Inside Higher Ed's Scott Jaschik reported last week on an infuriating story out of East-West University, a small "majority-minority"
private college in Chicago's South Loop neighborhood (H/T Washington Monthly). Recently, the
school's 56 adjunct faculty members all received a letter informing
them that they were no longer employed by the school. To be rehired in the fall, each had to conduct a personal interview with the school's chancellor.
The timing of the letter was ... curious. It just so happens that the adjunct professors were in the midst of an organizing drive and, just
a few days earlier, had filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board for a union election. They've since had to withdraw that application because they are no longer official employees of the school. And eight teachers so far, including seven who had already signed union cards, have been told they won't be welcome back in November. The school is still completing the "interview" process.
morning, the professors picketed outside East-West's administration
building, pointing to one of the reasons they were attempting to form a union: they haven't received a pay raise in more than six
years. Joe Berry, a labor historian and ally with the Chicago Coalition of Contingent Academic Labor, tells us that the proposed barganing unit is still determining if and when they will file another NLRB petition. "This is uncharted territory," he adds.
To put these events in national context, a 2007 study found that one in five workers attempting to form a union are fired as a result. This the problem that the now-dormant Employee Free Choice Act sought to address.
UPDATE (9:02 p.m.): Kari Lydersen has more on the story at In These Times' labor blog.