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One Million Degrees (Chicago) Workers Join IFT and Local 1600

9/26/2018
Employees of One Million Degrees (Chicago) voted unanimously on September 24 to join the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) and the Cook County College Teachers Union (CCCTU, Local 1600). 
 
“We are overjoyed that the employees of One Million Degrees have voted to be represented by Cook County College Teachers Union,” said Tony Johnston, CCCTU president. “We look forward to negotiating in earnest to get them a contract that addresses their concerns and that they can be proud of.”

One Million Degrees (OMD) is a non-profit organization that contracts its programs and services to the City Colleges of Chicago and three suburban community colleges. OMD employees empower low-income, highly motivated community college students to succeed in school, work, and life by providing them with critical academic, financial, personal, and professional supports.

Employees initially sought voluntary recognition for their union but were repeatedly opposed by the OMD Board and City Colleges administration. In July, they proceeded to formally organize under National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) guidelines. With Monday’s vote, the new union currently consists of 14 members.
 
“We hope this unanimous victory is one of many for young non-profit workers, not only at the City Colleges of Chicago, but everywhere else,” said Amanda Abraham, senior scholar recruitment coordinator. “We stand in solidarity with CCCTU workers and students to defend and improve public education.” 
 
“Today we officially became a union,” said Maria Gonzalez, program coordinator at Harold Washington. “As a Harold Washington College alumna and DACA recipient, it’s important for me to show my students by example that no matter the situation we must continue to fight for our rights on all fronts.”
 
“It is very important for us to have a seat at the table to ensure high-quality, equitable service for our students without the fear of retaliation,” said Melanie Wagner, program coordinator at Kennedy-King.
 
The workers decided to organize because they wanted a greater voice in the decisions being made by their employer about student services and working conditions. Workers know that a union will strengthen OMD’s core values of scholar focus, accountability, and motivating and empowering others, and believe that the values OMD holds for our scholars should be better reflected in the culture of their workplace.
 
Bargaining for the union’s first contract is expected to begin before the end of the year.
 
 
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