- 1 PM, Sunday, Dec. 9: Rally with Acero strikers, parents, allies. CTU HQ, 1901 W. Carroll, Chicago
No deal yet as clouted charter CEO continues to dodge negotiations, while management balks at smaller class sizes/better treatment for low-wage paraprofessionals and parents join strike pickets.
CHICAGO—Since Tuesday, CTU educators at UNO/Acero schools have held the picket lines with parents and protested for more classroom resources, smaller class sizes, sanctuary protections for their immigrant students and fair wages—particularly for low-wage paraprofessionals.
Strikers will rally with parents, neighborhood residents and labor allies on Sunday at 1PM at their CTU union hall at 1901 W. Carroll Ave.—steeling their forces for either a celebration that an agreement has been reached or a fifth school day on the picket lines Monday.
The strike is the first of a charter operator in the nation. It began almost five years to the day after the charter operator’s previous CEO was forced to resign for doling out insider contracts and living large on public dollars that should have bankrolled schoolbooks and student supports. Those distorted priorities persist under Rangel’s replacement, clouted CEO Richard Rodriguez, say strikers, some of whose paraprofessionals earn barely a tenth of Rodriguez’ $260,000 per year salary.
Friday, UNO/Acero management filed unfair labor practice charges—a ULP—against the CTU, based on bogus allegations that even the charter operator’s lawyers described as ‘hearsay’ and the union described as a desperate press stunt. On Saturday, Latinx elected officials publicly blasted Rodriguez, telling him to either reach a fair agreement with strikers or resign.
Rodriguez has yet to attend a bargaining session, despite seven months of contract negotiations and almost around-the-clock bargaining since the strike began on December 4. For a time on Friday according to a local alderman, his voicemail said he was ‘out of the country’.
Educators’ demands are simple and reasonable: lower class sizes for students, sanctuary for students and other members of our school community, and fair compensation for educators, especially teacher assistants and other low-wage support staff.
Management admitted in their ULP that the strike pushed them to agree to CTU demands for sanctuary schools, culturally relevant curriculum, and restorative justice practices—all issues that management called non-starters before CTU members hit the picket lines.
Rodriguez has run the charter network since 2015, as it has rebranded to distance itself from a 2013 scandal that forced out its founder, political powerhouse Juan Rangel. As a Rangel protege, Rodriguez has held some of the city’s most coveted patronage positions over the last twenty years—including as head of the Chicago Transit Authority. He has no education background.
Rodriguez is paid more to run 15 Acero schools than CPS CEO Janice Jackson earns to run more than 500 public schools. Wages for UNO/Acero paraprofessionals can be as low as barely ten percent of Rodriguez $260,000 annual salary.