Teachers at three Chicago charter schools voted overwhelmingly last week to join the Chicago Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff (Chicago ACTS), an affiliate of the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) and AFT.
The 73-49 vote at the Civitas Schools sets a precedent for teachers at other charter schools whose staff want to organize, union leaders said.
Laura McMahon, an eighth-grade reading teacher at the Civitas Wrightwood campus, said:
Today’s historic victory sends a strong and clear message to Civitas school officials about our desire to have a say in our schools and work collaboratively. We expect Civitas will recognize the union now and begin the collective bargaining process.
The teachers’ effort points out the need for the Employee Free Choice Act. After a majority of the teachers signed cards in April saying they wanted to be represented by Chicago ACTS, the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board certified the union, as required by state law. But Civitas refused to recognize the union and petitioned the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to determine if an election should be held. The NLRB ruled in favor of the administrators and required an election rather than respecting the majority sign-up.
IFT President Ed Geppert praised the union’s newest members:
Throughout this historic effort, these dedicated men and women organized and campaigned with one goal—to work in partnership with their school administration and bring true collaboration to the educational decision-making process. The union that they successfully organized will be key to fostering that collaboration.
Emily Mueller, a high school Spanish teacher at the Civitas Northtown Academy, added:
We firmly believe teachers need a voice in the creation and implementation of school policy and should feel secure enough in their jobs to speak out on important issues. Success at Civitas schools can only come when we all work collaboratively as a team.