Job listing for housekeeper at president’s house removed after union members’ plans to apply go public

By Noah Jennings, Co-Editor-in-Chief

The college posted a listing for a housekeeper for the Near North Side residence where President and CEO Kwang-Wu Kim lives. Zillow—a real estate website—estimates the house to be valued at nearly $3 million. The job listing has since been removed. Zachary Clingenpeel

Updated Wednesday, June 23 at 4:00 p.m. with additional interviews. 

The union representing Columbia’s staff has challenged an ad to hire a housekeeper for the college-owned house where Columbia President and CEO Kwang-Wu Kim lives. The ad was posted while the union has been unable to reach a new contract agreement after more than three years of negotiations.

In a letter to the editor published Friday, June 18, in the Chronicle, the United Staff of Columbia College satirically challenged the posting, listing how staff would be qualified for the position. The job listing, which was posted on the college’s website, has since been removed.

In an email to the Chronicle, USofCC President Craig Sigele said the union’s Contract Action Team decided to write the letter in order to bring attention to the need for a collegewide staff raise.

“Too many staffers say they need to find side-gigs and second jobs to stay financially afloat,” Sigele said. “Our need for a fair raise increase and contract should supersede Dr. Kim’s need for a personal housekeeper. The college needs to prioritize staff!”

Sigele said the job posting was removed from the college website soon afterunion members began applying for the position last Thursday afternoon. It is unknown how many members were able to successfully apply.

“The union believes that the removal of the ad demonstrates the power of the pressure that the applications and the open letter were putting on the administration,” Sigele said. “USofCC hopes that it also demonstrates that the college recognizes that the ad represents a blatant disrespect to the needs of Columbia staff. We need a fair raise, back pay, and new contract NOW!”

In an email statement to the Chronicle, Lambrini Lukidis, associate vice president of Strategic Communications and External Relations, explained the house is owned by the college, not Kim, and the housekeeper is a part-time college employee.

“The building commonly called the president’s house is a college property that serves as a venue for official college functions to advance the mission of the institution, houses office space for some college staff, and is home to the president,” Lukidis said. “The housekeeper is a part-time college employee who provides cleaning after functions and performs other general cleaning duties in order to maintain the property.”

In a Wednesday, June 23 email to the Chronicle, Lukidis said the ad was taken down because the position had been filled.

Diana Vallera, president of CFAC—Columbia’s part-time faculty union—and adjunct faculty member in the Photography Department, said in a Wednesday, June 23 email to the Chronicle that CFAC shares concerns with USofCC.

“We are an art school and creative responses to social problems are part of what we do,” Vallera said. “I know from my experience that this administration expends incredible resources in order to sideline the unions rather than take a collaborative approach.  The result is that the unions are left with having to engage in activism and community-building approaches to negotiating.” 

Vallera said the administration working with the unions is in the best interest of students.

“The best action the administration can take is to welcome unions to the table as partners to provide the best education possible for our students,” Vallera said. “Failure to do so continues to harm our faculty and staff and students. It remains the case that our working conditions are our students’ learning conditions.”

More updates to come.