Following nearly a month of campaigning to disaffiliate from IEA-NEA, the Illinois Education Association part of the National Education Association, Columbia’s part-time faculty association voted 232–50 on Jan. 21 to disaffiliate from its parent union.
Only 286 ballots were received out of a total 585 adjuncts who were eligible to vote, according to a Jan. 21 press release from Diana Vallera, president of P-Fac and an adjunct professor in the Photography Department.
“This historic vote is really a vote for part-time and contingent faculty to control their own destiny,” Vallera said. “We look forward to continuing to fight for the rights of these talented faculty on the issues that matter most, like course assignments.”
According to a Jan. 21 press release from IEA, P-Fac members have expressed concerns about the way the disaffiliation vote was conducted, including potential disenfranchisement of some eligible voters because the voting process began during winter break when many were not on campus, whether P-Fac’s constitution guidelines regarding constitutional amendments has actually been followed and whether those who were not in support of the vote were given equal access to communicate with P-Fac members.
According to James Nagle, an adjunct professor in the English Department, the P-Fac constitution may only be amended by a two-thirds vote of the membership, and only 286 of the 585 eligible adjuncts voted.
As such, IEA will investigate concerns surrounding the election in the days and weeks to come, according to the IEA press release.
Conflicts with IEA-NEA began arising over disagreements regarding class assignments when IEA-NEA proposed a written determination that staff who teach should be admitted into the P-Fac unit, which would then take work away from P-Fac adjuncts, according to the P-Fac website.
The vote to disaffiliate from IEA-NEA was authorized by a Dec. 22 vote among P-Fac representatives in which they voted 41–1 in favor of disaffiliation, according to Vallera. P-Fac membership was then notified Dec. 24 in an emailed statement from the P-Fac Steering Committee of the movements to disaffiliate from IEA-NEA, giving full P-Fac members until Jan. 21 to cast their ballots voting yes or no on the disaffiliation, which would allow P-Fac to operate as an independent union.