By Mike Antonucci
CHICAGO – The saga that is the unionization effort at the Chicago Math and Science Academy charter school developed another plot twist when the Illinois Federation of Teachers called off the representation election less than 24 hours before it was to begin.
The school has been in the midst of a high-stakes regulatory struggle for years over the question of whether the charter operators are a public entity or a private one. If the former, they would have been subject to Illinois’ card check law, and the staff would already be unionized. If the latter, they would be subject to National Labor Relations Board jurisdiction and would have to hold an election.
Earlier this year, the NLRB ruled in favor of an election, and the IFT quickly obtained the signatures of 30 percent of the staff required to trigger one.
But yesterday the IFT withdrew that petition – reportedly against the wishes of the charter school employees – forcing the NLRB to cancel the vote. Patrick Mazza, who has been advocated for a union in the school for years, said the IFT officials acted because they thought they would lose the election.
An IFT statement read, “Many things have changed since this campaign began and the timing is not right to hold an election today.”