CHICAGO—Today, academic teachers and paraprofessionals from The Chicago High School for the Arts (ChiArts) voted to join the Chicago Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff, the charter school local that has recently merged with the Chicago Teachers Union. Educators are organizing a union in a proactive move to more effectively advocate for the students they serve.

“ChiArts has the potential to be an international model for public arts education, but in order for us to get there it is absolutely essential that the teachers of ChiArts have a say in the negotiation of the policies that impact our students and us,” said Dan Duffy, English teacher at ChiArts. “The students at ChiArts deserve consistency in their education and in the culture and climate of their school. Now that the teachers of ChiArts have the power to negotiate with management over issues that impact our students and us, that consistency will be possible.”

“We welcome the educators from ChiArts into the Illinois Federation of Teachers with open arms,” said Dan Montgomery, veteran English teacher and President of the Illinois Federation of Teachers. “In both higher education and in our K-12 schools, we are seeing thousands join the labor movement in spite of continued attacks on collective bargaining from Governor Rauner and President Trump. It is clear that educators and other workers know that unions are good for America and our sisters and brothers at ChiArts are helping lead this charge for both workers’ rights and better schools.”

These teachers have taken a courageous stand for their students, their dignity and their rights on the job,” said CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey. “In the face of enormous pressure from management, ChiArts educators have embraced what we know to be true in the CTU: when we come together as a union, we leverage our democratic strength to improve learning conditions for the children we serve, and strengthen our struggle for living wage work and the respect that is our due as educational professionals. We share common values and common goals — and we’re proud and honored to welcome ChiActs into the family of union educators in this city, as CTU members and as partners in the battle for educational justice for our students.”

“We understand the hard work and unwavering commitment to students that it takes to organize in the face of management opposition to labor rights — and we understand the power that comes from standing together,” said CTU/ACTS president Chris Baehrend. “By voting to unionize, ChiArts teachers have joined a growing movement to empower teachers who work for charter operators — and to strengthen those teachers’ ability to secure the educational resources their students deserve. We welcome them into the CTU/ACTS family as colleagues in the shared struggle for the rights of our workers and the educational resources and supports all of our students need.”

“This is an inspiring and meaningful victory for the ChiArts educators—and for their students,” said American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten. “Unions help make possible what would be impossible for individuals acting alone: By joining together, educators have won a say over the crucial decisions that help their kids thrive. The AFT will support educators as they begin to bargain for a stable, supportive and strengthened school that serves as a global beacon for public arts education. Across the country, educators at charter schools are voting to be represented by unions to improve teaching and learning, and the AFT is proud to stand with them in their fight.”

40 ChiArts teachers will join Chicago ACTS (ChiACTS) Local 4343, a local of the Illinois Federation of Teachers and the American Federation of Teachers that recently merged with the Chicago Teachers Union.