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Chicago College Gets Slapped With NLRB Unfair Labor Practice Complaints On Behalf of P-Timers

By Kari Lydersen

At Columbia College Chicago, an arts- and media-oriented institution that has expanded greatly and helped revitalize the city’s South Loop, tensions have escalated between unionized part-time faculty and the administration this fall. The federal National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) filed two unfair labor practices (ULP) complaints against the college and is investigating several other ULP charges, while the administration announced that because of dropping student enrollment, the school will not grant usual salary increases to union and nonunion staff.

At Columbia College, part-timers teach 75 percent of classes, according to the union, which represents 780 members. Colleges and universities often save money by hiring part-timers instead of full-time faculty, and replacing more senior part-timers with new ones is also typically cheaper for the institution. A senior part-time professor at Columbia College can make up to $4,700 for a semester-long three-hour-per-week course, while new hires earn only $1,500.

The Part Time Faculty Association at Columbia College Chicago (P-fac) has been in contentious contract negotiations since January 2010. On September 30 and again on October 20, the NLRB filed ULP complaints against the college, which will go to trial in February 2012.

(Disclosure: I have been a member

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