03/12/2014 02:59 pm ET Updated May 12, 2014

UNO Teachers Will Vote on Union Contract

Teachers at the scandal-plagued UNO charter school network are about to vote next week on their first union contract.

If approved by teachers and by UNO's own board, the contract negotiated by the Chicago Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff would more than double in number, with between 500 and 550 teachers and other UNO staff joining about 300 ChicagoACTS members at 11 charter schools.

The UNO contract could be one of the biggest labor contracts in the country for a charter network.

Though details of the tentative agreement have not been released, educators' priorities have been educators' priorities included the elimination of merit pay, shorter schooldays and a shorter calendar year.

"Everybody is going to be looking at the UNO contract as a model," said Chicago ACTS President Brian Harris, who added that some of the key wins at other schools have included improved health care plans for families and employer contributions to teachers' pension plans.

UNO union members credit two major factors for their ability to unify educators across the network: The support of traditional teachers unions, including the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) and the AFT, and the timing of a major corruption scandal involving former UNO CEO Juan Rangel.

Read more at Catalyst Chicago.