The teachers at the Old Town School of Folk Music reach a contract

After more than two years of negotiations, the teachers of the Old Town School of Folk Music have signed a provisional contract with the school board.

The agreement, struck Thursday night, will cover the more than 200 teaching artists at the school, which is represented by the Old Town Teachers Organization.

Few details have been released yet to be ratified, but the new deal includes a 4% pay rise. The teachers also wanted four seats on the board, but it was not known on Friday if that was part of the deal.

Dozens of people working in Chicago’s music industry had supported the teachers in their fight, including Jeff Tweedy of the band Wilco, who was among 70 people who signed a letter of support released in March 2021.

“The road has been long and incredibly challenging at times for many of us,” said Jessica Martino, co-president of the Old Town Teachers Organization.

The teachers “put their hearts into common leadership and brought home a fair contract,” Martino added. “We organized ourselves so that we could sit at the table. We have organized ourselves to ensure we are paid fairly, with access to benefits and job security. We organized because we care about each other, our students, and the Old Town School of Folk Music.”

Founded in 2019, the Old Town Teachers Organization is affiliated with the Illinois Federation of Teachers.

The negotiating team is scheduled to meet next Monday to discuss the terms of the contract. No date has been set for a ratification vote. The preliminary contract runs for five years.

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