Union organizes teachers at 3 charter schools

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Teachers have signed union cards at three Chicago International Charter Schools run by Civitas Schools, a Chicago-based education management group.

About three-quarters of the 115 teachers at the Chicago International Northtown Academy, Wrightwood and Ralph Ellison campuses have filed for representation rights with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board.

State law requires a simple majority for the establishment of a union, and the teachers will seek immediate recognition and bargaining rights under the Chicago Alliance of Charter Teachers and Administrators (Chicago ACTS) flag.

Teachers have signed union cards at three Chicago International Charter Schools run by Civitas Schools, a Chicago-based education management group.

About three-quarters of the 115 teachers at the Chicago International Northtown Academy, Wrightwood and Ralph Ellison campuses have filed for representation rights with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board.

State law requires a simple majority for the establishment of a union, and the teachers will seek immediate recognition and bargaining rights under the Chicago Alliance of Charter Teachers and Administrators (Chicago ACTS) flag.

About 1,500 students, collectively, are enrolled at schools run by Civitas.

Chicago ACTS joins a nationwide network of some 70 charter schools affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers.

The Illinois Federation of Teachers aided in organizing charter schools here, but “the teachers did the bulk of the work themselves,” says IFT spokesperson Gail Purkey. “We provided technical assistance and legal advice.”

Teachers were particularly concerned with high teacher turnover at the schools, says Purkey. Working hours and pay—perennial union issues—will also be key in future negotiations. But Purkey says teachers, more than anything, want a formal way to influence how schools are managed, from professional development decisions to curricular choices.

The labor board will likely issue a decision in about 30 days, Purkey predicts. Teachers would expect to start contract talks immediately afterward.

Civitas administrators released a written statement acknowledging the development, noting that they are working with their lawyers to review the petition to the labor board.