Chicago charter school takes aim at the union
, a teacher in the Chicago Public Schools, reports on how a charter school named for a slain union organizer is determined to stop teachers from organizing.
IN AN ironic twist, the school that features the name of one of Chicago's best-known union organizers is trying to stop the teachers from forming a union.
Recently, the teachers at the Rudy Lozano Leadership Academy voted to form a union at the school, which is named after Rudy Lozano, a union organizer and immigrant activist who was murdered in the early 1980s. The Lozano Leadership Academy is a small charter school located near where Lozano was murdered in 1983.
The image of Juan Salgado as a leader of a "progressive" organization fades like an old photograph when he begins to hire union-busting law firms to stop the unionization of workers at the Rudy Lozano charter school in Chicago.
But Salgado, the director and chief executive officer of the Instituto del Progresso Latino, which oversees the charter school, has taken the teachers to court because he does not want the charter school to be recognized with a union, according to the Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff (ACTS), which helps charter school teachers form a union.
Salgado employed a law firm which specializes in "union avoidance," held meetings with teachers and filed a challenge with the National Labor Relations Board, according to ACTS. "I know many of you might be shocked by this because Juan Salgado is known for so much activism work in the city of Chicago and the Instituto del Progresso Latino is known for all its work with helping the Mexican American community, especially in Pilsen," wrote one teacher in an email asking people to sign a petition.
"The irony," the teacher wrote further, "is that our school, Rudy Lozano, is named after one of the greatest union organizers the city of Chicago has ever seen. There is talk of Juan running for congressman."
According to its Web site, the Rudy Lozano Leadership Academy at 2570 S. Blue Island, was founded in 1996 and is housed in the Institute for Latin Progress. The school is affiliated with the Youth Connection Charter School. It is a three-year alternative high school serving 109 students ages 17-21, mostly Hispanic youth from the Little Village, Back of the Yards and Pilsen neighborhoods.
ACTS, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, is helping charter teachers across the city to unionize. They recently helped to unionize teachers at four Aspira charter schools, three Chicago International Charter schools, and the Chicago Math and Science Academy (CMSA).
CMSA had earlier fired a highly regarded pregnant teacher who helped organize a union at the school in June and challenged the teachers' right to form a union. CMSA, which also hired a prominent anti-union law firm, had argued that the teachers could not unionize because they are a private entity.
However, the state labor relations board ruled that the charter school is a public school with public workers who are governed under the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act, ACTS reported. Chicago ACTS currently represents eight unionized charter schools in Chicago.
First published at Substance News.