New contract cements protections for immigrant and special education students, raises wage floor and rights for educators to levels in CPS district-run schools.
CHICAGO, Nov. 8, 2019—Chicago Teachers Union members at Passages charter school voted unanimously today to accept the tentative agreement they won in the wake of their strike.
“The brave CTU educators at Passages have taken bold action in defense of their students and have notched a historic victory for all educators in the city,” said Chris Baehrend, chair of the CTU’s charter division. “It’s clear that wins at CPS on non-mandatory subjects of bargaining—from class size to staffing—would have been impossible had not our sisters and brothers in CTU’s charter division struck 5 charter operators since December to get those wins first.”
The union lost nothing in the contract, and won powerful gains for students.
Those gains include a mandatory class size cap of 28 students, and caps on class sizes for special education students that must comply with Illinois Law. The CTU also won language forcing Asian Human Services, the charter operator, to comply with all local, state and federal special education laws and regulations.
“This contract is a powerful win for our students’ most critical needs,” said Passages teacher assistant Ann Stella-Tayler. “Special Education rights will be enforced, and we finally have wages that will retain paraprofessionals, who are the backbone of our school.”
The union also won sanctuary language to protect immigrant and refugee students, workers and families, including both supports for students and families and restrictions on cooperation with ICE.
Passages educators also won wage parity with CPS educators over the life of the contract and contributions to the educators’ pension fund—the same pension fund which CPS educators belong to . Wage parity has been a consistent demand in bargaining at all unionized Chicago charters, where management typically lowballs wages and benefits.
“This is a win for our students, their families, our educators, and all CTU members in charters or CPS district-run schools,” said teacher and school delegate Mike Scott-Rudnick. “We were determined to raise the rights and benefits of CTU members at Passages to the standards that our sisters and brothers have been fighting and striking for all across the city in charter and district schools.”
Passages educators struck the charter operator for four days beginning on October 22, with strong support on their picket lines from CTU strikers at nearby district-run schools. The CTU staged a direct action at a pricey AHS fundraiser on October 25 that management was forced to cancel—and that also forced management back to the bargaining table.
Before the strike, wages at Passages were as much as 30% lower than in CPS-run schools, with paraprofessionals earning poverty-level wages — while AHS CEO Craig Maki earned more to run one school than CPS CEO Janice Jackson earns to run more than 500.
Besides hard sanctuary protections for the school’s overwhelmingly immigrant and refugee student population, wage parity with CPS educators in district-run schools, enforceable sanctuary protections for the school’s overwhelmingly immigrant and refugee student population, and increases in pension pick-ups for all workers, Passages educators also won prep time to give paraprofessionals an opportunity to collaborate with teachers to support student learning,