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Teachers voted on forming union at the Urban Prep charter school network

6/08/2015

Contested ballots notwithstanding, a majority of votes signal strong support for unionization

CHICAGO – TODAY, teachers working in the Urban Prep charter school network voted on whether or not to join a union. As it stands, 56 voted yes and 36 voted no to unionization. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) challenged 21 additional ballots from voters that might not have been eligible. The NLRB’s decision on which ballots will count in the tally -- and whether the final count is official -- will be issued within seven days.

Teachers who voted to join a union said they did so with the goal of gaining the voice they need to advocate for their students. The Urban Prep charter school network had 60% teacher turnover in past 2 years. Urban Prep union supporters want to decrease that number though improved teaching and learning conditions by negotiating a fair contract with management.

Teachers cited many reasons for forming a union, including the lack of streamlined processes for improving teaching and learning. Some teachers have not been observed by administration at all this school year. Teachers hope to negotiate an evaluation program that is fair to students, educators, and administration.

Currently, there is no set time frame for a teacher to be informed of whether or not she will be rehired the following year, so teachers who may not be notified until late in the summer often look for work elsewhere. This also means teachers do not have adequate time to plan for their classes. With a union, the two sides could bargain over a fair timetable.

“I support the unionizing efforts at Urban Prep because our students deserve a school where teachers return year after year,” said Noel Perez-White, an English teacher at Urban Prep – Bronzeville campus. “Teacher turnover has a grave impact on students. I believe a union will create a more supportive climate for teachers at Urban Prep -- ending the revolving door, and creating a more consistent learning environment for students.”

Urban Prep educators will join Chicago ACTS (ChiACTS) Local 4343, a local of the Illinois Federation of Teachers and the American Federation of Teachers.

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Chicago ACTS (Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff) Local 4343 is an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers and the Illinois Federation of Teachers. Chicago ACTS currently represents more than 900 teachers and staff at 29 charter school campuses across Chicago. 

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