Comedy educators at The Second City in Toronto, Canada, voted 99-2 to unionize on Thursday in 24-hour electronic voting supervised by the Ontario Labour Relations Board. The new unit will be called the Association of International Comedy Educators (AICE), a part of CWA Canada, which is part of The NewsGuild-CWA.
Paul Bates, a member of the organizing committee, said, “A union at The Second City training center will go a long way to improve not just the work environment for our instructors, but also the learning environment for our students, who depend on a safe, accessible place to learn and clear lines of communication.”
More than 200 other Second City educators in Chicago and Hollywood also filed for union recognition with the U.S. National Labor Relations Board, a process that typically takes weeks or months. In Chicago, members will be part of the Illinois Federation of Teachers, and, in Hollywood, Local 9400 of the CWA.
In a mission statement, workers in the three cities said they are unionizing to “guarantee equitable and just working conditions” and “seek to establish health and accessibility, diversity and inclusivity, fair compensation, and reasonable employment terms.”
The Second City, founded in Chicago in 1959 as a small comedy cabaret, grew to become a North American institution and springboard for the careers of dozens of stars. When it opened a theatre in Toronto in 1973, it fostered the talents of many Canadian performers who would become world famous. Alumni include Mike Myers, Catherine O’Hara, Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin, Martin Short, Dan Aykroyd, John Candy, Dave Thomas, and Rick Moranis.
When SCTV hit the airwaves in 1976, the antics of Moranis and Thomas in the Great White North led to the term “hoser” finding a permanent place in the popular Canadian lexicon.
CWA Canada President Martin O’Hanlon welcomed the vote result. “We’re thrilled to have our new AICE members in the CWA family,” he said. Now we can begin negotiating a first collective agreement and make a better workplace for everyone.”
Follow them on Twitter and Instagram @AICEunion.