Another strike in Chicago? Teachers at Passages charter school set walkout deadline

The potential work stoppage would be the latest in a series of Chicago charter teacher strikes in the past year.

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Passages Elementary School

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Teachers at a North Side charter school have announced a strike deadline as they continue to negotiate a new labor contract.

The more than two dozen educators at Passages Elementary School in Edgewater announced Thursday morning that they would walk out Oct. 22 if a deal wasn’t reached with the charter operator that runs the school.

“We don’t want to have a strike here, but this operator’s greed is getting between our students and what they deserve,” said Chris Baehrend, the head of the Chicago Teacher Union’s charter division.

Teachers at Passages are demanding wage increases — some of them make less than $35,000 annually, the CTU said — and protections for immigrant and refugee students.

CTU President Jesse Sharkey was on hand Thursday as the announcement was made outside the school.

“There’s an education justice wave sweeping through Chicago,” Sharkey said. “What we’re seeing ... today is charter school teachers who over the last several years have been engaged in a long-term fight to win justice in their school.”

The teachers, who voted last month 38-0 to strike, said Thursday that they’re also concerned about services for students who aren’t native English speakers — who make up almost 40% of students at Passages, according to school records.

Passages is operated by a company called Asian Human Services. Representatives there could not immediately be reached for comment.

Though charters such as Passages are privately operated, the potential strike at Passages adds to a looming teachers strike at CPS-run schools. If those educators don’t reach a deal by Oct. 17, about 25,000 teachers will be joined on the picket lines by another 10,000 school support staff and Chicago Park District workers.

The nation’s first-ever charter teacher strike came last year in Chicago and lasted four days, with another strike of three operators happening earlier this year.

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