CHICAGO – Columbia College removed a job posting for a housekeeper at President and CEO Kwang-Wu Kim’s college-owned home after members of the United Staff of Columbia College (USCC), the union representing Columbia College staff, began applying for the job.
“While President Kim is looking for help cleaning his home, those of us who support Columbia students every day are out actively looking for a second or even third income so we can keep our families afloat and pay our bills,” USCC President Craig Sigele said. “We don’t have the luxury of hiring housekeepers. We are struggling to survive.”
USCC is currently negotiating their contract with Columbia College and has been in the negotiation process for the last three years. Their current contract expired on Aug. 31, 2018.
Over the years, Columbia College’s administration has made decisions that negatively impact students and the quality of the education being provided at the college, including cutting 331 staff positions between 2015 and 2019. Also, between the 2009-2010 and the 2018-2019 school years, staff at Columbia College saw raises totaling 11 percent; during that same time period, inflation rose by 18.1 percent.
Currently, Columbia College is losing staff to Northwestern, DePaul, Loyola and College of DuPage, where they can receive higher salaries for comparable positions.
“Honestly, it’s insulting to see a housekeeping job posting like that, especially when USCC members actually need the income. Clearly President Kim makes a disproportionate salary as compared to the rest of us,” Sigele said. “Meanwhile, USCC members are being asked to do more work for less money. Without a livable wage, Columbia will continue to struggle to retain talented staff members. Our students deserve better than that. They deserve a dedicated, knowledgeable staff, but the lackluster wages are making that increasingly harder to come by.”
USCC represents 367 Columbia College staff persons working in administrative services, academic advising, student support services, enrollment management, the Career Center, the library, residence life and financial services, and also represents teaching artists, instructional specialists and many other titles that support the college and students.
The next bargaining session is set for July 22.
The 135,000 member Illinois Education Association (IEA-NEA) is the state’s largest education employee’s organization. IEA represents preK-12 teachers outside of the city of Chicago and education support staff, higher education faculty, retired education employees and students preparing to become teachers, statewide.