Teachers at the Old Town School of Folk Music come to an agreement on a contract.


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

The deal, reached on Thursday evening, will cover the school’s more than 200 teacher artists represented by the Old Town Teachers’ Organization.

Few details have been released, pending ratification, but the new contract includes a 4% pay rise. The teachers also wanted four seats on the board, but it was unclear as of Friday whether that was part of the contract.

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 published in March 2021.

“It’s been a long and, at times, incredibly difficult road for many of us,” said Jessica Martino, co-chair of the Old Town Teachers Organization.

Teachers “have been nothing if not wholeheartedly committed to shared governance and to building a fair contract,” Martino added. “We organized ourselves to have a place at the table. We have organized ourselves to ensure that we are 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, established in 2019, is affiliated with the Illinois Federation of Teachers.

The negotiating team is due to meet next Monday to review the terms of the contract. No date has been set for a ratification vote. The provisional agreement is for five years.

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