CHICAGO—It is day four of a strike for CTU members at Instituto del Progreso Latino. With no end in sight, the Chicago Teachers Union is asking BMO Harris, Instituto del Progreso Latino’s close partner and a bank deeply connected to the schools’ finances, to settle this contract on behalf of the administration.

After 4 days of striking, and with appeals to the Instituto del Progreso Latino administration from parents, elected officials, and community leaders, progress has been slow and there is still no meaningful settlement plan from the administration.

BMO Harris Bank has long been intertwined with Instituto’s leadership and finances. BMO helped the Instituto administration secure $2 million in PPP funding during the pandemic — all of which was forgiven even as school staff were laid off. Wendy Raymer, Director of Community Affairs at BMO, and George Walz, BMO Chief Compliance Officer, hold seats on Instituto’s Board of Directors. Instituto CEO Karina Ayala-Bermejo has testified on behalf of BMO in Federal Reserve hearings, supporting a $16 billion merger that doubled the bank’s size.

Instituto Del Progreso Latino’s school revenue seems to benefit its banking partner. Instituto received tens of millions in federal, city, state and local school district tax dollars to procure a building for the charter school they run. Despite the public funding for the school building, Instituto charges its own school exorbitant rent for its use. Annually, Instituto pays itself over $3 million (1 out of every 4 dollars) from the schools’ budgets in rent and “management fees.” These fees have rapidly increased, but Instituto officials have claimed that BMO Harris requires them to charge their own school these high fees as a condition of their financial arrangement with the bank.

These financial machinations happen while our schools have 10 vacancies in core subject areas, zero special education teachers, and lack bilingual education services — and Instituto’s administration claims they cannot afford fair compensation for teachers or adequate staffing levels to settle the strike.

Without a breakthrough in bargaining, Friday afternoon, Instituto’s union educators and members of the community will gather at BMO Harris to deliver a letter of concern to BMO CEO Darrell Hacket, and Wendy Raymer and George Walz, both of whom are BMO Harris officials appointed to Instituto’s Board of Directors, requesting they intervene to end the strike and settle a fair contract. CTU will request that the bank enter negotiations to adjust their financial agreements with Instituto del Progreso Latino and return education funds being used for Instituto debt obligations back into our classrooms.

Further Information:

What: Joint Letter Delivery to BMO CEO Darrel Hackett and the Instituto Board Members with BMO Bank

Who: Instituto Educators and Community Members

When: Thursday, February 8, 2024, 1pm

Where: BMO Harris Bank, 320 S Canal


Picket Information :

7:00 AM-9:30 AM, 2520 S. Western Ave

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