Union UNO Charter School teachers avoid strike Wednesday

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Teachers at Chicago's charter schools could walk off the job Wednesday because a deal still has not been reached. (WLS)

Union teachers at UNO Charter Schools avoided a strike on Wednesday after a tentative deal was met on a teachers' contract.

The teachers' contract had expired and the union had not been able to reach a new deal with the UNO Charter School Network which operates 16 schools in the city. About 500 teachers work in the system.

Nearly 8,000 charter school students would have been locked out of their classrooms Wednesday if a deal had not been reached. Teachers and UNO Charter School employees said in a Tuesday night news conference they did not want to strike, but were willing to walk if administrators didn't come up with what the union said was a reasonable deal.

Representatives with the United Educators of UNO - the union representing teachers and school employees - said the major sticking points were pension pay-ins and class sizes. They said UCNS wanted to reduce the amount they put into employee pensions from 7 percent to 4 percent. Teachers said they had already taken pay cuts and their healthcare premiums are going up, and that their classroom aides and lowest paid employees would not be making a salary they can live on.

Teachers also asked that a 32-student cap be put on how many children could be inside a classroom.

Parents were notified early Wednesday that there would be school.

If UNO teachers would've walked out, the union said it would have been the first strike in the nation against a charter school system.

The union said 531 of its 532 members cast their ballots earlier in the month, with 508 voting in favor of a strike.
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