UNO teachers, staff to picket downtown offices as prospect for nation's first charter school strike grows

Thursday, 10/13, 1PM: UNO teachers, support staff could walk out as early as October 19 in what would be first strike against charter schools or charter networks in U.S. history.

Press Conference/Picket to protect charter school classrooms and support a fair contract

  • 1:30PM, Thursday, October 13th (Picket starts at 1PM/press conference 1:30PM). UNO Charter School Network downtown headquarters, 209 W. Jackson Blvd. Chicago

Press contacts: Erica Stewart, ericac.stewart@gmail.com, 773-332-6513; Chris Geovanis, chrisgeovanis@gmail.com, 312-446-4939

Twitter @UEUChicago | Facebook | www.ueuchicago.org

“We’re defending great public schools and our students against unnecessary cuts,” say teachers, support staff, who say UNO contract proposal could increase class sizes, hurt classroom conditions. “We don’t want to strike -- but we will if we must to protect the quality of education for our kids.”

CHICAGO: The city’s largest charter network is inching closer to the nation’s first strike of a charter school, with the expiration on Sunday of the contract for UNO Charter School Network’s teachers and support staff. Last Thursday, the workers’ union -- UEU, the United Educators of UNO – announced the results of its strike vote, with over 95% of the membership of 532 voting to support a strike of the charter network. Students and parents rallied last Thursday with the teachers and support staff, who are bargaining to keep a cap on class sizes and protect the economic security of support staff, who are facing overall cuts in pay and benefits in a system already reeling from layoffs earlier this August.

Union members will hold a press conference and picket this Thursday at 1PM at UNO’s downtown headquarters at 209 W. Jackson Blvd. -- a costly corporate office miles from UNO’s nearest school that union workers say embodies the network’s distorted financial priorities. UNO, which budgets $1.5 million per year to compensate its top management -- and has announced no cuts to compensation for management -- eliminated dozens of positions in August of 2016for direct services in its classrooms.

Close to 8,000 students attend Chicago’s publicly funded, privately run 15-school UNO Charter School Network, which has been bargaining with UEU’s teachers and support staff for almost eight months. UEU hopes to avoid a strike -- but management is demanding concessions that threaten workers’ economic security and undermine conditions for students in the classroom, including the potential to increase class size -- a move that is also wildly unpopular with students and parents.

Teachers and support staff have set a strike date of October 19 if they cannot come to an agreement with UNO management. 

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