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Contact your lawmakers
Now more than ever, it’s important that your elected officials hear from you. Office visits and phone calls are the most powerful way to contact them. Here’s how to find information and make your voice heard.


The Illinois AFL-CIO Legislative Directory app contains updated information on your state and federal elected officials. Search for “Illinois AFL-CIO” in the GooglePlay or Apple store to purchase today.

The directly includes:
•    Address, phone, e-mail, website, and social media info
•    Guidelines for effective lobbying
•    Maps
•    Committee assignments
•    Seating charts
•    Legislative and state agencies

Use the directory to choose an elected official, then email or call lawmakers at the click of a button from within the app!


You can also look up your legislators through the Illinois State Board of Elections.

  1. Be prepared
    Know what points you want to stress. When possible, explain how this affects you or your members.

  2. Be brief
    Your time and the legislator's time are valuable. Stick to the point. Don't discuss more than two issues per meeting; on is best.

  3. Identify
    Always identify yourself as a union member and constituent.

  4. Be polite
    Thank the legislator for past assistance. Be confident and straightforward without being rude.

  5. Get an answer
    Listen to the legislator's answers. Don't interrupt what is said. Ask the legislator his/her position and get a specific answer.

  6. Call back
    When a legislator is undecided, get back to him or her with more information and ask again for a specific position.

  7. Be honest
    Never lie, betray a confidence, threaten or misrepresent facts, or criticize other legislators or opposing groups.

  8. Visit
    Face-to-face visits at the district office or the Capitol are best. When possible, bring four or five union or community members to emphasize the importance of the issue.

  9. Letters
    Short ONE-PAGE letters written in your own words are also effective. They should cover only one issue. Explain your position, urge the legislator to take a specific action, and ask for his/her position on the issue.

  10. Phone calls
    Make notes on points you wish to stress and ask for specific action. Be polite to staff answering the phones.

  11. E-mail
    When speed is necessary, use an e-mail to get your message across. To ensure the message reaches its destination, you should follow with a call or letter via the mail.

  12. Postcards
    These are an effective tool to offset opposition postcard campaigns.

  13. Attend meetings
    Union members need to be present at legislators' district meetings to raise labor's concerns.


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• The League of Women Voters

Teachers at Old Town School of Folk Music file to form union

by Jennifer Visk | Dec 11, 2018
Request voluntary recognition from administration, will be members of IFT
CHICAGO – At a rally filled with music and celebration, teachers from the Old Town School of Folk Music announced today that an overwhelming majority of faculty have signed cards to form a union with the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) and have a greater voice to address issues in their workplace. 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 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. An overwhelming majority of teachers have signed union cards, and we have filed our petition with the National Labor Relations Board. As a collective group, we will ensure that our knowledge, talents, and voices are valued by the administration. And especially because our decision to unionize aligns with the culture and history of the American folk music tradition, we are asking the administration to voluntarily recognize our union. This is a huge and historic moment for our school, and I daresay that Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger would be proud.”
“Sixty years after the school’s founding, a small group of teachers wondered if organizing themselves would be the best way to help that school and the teachers move forward towards the next sixty years,” said Chris Walz, who has taught guitar, banjo, and mandolin for twenty-two years. “As the administration became aware of our work, we hoped to be viewed as equal stakeholders in the positive future of the school, but instead, we were viewed as at-will employees with no real power. That’s when we decided to align with the Illinois Federation of Teachers, who could help us set up a union within the Old Town School, built and run by the teachers who work there.”
“Arise Chicago has had the honor of working with OTTO for one year,” said Rev. C.J. Hawking, Executive Director of Arise Chicago. “Everything they do, including unionizing, is to serve the mission of the School and their students. Forming a union is the DNA of the School and will help secure its future.”
“Our schools have long struggled for enough funding to provide the arts education our students deserve. How lucky we are in Chicago then, to have an iconic cultural institution like the Old Town School of Folk Music,” said Dan Montgomery, President of the Illinois Federation of Teachers and a high school English teacher. “The teachers at Old Town provide a community like none other. Their work has dignity, and they deserve a voice that reaches beyond the stage. On behalf of the 100,000 members of the IFT, we are inspired by their effort to organize and proudly welcome them to our union. Studs Terkel would be mighty proud.”

OTTO was joined today by students, community members, and supporters of their work.
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    Copyright © 2019 Illinois Federation of Teachers