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The countdown begins: Seven days remain to avoid a strike at The Second City

“We’ve been at this long enough.”


CHICAGO – Teachers at The Second City Training Center will be walking the picket line next week if their employer refuses to bargain further. The teachers – Training Center faculty, facilitators, film school faculty, and music directors who are members of AICE union (IFT Local 6612) – have been negotiating their first contract with The Second City for two years. The union bargaining team has called for a strike if The Second City fails to offer a fair contract addressing critical issues before Tuesday, January 16.


The two sides have taken part in dozens of bargaining sessions to date. Even with the help of a mediator, sticking points remain. Teachers at this world-renowned company are paid notably less than their peers at other leading Chicago theaters. They are also concerned about unpaid workload increases for facilitators, improving working conditions, and ensuring their union contract continues regardless of whether the company changes hands in the future.


“Our demands are reasonable, and we’ve been at this long enough,” said Ana Silva, a teacher at the Chicago Training Center known for successful comedy alumni like Tina Fey and Keegan-Michael Key. “At this point, our bargaining team has given Second City leadership plenty of time – years – to offer a comprehensive and fair first contract. Their inaction and lack of collaborative compromise are the root of this strike. I truly hope they come to their senses and make another attempt to reach an agreement this week. Otherwise, classes will be stopped and picketing will start on Tuesday.”


The Second City’s “last, best, and final offer” was firmly rejected by union members, who held a vote on whether to accept it over the holidays.


“The Second City leadership has given us no choice at this point,” said teacher and AICE member Katie Wilson. “How are we working at the world-premiere comedy entertainment training facility, yet are paid less than our peers? How are we going to manifest an equitable working environment if The Second City leadership doesn’t hear us after all this time? The entire backbone of this theater is being others-focused and saying ‘Yes, and,’ but the last, best, and final offer was a big ‘NO.’ We must continue the conversation to avert a strike.”

The union stands ready to bargain and has offered dates this week to work towards an agreement to avoid a strike.


AICE (Association of International Comedy Educators) members in Chicago and the former Hollywood location are part of the Illinois Federation of Teachers. The union also includes The Second City’s Toronto educators, who are affiliated with CWA-Canada and finalized their contract last year, largely due to Canada’s labor laws that better protect workers.



The Association of International Comedy Educators (AICE, Local 6612) represents 300 Training Center faculty, film school faculty, facilitators, and musical directors for The Second City in Chicago, Illinois, and Toronto, Canada. They are affiliated with the Illinois Federation of Teachers and the Communications Workers of America-Canada.


The Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) represents 103,000 teachers and paraprofessionals in PreK-12 school districts throughout Illinois, faculty and staff at Illinois’ community colleges and universities, public employees under every statewide elected constitutional officer, and retirees.


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