College of DuPage's Student Newspaper

The Courier

College of DuPage's Student Newspaper

The Courier

COD Faculty Union Authorizes Potential Faculty Strike

COD full-time faculty Union president David Goldberg discusses the most recent step in the union’s negotiations with COD administration and what that means for students.
Rachel Wagner
Members of the CODFA rally in front of the COD building before the Board of Trustees meeting.

The College of DuPage faculty union, or CODFA, voted last Thursday to authorize a potential faculty strike, but faculty leaders said there is no immediate need for students to worry about their classes being canceled.

Union president David Goldberg said students should expect no difference from before the announcement of the strike authorization. 

“I don’t think that faculty are talking about this in their classrooms,” Goldberg said. “If students wish to discuss this, it should be outside of the classroom. We’re not in the interest of lobbying or twisting arms for students to do anything.” 

Union President David Goldberg speaks at the union rally. (Rachel Wagner)

The authorization comes after the faculty union contract ended in May of this year and both the CODFA and the administration have been negotiating since February. Though negotiations have come to a standstill, both sides have agreed to engage with a federal mediator, which is a third party that helps negotiate union contracts. Goldberg said the CODFA plans for many more negotiating sessions before walking out of classrooms. 

“We do not anticipate [a strike] occurring anytime soon,” he said. “We’re in federal mediation and the next session is the week after Labor Day. So it will be a week and a half to two weeks until we have another mediation session.” 

In order for the authorization to happen, the union needed a majority of its members to vote in favor of the motion. Goldberg reported at the last Board of Trustees meeting that 92% of the total union members voted, with 93% of those votes in favor of authorizing a strike. Goldberg said the authorization is not meant as a threat of strike but as a show of strength within the CODFA. 

“The next time they go to the table, they can say ‘We got overwhelming support.’ That can be a source of leverage for us at the table,”  he said. “The overwhelming majority of our colleagues support what is being done in their name by the negotiations team. That’s the point. The point is not to strike fear in the hearts of students or the community at all.”

Even if mediation does not come to any conclusion, Goldberg said the union must file an official notice that a strike will occur. After that, the state requires a 10-day cool-down period before a walkout can happen. Conversation among the union members would also need to happen before a strike would occur. 

Current and past members of the full and part-time faculty, students and Illinois state Sen. Karina Villa attended the rally hosted by CODFA outside a main entrance on campus. Those within the crowd of more than 40 people spoke out on a bullhorn to the rest of the group, including second-year COD student Stephanie Chávez.

COD student Stephanie Chávez speaks at the CODFA rally in support of the union. (Rachel Wagner)

“I’m out here because I am a future teacher myself,” Chávez said. “I want nothing more than to support the educators who are preparing me for my career. I think it’s completely unacceptable what our teachers are going through at the hands of the administration.”  

Through Chávez’s speech, she wanted to provide representation for the student voice and highlight how these contracts impact the student experience.  

“Our admin gets to sit at a desk and make triple what our teachers make, and they don’t do the work that they do. Administrators can come and go, and they can change, but our faculty remains the same.  

Among the primary negotiation points the CODFA is bartering for is an increase in mental health counselors and proper compensation for those counselors, alongside adjusting compensation for faculty with inflation.  Both the CODFA and the administration hope to continue negotiations with these main points in mind.

COD professor Maria Ritzema speaks to her faculty peers at the CODFA rally. (Rachel Wagner)

COD history professor Maria Ritzema emphasized the importance of supporting student mental health, describing the academic consequences it could have for students. 

“If I couldn’t get the mental health that I need I would probably stop coming to class. I get that in my own classes already,” Ritzema said. “[Students are] facing all of these difficulties and hardships, so they have to prioritize what is gonna go and what they need to focus on. School is often the thing that gets dropped.” 

The college released a statement about the situation through Jen Duda, the senior manager of the college administration’s news bureau and community engagement in the marketing department. 

“College of DuPage remains committed to bargaining in good faith with the College’s Faculty Association,” the statement read. “We value our expert faculty and the services and support they provide to the College in our mutual interest of advancing student success. As was the goal at the start of this process, 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.” 

At the latest Board of Trustees meeting, board chair Christine Fenne made a comment to conclude her chair report with the same message.

“We value our expert faculty and the services and support that they provide to the college in our mutual interest of advancing student success,” Fenne said. “We are all a part of the COD family. Let us remember that we are still at the table together and respectfully working through the issues. No one is walking away. We remain committed to the process, and I can ensure you that reaching a fair contract is everyone’s goal.”

COD education students stand in support of the faculty union. (Rachel Wagner)

Goldberg said that the CODFA would be hosting information picketing outside COD on Aug. 28 and Aug. 29 in order to let students know what is happening on campus. Union members will be standing around main entrances to pass out informative brochures to students to help keep them up to date on what the union is fighting for. These will run from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. outside the main COD buildings.

This is an ongoing story. The Courier will be closely monitoring and adding updates once more is known. 

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