Admins Reject Faculty Union Contract Extension

The COD Faculty Association made an offer to extend their current contract and was rejected, setting the stage for full negotiations between admin and faculty negotiators.


David Goldberg

Faculty dressed in red at the board meeting.

Devin Oommen, Staff Writer

Contentious negotiations are on the horizon between the COD Faculty Association and the COD administration as an offer from the union to extend its current contract was rejected by COD administration.

Members of the College of DuPage Faculty Association gathered at a COD Board of Trustees meeting on Oct. 20 to express dissatisfaction with the decision. At the board meeting, union President David Goldberg said it was unclear why the extension was not approved.

“We asked administrators, as the board’s representatives, on three separate occasions. Each time, the request was rebuffed,” said Goldberg. “It is unfortunate, to put it mildly, that the board has no interest in engaging in extension talks and prefers full negotiations.”

Extending the contract would leave most protocols in place and outline updated pay schedules for an agreed amount of time. 

According to Goldberg, full-time faculty have faced burnout in the years following the peak of the COVID lockdowns, as well as change fatigue from college initiatives such as Pathways that have been labor intensive on the faculty. This, along with economic factors such as a potential recession, led faculty to prefer limiting the scope of discussion to specific elements of the contract, such as salaries, and entering full contract negotiations at a later date.  

“We were surprised that not only was that rejected, but it was summarily rejected,” said Goldberg.

The union has filed an intent to bargain with the administration, who have 60 days to respond. Initial negotiation sessions are expected to begin before the end of this year.

Faculty packed the board meeting on Oct. 20 wearing red, signifying #RedForEd, a movement used in teacher strikes across the country.

Not all faculty were in favor of extending the contract. Samuel Mitrani, a history professor at COD, said the current contract has elements that need to be revised to give control of certain decisions back to faculty.

Mitrani said the increase in part time labor and increase in number and power of administrators are issues that must be addressed.

“COD relies so heavily on highly exploited adjunct (part-time faculty) labor that I think this is the biggest problem facing the school,” said Mitrani. “Today the majority of COD classes are taught by people who do not make a living wage.” 

The college has 279 full-time faculty and 2,124 part-time faculty. Mitrani said parts of the contract don’t make sense.

“It would have seemed strange not very long ago to put people who have almost never actually taught, and who have chosen not to pursue the career of teaching, in charge of people who actually do teach, and know what they are doing,” said Mitrani. “If we have to have administrators who have chosen not to be educators, then our contract should bar them from intervening in the educational side of the institution, including deciding which classes should be taught, how they should be taught, and how they should be evaluated.”

The current union contract expires in May of ’23. It was negotiated in 2019. The two sides negotiated for six months and required the intervention of a federal mediator. At the height of the tension in negotiations, the faculty voted to authorize a strike. The two sides were able to come to an agreement without the faculty going on strike.

College President Brian Caputo was unavailable for an interview but sent The Courier the following statement:

“The College of DuPage is committed to bargaining in good faith with COD’s Faculty Association. It is our sincere hope to maintain an open and healthy dialogue with faculty representatives as we work toward a fair and equitable contract for the faculty as well as the students and the taxpayers of District 502. We value our expert faculty and the services and support they provide to the College in our mutual interest of advancing student success.”