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Appeal to Presenters
2010 International Gulen Conference

We, the undersigned religious and community leaders, and educators, wish to share our concerns about an unresolved labor dispute between Chicago Math and Science Academy (CMSA) and its teachers, and request your intervention. As a scheduled presenter at the 2010 International Gulen Conference, you are uniquely positioned to help.

The Niagara Foundation, which will host the celebrated international conference in Chicago, has organizational and personnel ties to CMSA.

We ask you to urge the Niagara Foundation Advisory Board and Board of Trustees, CMSA Board of Directors, and Concept Schools Inc., to meet with CMSA teachers and concerned community and religious leaders to hear the teachers concerns and reach a resolution. Our interest is to ensure that CMSA recognizes the democratically expressed will of its teachers to form a union.

Background: On June 23, CMSA teachers voted by 67 percent to form a union. In response, school officials retained a union-avoidance law firm and fired Rhonda Hartwell, a teacher who led the organizing effort. Ms. Hartwell was eight-months pregnant at the time.

The lawyers went before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and claimed that CMSA is a private employer. But on September 20, the NLRB rejected the private employer claim and ordered CMSA to comply with state law. Unfortunately, CMSA is appealing the NLRB decision.

Clearly, CMSAs actions collide with key tenets of the Niagara Foundation, namely, promoting civic engagement and championing societal peace, human dignity and common good. Furthermore, CMSA is in conflict with the values of its host community of Rogers Park, which is the most racially and ethnically diverse in Chicago, with a long history of championing labor and womens rights, and racial and ethnic tolerance. The hard-line position the school has taken against basic union rights makes a mockery of the communitys values, conflicts with its mission as an academic institution, and undermines its long-term interests as a school.

We urge you, as a conference presenter, to weigh in on this critical issue. Please, contact the leadership of Niagara Foundation, CMSA, and Concept Schools and call on them to meet with CMSA teachers and community and religious leaders.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation. Please contact leaders of the aforementioned institutions and make your voice heard.

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International Gulen Conference Presenters

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