The CTU had a very effective week in the Illinois legislature. Three pieces of CTU legislation passed the Illinois House late last week, and the Union and our legislative allies are positioning a fourth to move forward. These bills impact our ability to further organize workers in charter schools, address staffing shortages, and direct the State Board of Education to assess the educator evaluation system in Illinois.

HB 1120: Charter School Union Neutrality — passed 66–42

HB 1120 requires charter schools to agree to labor peace agreements as a condition of their continued operation. Under Illinois law, traditional public schools must recognize a union when a majority of staff sign cards (i.e. vote) to organize. Charter schools, on the other hand, operate under private-sector federal law for employment purposes — even though they are almost wholly funded by public money — and often undertake vicious anti-union campaigns, like those run at Amazon and Starbucks, to intimidate workers and halt unionization efforts.

HB 1120 would make that stance impossible by requiring a labor peace agreement (LPA). A labor peace agreement says that an employer must be neutral on the question of unionization and recognize a union in the same manner as traditional public schools.

The Acero school network organized under a LPA. LPAs are used at airports, casinos, and the cannabis industry, and the Chicago City Council also just recently passed an ordinance requiring LPAs at many social-service providers that contract with the City. Clearly LPAs are good public policy.

Big props to the sponsor of the bill, Rep. Will Guzzardi, for his skilled work in helping this bill pass the House.

HB 2352: Retired PSRP Substitute Return to work — passed 110–0

For too long, retired PSRPs have not had the same rights as retired teachers and clinicians to return to school as a guest worker. Under current law, if a retired PSRP were to go back to work in a school, even for a day, their pension would be reduced. HB 2352 fixes this problem by granting PSRPs the same right to return without harming their retirement security. Big thanks to House Asst. Majority Leader Marcus Evans, Rep. Mike Kelly, and Rep. Carol Ammons for their sponsorship of the bill.

HB 3570: Evaluation Data Review — passed 79–28

Data out of CPS and research by the University of Chicago has been clear that the REACH system of teacher evaluation is biased against educators who work in schools with larger numbers of low-income students. Black and Latine educators have been disproportionately harmed by this system. What is less clear is if this pattern is the same across Illinois. HB 3570 changes that by requiring the State Board of Education to do an analysis of teacher evaluations across the state by race and ethnicity of educators and by the socio-economic status of their students. Huge shoutout to former CTU member turned State Rep. Laura Faver Dias for sponsoring the bill in her first session in the legislature.

HB 3561 – Educator Pipeline – TBD

CTU continues to work on one additional piece of legislation to strengthen the educator pipeline, in particular for nurses. Our 2019 contract includes a pipeline for Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) to become Health Service Nurses (HSNs), as well as funding to make the program a reality. CPS administrators have slowed down the process dramatically, but HB 3561 puts real timelines on completing this vital enhancement to the nursing pipeline. We continue to work on this bill and hope to pass it through the House soon.

Keep an eye out for additional needs to contact your state legislators as these bills move through the next steps of the legislative process.

And also, don’t forget to vote in the April 4 municipal runoff election. Early voting is open in all 50 wards across the city, and CTU’s endorsed candidates are available here.

Thank you for your continued advocacy for the schools Chicago’s students deserve.

In solidarity,
Kurt Hilgendorf
CTU Legislative and Political Director