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Chicago – Members of the Columbia Faculty Union (CFAC, IFT/AFT/AFL-CIO Local 6602) filed an Unfair Labor Practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in light of the recent alarming moves by the college’s administration. Within just weeks of the beginning of fall semester, the President and Provost of Columbia College decided to cut sections of already-enrolled classes and raise course caps in other sections in an effort to cut costs, with more cuts slated for spring. These unilateral cuts not only negatively impact the student experience but are implemented after the collective bargaining agreement expired on August 31, 2023, and while CFAC is in bargaining.

“Rather than consider how current policies and practices impact enrollment and retention, our administration is ready to take drastic and irresponsible measures to reduce costs and address a ballooning deficit – and at the expense of our students,” said Diana Vallera, a photography professor and president of CFAC. “Our institution suffers from administrative bloat, has spent excessive funds on consultants and infrastructure, yet refuses to give our students the support they need and the college experience they deserve. Instead, we’re left to recover from the administration’s poor, last-minute decisions that limit our work and hinder students’ opportunities. These measures will unavoidably cause harm and reduce the quality of learning in our soon-to-be crowded classrooms.”

The administration has mandated course cuts despite the fact they were adequately enrolled and dramatically increased class sizes by as much as 100%.

Because of these cuts, cinema major Hannah Brumfield no longer has access to the instruction and expertise she needs to prepare for her chosen career: “What’s frustrating is not merely the adjustments to the course offerings but the direct impact these changes have on my ability to pursue my passion. These decisions reverberate far beyond academia; they influence students’ futures and our capacity to make meaningful contributions to the arts and our communities. With no alternative comparable courses being offered, I’m now left with this void in my education and skill development.”

“It’s clear these measures are desperate and ill-conceived, and they raise fundamental questions about Columbia College’s commitment to its students. Columbia needs to take steps to offer more to students – not less,” said IFT President Dan Montgomery. “That the administration is trying to make these changes in the middle of bargaining a new contract with part-time faculty – who are already disproportionately marginalized on that campus – is a prime example of bad-faith bargaining. The IFT stands behind our CFAC members in solidarity in this fight for high-quality academic instruction and better service for Columbia students. We urge Columbia administrators to move forward with transparency and thoroughly review decisions about curriculum and educational programs with faculty, including the adjunct members of CFAC, to best determine a fair and student-focused path forward.”

Not only will these tactics by Columbia’s administration increase faculty workload, lower academic standards, and devalue the student experience, but such large unilateral changes likely violate labor law, particularly since they target courses taught exclusively by adjuncts, the only union-represented teaching faculty. These cuts affecting students and Columbia’s most marginalized faculty members are especially troubling after watching administrators rake in hundreds of thousands of dollars in bonuses for themselves.

CFAC is the only group of union-represented faculty on campus. Full-time faculty are not unionized, and their courses have not been affected.

“Columbia College’s talented adjunct faculty and diverse course offerings are the jewels in its crown—not the costly consultants and ill-advised projects that have contributed to the college’s financial troubles,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten. “The solution is not to exponentially increase class size or to eliminate courses that directly benefit students—courses that students want and need. And it is not unconscionably shifting the burden to dedicated adjunct faculty who already have limited job security. Columbia College’s administration must engage with the Columbia Faculty Union with full transparency and a spirit of partnership.”

“The announced cuts at Columbia College fly in the face of well-established principles of shared governance and must be reconsidered with robust faculty input,” added American Association of University Professors (AAUP) President Irene Mulvey. “A high-quality education for Columbia’s students should not be the victim of the Columbia administration’s financial mismanagement. We stand with the faculty of CFAC Local 6602 in opposing these ill-thought, devastating measures.”

An Unfair Labor Practice was filed on August 25 by the union and seeks injunctive relief. It is being reviewed by the NLRB.

The next bargaining session between CFAC and the college is September 21.

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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