Members of the Campus Faculty Association teach in the sciences, engineering, fine arts, humanities, social sciences and professional schools. We love our students. When a class is cancelled due to low enrollment, we teach the material to an independent study group. When we write letters of recommendation, we tailor each one to the program or position for which the student is applying. When students cannot get the textbook, we lend them our copies.
Many of us joined the campaign for a faculty union out of concern for our students. We know that rising tuition and class size are bad for the quality of education. We recognize that the shrinking numbers of full-time faculty, discussion sections, and teaching assistants in recent years mean our students are getting less and less attention.
Some ways a unionized faculty can benefit our students and their educations:
- Collective bargaining for tenure-track faculty could improve salaries and benefits to attract and retain the most qualified and dedicated teacher-scholars.
- A union for non-tenure-track faculty, who shoulder an increasing share of classroom instruction, could negotiate greater access to professional development, and binding multi-year contracts, along with better salaries and benefits. These talented colleagues need proper resources and professional stability in order to serve Illinois students to the best of their ability, not just semester-by-semester but over the course of a career.
- A union could negotiate to improve class sizes, classroom conditions, and lab and classroom equipment for all faculty – these working conditions directly impact the educational experience.
The American public university is one of the finest achievements of our society, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has been a stellar example. Let’s keep it that way by forming a faculty union.