By Walker Post
CHICAGO (CBS) — The Chicago Alliance of Charters, Teachers and Staff (ChiACTS) has voted to merge with the Chicago Teacher’s Union (CTU), an organization with nearly 30,000 members.
ChiACTS Local 4343, which has more than 1,000 members across 32 schools, has been working to unionize charter school teachers for nearly a decade.
Eighty-four percent of ChiACTS members voted to join CTU. CTU will vote this fall on whether to approve the merger.
CTU and ChiACTS have a complicated history. CTU has historically opposed expansion of charter schools in Chicago. In their most recent contract, CTU negotiated a limit on the number of charter schools that can be established in Chicago. This was the first deal of its kind in the country.
However, CTU recently collaborated with charter school unions to advance contract negotiations, legislative agendas and to show solidarity for each other at rallies. CTU’s website says their “fates have always been tied together.”
“We look forward to working with our CTU compatriots in the shared struggle for fair educational funding for public school youth, adequate classroom resources, living wages for our educators and a quality learning experience for our students,” said President of ChiACTS, Chris Baehrend.
Nine of 10 charter school labor contracts are set to expire next year. Baehrend says ChiACTS will seek CTU’s help with future bargaining.
Noble Network, a publicly funded charter school organization that operates 16 charter high schools in Chicago, opposes the ChiACTS-CTU merger.
“A formal merger is even more worrisome because of the stark anti-charter stances that CTU has taken for many years,”said Noble President, Eric Thomas. “To have a vocal opponent of charters’ very existence pushing for more influence in charter operations would be damaging to charter schools’ mission of improving educational outcomes for the children and communities that need it most.”