Part-time faculty announce their intention to join AICWU/AFSCME.
Photos by Nestor Kok.
Part-time faculty announced their intention to unionize with Art Institute of Chicago Workers United (AICWU), part of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 31, via a school-wide email and rally on Tuesday, May 10.
The announcement was circulated in a public letter, which points out that more than 75% of the faculty at SAIC are part-time and non-tenure-track faculty working in a “two-tier system of compensation and benefits that is creating a permanent underclass of contingent faculty.” Nearly 200 faculty signed the public letter in support of forming the union.
Part-time faculty and non-tenure track faculty seek commitment and stability from SAIC in the form of long-term contracts.
To teach at SAIC requires a terminal degree, and many SAIC faculty received their MFA degrees from SAIC.
Rally attendees commented that the unionizing efforts provided the first opportunity to create a part-time and non-tenure track faculty community.
Between mentoring, curriculum writing, panel participation, and committees, the workload of part-time and non-tenure track faculty often matches that of full-time faculty, yet no retirement, tuition, or health benefits are available to contingent faculty.