Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Illinois certifies first Chicago charter teachers and staff union

From the Chicago Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff website:

The Illinois Education Labor Relations Board on April 30 certified the Chicago Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff (ACTS) as the collective bargaining representative for a group of 125 teachers and staff at the three campuses of Chicago International Charter School (CICS)/Civitas Schools.

Illinois Educational Labor Relations (IELRB) Executive Director Victor Blackwell noted in his order, “During the course of the investigation, no evidence was submitted that the Union does not represent a majority of the petitioned-for employees….The Board is satisfied that the Union has complied with the [Illinois Educational Labor Relations] Act….Accordingly, the Union is hereby certified as the exclusive representative of the bargaining unit.”

CICS/Civitas Schools teacher and Chicago ACTS member Jeremy Ly said, “My colleagues and I are encouraged that the IELRB decision moves us one step closer to a contract and stability at our schools. Management should immediately recognize the IELRB decision and recognize Chicago ACTS. We are ready and eager to put the certification issue behind us, negotiate a fair contract and do our best for our schools and our students.”

Ly, a third-year fourth-grade teacher at the Wrightwood campus, said, “We hope CICS/Civitas is also committed to a prompt resolution and a solution that is good for our schools and students. CICS/Civitas management should stop the legal delays, comply with Illinois law and the IELRB, and begin bargaining. They can follow Illinois law by immediately ending the uncertainty for the community of teachers, staff, parents and students by respecting the teachers will to form our union. This certification opens the door for all charter teachers in Chicago to get a voice at work with Chicago ACTS."

The IELRB certification was granted after a majority interest petition, signed by 75 percent of the educators at CICS/Civitas,, was submitted to the IELRB by Chicago ACTS on April 3, 2009. The IELRB is the Illinois state agency administering the Illinois Education Labor Relations Act (IELRA), which establishes the right of professional public educators to organize and bargain collectively with the public employers they work for. The IELRB action represents the state of Illinois' official recognition of the Chicago ACTS union formed by the educators at CICS/Civitas. CICS/Civitas is currently engaged in a process to strip public control over labor relations with its employees from the IELRB and give it to a federal agency, the National Labor Relations Board, which oversees private labor relations. Chicago ACTS and the Illinois Federation of Teachers take the position that the employees at CICS/Civitas are employed by a public charter school that receives public money from the people of the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois and, therefore, they should be subject to the state labor law that was written expressly for Illinois educators, the IELRA.

Chicago ACTS is a joint project of the American Federation of Teachers, the Illinois Federation of Teachers and the Chicago Teachers Union. Chicago ACTS is an affiliate of the IFT, AFT/AFL-CIO.

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