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Striking charter school teachers and staff win big victories

IFT members at Acero charter schools in Chicago made history in December when

they walked the picket lines to win improved conditions at their schools – for students

and professionals.

The four-day strike was the first in the nation against a charter school operator and garnered national media attention.

While members were fighting bravely to end the bad practices of the charter industry, the struggle was similar to what we face in many public schools across Illinois and the United States.

Six months of intense negotiations between CTU-ACTS (Chicago Teachers Union - Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff, Local 1) and Acero management, which runs 15 city schools, failed to produce a settlement, forcing the more than 500 teachers and paraprofessionals to walk out.

I’m so proud of our teachers and paraprofessionals and all the parents and students who walked the picket lines with us in the cold each morning. This is what democracy and community looks like. This is what a movement looks like. Martha Baumgarten 5th grade teacher and member of the bargaining team

Striking union members and parents pressured school management to negotiate in earnest, and it paid off. The four-year agreement includes improved pay — particularly for paraprofessionals and other lower-wage staff — and reduced class size and sets terms for sanctuary schools for Acero students and families.

CTU President Jesse Sharkey said the union is “hoping to set a standard in the industry” with the new contract.

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