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Teachers at North Side charter school reach tentative agreement

A marathon overnight bargaining session by teachers at Passages Charter School led to an agreement that averted a strike. | Google Streetview

Teachers at an Edgewater charter school have reached a tentative agreement with management, averting what might have been the nation’s first charter school strike, a member of the bargaining team said.

“Had we not unionized, we could never have gotten to this tentative agreement tonight — and taken such strong steps to begin to improve classroom conditions and win fair pay for our members,” Gina Mengarelli, a member of Passages Charter School’s ChiACTS bargaining team said in a statement issued early Thursday.

Union members have been in contract talks for a year at the school that’s home to about 470 elementary students, including a large population of immigrant and refugee students. Teachers had complained of having “rock-bottom” salaries — in the $30,000 to $40,000 range — well below Chicago Public Schools teachers and low even for charter schools.

Mengarelli said teachers had “won major concessions” from management, including improved wages. Under the tentative deal, salaries are expected to increase about 21 percent for the life of the proposed three-year contract.

Management at the school did not immediately respond to a request for comment.