The union representing teachers at the UNO Charter School Network is still bargaining with the school system's operator.
The charter school network has until midnight to reach an agreement with the United Educators of UNO (UEU). If a deal isn't reached, the nation will see its first charter school strike on Wednesday.
"We don't want to strike -- but we will if we must to protect the quality of education for our kids," reads a release from UEU, which added that the "UNO contract proposal could increase class sizes, hurt classroom conditions."
Almost 8,000 students would be affected if there is a strike in the 15-campus, publicly-funded, privately-run charter school network, which predominantly serves Latino youth. UEU has been bargaining with UNO for close to eight months.
The union plans to update the media on the status of the contract talks at 9 p.m. UEU says the charter school network has changed course on its original purpose:
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 in a system that is also reeling from staffing shortages driven by mass layoffs in August.
UNO Charter School Network's failure to settle with the union to date represents an about-face from UNO's original mission to safeguard the publicly funded education of low-income Latino children. In 1987, when UNO was still a grassroots community group that fought for the betterment of working class residents and their children, the organization marched 300 strong on CPS headquarters IN SUPPORT of public schoolteachers' battle to keep class sizes down, safeguard their economic security and protect the quality of education for students. Today, union members say, UNO Charter School Network instead is 'broke on purpose' -- playing a financial shell game rather than being honest about their finances, much like the shady dealings of its disgraced parent UNO.
For their part, UNO officials say they are working in earnest to reach a deal with the educators, releasing the following statement late last week:
Parents make a choice to send their children to charter schools. We respect that choice and intend to continue working in earnest to reach an agreement that is fair to our employees and, most importantly, allows us to continue providing the quality education for which UCSN is known. Unlike CPS, UCSN does not have access to (tax increment financing) funds for additional revenue, so any agreement we reach has to be cognizant of our financial constraints.
We are disappointed that the UEU would authorize a strike. It is unfair to put our parents and students through this considering that teachers received generous raises just two months ago. UCSN is willing to continue negotiating even though the UEU and their contracted (Chicago Teachers Union) representatives have declined UCSN's offer to extend the previous contract as well as our offer to have a Federal Mediator assist in negotiations to help bring this matter to a conclusion.