CHICAGO (CBS) — After three years of negotiations and still no deal members of the Chicago Teachers Union are now on strike at Urban Prep Academy charter schools.

Teachers picketed Monday morning outside the Urban Prep Charter Academy For Young Men – Englewood Campus. Students already had a remote learning day scheduled.

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CTU said the charter school network isn’t working to keep teachers long-term to meet the needs of special education students. They’re also upset Urban Prep won’t add language to the contract about special education needs, even though the charter operator says it will follow state law. The union said that makes it difficult to enforce.

Members are frustrated the negotiations have been dragging on.

“Bosses have gotten raises ever year. These educators have not gotten any raises in three years,” said Chris Baehrend, chair of the charter division at CTU.

“They made promises, and we are here to ensure that they keep those promises. We are here to make sure they invest in these students,” said Latoyia Kimbrough, an attorney for CTU.

“Our members are still committed to the families and the students that they serve. They still are committed to helping the young Black males achieve greatness despite the lack of resources and despite the lack of support from the administration,” said CTU member Deidre Foster.

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Another bargaining session is scheduled for Tuesday.

Urban Prep Chief Operating Officer Troy Boyd issued the following statement Monday night:

“Urban Prep is very disappointed in the Chicago Teachers Union’s decision to strike over one
unsolved issue that we continue to negotiate. Last week, we presented the CTU with a new
salary proposal and benefits package that included retroactive raises for the past three years,
and guaranteed raises in each of the next three years. Additionally, we offered benefits to our
teachers that no employee, including administrators, has ever received in Urban Prep’s 15-year
history, including increased employer payment toward healthcare.

“What remains to be resolved is the length of the contract. To provide stability to teachers,
students and our families, we have offered a three-year contract. Yet, the CTU is demanding
that the contract only be for one year. A one-year contract would mean that the negotiation
process will start again in a matter of months. That is not in the best interest of teachers, or the
students for whom we all are working.

“One topic of negotiations has been around services for Urban Prep’s Diverse Learners (special
education), which constitutes 28% of our student population. We have met our statutory
responsibilities. We have also gone above and beyond providing students with the support they
need and teachers with professional development opportunities. In fact, today, special education
teachers from one of our campuses were scheduled to participate in a half-day Individualized
Educational Plan (IEP) training that due to the strike has now been cancelled. Our commitment
to our students of all learning styles and abilities remains as strong as ever.

“The reality is that we have a tough road ahead to recover from the pandemic and the toll it has
taken on our young men, both academically and socially-emotionally. This strike is not in the
best interest of our students, particularly during the last six days of school after more than a
year of COVID-related school disruption.

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“We will continue to negotiate with the CTU in good faith while balancing the interests of our
teachers, students, and school. Our hope is to return to the bargaining table this evening.”

CBS 2 Chicago Staff