United Educators for Justice

UEJ is the council for unionized CTU educators at UNO/Acero Charter Schools. Each bargaining unit in the CTU’s ACTS charter school division has its own council and elected leadership.

Latest News on UEJ & UNO/Acero

Chicago Teachers Union commends lawmakers for passage of Charter Neutrality Bill

CHICAGO—The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) Thursday commended the Illinois General Assembly for passing a bill that protects Illinois educators from intimidation, retaliation and interference when they organize to join a union in privately operated charter schools, a move that will help educators improve the teaching and learning conditions in their schools. The legislation, HB 1120, requires charter school operators taking public school funding to include a labor neutrality clause as part of its school authorization. Under such a clause, an employer agrees to refrain from opposing or taking a position on union organizing by their employees.

Charter school headlines for the week of April 14

CTU members at Instituto del Progreso held a week of action protesting the charter’s attempts to diminish contract protections. ChiArts members, parents and students rallied outside the charter’s regularly scheduled board meeting, which the organization canceled instead of facing public scrutiny. Hope educators voted unanimously to join the CTU and school officials immediately announced it would rather close the school, which mostly serves Black students, instead of bargaining collectively with its workers. In other news, YCLA announced it will be staying put at its Pilsen location.

Next steps in the Charter Division Contract Campaign

First of all, congratulations on a successful October 19 Rally for Supportive, Safe and Sustainable schools (video from the picket line | video from the rally). We had folks from across the city from both charter and district schools show up to fight for more staff,...

Charter members want the best for their students — and are willing to fight for it

The CTU launched the first charter strike in the nation in 2018 and a few months later, embarked on the first ever multi-charter strike. Now, CTU’s Charter division is embarking on another groundbreaking strategy, a coordinated campaign, negotiating contracts at 35 schools in 13 different charter networks simultaneously.

Notice of Nominating Meetings for Charter and Citywide Delegate Vacancies

On October 18 and 19, 2022 remote nominations meetings will be held for citywide functional groups that have delegate vacancies. If there are more candidates nominated on October 18 than vacant positions, an electronic election will be held on October 24 and 25, 2022. If there are more candidates nominated on October 19 than vacant positions, an electronic election will be held on October 26 and 27, 2022.

Charter Contract Campaign Fights for Supportive, Safe, Sustainable Schools

This summer and fall all of our charter contracts expire – and we have an opportunity to change the landscape of education after the trauma of the pandemic. We are fighting for supportive, safe, and sustainable schools in unionized charters, as phase one of a CTU-wide contract campaign. What we win in the charter space will directly affect district negotiations. Click here to read more.

Charter Contracts

Winning recognition was important. Winning a strong contract is essential. Find the current UEJ contract here. As we struggle for a new contract, knowing the existing language helps. In addition, you’ll find contracts for the other charter councils and for the district. In unity, we can improve pay and conditions throughout the district.

UEJ History

In 2013, teachers and educational staff at every school in the UNO charter network voted to unionize within the AFT’s Chicago charter local. They did so to improve conditions for educators, students, and families. In 2013 the UNO charter network became embroiled in scandal, forcing mayoral ally Juan Rangel to step down as CEO. The network later rebranded itself “Acero.” Rather than adopt the name of their employer, the unionized educators changed their council name from United Educators of UNO to United Educators for Justice. Council members ratified their first contract in Spring 2014. Along with other unionized educators at charter schools, UEJ members voted to merge their charter schools local with the Chicago Teachers Union in 2018. UEJ currently represents approximately 600 members at UNO/Acero schools. The council is part of the CTU-ACTS charter schools division, which stands united with the rest of the 27,000-strong Chicago Teachers Union.

UEJ Leadership

Andy Crooks

Andy Crooks

UEJ Council Chair

Andy Crooks is a Special Education Apprentice at Acero Cruz. Andy initially got involved to help advocate for PSRPs generally, and Apprentices specifically. He is driven by a desire to improve our schools by empowering all of our members inside their respective schools, as well as, by encouraging active union involvement. He’s happy to hear from members and work together to overcome the challenges we face.

Martha Baumgarten

Martha Baumgarten

UEJ Council Vice Chair

Martha is a 5th grade teacher at Acero Fuentes. She loves seeing the “light bulb moment” when students grasp a new concept and is constantly astounded by how much she learns from her students (way more than she teaches them). Martha is always working to make sure her classroom is learner focused and learner led. Martha was a CTU member during the 2012 CPS strike and saw the amazing ways unions can empower teachers on the picket line. After that experience, she became passionate about union work. After a few years at UNO, she stepped into a building representative position and has never looked back! Union work is a way for her to impact positive change in what can be an overwhelming educational and political landscape and a delightful way to connect with other professionals outside of her building. 

Daniria Dukes

Daniria Dukes

UEJ Council PSRP Vice Chair

Daniria Dukes is a Special Education Apprentice at Daniel Zizumbo campus. She has been with the network since 2011. Her love of Education and teaching began back in 2002 while serving as a summer intern with Chicago Public Schools. Since then, she has remained in the education field in some capacity. Daniria decided to get involved with the union because she felt that apprentices needed a bigger voice. Since she has always been one to express herself and fight for her beliefs and rights, it was only right to get involved with the union. Daniria is ready to do all she can to make sure that our voices are heard.

Caroline Rutherford

Caroline Rutherford

UEJ Council Secretary-Treasurer

Caroline is the Visual Arts teacher at the ACERO Schools Marquez campus. She has worked for ACERO Schools, formerly UCSN/UNO, since 2009 after receiving her Master’s of Art Education from Columbia College Chicago. In 2012, she began working with ChiACTS to organize Marquez and several other campuses to push the union forward. Caroline believes Acero teachers deserve to have a voice in our schools and the union gave us that voice. The progress she’s seen throughout the schools after two contract battles and multiple wins for our students and teachers strengthens the belief she has in our capacity to do great things for the betterment of our schools and the education of Chicago’s youth.