Remember how in June we found out that the teachers at CMSA (Chicago Math and Science Academy) charter school had organized? Well the latest on that front is that the school allegedly fired one of the leaders of the organizing effort. But that's not all, according to this IFT press release:
"The teacher, Rhonda Hartwell [no, that's not her pictured], was eight months pregnant at the time of her firing and was forced to move up her scheduled delivery to ensure it occurred before her health insurance was cut off. Meanwhile, attorneys for the charter school claim its teachers are private employees subject to the National Labor Relations Act."
No news yet from the management side, but I'm hoping that there's another explanation for this.
Fires Teacher Active in Union Organizing
Chicago Math and
Science Academy Also Challenges Teachers' Union Rights
Chicago Math and Science Academy (CMSA), a public charter school, fired a
highly regarded pregnant teacher who helped organize a union at the school in
June. The firing occurred as the school also challenged its teachers'
right to form a union.
teacher, Rhonda Hartwell, was eight months pregnant at the time of her firing
and was forced to move up her scheduled delivery to ensure it occurred before
her health insurance was cut off.
one thing for the school to fight the union's legitimacy, but it's
quite another to retaliate against a union organizer who has been rewarded with
performance bonuses and was pregnant. This is about as low as an anti-union administration
can go," said Kim Bobo, executive director of Interfaith Worker Justice.
had just received a $1,500 performance bonus, and the school had renewed her
contract in April, inviting her to come back to teach this fall. Attorneys for
the union filed an unfair labor practice charge against the employer.
attorneys for the charter school claim its teachers are private employees
subject to the National Labor Relations Act. The school has filed a challenge
to the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board's jurisdiction over
Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act and the Illinois Charter School Act
both make clear that charters--like all public schools--come
under state jurisdiction. State law also mandates union certification upon a
showing of a simple card-check majority.
chose to unionize by a pretty convincing majority, and the school should
respect that. Instead, it has chosen to deny us our legitimate right, under
state law, to form a union," said Brian Chelmecki, chair of the
school's math department.
of the teaching staff--well over the majority required by law--signed
union authorization cards to be represented by the Chicago Alliance of Charter
Teachers and Staff (Chicago ACTS), an affiliate of the Illinois Federation of
Teachers and the American Federation of Teachers. Chicago ACTS also represents
teachers at eight other charter schools in Chicago.
and their supporters--which include local community groups, and religious,
labor and political leaders--have vowed to fight what they say is a total
disregard for the law by school officials.
Janice Schakowsky, whose district includes Rogers Park, where the school is
located, met with CMSA teachers recently. She expressed "deep
concerns" about what she heard, and said she hoped school officials would
"abide by state law and act in a manner consistent with our democratic
said she believes school officials are punishing her for her union activities.
"They are using me as a scapegoat to send a chilling message to the rest
of the teachers," Hartwell said. "We formed a union to give
teachers a voice in making the school better and to create an environment where
teachers would feel secure enough to share ideas and concerns. I am still
hopeful that school officials will eventually do the right thing."
school cited budget reasons for terminating Hartwell, but she and her
colleagues are not buying it. They assert that CMSA is hiring new teachers, and
a few days before the union organized, CMSA offered all teachers a 5 percent
you look at the decisions being made by school leaders, the budget claim just
doesn't add up," Hartwell said.
CEO of Concept Schools: Sedat Duman
VP of Concept Schools: Salim Ucan
Principal of Chicago Math and Science: Ali Yilmaz
Dean of Academics: Chris Austria
Concept Schools Contact Information:
2250 E. Devon Ave. Suite 215
Des Plaines, IL 60018
Chicago Math and Science Academy Contact Information:
7212 N. Clark St
Chicago, IL 60626
Filed under: Jobs (Real & Imaginary)