Frequently Asked Questions
Why are we organizing a union?
The Union of Noble Educators (UNE) is forming a union at the Noble Network of Charter Schools to create a just and stable learning community for our colleagues, our students, and their families. We believe that organizing a union will improve decision-making by including teacher and staff voice, will improve school culture by making employment sustainable, and, most importantly, will improve our ability to help students achieve the best possible futures.
What is a union?
A union is a group of workers (us!) who collectively use their power and voice to advocate for their students, schools, and working conditions. It is a democracy that members create, so broad participation from everyone makes us/the union most effective.
What are we asking of our Employer? What is the process?
Our first step to forming our union is getting the Network to agree to a fair process (called a neutrality agreement) in which teachers and staff can feel safe and free from interference. We call on Noble’s administration to respect our rights as professionals and agree not to influence our decision to unionize.
Our goal is to be able to sit down with Noble’s management at the bargaining table and work together as equals to address the challenges we face.
What is collective bargaining?
Currently, Noble can make unilateral decisions over our conditions of work and employment. Once we are certified as a union, we have the legal right to collectively bargain to maintain what is working and to improve what needs improving. It means that we have a seat at the table as equal partners with Noble to negotiate over our salary, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment. Once our union is certified, Noble cannot implement changes unilaterally without first negotiating with us.
Do we have the right to legally form a union at Noble? What if I am a first-year teacher, TFA member, or Non-Certified Teacher? Can I get involved in a union?
Yes and yes! Teachers and staff at charter schools are considered private sector employees, and it is our legal right to organize a union under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). It is illegal for any employer to interfere with, discriminate, or fire staff for union activity.
Please see the “Know Your Rights” section of the website for further information.
What are union dues and why are they important?
Dues help our organization run. They support the resources it takes to advocate for well supported schools and defend member’s rights and interests. Our union will be a part of ChiACTS, Local 4343, IFT and AFT, all of which work to promote what we need to best serve our students. Dues support this work.
Dues are not required until we vote on a contract that we negotiate, but educators can voluntarily pay dues at any time. Currently, Chicago ACTS “full” dues are $693.52 a year. Members making under $42,000 per year pay “half” dues. Increases in dues rates are approved by members.
Are other charter schools in Chicago unionized? What union would we be joining?
Yes! Currently 32 schools or about a quarter of all charter schools in the city of Chicago have a union, including the UNO Charter School Network and Urban Prep.
UNE is proud to join the effort of teachers and staff at charter schools in the city of Chicago to elevate the voice of educators in school decision-making, led by Chicago ACTS, the Alliance of Charter Teachers & Staff, Local 4343. In forming our union, we are joining Chicago ACTS, and standing in solidarity with our brothers and sisters of the Chicago Teachers Union, the Illinois Federation of Teachers, and the American Federation of Teachers, in the fight for the schools our students deserve.
How can I get involved?
If you are a teacher or staff person at the Noble Network of Charter Schools and want to join us as we form our union, the first step is to read and sign our open letter.