After a year of contract negotiations, the 50 CTU members at Christopher House Elementary School, a charter school in Belmont-Cragin, have reached a tentative agreement for their first ever union contract with the CTU.
The teachers, paraprofessionals, counselors, social workers, office staff, floater teachers and interventionists at Christopher House have been a model for union solidarity since they first contacted the CTU in July 2020. Just a few months into the COVID-19 pandemic, and long before vaccines were introduced, the Christopher House administration announced it planned to fully reopen the school to students and staff without regard for their safety or well-being.
The charter operator’s callous disregard for the health and safety of staff and students sparked the first collective action taken by the not-yet-unionized staff at the school, which sent a letter to charter leadership ringing the alarm on these grave safety concerns, with support from CTU organizer Casey Sweeney. A majority of the staff participated in the action and Christopher House halted its dangerous reopening plans.
Since that first action, Christopher House educators went on to win their National Labor Relations Board election in May 2021, officially joining the CTU. They negotiated two COVID safety agreements and have now landed a tentative agreement for their first contract.
The bargaining team made up of rank-and-file members, along with CTU research director, Pavlyn Jankov and CTU Vice President Jackson Potter, secured a tentative agreement that includes:
- Staffing commitments for bilingual and special education teachers, social workers and counselors.
- Class size limits that prohibit any class from exceeding 28 students and a $500 per additional student stipend if that cap is exceeded.
- Paid parental leave for the first time in the organization’s history.
- A seven and a half hour school day beginning next year, while maintaining a 60 minute lunch for a reduction of 30 minutes per day.
- Sanctuary school and LGBTQ+ protections and commitments to restorative justice.
- Compensation that is near parity with CTU members in CPS, with first ever steps and lanes salary schedule for staff.
Bargaining team member and middle school teacher Jordan Reece said, “This TA is the result of collective action and collective power by all of our members. It includes some BIG wins, particularly around working conditions, compensation, and school culture pieces such as restorative justice and establishing a PLC.”
CTU officers extended a warm welcome to the newest members to our union and congratulated them on a hard-fought and inspiring win that honors their contributions to their school community and wins the basic rights that all educators deserve.
“Christopher House members, you are an inspiration to the entire labor movement and the CTU for your incredible level of organization, fire and dedication to each other and your school community,” CTU Vice President Jackson Potter said.
Are you interested in supporting the CTU’s work of organizing new members into our union, like our siblings at Christopher House? Join the CTU New Organizing Committee to help lead our efforts to grow our union across the city. Apply online to join the committee today.