CHICAGO — One of the city's top charter school networks has formally declared it is open to letting its teachers unionize.
The United Neighborhood Organization, which runs 13 charter schools, for the most part in Hispanic neighborhoods, announced Friday it has reached an agreement with the Chicago Alliance of Charter School Teachers and Staff guaranteeing its membership the right to unionize.
Teachers would have to vote by a majority to join a union, and a neutral third party would monitor the process.
Chicago ACTS is a joint program administered by the Chicago Teachers Union, the Illinois Federation of Teachers and the American Federation of Teachers. It has previously faced resistance in trying to unionize charters.
The move is another in a series of reforms UNO has adopted in response to criticism. UNO faces a possible state investigation over its finances and has been attacked for alleged "cronyism and nepotism" for passing state grants on to closely related businesses. It recently hired a federal judge to undertake an internal investigation and make necessary changes.
The CTU has been highly critical of charters, suggesting they're intended in part to bust the teachers union.
In a letter to UNO teachers posted on the Alliance website, leaders said they are eager to work with potential new members.
"Our agreement with your employer now opens the doors wide to a conversation amongst UNO educators," it said. "We’re excited to discuss with you what a difference it makes to have a union and a voice. When we organized at our schools, we won better pay, due process, a greater say in issues like evaluations and professional development."