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rahm union buster

In the most blatant anti-union move yet in Chicago public schools a group of recently organized charter school teachers were notified they will not have a job anymore.

One month after its chiefs spoke at the Board of Education meeting and the Board voted to continue its charter, the administrators of "Youth Connections Charter School", an archipelago of what used to be a group of alternative schools, abruptly closed one of their so-called "campuses" — as soon as the teachers at the school voted to join a union.

On May 21, the teachers and staff at Youth Connection Leadership Academy (YCLA), an alternative high school in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood, notified their employer of the staff’s unanimous decision to form a union. Youth Connection Leadership Academy is a campus of Youth Connection Charter School (YCCS), the charter holder for a network of 22 campuses serving at-risk high school students in Chicago.  Youth Connection Charter School directly manages YCLA.

No prior indication had been given to employees that the YCLA campus might be selected for closure. The charter school had over the previous two weeks issued letters to most of the staff renewing their employment for the 2012-13 academic year.

Two days later, the school management notified teachers and staff by overnight mail that they recommended the closure or restructuring of the school to the school’s Board of Directors, and that YCCS would not honor any of the teachers’ employment renewal letters. No prior indication had been given to employees that the YCLA campus might be closed. The charter school management had over the previous two weeks issued letters to most of the staff renewing their employment for the 2012-13 academic year.


“We were shocked to learn that YCCS wants to close our school. We serve a population of high-risk students who rely on our school for consistent support. We formed our union with the intent of creating a stable faculty with the ability to effectively advocate for ourselves and our students. We hope YCCS will do the right thing for our students and keep YCLA open. Let’s work together to make YCLA an even better place to learn and work,” said YCLA art teacher, Lydia Merrill.

The classroom and administrative staff of YCLA had elected to join and be represented by Chicago ACTS (Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff) Local 4343, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers and the Illinois Federation of Teachers. In response to the pre-emptive threat of closure of YCLA, Chicago ACTS filed an Unfair Labor Practice claim with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board (IELRB), arguing that the employer's intent to close the campus or dismiss teachers is in retaliation for their union activity. The union is also seeking a preliminary injunction.

“The YCLA teachers’ decision to form a union shows their dedication to their students and school. It is unfortunate that YCCS management has taken such a bold step in what seems to be an attempt to avoid the teachers move to unionize. We hope the YCCS board votes to keep the school open and recognizes the YCLA teachers’ union,” said Chicago ACTS Local 4343 President, Brian Harris.

The unionizing teachers and Chicago ACTS will hold

a press conference before the YCCS board meeting on Thursday, May 31 at 4:30 p.m. outside of the YCCS offices at 10 W. 35th Street. The President of Chicago ACTS Local 4343, a representative from the CTU, and a YCLA teacher and parent will address the press. The YCCS board meeting is open to the public and will begin at 5:30 p.m. at the YCCS office.

and the firings continue at another charter school. this one was non-union.

Teachers, administrators and staff at four Chicago charter schools are being laid off because the New York-based company that manages the schools is being replaced.

The employees could be rehired, but most teachers at the two lowest-performing schools will be replaced, said Beth Purvis, chief executive officer of Chicago International Charter School, whose network includes the four schools.

Supporters of the publicly funded, privately run charter schools say the overhaul shows the flexibility of charters, which can hire and fire staff quickly when scores don't measure up because teachers aren't members of a union.

"We understand this is a difficult time," said Purvis. "But this is one of the promises of charter schools that we can act quickly to meet student performance when it's not meeting the needs of kids."

Julie Woestehoff, executive director of Parents United for Responsible Education, says the 15-campus Chicago International Charter School is simply following the failed script used for noncharter schools in Chicago.

"Charter schools are supposed to be where innovation happens," Woestehoff said. "But here they are doing the same failed turnaround process that has not worked in regular public schools."


Originally posted to Hyde Park Johnny on Wed May 30, 2012 at 08:43 PM PDT.

Also republished by Your Government at Work.

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