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Breaking: Part-time faculty union to start strike on Monday

Peyton Reich
On Thursday, Oct. 26, 2023, students and faculty rallied outside 600 S. Michigan in support of the part-time faculty union. Many people are wearing red and holding signs to show support for the upcoming strike starting Monday, Oct. 30.

The part-time faculty union will begin striking on Monday, Oct. 30.

Columbia Faculty Union President Diana Vallera said there will be a “big demonstration” and press conference next week. She did not specify how long the strike would go. The last time the union went on strike in 2017, part-time faculty walked out for two days. 

The union finalized its voting to authorize the strike on Wednesday, Oct. 25, announcing the 88% approval to vote early in the morning on Thursday, Oct. 26. 

Vallera said this vote brought the highest CFAC turnout, with 81% of eligible part-time faculty voting. Not all 581 part-time faculty are eligible to vote. The union did not provide the number of union members who voted.

The announcement comes after a multi-hour bargaining session on Thursday between union representatives and college administrators that was live streamed on Instagram. Outside the 600 S. Michigan Ave. building, Vallera said the bargaining session “made it worse.” 

During bargaining, the union called for decisions related to cutting class size, increasing course caps, among other concerns to be “freezed” and/or “reversed” by the college. Laurent Pernot, chief of staff, said the college is unwilling to do so. 

The union is also pushing for part-time faculty to have healthcare and job security, demands that Pernot said are reserved for full-time faculty. Vallera said the union should have the same benefits as “the people at the top get.”

CFAC President Diana Vallera meets with Laurent Pernot, chief of staff, and other administrators of the college for a bargaining session at the 600 S. Michigan Ave. building on Thursday, Oct. 26, 2023. K’Von Jackson

CFAC, which is currently in contract negotiations, has filed an unfair labor practice complaint over the cost-cutting measures. They want to be able to veto decisions about course changes. The college has said they don’t have that right under their current contract.

“No union member is going to cross the picket line,” Vallera, who is also a part-time instructor in the Photography Department, said through a bullhorn after the bargaining session ended. 

In the past, not all part-time instructors have honored the strike, and not all part-time instructors were able to participate in the strike authorization vote.

Many top administrators, including deans and the college’s Special Counsel Labor Relations Terence Smith, were at the bargaining session with CFAC and the union’s lawyers on Thursday. The union also invited students.

President and CEO Kwang-Wu Kim and Senior Vice President and Provost Marcella David were not at the bargaining table.

This is a developing story. 


Spanish Digest:

El sindicato de profesores a tiempo parcial comenzará la huelga el lunes 30 de octubre.

La presidenta del Sindicato de Profesores de Columbia, Diana Vallera, dijo que habrá una “gran manifestación” y una conferencia de prensa la próxima semana. No especificó cuánto tiempo duraría la huelga. La última vez que el sindicato se declaró en huelga en 2017, los profesores a tiempo parcial se declararon en huelga durante dos días. 

El anuncio se produjo después de una sesión de negociación, de varias horas, el jueves entre representantes sindicales y administradores universitarios, que se transmitió en vivo en Instagram. Afuera del edificio de 600 S. Michigan Ave., Vallera dijo que la sesión de negociación “empeoró las cosas”. 

Este es un artículo en desarrollo.

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About the Contributors
Olivia Cohen
Olivia Cohen, Former Editor-in-Chief
ocohen@columbiachronicle.com   Olivia Cohen is a senior journalism major, minoring in Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies. She primarily reports on Columbia's financial health, administration and unions, but has also written about personnel and department changes, COVID-19 policies and abortion. She joined the Chronicle in August 2021.   Hometown: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Abra Richardson
Abra Richardson, Former Senior Photojournalist
arichardson@columbiachronicle.com   Abra Richardson is a senior photojournalism major and has covered Chicago music festivals, fashion and metro protests. She joined the Chronicle in August 2021.   Hometown: Palatine, Illinois
K'Von Jackson
K'Von Jackson, Former Senior Photojournalist
kjackson@columbiachronicle.com   K'Von Jackson is a senior photography major. Some of his work includes campus crime writing, social justice and changes within Columbia. He worked for the Chronicle from August 2020 through December 2023.   Hometown: Chicago, Ill.
Peyton Reich
Peyton Reich, Photojournalist
preich@columbiachronicle.com   Peyton Reich is a junior photojournalism major, minoring in marketing. Reich has covered the Mexican Independence parade, Columbia's Black Student Union and theatre performances. Reich joined the Chronicle in August 2023.   Hometown: Flossmoor, Illinois