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By Jaclyn Diaz
Non-tenured professors at the University of Chicago reached a tentative first contract with the administration late March 15, avoiding a planned strike.
The professors, including full- and part-time faculty, will likely vote on the new contract during the first two weeks in April, Dmitry Kondrashov, a senior lecturer and bargaining team member, told Bloomberg Law.
The contract provisions would establish more consistency in teaching assignments, improved pay, and a pathway to full-time promotion. Irregular job assignments during an academic year and low pay have consistently been issues unions on other campuses have been concerned about. This has been addressed in recent contracts for unionized professors at Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont, Calif., and for non-tenure-track faculty at Duke University.
The University of Chicago agreement also includes expanded eligibility for medical benefits, a class-size cap of 15 students for language courses, and greater reappointment security, along with other provisions, a university spokesman said.
The deal was reached in the nick of time. The union held a strike authorization vote a week earlier and said if a deal wasn’t reached by March 15 the staff would hit the picket lines. Kondrashov declined to elaborate on what issues resulted in the strike vote but said the union was now looking forward to working with the school on a final contract.
Negotiations took about two years to hash out, in part, because the contract needed to address the needs of full-time professors and those that teach part-time with one or two classes a quarter, he said.
Over the course of the year, the bargaining unit at the University of Chicago generally consists of about 300 people, Kondrashov said. As of the school’s winter quarter, which just concluded, the bargaining unit has 188 people in it, a spokesman for the university said.
Neither the union nor the university could elaborate further on the agreement.
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