Chicago Tribune on Adjunct and Other University Workers’ Union Struggle

BY PETER N. KIRSTEIN

The adjunct struggle for union rights and human rights is spreading. The National Labour Relations Board (N.L.R.B.) has authorised Loyola University Chicago adjuncts and non-tenure track full-time faculty to conduct an election. Adjuncts at the University of Chicago are organising. The Chicago City Council in October voted unanimously to endorse the right of adjuncts throughout Chicagoland to engage in collective bargaining. There are some 6,500 non-tenured professors alone at private colleges and universities across Chicago with some twenty percent on public assistance.

I am quoted in the Chicago Tribune in an article, “Students, Faculty Fight for Unions on Catholic Campuses,” by its religion writer, Manya Brachear Pashman, on why many Catholic universities, despite putative adherence to Catholic social teaching, are opposing unionisation for teachers and other on-campus employees. I am not a labour historian per se, but certainly encompass that aspect in many of my courses:

Peter Kirstein, a labor history professor at St. Xavier, said more Catholic schools are finding that church teachings are expensive to uphold. In many cases, such as food services, schools have outsourced the labor and, therefore, the collective bargaining responsibilities. Even so, Kirstein said, administrators should recognize their moral obligation to require that companies provide health care and a living wage.

“Universities need to have less fear about justice,” he said. “Workers who want to organize in a union — they’re not selfish. They’re not radical. They’re poor and people don’t want to be poor.”

I hope the A.A.U.P. will permit some sessions at the annual conference on this topic. It is essential that we keep the pressure on, and encourage and respect presenters on this topic as we fight the fight for worker justice.

See the complete Chicago Tribune article, here

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