Over the last year, the COVID-19 pandemic has made it crystal clear that labor unions play a critical role in the workplace by giving employees a powerful collective voice. Our union and others have stepped up throughout this crisis to fight on behalf of our members and those we serve to demand the resources and policies necessary to keep everyone safe.
All around our state, unorganized workers took notice of IFT’s advocacy and successfully fought to join our union family to secure a safer workplace, a voice on the job, and a brighter future.
We’re so proud of the following new local unions and councils who found dynamic and creative ways to organize, despite the obstacles presented by the pandemic over the last year. Together in this union, we are all #IFTstrong.
Association of International Comedy Educators
After a nearly two-year multi-union, multi-country organizing campaign, the 160 faculty and facilitators from the famed The Second City (TSC) training center in Chicago overwhelmingly voted to join the IFT in April 2021. Along with their TSC colleagues in Hollywood and Toronto, the Chicago-based members formed the 300-member Association of International Comedy Educators (AICE). (Toronto and Hollywood AICE members are part of the
CWA-Canada and CWA-California, respectively.)
I support the union because I want every improviser to feel safe, empowered, and nurtured in their creative homes. We can achieve this by remaining in constant, formal, and brave conversation with the community at large. Sheri Flanders Association of International Comedy Educators
Now organized as AICE and with the support of the IFT and CWA, the new union members will have a stronger voice to fight for fair wages and change the culture of workplace bullying and racial and gender discrimination they have long encountered. AICE Chicago and the CWA units will soon begin the work of bargaining first contracts with their employer, a private equity group.
IMSA Resident Counselors Council – AFT Local 604
The 22 Resident Counselors (RCs) at the acclaimed Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (IMSA) in Aurora were certified earlier this year after filing an overwhelming majority of union authorization cards in January 2021 demonstrating their desire to join the IFT. IMSA faculty previously joined the IFT in late 2019.
The IMSA RC’s provide onsite support to the more than 650 students who live in dormitories at the college preparatory academy. As union members, the RCs will use their collective power to advocate for equity and justice for students, their colleagues, and the community. Unionizing will also give these members a greater voice in decisions that impact their working and living conditions, including fair compensation and a transparent salary schedule.
The RCs will be part of the IMSA RC Council of AFT Local 604 and will begin bargaining their first agreement this summer.
Skokie Dist. 73 ½ Support Staff of Local 1274
In December 2020, the 30 clerical workers in Skokie School District 73 1/2 filed a supermajority of authorization cards with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board (IELRB) to receive recognition as a union, the Skokie Dist. 73 ½ Support Staff Council of Local 1274.
The support staff at Skokie District 73 ½ organized with the IFT because we knew that, as Helen Keller said, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” Our union puts strength behind fighting for equity and empowers us to solve problems using our collective ideas and voice. Tseggy Gomez and Aasia Shahid Skokie 73 1/2 Support Staff
These new members were voluntarily recognized by their employer and officially certified earlier this year. They will begin negotiating a first collective bargaining agreement
The Joseph Sears School – Kenilworth Dist. 38
The 12 support staff members at the Joseph Sears School – a K-8 school in Kenilworth Dist. 38 – were certified as an IFT local in February this year after previously filing a majority of authorization cards with the IELRB. The members work in a variety of critical paraprofessional and school-related personnel roles.
These new members organized to have a seat at the table on important decisions, including pay, workload, and job duties. They expect to begin negotiating a collective bargaining agreement this month.
The educators at EPIC charter school in Chicago voted in July 2020 to join the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU, Local 1) and the IFT. The election results were overwhelming, with more than 90 percent voting “yes.”
As members of the CTU/IFT, the nearly 30 teachers at EPIC now have greater power to advocate for the class size caps, better working and learning conditions, and improved teacher retention needed to meet the needs of students and the entire school community.
Association House Alternative High School
Educators at Association House Alternative High School in Chicago voted to join the CTU and IFT in May 2021. The 14 teachers at this charter school expect to begin bargaining their first contract this summer with the goals of securing additional educational resources and supports for students and raising the floor on their wages and benefits.
Christopher House Elementary School
The 40 teachers and PSRPs at this Chicago charter school voted three to one in June 2021 to be represented by CTU and IFT. The new members plan to bargain this summer to secure an agreement with their employer that invests in supports for special education students and English language learners and decreases administrative costs.
The 190 faculty at the Latin School of Chicago voted in June 2021 to join the IFT ranks. These educational professionals organized to secure a more powerful voice in decision making at the school to help them advocate for their students and professions. The Latin School Union hopes to begin bargaining a first contract this summer.