Charter school teacher union gets help from IL legislators

May 11, 2009

Charter schools are seen by a lot of folks as a way to break teacher unions -- or at least a way to operate outside their work rules.

Three Chicago charter schools have formed their own union and are fighting for recognition.

Thirty Illinois legislators have signed a letter to Chicago schools chief Ron Huberman asking him to support teachers' right to unionize the three Chicago International Charter School campuses.

I'm posting the letter here.

The teachers filed a petition for recognition of their union back in early April, and the state certified them a couple weeks ago.

But Civitas, the educational management organization that runs the three campuses in question, is pushing for the issue to be dealt with by the feds. That's because federal law requires that the schools hold an election to determine whether to let the union in. Under state law, no election is needed as long as over 50 percent of teachers sign cards. Organizers say about 75 percent of staff at the three CICS/Civitas campuses signed cards.

The Chicago Alliance of Charter School Teachers and Staff (Chicago ACTS) has asked Civitas to sit down and hammer out a contract. I've been talking to teachers about what they might like to see in a contract, and to Civitas about what it DOESN'T want "¦tune in to WBEZ 91.5 FM for that story later this week.

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