A strike by the union representing Chicago teachers at the UNO Charter School Network (UCSN) has been averted.
The two sides reached a tentative contract agreement at 3 a.m. Wednesday, three hours after an initial midnight deadline.
"The union and management will meet again Thursday to work out some minor details, and the tentative agreement will then go to the full membership for approval," according to the United Educators of UNO (UEU), which represents 532 teachers and support staff across UCSN's 15 Chicago campuses.
Some 8,000 students attend UNO schools in Chicago.
UEU's contract with the charter network expired October 9. The two sides had been in contract talks for the past eight months, according to UEU officials.
The union set an October 19 strike date in the event that no deal was reached. Had the teachers hit the picket lines, it would have been the first charter school strike in the nation's history.
"This is an historic agreement and an important marker of what is possible for charter school educators, students and families," Chris Baehrend, president of UEU's parent union the Chicago Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff, said in a statement. "This effort was built around our core commitment to ensuring that our students and the rank and file educators and support staff who work with them have the resources and the classroom conditions that will help our kids thrive."
Here are details on the tentative agreement from UEU:
Management agreed to continue to provide a 7% pension pickup for current employees. New hires will receive a 7% pay increase for FY18 to base salary with zero pension pickup by the employer, similar to terms the CTU recently agreed to with Chicago's public school system. Teachers and support staff -- who currently work in one of the longest school schedules in the region -- will see a slight reduction in the number of workdays and instructional days per year.
The parties also agreed to a joint committee to make recommendations as to economic conditions based on funding shortfalls for the publicly funded school network -- an important point for the union, which has struggled to receive clear and comprehensive financial information from management.
UCSN CEO Richard Rodriguez addressed reporters after the tentative deal was reached.
"During these final hours, we were very close, but still about $1.5 million short of what we needed to finalize a contract," he said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. "After much discussion, we all agreed that the most important thing is to keep schools open while we investigate ways to bridge that gap."
The charter operator, Rodriguez added, intends to continue working with the school district to "try to identify additional sources of revenue and determine whether a portion of the TIF funds provided to CPS will be shared with all public schools, including charters."