P-Fac rallies before bargaining session

By Tessa Brubaker, Campus Reporter

The part-time faculty union held a rally April 27, joined by students and faculty, to protest contract bargaining issues including adjuncts losing classes, rising tuition and curriculum changes.

The rally was held just before a bargaining session with the college’s administration outside the 600 S. Michigan Ave. Building from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. A press conference with students, faculty and members from the Chicago Teachers Union,  such as Vice President Jesse Sharkey, was held before they all  marched into the building to bargain.

In an April 20 email sent to the college, P-Fac announced it will present its demands to the college about curriculum changes and faculty qualifications.

Prexy Nesbitt, adjunct professor in the Humanities, History and Social Sciences Department, said the reason P-Fac is protesting is that the college prioritizes money and buying buildings over students and education.

“The administration has to cease raising tuition like crazy,” Nesbitt said. “It has to cease arbitrarily getting rid of the most senior and experienced faculty under fallacious pretenses that are just ridiculous. It has to cease paying administrators outrageous salaries while it gives the adjunct faculties and part-timers pittances for pay. It’s a scandal what Columbia has become in this recent period.”

Diana Vallera, P-Fac president and adjunct professor in the Photography Department, said unless the administration bargains in good faith, the group will continue the rallies against them.

“The administration has to step up and realize if they don’t start to bargain in good faith, if they don’t change the path they’re on, we’re going to make sure we’re back out here until they do change the path,” Vallera said. “This is just the beginning.”

The rally was also joined by gigantic inflatables of a cat, rat and a pig to showcase how Columbia is becoming an anti-labor, anti-union and anti-people institution, Nesbitt said.

In an April 27 email statement sent to The Chronicle, Vice President of Strategic Communications and External Relations Mark Rosati said new proposals were made during the bargaining session regarding compensation and faculty.

The offers demonstrate good faith bargaining, but work remains to resolve remaining disagreements, Rosati said, adding that the college has asked for a federal mediator to join bargaining sessions  to help negotiations, but the union has declined.

“Columbia remains committed to a contract with the part-time faculty union that is mutually acceptable and in the best interests of our students. Since last fall, we have made more than a dozen proposals to the union at the bargaining table, including a salary increase. The union has yet to respond to most of them.”

Rosati attributed fewer faculty teaching courses to enrollment declines, which he said Columbia is working hard to address. He added that the most recent 2 percent tuition increase aligns with inflation.

Dane Wheaton, a senior interactive arts and media major, said he attended the rally to support P-Fac and protest changes to his department and its resources.

“[The administration] just needs to engage in conversation,” Wheaton said. “They dismiss all these demands and think they can get away with changing whatever they want, doing whatever they want and they’re simply not listening. That’s all we’re asking.”

Nesbitt said he wants the bargaining sessions to be respectful and fair.

“We also want them to bargain in seriousness, in good faith and not play games with us,” Nesbitt said. “We are human beings, we are people, we work, we pay enormous prices to be at this institution so we insist that they bargain with us in seriousness and in good faith.”

Vallera said she appreciates the  people who came out to support the rally, such as CTU.

“Everyone who was at the strike who said they were in support are coming back. We’re going to keep growing if this administration doesn’t get off this path,” Vallera said.