Non-Tenured Professors Strike After Negotiations Fail

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Almudena Rincón | The PHOENIX

Some Loyola faculty are on strike Wednesday as contract negotiations with the university remain unresolved.

Students walked out of class on Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus and striking faculty gathered to demonstrate against what they said is the university’s sluggish response to union demands.

Members of Loyola’s non-tenure track (NTT) faculty union from the College of Arts and Sciences are asking for a 67 percent pay increase for part-time faculty among other requests, according to Loyola’s March 29 bargaining update.

NTT faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences don’t receive the same level of compensation or benefits as their tenure counterparts. Some claim they’re subject to unique financial barriers as a result, such as having to work multiple jobs to make ends meet. They’re also ineligible for promotions to tenured positions.

The university is interested in continuing negotiations but is prepared for the one-day strike, Loyola President Jo Ann Rooney said in an April 3 email to students. Loyola plans to keep all university buildings and operations open and working during the strike and requests faculty notify students of their participation through Sakai. Rooney requested that students stay 15 minutes into class before leaving, as the university does not know which faculty members will be participating.

NTT faculty have been bargaining with the university for improved pay and benefits since unionization in 2016 through the representation of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 73 branch which encompasses more than 29,000 workers in Illinois and Indiana.

Rooney’s statement said 350 full and part-time NTT faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences and about 10 within the English Language Learning Program (ELLP) are represented by SEIU.

Faculty union leaders first announced the possibility of a strike at a March 16 press conference if a deal wasn’t reached with Loyola.

The strike was officially announced Tuesday in Rooney’s email to students where Rooney reiterated the university’s opposition to the strike.

“It is highly disappointing that the SEIU would call a strike and disrupt your education, particularly given the efforts Loyola has made to reach a fair and reasonable agreement. Loyola believes contract issues are best settled at the bargaining table, and we have been committed to transparency and collaborative negotiations,” Rooney said.

Faculty union leaders said they don’t want to strike but the university left them no choice, according to Alyson Paige Warren, an adjunct professor in the English department.

Warren, who serves as co-chair of the faculty union bargaining team, said the union only considered striking once it thought Loyola would continue to stall in the bargaining process without a resolute timeline.

According to Warren, significant progress was made during the April 2 bargaining session, but a settlement has not been reached.

“While there was tons of movement towards establishing a fair contract, the bargaining is actually still ongoing at this 11th hour,” Warren said in an April 3 email to her colleagues, prior to the announcement of the strike.

The Loyola administration released an April 3 online statement detailing the progress made at the most recent bargaining session. The statement laid out the university’s updated proposals involving compensation, appointments and reappointments, promotion, workload and professional development.

In addition to a salary raise to all members of the bargaining unit previously proposed, the statement suggested raising the hourly rate of certain courses such as applied music, independent study and supervised research.

In an effort to improve job security, Loyola suggested reducing the requirements for part-time faculty to become adjunct professors, changing the initial appointment of a full-time unionized faculty member from one year to two and lengthening the times of their reappointments. They also recommend reducing the number of reasons Loyola is allowed to not reappoint faculty.

Loyola proposed changes to the process which allow unionized faculty to request a promotion and made suggestions regarding faculty members’ abilities to manage workload.

The university suggested doubling the original amount of a professional development fund for faculty to $30,000 and making it available to all unionized faculty. They also offered faculty the opportunity to apply for grants of up to $600.

Finally, changes to the compensation and workload of faculty members of ELLP were proposed. Loyola offered pay raises to all ELLP unionized faculty, with amounts differing depending on appointment status and job time. They also recommended changes to the guidelines dictating the workload of ELLP faculty.

The proposed strike is aligned with a student walkout run by the #NotMyLoyola movement as part of an emerging dialogue about racial discrimination on campus.

While the student walkout will occur on April 4 regardless if the strike is held or not, Warren said the two causes are in solidarity with each other.

“What the university is seeing is that students, faculty, graduate students, graduate workers, are all saying that we will all work together to bring to light the injustices that Loyola has kept invisible for far too long,” Warren said.

This story has been updated to clarify that only faculty from the College of Arts and Sciences are impacted. 

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