Namaste Charter School at 3737 S. Paulina St., Chicago, is the site of recent unionization efforts by teachers and staff.

Namaste School Closure Threatened In Unionization Push: CTU

Published May 29, 2019

Namaste Charter School in the McKinley Park neighborhood is threatened with school closure in an effort to block its unionization, according to the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU). A recent press release from the union stated that the Namaste board of directors will consider a plan to close the school at a closed-door session of its Tuesday, May 28, school board meeting.

"They threatened to shut the school down," said CTU President Jesse Sharkey following last week's bargaining sessions that, for the first time, included discussion of school finances. "The bosses at Namaste would rather close that school down than provide classroom resources."

The push for unionization at Namaste formally started in 2018, with organizers filing with the National Labor Relations Board and receiving multiple votes from teachers and staff to support it. If successful, the union at Namaste would be part of Chicago ACTS Local 4343, the local union for both the Illinois Federation of Teachers and the American Federation of Teachers, which is moving toward a merger with the Chicago Teachers Union.

"The school keeps saying they have saved funds from past years," said Yesenia Landa, a parent of a Namaste student. "There have been many needs at Namaste for years, and yet no money has been spent."

Funding is at the crux of the issue, according to the CTU press release, which said that Namaste management acknowledged its healthy reserve fund for the school. "Namaste is funded by Chicago Public Schools, and this money could be dedicated to meeting educator calls for student resources and equal pay," the release said.

Landa said school communications stated there was no talk of closing the school on the agenda for the Tuesday meeting, and there was no specific response or denials regarding the school closure threat mentioned in the CTU press release.

As with Tuesday's meeting, Namaste board discussion of the school's prospective unionization has taken place in closed-door sessions. This is allowed by Illinois law for school matters related to personnel and collective bargaining. 

"I’m a parent who feels like there’s no efficient way to communicate information from Namaste's board to parents," Landa said. "Half the parents have no idea what is happening at Namaste, and the other half don’t think it affects them or their children." 

Representatives from the Namaste School Board and management had not yet issued a statement in response to the CTU press release or replied immediately to press inquiries as of the time of publication of this article.

The next Namaste Charter School Board Meeting is slated for 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 11, at the school, 3737 S. Paulina St., Chicago.

The McKinley Park News will publish additional updates to this story as they develop.

Veronica Acuna
Check your sources. This is false. CTU was asked to remove the post from twitter. I am a teacher at Namaste Charter School and CTU posted in attempts to use fear as a tactic. I and several other teachers do not support CTU as a partner at our school and would appreciate it if McKinley Park News checked with all participants.

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