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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

In historic organizing drive, ChiArts teaching artists seek to join CTU

Stagnant wages, lack of job security or basic rights fuel push by artists – from voice teachers to video instructors – to join union with full-time educators. CHICAGO, April 20, 2022 — Since full-time teachers and paraprofessionals at ChiArts – the Chicago High School...

Charter headlines for the week ending Sept. 10, 2021

Almost 90 percent of unionized charter schools have negotiated safety agreements with CTU that include testing, screening and increased staffing. CTU-ACTS has established a health insurance committee seeking to provide an improved and less expensive benefits package. And, after threats to close, Youth Connections Leadership Academy will remain open for another year.

Charter headlines for the week of May 31, 2021

Members at Urban Prep voted unanimously to strike unless management comes to the table with a more reasonable offer. CTU pressure pushed ASPIRA to retract non-renewal notices for Union members. Epic Academy terminated four of the most active CTU members on the bargaining team, prompting members to prepare to strike. Youth Connections Leadership Academy has reversed course on closing the school. CTU pushed the General Assembly to close a loophole that allowed ChiArts and other contract schools to skip contributions to the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund.

Charter headlines: May 21, 2021

News this week at Urban Prep Academy, Epic Academy, Youth Connections Charter School. Big charter contract campaign coming this fall.

Important victory at Acero

Sisters and Brothers: An outpouring of rank-and-file support for common sense safety provisions empowered CTU’s bargaining team at Acero charter school to win some critical safety demands that will protect both high school and elementary educators. CTU members...

Staff at two more charter schools announce their intent to join the CTU

Charter educators seek to unionize in order to amplify teacher voices at work and reduce staff turnover CHICAGO, March 29, 2021 — Teachers, paraprofessionals, and other staff at two more charter schools — Christopher House and Intrinsic — have both announced in recent...

Charter headlines for the week of March 15, 2021

CTU has settled a grievance over class size violations at ASPRIA resulting in $61,000 in awards for members. We are in preliminary discussions with CICS and Epic over reopening in the fall. And we are negotiating a fourth quarter reopening plan with Acero focusing on the importance of equity as well as safety.

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.