January 20, 2016
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
Chicago, IL- Urban Prep Academies, an all-male charter-school network in Chicago, has agreed to pay more than $260,000 in back wages and severance pay to 13 teachers who were fired last June after staff voted to unionize.
The network also agreed to rehire the two teachers who had not yet found other jobs, and they returned to work Jan. 11. The deal, the largest unfair labor practice settlement ever given charter-school teachers, came after the union, the Chicago Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff, filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board. The board found that one teacher had been fired for union activity and that Urban Prep had failed to bargain with the union over the firings.
“It's unfortunate that these publicly funded schools often react so poorly when their teachers choose a union, and it's even worse when they're able to waste so much time and money union-busting,” said ChiACTS President Brian Harris, a special-education teacher. “We often hear from charter operator groups that they're ‘not anti-union but pro-teacher.’ One would assume that the ‘pro-teacher’ part would kick in after a mass illegal firing.” Read more