On Thursday, Harper-Schmidt Fellows voted overwhelmingly to ratify their union contract, according to a statement from the union. The contract promises a 9.5 percent increase in compensation over the next four years.
The Harper-Schmidt Fellows are recent Ph.D. recipients who are hired for four years to teach humanities, social sciences, and civilization courses in the core.
In January 2016, the fellows joined the Local 73 branch of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). SEIU, a national union, has made unionizing non-tenure-track faculty a goal through its Faculty Forward Campaign, which has also succeeded at Loyola University Chicago and Northwestern.
Non-tenure track faculty who are not Harper-Schmidt Fellows are also represented by Local 73. Their contract negotiations with the University are ongoing.
“I am thrilled that we have ratified our contract as the first unionized faculty group at the University of Chicago,” Mark Berger, a third-year fellow teaching the humanities course Human Being and Citizen, said in the union’s statement. “Negotiations were far from easy to say the least, but we ended up with a contract that we believe is fair and beneficial to both sides.”
In addition to higher pay, the contract secures the fellows’ ability to take time off for research, as well as allowances to support childcare and publishing costs.
This story was updated after a University spokesperson noted the timeline for the compensation increase.