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Apply Now for 2021 Summer Organizing Institute!

Updated: May 12, 2021

2019 Summer Organizing Institute participants Jordan Weber, Shannan Smith, Jehan Chapple, Toni Johnson, Edwina Williams, Rick Kellerman, Sabrina Smith, Betsy Watkins, Erica Humphrey, Richard Niezgoda, Peggy O’Connell, and Samaneh Ahmadinejad, along with President Tony Johnston, Legislative Chair Sean Noonan and IFT President Dan Montgomery.


A Message from Tony Johnston, Local 1600 President:

It takes more than conviction to make real change. There are countless people who are well-intentioned and support labor rights and public education. Most of the members of Local 1600 share those characteristics.

However, proper values are not enough to make significant social change and build a movement. For that, we need “Union Warriors”: members who are conscious of the challenges we face, with the knowledge of how to face those challenges and the skills to defeat them. That is why we have union training opportunities not just for our elected officers but for all members. Knowing the purpose and benefit of a union and knowing how to organize to defend your rights will build power for Local 1600!

In 2019, we created our own Summer Organizing Institute, modeled on the one implemented by the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) every year. In the course of six weeks we take the interns through the fundamentals of organizing: organizing conversations, choosing issues for worksite activism, using technology for member engagement, forming alliances with community organizations and other labor unions, etc. The theory and training are combined with actual field experience of reaching out to our members on issues ranging from contract campaigns, worksite issues, board actions and canvassing for community issues.

The last two years have been a big success. We have had twenty-five interns from different colleges and chapters and we want to keep it going this year. It is not just us and the CTU who think this is important. Many unions and organizations like United Working Families have similar trainings. The American Federation of Teachers and the Illinois Federation of Teachers both see the value in our Institute and have subsidized the stipends that we provide for our interns who participate. We encourage all members to participate. Elected chapter leadership are highly encouraged to participate.

We will also be offering training to our elected officers. More information will be provided soon. The training will offer workshops for our Chapter Chairs, Treasurers, Grievance Chairs, Secretaries and union leadership training that will benefit all elected officers. While the focus is on the work of elected officers, all members are welcome.

Being in a union (like being part of a democracy) is not a spectator sport. We have to participate actively if we are to grow and build power. The Summer Organizing Institute and the Union Leadership Training are two great ways for you to experience the union not as an organization you pay dues to, and then sit back and wait for things to happen, but something alive and dynamic to take part in!

Information about the Summer Organizing Institute is below, along with a link to the application. There is also a link in the member forms tab of If you’re serious about getting more involved in our union or want to learn more about labor activism, take a look at the application and consider joining us this summer. A small stipend is provided to compensate for your time.

In solidarity,

Tony Johnston President of Local 1600


Join the CCCTU Summer Organizing Institute!

Activists will receive a $600 stipend.

Organizers must commit to attending six Saturday classes via Zoom 9am-12pm and three hours of field work each week either over Zoom or in person, depending on conditions.

Open to all CCCTU members and elected chapter leadership.

Dates: June 5 through July 17 (no class on July 3)

For more information, please contact Nick at or Caitlin at

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