Chicago's Citywide Strike Just Spread to Charter School Teachers
October 26, 2019 at 4:06 AM - Views: 7 #199937eridaniParticipant
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This is the first time that district and charter teachers have struck simultaneously in Chicago, an occasion marked by high energy and a raucous chorus of “Solidarity Forever” on the picket line. The city’s unionized charter teachers all belong to CTU, which represents 25,000 CPS teachers and support staff, following a merger last year. Members of the Association of Flight Attendants’ Master Executive Council, which represents United Airlines workers preparing to negotiate a new contract, also joined the group.
“We feel really powerful today,” Kady Pagano, a pre-kindergarten teacher at Passages who is on the union’s negotiating team, told In These Times. This is Pagano’s first time on strike, after teaching last year at a non-union community center. “The difference is night and day,” she said.
It’s also the fourth time Chicago charter teachers have struck in the last year, with the last strike against two separate operators leading to wins on issues like class-size caps, and staffing and pay bumps for teachers and staff making well below their CPS equivalents. Since the city’s first charter school unionized in 2009, Chicago has been a hotbed for organizing in the traditionally union-free industry. While ex-charter boss Juan Rangel boasted during the 2012 CTU strike that his schools were free from labor strife, the tables have turned dramatically since then.
In the last year, several charter school operators have settled contracts at the eleventh-hour, as the union attempts to bring standards up across the charter industry by bargaining 11 separate contracts from a common set of proposals.
“Every other operator has met our demands so far,” says Chris Baehrend, president of CTU’s charter division. “It shows that they’re not unreasonable or impossible, but we have to fight for them anyway.”
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