flex their muscle
Chicago, IL – The bell rang, and teachers, staff and students slowly rolled out the school doors. Today they were all wearing union red at the two Instituto del Progeso Latino (IDPL) schools in Chicago. They grabbed signs and started to chant and picket, “Who’s schools? Our schools!”
Many educators spoke of a toxic workplace where there is no response to staff concerns. “Our boss doesn’t respect the educators or the students at Instituto,” said CTU Council Chair Skot Holcombe, “in spite of this, we are fully united in the fight for our students and for our union.”
As the school year rolls past spring break, workers at the 12 unionized charter networks in Chicago are without a contract. The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) represents about 1200 members at 35 schools who are demanding equal pay for equal work and fully staffed schools with the social and emotional supports students deserve.
Days earlier a similar protest happened at the Chicago School for the Arts where the school’s private sector board cancelled its regular meeting rather than face protesters demanding that they put the public tax money they receive from Chicago Public Schools into classrooms, not boardrooms.
And more is yet to come. CTU has announced that it will protest the management of Acero Charter Schools at their board meeting on Wednesday, April 19. Acero is the largest unionized charter school network in Chicago, with 15 schools. CTU has also announced that it will participate in the Chicago May Day rally and march on April 29.
“Four year ago, we simultaneously – and successfully – struck three employers, including Instituto, on May Day. This is an important day of struggle for our educators, our students and the entire working class,” said Chris Baehrend, who was the chair of the CTU Charter School Division at that time.
The multiemployer contract battle in the Chicago charter schools promises to give an interesting finish to the 2022-23 school year