Qualified majority of Columbia College staff vote to authorize strike
CHICAGO – Members of the United Staff of Columbia College (USCC), the union representing the staff of Columbia College, voted overwhelmingly in favor of allowing a strike. The vote comes after three years of negotiations with Columbia College. USCC has been working without a contract since August 31, 2018.
“Obviously, we don’t want to go on strike. We have spent three long years trying to avoid this. But enough is enough. We are losing talented staff to other colleges. The future of our students is at stake. We are prepared to do whatever it takes to protect their education, ”said Craig Sigele, President of USCC.
Over the years, the Columbia College administration has made decisions that negatively impact students and the quality of teaching at the college, including cutting 331 staff positions between 2015 and 2019. Additionally, during almost 10 years between 2009-10 and For the 2018-19 school years, inflation rose by over 18.1%, but salary increases for Columbia College staff totaled only 11% , which equates to just over one percent per year.
Currently, Columbia College is losing staff to Northwestern, DePaul, Loyola and College of DuPage, where they can receive higher salaries for comparable positions.
Retroactive pay for years when USCC members worked without a contract and health care costs are also at issue.
“The board’s latest offer does not include any cost of living adjustments and no pay increases during the years we have worked without a contract,” Sigele said. “On top of that, they try to make us pay more for health insurance. By virtue of their offer, we will actually make less money than now. It is totally unacceptable. “
USCC represents 367 Columbia College staff working in Administrative Services, Academic Counseling, Student Support Services, Enrollment Management, Career Center, Library, Residence Life and Financial Services, and also represents artist teachers, teaching specialists and many other titles that support college and students.
The next trading session will be held via Zoom and is set for Thursday at 11 a.m.
With 135,000 members, the Illinois Education Association (IEA) is the largest union in Illinois. The IEA represents PreK-12 teachers outside of the city of Chicago and educational support staff, higher education faculty and support staff, retired education staff and students preparing to become teachers, statewide.