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Charter teachers reach tentative agreement with Passages, narrowly averting first charter school strike in U.S. history

By staff |
May 26, 2017
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Chicago, IL - Union educators at Passages Charter School signed off on a tentative agreement Wednesday night, May 24, for their first contract since unionizing a year ago, narrowly averting what would have been the first strike of a charter operator in U.S. history.

“Had we not unionized, we could never have gotten to this tentative agreement tonight - and taken such strong steps to begin to improve classroom conditions and win fair pay for our members,” said Gina Mengarelli, a member of Passages’ ChiACTS Local 4343 bargaining team. “We’re so grateful for the overwhelming support we have received over the course of the past year from our students’ families, the community and the labor movement. There is nothing more important to us than our students, and we’re glad that we have been able to make progress on improving our school in ways that will produce tangible benefits for our students. We look forward to working with AHS to make sure that the school is able to provide the best education possible to the children and families we serve. And we look forward to being in class with our students on Thursday!”

Passages’ union educators, who work longer days for less pay than the vast majority of educators at Chicago’s other charter schools, won major concessions from management, including in wages for teachers, a third of whom currently earn less than $40,000 for a work week that can top 60 hours.

The tentative agreement also makes major strides in critical non-economic issues, including increasing teacher voice in decisions that affect students, providing safe and healthy working and learning conditions, and putting in place a fair and collaborative teacher evaluation system. Class size limits are held to 28 students, and the agreement includes language that provides for more meaningful prep time for teachers.

In the coming days, the union’s bargaining team will be presenting the tentative agreement to its membership, with discussion and a vote on ratification to follow in the coming weeks.