Day 5 of charter school teachers’ strike: Class-size dispute holding up deal
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As the nation’s first-ever charter school teachers’ strike entered its fifth day, Acero educators and Chicago Teachers Union officials on Saturday said the charter network’s executives have met some of their demands — but the sides weren’t close to a settlement.
A day after Acero filed labor complaints seeking to stop the strike and return students and teachers to classrooms on Monday, CTU President Jesse Sharkey said the sides were still far apart on an agreement to reduce class sizes.
“Teachers cannot deliver a good education if students are packed into our classes like sardines,” Sharkey said at a rally outside Soto High School in the Southwest Side Gage Park neighborhood. “We will be back in school on Monday if, and only if, we get a commitment to our resources and to reducing class size. That’s what’s holding us up,” Sharkey said.
Earlier in the week, union officials said Acero had met their demand that schools in the network be considered sanctuary schools.
But in addition to class sizes — the Acero Schools’ student-teacher ratio is 32 to 1, according to the union — the sides are still wrangling over salary increases and improved benefits.
Congressman-elect Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, Cook County Commissioner Alma Anaya, Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th) and other elected officials joined the Acero teachers and CTU members in the picket line Saturday morning. Schools in the charter network are largely Hispanic.
Some called on Acero CEO Richard Rodriguez to resign if he didn’t personally come to the bargaining table:
“Shame on you, Rich Rodriguez,” Anaya said.
ACERO TEACHERS’ STRIKE COVERAGE:
• Charter school teachers’ contract dispute heats up; Acero files labor complaints
• Lawmakers target charter schools as Acero strike heads closer to settlement
• Pressure to end nation’s 1st charter strike ratchets up as foes trade barbs
• First charter school strike in nation eyes Day 2 as Acero teachers walk out
In Friday filings with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board and National Labor Relations Board, Acero attorney Araceli De La Cruz called the strike illegal, saying the union was “engaging in regressive bargaining tactics.”
“There have been a number of incidents that have occurred on the picket lines and the negotiation table that warrant us to believe that there are unfair labor practices that are at play as well,” De La Cruz said.
Sharkey on Saturday called the filings “pathetic,” as they would take months to make their way through the legal system and would have no effect on the strike.
“But the real reason [the filings are] pathetic is that we have everyone behind us,” Sharkey said. “The students, the parents, elected officials, and the people who work in Acero schools. We’re not going back to work until we have a fair contract.”