After two years of negotiations and a one-day strike, Loyola’s non-tenure track (NTT) faculty union reached a tentative contract agreement with the university Monday night. The contract will go to a union vote on Thursday and Friday for ratification.
NTT faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) don’t receive the same compensation or benefits as tenured faculty and are ineligible for promotions to tenured positions, which some have said forces them to work two or more jobs to make ends meet. The union has been trying to come to an agreement with the university for better pay and increased benefits since the union’s formation in January 2016.
If ratified, the contract would significantly increase pay for NTT faculty, provide annual raises, create a professional development fund and a new part-time teaching classification called “adjunct instructor,” which would include a pay raise and two-year appointment, according to a university statement from President Jo Ann Rooney.
Alyson Paige Warren, an adjunct English professor who’s co-chair of the faculty bargaining team, said after a long process, she’s been thrilled at this result.
“It’s really a culmination of all our time spent negotiating,” Warren said.
Rooney’s statement, released Tuesday, said the university strongly recommends the faculty union vote in favor of the agreement.
“Loyola’s goal from the start has been to reach fair and reasonable agreements that are consistent with our commitment to social justice and our Jesuit values,” Rooney’s statement said. “The [agreements] reached [Monday] night achieve this goal.”
The negotiations weren’t without road bumps. Dozens of NTT faculty union members staged a daylong strike April 4 after they failed to reach an agreement with the university. They continued to demonstrate during Loyola Weekend, April 7-8, by passing out flyers in front of the Damen Student Center to prospective students and families.
Loyola originally appealed the unionization to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) twice since 2016, citing the institution’s religious affiliation as the reason they aren’t bound by unionization. These appeals were rejected, save for an NLRB decision in March 2017, which wasn’t part of Loyola’s appeal, which barred theology department faculty from the unionization.
The union includes 350 NTT faculty in the CAS, and seven faculty from the English Language Learning Program (ELLP). Loyola’s union falls under the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 73 branch, which represents more than 29,000 workers in Illinois and Indiana.
SEIU Local 73 also represents the NTT faculty union at the University of Chicago, who voted April 13 to ratify their first union contract with the administration.
Jason Grunebaum, a professor of Hindi at the University of Chicago, said he’s been involved with the University of Chicago faculty union since its inception in December 2015. He said University of Chicago and Loyola’s agreements this week hopefully mark a turning point for how faculty unions are treated and perceived.
“I hope this’ll be an example for faculty thinking about unionizing or who are already in the process of bargaining,” Grunebaum said.
While SEIU Local 73 and the Loyola faculty union have said they won’t reveal specific details of the agreement until it’s ratified, the University of Chicago union was able to secure up to a 49 percent wage increase for some, paid parental leave, professional development funds and caps on the size of language courses.
Warren said she thinks this agreement, paired with the University of Chicago contract, shows a shifting landscape for faculty unions.
“This is a movement that’s going to change higher education,” Warren said.