Striking Columbia College faculty hold rally as negotiations stall

Columbia College faculty were back on the picket line and speaking out Friday morning. The strike has gone 40 days and is considered to be the longest adjunct faculty strike in history.

The strike was approved to draw attention to unwanted curriculum cuts, the need for smaller class sizes, and improved benefits. Faculty is calling this a "wasted semester" as it draws to a close December 16.

As the end of the semester draws near, faculty members say progress has stalled despite countless negotiations.

"I think I speak for a lot of students when I say we've all been thrown for a bit of a loop," said Anahkah Sims, Columbia College Chicago sophomore.

On Friday, Columbia College Chicago adjunct professors rallied outside the Michigan Avenue campus. Talks have reached mediation, but the union says college leaders are not bargaining in good faith.

"The update is we are on day 40 of our strike," said Diana Vallera, Columbia College Faculty Union president.

Earlier this semester, the college announced that 53 classes taught by adjunct faculty would be canceled and another 317 cut next semester. Faculty are now striking, calling for smaller class sizes and better benefits.

"I don't think the environment right now is conducive to us learning at all. I feel like we're grasping at straws right now," said Sims, who also said the adjunct professors who are currently working in their fields were a selling point for her.

"Full time faculty is being overworked with the class load that they did not expect to have to the point where they can't even remember all of our names," said Sims.

Union leaders say the college is now just handing out "sham" grades without any content.

"They are trying to avoid lawsuits and they are trying to avoid accountability, and we are going to say no to this administration!" said Vallera.

Columbia College Chicago statement:

Unfortunately, mediation between the college and the union bargaining teams to date appears to be yielding the same result as negotiations: continued deadlock on key issues. The fact that CFAC remains on strike means we have an urgent need to make instructional and operational plans for spring. As the semester concludes on December 16, this has changed our priorities at the bargaining table to focus primarily on return to work for the spring semester.

On December 7, the college proposed a new offer that includes the previously offered raises, medical benefits, and new titles, but will reflect three important realities of where we are now:

  • The college can no longer justify the previous comprehensive offer in its entirety given the financial repercussions of the union’s strike.
  • The college cannot justify offers that were designed to bring strikers back to work when the union leadership has rejected these offers and continued to strike.
  • With the strike ongoing with no progress in mediation, the college needs to plan as needed to ensure a spring semester for our students.

For more information please click here.

In regards to negotiations, the college proposed a new offer to CFAC on December 7 (mentioned above) in which we have not yet heard back. We have not received a response from the union to continue negotiations today. We remain ready to negotiate with the federal mediator.