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Teachers at 3 Urban Prep charter schools authorize strike

The 26 union members who voted unanimously this week to approve a walkout are expected to set a strike date in the coming days.

Urban Prep Academy Englewood, 6201 S. Stewart Ave.
Urban Prep Academy Englewood, 6201 S. Stewart Ave.
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Educators at the Urban Prep Academies network of charter schools have voted to authorize a strike as drawn out contract negotiations still haven’t yielded satisfactory wages and benefits.

Workers at the network’s three campuses in Bronzeville, Englewood and the Loop — serving a combined 650 students — are represented by the Chicago Teachers Union and have been bargaining a new agreement since November 2018.

The 26 union members who voted unanimously this week to approve a walkout are expected to set a strike date in the coming days, the union said in a statement.

Teachers are demanding better wages and benefits along with contract sanctuary school language that protects undocumented students and their families, and improved services for special education students.

The CTU said Urban Prep educators have the lowest wages and highest health care costs among Chicago Public Schools charter operators, with starting pay $11,000 less than teachers at district-run schools.

The union said management has rejected its demands, only offering a 1% total raise over three years.

“Urban Prep has the resources to do right by our students and the educators who serve them — and we will strike if we must to move those resources into our schools,” Chris Baehrend, chair of the CTU’s charter division, said in a statement. “Urban Prep students deserve the special education services that are mandated by federal law, and our school communities deserve the resources our young people need.”

The union said it also filed an unfair labor practice charge against the charter operator “for a range of abuses, including playing hide the ball with critical financial and other information.”

Urban Prep management could not immediately be reached for comment.