In recent years, Loyola, like many universities, has increasingly turned away from the tenure track and to short-term contracts and its own graduate students to meet its instructional needs. Indeed, it appears that there are now twice as many faculty teaching here outside the tenure system as within it. Many non-regular rank faculty, including people who have taught at Loyola for a decade or more, work on a succession of term-to-term or yearly contracts, with no security.
In the last two years, majorities of Loyola Graduate Assistants, Lecturers, and Adjuncts voted to form unions to represent them. These votes are a local example of a national trend of contingent faculty and graduate teachers seeking the benefits of unionization. Indeed, many of our current tenure-track faculty have been in such unions, whether during our earlier time as adjunct faculty or as graduate teachers at unionized campuses such as Wisconsin, Michigan, and the University of California system.
Despite Loyola’s avowed commitment to social justice and Catholic Social Teaching’s unambiguous mandate to honor labor organizations, Loyola’s administration has fought these efforts at every turn, going so far as to assert its wholesale exemption from U.S. labor law as a religious institution. Loyola is refusing to negotiate with the graduate union and has moved at a glacial pace with the NTT faculty.
The issues that the unions seek to address in orderly negotiations are of great significance for the integrity of Loyola’s mission and the quality of our education. This is why we urge Loyola’s administration to publicly accept the right of graduate student teachers, adjuncts, and lecturers to unionize and to engage in good-faith negotiations with them.