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The Second City Chicago faculty union authorizes strike as progress stalls at the bargaining table

Employees have been bargaining with The Second City for more than two years.

CHICAGO – Teachers, facilitators, and music directors at the world-renowned Second City Chicago training center may be forced to go on strike soon if an agreement can’t be reached with their employer. The faculty union – the Association of International Comedy Educators, or AICE (IFT Local 6612) – was formed in 2021 and is still negotiating a first contract with The Second City management more than two years later.

The union held a vote before the Thanksgiving holiday to assess where their members stood as bargaining drags on. With nearly 80% voter turnout, a resounding 94% of those who voted said “YES” to authorizing a strike should the bargaining team deem it necessary. Those results were shared with The Second City management at a recent bargaining session.

“We are seeing progress here and there, but not on main sticking points, and not fast enough,” said AICE member and The Second City teacher Ana Silva. “No one wants to strike, but no one wanted to be at the bargaining table for two years, either. We’ve been patient through changes in leadership, through getting new management up to speed, but that patience is running out. This is a world-renowned comedy theater and learning center, and we’re holding them to that standard. Our educators deserve fair pay for sharing their craft and reasonable working conditions to support their work, and this vote tells us our members are ready to withhold their labor to fight for that.”

The Second City, indeed, touts having the best teachers in the world, yet wages have been stagnant for years and pay is 50-70% less than rates at comparable institutions.

“We want to be able to deliver a successful experience to our students – and we need the working conditions at The Second City to help facilitate that, not hinder it,” said Katie Wilson, a teacher at The Second City and AICE member. “We are calling for sensible improvements for employees like fair scheduling practices, retaining rights to our own intellectual property, and recognition for the work we do outside of the classroom. We love what we do, and we deserve to work for a company that values that work and respects the people who do it.”

AICE members can declare a strike at any time. The next bargaining date is scheduled for December 12.

“We hope that The Second City management will finally take our positions seriously and do right by our teachers, facilitators, and music directors,” continued Silva. “We look forward to a resolution soon so we can focus on doing what we love and do so in a productive and supportive environment.”

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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