December 2, 2012
Bob Levine, Washington DC Bureau
CHICAGO—Instituto Health Sciences Career Academy has become the latest Chicago charter school to unionize.
The Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board has certified the Chicago Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff (Chicago ACTS), an American Federation of Teachers affiliate, as the bargaining agent for the 52 teachers, certified paraprofessionals, counselors and social workers at the charter high school. The Chicago Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff, Local 4343, represents more than 300 educators at 14 charter schools.
AFT President Randi Weingarten commended the school's leader, Juan Salgado, who welcomed the news of the staff's decision to unionize, which will help them get a speedy certification from the state board. Salgado is CEO of Instituto Progreso Latino, which runs the school. By working together with leaders who understand and value the voices and experience of educators, we can create strong partnerships to develop and drive solutions that help students learn and grow," Weingarten said. "Together, we have shown that charter schools and unions can collaborate to form high-quality, motivating learning environments."
Salgado said he has had a positive experience with the unionized staff at Rudy Lozano Leadership Academy, another charter school he operates in Chicago. Teachers and staff at the academy reached a collective bargaining agreement with Salgado last year. "By working together, we can help ensure that our students succeed," Salgado said.
Now in its third year, Instituto Health Sciences Career Academy is the city's first charter school specializing in healthcare. The school, which emphasizes math and science, prepares students for health- and science-related college programs and certifies them for entry-level positions in the healthcare field.