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Columbia College Chicago faculty union on verge of longest adjunct strike in history

Before the Thanksgiving Holiday Part-Time Faculty Locked Out of Their Classrooms & Replaced

As college students across the U.S. head home for the holidays, adjunct professors at Columbia College Chicago are on the verge of the longest adjunct strike in history. This week, the administration locked out professors from their classrooms. To teach over a thousand classes, usually taught by approximately 584 striking union members, most adjunct classes will now be taught by department chairs and some full-time faculty, with some covering as many as 54 course sections.

The strike stems from the college administration’s unilateral decision, made two weeks before the start of fall semester, to eliminate 317 part-time faculty class sections for Spring 2024 and 53 class sections in Fall 2023, taught by part-time faculty, under claims of a financial crisis. The administration has not provided the union with a line-item budget to support this claim, their attorney stating financial information was “irrelevant to any bargaining issues.” The union has filed five Unfair Labor Practices with the National Labor Relations Board.

This decision, however, comes at a cost. An email sent on October 28 by Marcella David, the Provost of the college, said: “45% of course sections for spring will be larger, with an additional 5.7 seats per class on average.” Other courses for Spring 2024 will be merging or doubling in size.

The core bargaining issues of the Columbia College Faculty Union (CFAC) are:

Keep the courses our students come to Columbia to take.

Maintain class sizes that support educational success and emotional well-being.

Provide equitable access to job security.

Negotiate in good faith with CFAC.

The college’s administration has not held a bargaining session with CFAC since November 19, 2023. “We have been at the table ready to negotiate in good faith, and this a disheartening turn as the college has resorted to retaliatory measures, ejecting striking part-time faculty from their online course portals and intellectual property, effectively barring them from fulfilling their teaching duties,” stated CFAC President Diana Vallera. “The union wants nothing more than to work together to restore the promise of Columbia College Chicago and to prioritize quality education.”

On December 12, 2022, York’s New School and Parsons School of Design ended their part-time adjunct professors’ strike after a record 25 days; as of today, Columbia College Chicago is on day 23.

The Columbia College Faculty Union (CFAC, Local 6602) represents 600 part-time faculty at Columbia College – Chicago and is affiliated with the Illinois Federation of Teachers.

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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