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Columbia College Adjunct Faculty Overwhelmingly Ratify New 4-Year Agreement

CHICAGO – – The part-time adjunct faculty who are members of the Columbia College Faculty Union (CFAC, IFT Local 6602) voted on Wednesday to ratify a new 4-year contract with Columbia College Chicago. More than 85% of members participated in the vote, with 99.7% voting YES. The successful ratification vote officially ends the union's historic 49-day strike.

“Our members, who are the most marginalized faculty, spoke out powerfully for our students and the integrity of our disciplines by voting to strike, and they have done so again by voting overwhelmingly to accept the negotiated agreement that reflects a shared commitment to the institution and the caliber of instruction it provides,” said Diana Vallera, CFAC president and photography professor.

The agreement makes important progress in areas of concern that were central to the strike. Among them are the restoration of many spring semester courses that were scheduled to be eliminated, as well as improvements in job security, seniority, and the addition of a health care benefit for many adjuncts, who teach nearly 70 percent of courses on campus.

The union believes that the contract is the first in the country for part-time faculty to include a guarantee of course instruction supporting academic freedom for members. It also includes a provision to address student and adjunct faculty concerns about dramatic class size increases at Columbia.

"We're pleased that the administration has agreed to establish a committee to discuss class sizes for courses taught by part-time faculty," added Vallera. "It will be made up of adjunct professors, administrators and students. The committee will ensure that our voices contribute to decisions that impact student learning and quality of instruction."

"By standing strong in their union and with the incredible support of students and labor allies over the course of 49 days, the heroic members of CFAC have made huge gains in this agreement," said IFT President Dan Montgomery. "No one ever wants to strike, but through their deep commitment to students and one another, Columbia's part-time adjunct faculty have successfully demanded the respect they deserve as professionals and the voice they need to ensure a high-quality education for their students."

AFT President Randi Weingarten said that CFAC's victory will help pave the way for contract improvements for all adjuncts. "Because of their powerful and tough, long fight, our members at Columbia College Chicago have not only made critical improvements for their students and the college they love, but they have raised the bar for all our institutions," Weingarten said. "Across the country, adjunct faculty comprise more than 67% of our college and university instructors, yet they are the lowest paid and the least valued. We know that when administrations collaborate with and respect adjuncts, our students, educators, and campus communities thrive. The agreement that CFAC members have secured at Columbia will strengthen the college and serve as a goal for adjuncts at other institutions who deserve fair benefits and a voice on their campus."

All part-time adjunct faculty will return to their classrooms and students on January 2, after the college's winter break.

“Our members look forward to being back with our incredible students next month," Vallera said. "On behalf of our union, I want to thank the students who stood with us throughout this difficult strike. Your support meant the world to us, because at its heart, our fight was for you and the education you were promised. That remains our union's top priority and what makes us CFAC Strong."


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