FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

The Basics

Why did LUC faculty form a union? 

Who is in charge of our union? 

Who is negotiating with the administration?

How does a union work? 

How is the Bargaining Team deciding what positions to take in negotiating with the administration?

What is Faculty Forward? SEIU? 

What have others achieved by forming a union? 

How much will dues be? 

 

Getting to Our First Union Contract

How has the administration responded?

There are some aspects of my current position that I really like. I’m concerned they will be lost during negotiations. 

Aspects of my job have already gotten worse. I’ve been told this is because of the union. 

What can I do to help?


The Basics

 

Why did LUC faculty form a union? 

Because we want to improve our working conditions and make sure teaching and scholarship are a priority at Loyola. With our union, we will have a stronger, more unified voice for our profession. More than 60 percent of LUC faculty are off the tenure track. While we love teaching at Loyola, creating more equitable and predictable employment conditions for non-tenure track faculty will enhance the quality of our students’ educational experiences. Our working conditions are our students’ learning conditions.
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Who is in charge of our union? 

We make all of the decisions for our own union. We will have officers and approval of contracts will be decided by a majority vote, but all members can help shape our union through bargaining surveys, serving on committees, and electing officers. All of the proposals for our contract will come from us. And during the process of achieving a contract with the school, we will decide when the proposed contract is good enough to be ratified by a majority vote.
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Who is negotiating with the administration?

The Bargaining Team is made up of volunteers from our membership of the union, including both part-time adjuncts and full-time lecturers, and the natural sciences, social sciences and humanities. We are being supported by staff from SEIU, including Elizabeth Towell, a professional organizer, and Larry Alcoff, our “union rep” – a professional negotiator.

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How does a union work? 

Having a union empowers people to make positive changes where they work. Having a union does not guarantee any particular improvement or benefit, but a union is the tool that working people, like college and university faculty, use to make improvements where they work. Alone, we have very little power to improve our working conditions. We might ask our department chair for certain changes, but an individual has very little leverage in such conversations. What we want may be beyond the power of the department chair and under control of the administration, with whom we as lone individuals have even less leverage. By coming together as a group, however, we are capable of exercising real power and negotiating for the changes that we want in our working and teaching conditions. Through the power of collective bargaining, instructors across the country have won a voice at the table and the right to negotiate with their college and university administrations.
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How is the Bargaining Team deciding what positions to take in negotiating with the administration?

We are drawing on 1) our own experience as non-tenure track faculty here at Loyola; 2) the results of the member surveys and what issues people said they wanted to prioritize in them; and 3) contracts that other faculty unions have won at other colleges and universities.
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What is Faculty Forward? SEIU? 

As non-tenure track faculty, we have decided that forming a union with SEIU Faculty Forward is the best way for contingent faculty to receive the respect, recognition and security we deserve. SEIU is the Service Employees International Union. SEIU represents 75,000 members in public and private higher education in the United States—40,000 are college and university faculty. Overall, SEIU is home to roughly 2 million members in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico, including tens of thousands of Illinoisans.

SEIU has a long history of reaching out to people in occupations most other unions consider too difficult to organize–including non-tenure track faculty. The effort here at Loyola is part of SEIU’s nationwide Faculty Forward campaign to unionize non-tenure track faculty. The union staff are involved with campaigns at other Chicago-area colleges and have a national pool of knowledge and resources to draw on.
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What have others achieved by forming a union? 

Across the country, faculty have negotiated contracts that have won: pay increases, the establishment or expansion of professional development funds, “just cause” clauses protecting members from arbitrary discipline or discharge, and a defined rate of compensation in the event of course cancellation, among other improvements. Because this is our union, what we achieve in bargaining will reflect our priorities and issues specific to Loyola University Chicago. Most importantly, forming a union will allow us to have a voice in determining our working conditions.
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How much will dues be? 

Forming a union allows us to pool our resources and make a bigger difference on campus. No one pays dues until we have negotiated our first contract and voted as a group to approve our contract. In other words, we will not pay any money into the union before we know exactly what gains we’ve achieved through collective bargaining. Dues, are 2 percent or $2 for every $100 you earn.
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Getting to Our First Union Contract

How has the administration responded? 

Most employers like to continue making all of the decisions without giving those who work for them a real voice. Unfortunately, even with a stated social justice mission, Loyola is following in these footsteps.

When we initially fought to form a union, the university administration launched a campaign to convince us to change our minds by promising unspecified improvements, misleadingly describing the union as an outside, third party (instead of the representative of its members), and saying they wanted to work with us through the shared governance system, despite the fact that non-tenure track faculty have no voice in that. However, most folks realized that standing together to build a union is the best choice for all of us and we won the union election in January 2016.

Since then, we have been meeting with the administration to negotiate a first contract for almost two years, which is longer than parties negotiated in good faith bargaining typically take to reach an agreement. During this time, there have been many points where the university has sought to stall and obstruct negotiations. They also continue to attempt to publicize a false dilemma: they imply that our union’s proposals for fair compensation and support will result in higher tuition for students and the loss of other important positions on campus.The reality is that the university doesn’t have raise tuition or cut positions to remain financially responsible while improving the working conditions of its NTT faculty. This is all the more apparent when you look at the university’s numerous non-academic expenditures totaling in the millions of dollars just over the past year, including enhancements to the basketball arena and new buildings during this same time period.
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There are some aspects of my current position that I really like. I’m concerned they will be lost during negotiations.
We are taking the current situation as a baseline and moving up from there. We will not give up any of the positive things people already have. Any concessions we make during negotiations with the administration will be giving up some of the new improvements that we are asking for in return for the administration granting us another improvement that is a higher priority for our members. Any contract we negotiate will have to be approved by a majority of members in a vote. If the majority of members reject a contract because there’s parts of it they don’t like, we will have to go back and renegotiate those parts with the administration.

Also, keep in mind that without a union there is no guarantee that you can keep any of the positives of your current situation. The administration or department chairs can take them away at any time. Some full-time lecturers have, for instance, had their course loads raised without warning. A union contract will lock all these positive things in so the administration can’t change them except through negotiation with the union.

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Aspects of my job have already gotten worse. I’ve been told this is because of the union.

Legally, the administration and department chairs are required to keep things as they were before the union election until we complete contract negotiations. If they are changing your job in a way that makes it worse, this may well be illegal. Please contact union staff people Elizabeth Towell at etowell@seiu73.org and Larry Alcoff at larry.alcoff@seiu.org  if this is the case. They will be happy to help you resolve your problems.

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What can I do to help?

You can join the Bargaining Team. It currently represents a broad range of faculty, but we need as many people to participate as possible in order to keep the pressure up on the university to reach a fair contract with us. If you would like to join the Bargaining Team, contact Elizabeth Towell at etowell@seiu73.org.

Follow the updates we will be sending out via email and let us know about any concerns you have. See the “Get Involved” page for more ways to participate and support the union’s effort to reach a fair contract!
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