Charter school teachers at Urban Prep Academies took a vote Wednesday on whether to unionize under the umbrella of the Chicago Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff (Chicago ACTS) Local 4343.
The 56-34 vote in favor of joining the union has not yet been finalized by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The NLRB will decide within the week whether any of the 21 additional ballots being contested will be counted.
A news release from the Illinois Federation of Teachers about the unionization vote states:
Teachers who voted to join a union said they did so with the goal of gaining the voice they need to advocate for their students. The Urban Prep charter school network had 60% teacher turnover in past 2 years. Urban Prep union supporters want to decrease that number though improved teaching and learning conditions by negotiating a fair contract with management.
Teachers cited many reasons for forming a union, including the lack of streamlined processes for improving teaching and learning. Some teachers have not been observed by administration at all this school year. Teachers hope to negotiate an evaluation program that is fair to students, educators, and administration.
Currently, there is no set time frame for a teacher to be informed of whether or not she will be rehired the following year, so teachers who may not be notified until late in the summer often look for work elsewhere. This also means teachers do not have adequate time to plan for their classes. With a union, the two sides could bargain over a fair timetable.
"I support the unionizing efforts at Urban Prep because our students deserve a school where teachers return year after year," Noel Perez-White, an English teacher at Urban Prep's Bronzeville campus, said in a statement. "Teacher turnover has a grave impact on students. I believe a union will create a more supportive climate for teachers at Urban Prep -- ending the revolving door, and creating a more consistent learning environment for students."