By Nick Gale, WLS-AM 890 News
(CHICAGO) — Teachers at the Old Town School of Folk Music rallied Tuesday with music and celebration, announcing that an overwhelming majority of faculty have signed cards to form a union with the Illinois Federation of Teachers.
Immediately prior to the event, the teachers, who formed the Old Town Teachers Organization (OTTO), requested voluntary recognition of the union from school administration. If the school declines, an election will take place in the coming weeks.
The teachers, in a statement, said they began their organizing drive in November 2017 with support from local workers’ rights group Arise Chicago. OTTO decided the best way to address issues at the school was through union representation with the IFT, which also includes K-12 and higher education members in the Chicago area and throughout the state.
“We are passionate about the work we do and proud to be a part of this historic institution,” said Lindsay Weinberg, an Old Town School teacher of piano, guitar, and voice for thirteen years. “Our group came together fueled by a strong desire to do what’s right, to support our organization’s rich community, and to preserve its soul. It is because of our commitment to the Old Town mission that we believe the best way forward is to form a union with the Illinois Federation of Teachers.”
The union movement comes as the school looks at options to prevent closing the Armitage Avenue location in the Lincoln Park neighborhood because of budget cuts. The school recently said they would delay plans to sell the historic building after teachers and supporters in the community objected to the sale.
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