UNO allows teachers to choose to unionize

March 8, 2013

Lee Bey/WBEZ
File: UNO Soccer Academy, a $27 million elementary charter school built by the United Neighborhood Organization at 51st and Homan in Chicago.

One of Chicago’s largest charter school networks is allowing its teachers and staff to choose whether to unionize.

United Neighborhood Organization, or UNO, says its teachers can decide without retaliation.

Brian Harris is the president of the charter union, Chicago Alliance of Charter School Teachers and Staff, or ACTS. He says the agreement with UNO is important because teachers from other charters have been pressured not to unionize in the past. Charter schools aren’t held to the same district regulations that a normal public school is, and they’re rarely unionized.

"If the UNO teachers unionize, people will notice that all of the scary stories that people come up with what a union will do to a charter school, which I think are incredibly false. People will notice that unions and charters can work together just fine," he said.

Harris says UNO teachers are only considering the move, and no decision is close yet.

In a statement, UNO says the agreement to allow teachers to choose to unionize is about collaboration and cooperation.

UNO has 13 schools in Chicago and about 6,500 students. 

ACTS has about 300 charter school teachers in its union.