Old Town School of Folk Music teachers reach deal on contract

The tentative agreement was reached Thursday night and will cover the more than 200 teaching artists at the school represented under the Old Town Teachers Organization.

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Old Town School of Folk Music, 4545 N. Lincoln Ave.

After lengthy negotiations, teachers at the Old Town School of Folk Music have reached a tentative contract agreement.

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Teachers at the Old Town School of Folk Music have a tentative contract agreement with the school’s board of directors after more than two years of negotiations.

The deal, reached Thursday night, will cover the more than 200 teaching artists at the school represented by the Old Town Teachers Organization.

Few details were released, pending ratification, but the new contract does include a 4% pay raise. Teachers also had wanted four seats on the board of directors, but it was not known Friday if that is part of the contract.

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

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

The teachers “have been nothing if not wholeheartedly committed to shared governance and bringing home a fair contract,” Martino added. “We organized so that we could have a seat at the table. We organized to ensure that we’re fairly compensated, with access to benefits eligibility and job security. We organized because we care about each other, our students, and the Old Town School of Folk Music.”

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

The bargaining team is set to meet next Monday to go over the terms of the contract. No date has been set on a ratification vote. The tentative deal is for five years.

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