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Unionized Charter Teachers in Chicago Vote to Merge With CTU

The union that represents teachers at 32 charter schools in Chicago voted Friday to merge with the 30,000-member Chicago Teachers Union

CTU has historically only represented educators from traditional public schools.

The vote, according to the Chicago Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff, the union representing the city's charter teachers, was 671 educators in favor of and 130 against the unification.

"All Chicago educators, charter and district, face the same challenges—shrinking budgets, layoffs, union-busting, lack of voice, and a wholesale assault on the quality of the education of our students," Chris Baehrend, president of ChiACTS, said in a statement. 

The merger will not go through until CTU members vote this fall (likely late October or early November) on whether to approve it.

The chances are good that the merger will pass, CTU's staff coordinator Jackson Potter, wrote in an email. 

"Our members see the relationship between combining forces with our brothers and sisters in the unionized charter networks and being able to win more resources for our classrooms, to check unaccountable charter management organizations, to demand greater adherence to the needs of our special education students, to lobbying and winning a more equitable school funding formula, and halting the harmful epidemic of school closings in Chicago," said Potter.

The Chicago Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff is the largest union of charter school teachers in the country, according to the group. (About a quarter of the city's charter schools are currently unionized.) Under a merger, charter school teachers would still have separate contracts negotiated with their individual schools.

But unifying would allow the two groups "to coordinate revenue campaigns, policy positions, and member outreach on key issues," said Potter. "It will also expand the resources available to teachers at charter schools regarding organizing, field, communication, and legal support." 

Teachers from Chicago's largest charter school network, the Noble Network of Charter Schools, announced several months ago that they would take steps to unionize. That effort is ongoing, reports the Chicago Tribune.

The American Federation of Teachers (of which the CTU is an affiliate) has been actively trying to recruit more charter school teachers, my colleague Emmanuel Felton wrote recently.

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