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Part-time professors go on strike at Columbia College Chicago

Adjunct faculty on strike at Columbia College Chicago
Adjunct faculty on strike at Columbia College Chicago 02:25

CHICAGO (CBS) -- More than 600 part-time adjunct professors at Columbia College Chicago went on strike Monday morning, accusing the school of not providing a quality education. 

The adjunct professors' union has criticized the college's commitment to a quality education after cutting hundreds of already-enrolled classes, and merging other classes, ultimately leading to an increase in class sizes. Union members have called the changes unfair, saying they have led to a structural deficit that will heavily impact students and faculty.

"The students' tuitions have been going up, and the quality of education is going down," said Diana Vallera, president of the Columbia College Faculty Union.

Part time professors to go on strike at Columbia College Chicago 02:58

For nearly two decades Vallera has been a part-time photography professor at Columbia College. 

"And they tried to save $2 million this academic year by increasing class size, eliminating courses on the backs of the part-time faculty, the most marginalized faculty. And this is two weeks before the semester begins," she said. 

The union says a structural deficit is now leading to an unfair labor practice strike amongst the part-time faculty at the college. They're faculty who Vallera says live paycheck to paycheck with no benefits. 

"So for us, we're just standing up for the quality of education," said Vallera. "So we're making sure that everybody does have access to that quality." 

Quality is what Lizeth Medina expects as a full-time student, but she is already seeing her schedule affected by the strike. 

"I know that I'm already not having one of my classes," she said. "Until the strike is over, which we still don't know when that's going to be." 

CBS 2 reached out to the college, and they addressed the restructuring of course offerings and increased classroom size. They said, in part, "We are committed to minimizing impact on instruction where possible, and to protecting students' academic progress, while meeting our responsibilities to ensure the sustainability of the college to serve its students."

The school also stated a larger share of courses will now be taught by full-time faculty. 

"They never notified the union," Vallera said. "So we happen to be at a meeting where we found out that these changes were starting to happen." 

Students like Medina, who came to the college in hopes of earning a degree, will join professors on the picket line. 

"I really want to show my support because this is impacting faculty and students, you know. They're cutting or they want to cut our classes," she said. 

The college spokesperson also said they are disappointed in the union's leadership that called the strike. 

The union president hopes the two can bargain in good faith for the greater needs of students regardless of a deficit. 

The union will hold a press conference at 10:30 a.m. Monday outside the school. 

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