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Resident Counselors at Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy File to Unionize

AURORA, IL – Today, Resident Counselors from the prestigious Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (IMSA) filed cards with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board (IELRB) affirming their intent to form a union.

“Resident Counselors must have a seat at the table and be more involved in decisions relating to our working conditions, which are in turn our students' living conditions,” said Freddy-May AbiSamra, Resident Counselor at IMSA. “My colleagues have always been each other’s greatest supporters and advocates, and this move will ensure that we have a strong collective voice. Our focus is on supporting students, and we will be able to do that job better with a union.”

The 22 Resident Counselors (RCs) at IMSA support the more than 650 students who live in dormitories at the college preparatory academy in Aurora to help them reach their greatest academic and personal potential. By forming a union, the RCs will use their collective power to advocate for equity and justice for students, their colleagues, and the community. Unionizing will also give the RCs a greater voice in decisions that impact their working and living conditions, including fair compensation and a transparent salary schedule.

“This is a great opportunity for us to be a stronger voice for our students and ourselves, but also to set a great example, showing students the benefits of advocating for yourself and your peers,” said Resident Counselor Mansour Baalbaki. “We thank and appreciate those who helped and supported us.”

Upon filing union cards today, the Resident Counselors asked the employer to grant them voluntary recognition of the new union. If they do not, the IELRB will proceed to certify the union.

The RCs will be members of the IMSA RC Council of AFT Local 604, which is affiliated with the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT).

Teachers at IMSA, who organized with the IFT/AFT in 2019, solidly support their colleagues’ move to unionize.

"The IMSA Council is excited to have Resident Counselors join other educators in advocating for our students' needs, in and out of the classroom,” said teacher and IMSA Council President Michael Hancock. “Through organizing, RCs will not only have a say in important decisions that impact us all, but they’ll be better able to attract and retain talented and dedicated professionals to serve our students. That is a win for IMSA."

A world-renowned public school with a focus on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), IMSA serves students in grades 10-12 from 44 Illinois counties. It has been named the #12 STEM school by Newsweek, a top 40 public or private college preparatory school by the Wall Street Journal, and the top high school in Illinois by

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AFT Local 604 is an affiliate of the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT), which represents 103,000 teachers and paraprofessionals in PreK-12 school districts throughout Illinois, faculty and staff at Illinois’ community colleges and universities, public employees under every statewide elected constitutional officer, and retirees.


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