We are forming a union, here’s why

We are forming a union, here’s why
To Our University of Chicago Colleagues,

We are non-tenure-track faculty (adjunct and full-time lecturers, senior lecturers, and post-docs) who teach across multiple departments at the University of Chicago. Some of us teach one course a year while others teach many at multiple institutions. Some of us are just beginning our career while others have worked at UChicago for many years. Regardless of our specific circumstances, we each appreciate the opportunity to bring our knowledge and experience into the classroom, enjoy being a part of such a vibrant academic community, and relish teaching and mentoring such bright and engaged students.

While we love teaching at UChicago, we want to attain more equitable working conditions – in particular, improvements to our compensation, benefits, and job security, and access to professional development funds to keep up with advances in our fields. We strongly believe that creating more equitable and predictable employment conditions for on-tenure-track faculty will enhance the quality of our students’ educational experiences.

On its homepage, UChicago proudly proclaims itself to be a premier “intellectual destination,” offering a “transformative education” and “enriching human life through rigorous scholarship. Contingent faculty working conditions and investment in instruction are essential to maintaining and developing this high educational standard. According to the most recent statistics available (2012-13), a full 41% of the faculty (not counting the medical school) is excluded from the tenure track. Only 29% of UChicago’s budget is dedicated to instruction, while student tuition has risen 65% over the past decade. Meanwhile, our president, Robert Zimmer, is among the highest-paid college presidents in the country (the highest-paid in the country in 2011, he earned a salary of $1.9 million in 2012). Over five years, administrators enjoyed pay increases of between 40% and 135%, with eight high-level administrators receiving more than $7.6 million in compensation increases since 2007-08.

The fact that UChicago relies on contingent labor and spends a surprisingly small percentage of its budget on student instruction affects our own working conditions, as well as our ability to provide quality education to UChicago’s talented students. For non-tenure-track faculty, “flexible” hiring practices have led to unstable and inconsistent employment, a lack of benefits, and financial insecurity. These practices also prevent contingent faculty from playing a stronger role in their respective departments, give instructors less time to prepare for their courses, and provide less time and resources to focus on the needs of students.

The motto of the University of Chicago is Crescat scientia; 
vita excolatur — 
”Let knowledge grow from more to more; and so be human life enriched.” We, non-tenure-track faculty (adjunct and full-time lecturers, senior lecturers, and post-docs) who teach across multiple departments at the University of Chicago, are challenged to apply this core value since, much as we make knowledge grow, we confront economic conditions that frequently make our lives difficult and impact the quality of our teaching.

In light of the above, we non-tenure-track faculty are coming together to form a union. Our organization is part of a city-wide campaign supported by Faculty Forward and the SEIU (Service Employees International Union), and we are encouraged by unions that have recently formed all across the country, including University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), Tufts University, American University, George Washington University and Georgetown. Where non-tenure-track faculty have organized, important improvements such as pay increases, benefits and increased job security have already been won. By joining together, both across UChicago and the Chicago area, we can win a voice in the life of our campus and improve our students’ learning conditions.

Our effort is part of a nationwide movement toward fairer working conditions for non-tenure-track faculty. Successes have already been achieved on dozens of campuses across the country. At several universities in Boston, Washington, DC, and in the California State University System, non-tenure-track faculty have won important improvements that push back against trends in higher education that have marginalized a majority of America’s college and university instructors.

  • At Tufts University, part-time lecturers pay per course will go up 22-40 percent over the next three years, with a floor of $7,300 per course by September 2016.
  • California State University (CSU) lecturers receive general salary increases at the same percentage level as tenure-track faculty.
  • Lecturers in the CSU system that are teaching 40 percent of full time, qualify for the same subsidized medical, dental, optical, life and disability insurance as tenure-line faculty.
  • Tufts University part-time lecturers with four to six years of service are eligible for 2-year appointments, and those with more than eight are eligible for 3-year appointments.
  • Tufts University faculty and administrators are working on a revamped evaluation process that will be used to improve performance, not punish.

Through SEIU union contracts, thousands of faculty nationwide will now have access to funding to support research, scholarship, civic engagement, and professional and artistic practice that contribute to the learning experience on campus.

We love teaching at UChicago, that’s why we are uniting to improve our working conditions – in particular, improvements to our compensation, benefits, and job security, and access to professional development funds to keep up with advances in our fields. We strongly believe that creating more equitable and predictable employment conditions for non-tenure-track faculty will enhance the quality of our students’ educational experiences.

Many people with whom we’ve already spoken agree that organizing a union is a great idea. If you are ready to stand with us, the next step is signing the confidential Union Authorization form. Click here to sign.

If you would like more information, you can find it at seiufacultyforward.org Also feel free to email one of us and we will be glad to answer any questions you may have.

 

In solidarity,

Hala Abdel Mobdy, Lecturer

Katherine Agnew, Lecturer

Helga Anetsdorfer-Karateke, Lecturer

William Balan-Gaubert, Lecturer

Nima Bassiri, Collegiate Assistant Professor

Colin Benert, Lecturer

Marie Bitaroff Berg, Lecturer

Brian Booker, Visiting Faculty

Céline Bordeaux, Lecturer

Andrew Broughton, Lecturer

Emanuelle Burton, Lecturer

Irena Cajkova, Lecturer

Shanna Carlson, Collegiate Assistant Professor

Kevin Casto, Lecturer

Lakhdar Choudar, Lecturer

Rachel DeWoskin, Core Faculty

Drew Dir, Lecturer

Dominic Dottener, L.E. Dickson Instructor

Paul Durica, Lecturer

Amaia Gabantxo, Lecturer

Saeed Ghahremani, Lecturer

Marie-Claude Grangier, Senior Lecturer & French Language Coordinator

Jason Grunebaum, Senior Lecturer

Kay Heikkinen, Lecturer

Sharon Hicks-Bartlett, Lecturer

Jonathan Hickman, L.E. Dickson Fellow

Aaron Hill, Adjunct Lecturer

Erik Houle, Lecturer & Slavic Languages Program Coordinator

Richard Hren, Lecturer

Omiela Hsu, Lecturer

Maria Iakubovich, Lecturer

Haitham Ibrahim, Lecturer

Izas Indacoechea, Lecturer

Tania Islas, Lecturer

Andrew Junker, Collegiate Assistant Professor

Stacie Kent, Collegiate Assistant Professor

Dmitry Kondrashov, Senior Lecturer

Frederic Kopp, Lecturer

Omar Kutty, Lecturer

Satyel Larson, Collegiate Assistant Professor

Ashton Lazarus, Collegiate Assistant Professor

Darcy Lear, Lecturer

Yu Liu, Lecturer

Zachary Loveless, Lecturer

María Cecilia (Nené) Lozada, Senior Lecturer

David Stuart MacLean, Lecturer

Clelia Masciello, Lecturer

Helena Mateos, Lecturer

Michael McCarron, Lecturer

Nicole Mauser, Lecturer

Ariana Nash, Lecturer

Peter O’Leary, Visiting Faculty

Dave Pacifico, Lecturer

Joan Merlin Palmer, Lecturer

Pablo Palomino, Lecturer

John Petrakis, Resident Artist

Dan Raeburn, Core Faculty

Geoffrey Rees, Lecturer

Patrick Reichard, Instructor

Felipe Rojas, Lecturer

Basil Salem, Lecturer

Emma Saunders-Hastings, Collegiate Assistant Professor

Jessica Savitz, Adjunct Faculty

Laura Scott, Lecturer

Janet Sedlar, Senior Lecturer & Coordinator of Spanish

Constance Sheehan, Lecturer

Olga Solovieva, Lecturer

Hilary Strang, Adjunct Faculty

Karl Swinehart, Collegiate Assistant Professor

Matthew Teichman, Lecturer

Kate Thompson, Lecturer

Paul Vaden, Lecturer

Veronica Vegna, Senior Lecturer & Italian Language Coordinator

Rhoda Elaine Waxman, Lecturer

Jake Werner, Collegiate Assistant Professor

John Wilkinson, Professor of Practice

Elizabeth Williamson, Collegiate Assistant Professor

Scott Wolniak, Lecturer

Peter Wirzbicki, Collegiate Assistant Professor

Jinxin Xue, L.E. Dickson Instructor

Andrew Yale, Lecturer & Manuscript Editor, Critical Inquiry

Alessia Zulato, Lecturer

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