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Andersonville Charter School Teachers Set Strike Date For Next Week

By Josh McGhee | May 19, 2017 4:45pm | Updated on May 22, 2017 8:22am
 Third grade teacher Gina Mengarelli announced teachers at Passages Charter School, 1643 W. Bryn Mawr Ave., if an agreement is not reached by midnight Wednesday.
Third grade teacher Gina Mengarelli announced teachers at Passages Charter School, 1643 W. Bryn Mawr Ave., if an agreement is not reached by midnight Wednesday.
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DNAinfo/Josh McGhee

ANDERSONVILLE — Teachers at Passages Charter School will walk out of their classrooms next Thursday if they can't come to an agreement with the school management by midnight Wednesday, union leaders said Friday.

At a rally outside the school at 1643 W. Bryn Mawr Ave. Friday afternoon, third-grade teacher Gina Mengarelli said they've had no success coming to an agreement with Asian Human Services (AHS), which runs the school.

"For the past 12 months we have been bargaining for a contract that gives us voice and guarantees fair working conditions for teachers and staff and fair learning conditions for our students, but to this point AHS has refused to make an offer that provides for those things," said Mengarelli, who was flanked by about 25 students, teachers and parents.

Two weeks ago, teachers voted 43-0 to give the bargaining committee the power to set a strike date. It was the third time this year a charter school in Chicago has threatened to strike, according to the Tribune.

The teachers union, ChiACTS Local 4343, was scheduled to formally meet with officials at the school Friday. Over the next few weeks, several meetings are also scheduled, according to a note posted to the school's website.

Teachers have been negotiating a new contract since May 2016 and have come to an agreement on several issues, including: "employee discipline, health and safety, and after school events,"  the website says.

Issues still under negotiation include: salaries, length of school day and the length of the school year. Budget issues have created significant "financial uncertainty" including a cut of approximately $83,000, the school says.

Passages serves students in kindergarten through eighth grade with a mission "to serve immigrant and refugee students as well as students throughout the city," according to the CPS website.

It has 468 students and 41 percent are "limited English learners," according to the CPS website.

"None of us want to strike. We want to be in our classroom with our students and our bargaining team is committed to continuing [to] negotiate in good faith with AHS in hopes of reaching a fair contract, but if it takes a strike to force AHS to make changes that improve the education of passages students then we will be on the picket line until we achieve those improvements," Mengarelli said.

In April 2016, 46 teachers, teacher assistants and paraprofessionals at the school joined ChiACTS Local 4343, which represents teachers at 32 schools in the city. 

Last fall, teachers at UNO, another charter operator, narrowly averted a strike.