Faculty at Art Institute’s school aligns with AFSCME

Adjunct professors and lecturers voted overwhelmingly to join AFSCME, adding to the union’s winning streak in recent elections.

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Faculty members at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and their supporters hold a union rally in May. The faculty voted 377-33 to unionize.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Adjunct professors and lecturers at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago have voted overwhelmingly to unionize with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

The non-tenure-track faculty at the school will join the union’s Council 31, which has had a string of organizing wins here. It already represents staff at the Art Institute itself and its school.

The faculty’s mailed-in ballots were counted Tuesday in the Chicago offices of the National Labor Relations Board, the federal agency that supervises union votes. AFSCME said the result was 377-33 to unionize.

AFSCME said more than 600 faculty members will join the other unionized workers at the museum and the school. They call themselves Art Institute of Chicago Workers United.

A faculty committee issued a statement hailing the vote, calling it “an AICWU three-peat that sends a crystal-clear message to our president, provost and board: We know our worth, we know how critical our labor is to our institution, and we know it’s time to put it in writing.”

School spokesperson Bree Witt said it intends to bargain in good faith on an agreement “that best meets the needs of all parties to the contract while allowing us to continue to deliver on our mission of providing a world-class art and design education.”

Council 31 has organized workers at the Newberry Library and is trying to get bargaining rights for staff at the Field Museum.

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