CHICAGO–Fully 98% of educators at Acero ratified a new contract on June 8, ushering in a new era for the operator and its relationship with educators, their students and the educational community it serves.

Also this week, 96% of educators at Chicago International Charter School (CICS) and 94% of educators at Christopher House voted to authorize a strike in the event that they can’t secure a fair agreement at the bargaining table.

As part of the four-year deal at Acero, educators have won a common-good agreement that ensures Acero Charter Schools are safe, welcoming and thriving places for Black, brown and LGBTQIA students; expand professional development opportunities for educators; and foster anti-racist and sustainable school environments.

The agreement, which covers more than 500 educators and school-related personnel in the city, also guarantees a minimum of two guidance counselors at each high school, one Academic Interventionist at each school, and the hiring of more social workers.

“This agreement stands as a model for what can be done when educators, school-related personnel, and management come together to do what is best for the students and families that they serve,” said CTU President Stacy Davis Gates. “In our forward march for justice, equity and the schools our students deserve, we are looking for partners and leaders willing to do what is right for our students instead of those that would put profits over the resources our classrooms desperately need.”

Beyond improving health and safety conditions for students and educators–including the maintenance of HEPA Air filters, Assault and Battery Compensation and Lactation Room and breaks–the agreement also achieves compensation parity with CPS educators this year and averages 1 percent above CPS for the next school year.

“Our CTU membership stood strong to raise the bar for paraprofessionals in these contract negotiations,” said Daniria Dukes, a PSRP at Acero’s Zizumbo campus and the Vice Chair of PSRPs for the Acero Council. “In this new contract, we were able to secure a 5.5% raise for paras on their base salary and a salary schedule structure that matches the teacher structure with step increases and COLAs each year. Our paras are essential to our schools, and now they have improved working conditions with sustainable pay, yearly increases, and the ability to sustain a career in our schools.”

On the heels of this historic agreement with Acero, the CTU continues to struggle at the bargaining table with Chicago International Charter School (CICS) and Christopher House. Unlike Acero management, which agreed to a yearly 3% cost-of-living increase and significant compensation improvements for other school-related personnel, the CICS and Christopher House salary proposals are below CPS, and the gaps would widen throughout the life of the collective bargaining agreements.

“Today, we applaud the work of Acero for doing what is right,” said Davis Gates. “And to Chicago International Charter School and Christopher House, we say: DO BETTER.”

“We are glad to have reached an agreement with Acero schools that will improve those schools long term,” said Jen Conant, Chair of CTU’s Charter Division and a math teacher at CICS Northtown. “We hope that other charter operators, like CICS and Christopher House, will choose to invest resources that will allow our schools to thrive as well. They owe their students and staff nothing less, and we will stand together to secure that.”

The CTU represents over 150 educators and school-related personnel at CICS.

CICS’ proposals would roll back counselor minimums won in the 2019 agreement and reject the inclusion of academic interventionists in the schools that need them the most. CICS has also rejected language around lactation breaks for educators, HEPA Air filters, Assault and Battery Compensation, and LGBTQIA Safe School protection proposals.