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Labor Board Orders Columbia College Chicago to Compensate Faculty-Union Leader

The National Labor Relations Board has ruled that Columbia College Chicago must pay back wages to the leader of a union for part-time instructors for earnings she lost when the college improperly retaliated against her, and that it must also compensate some part-time instructors for the wages they lost when the college reduced their workloads without the union’s consent.

In a ruling issued on Friday, Geoffrey Carter, an administrative-law judge with the federal board, ruled that the institution had violated labor laws by refusing to bargain with its Part-Time Faculty Association. The judge ordered the college to stop refusing to bargain with the union, and to stop failing to provide information that the union requests in order to do its duties.

The board had already ruled that the college violated labor laws when dealing with the union, which is affiliated with the National Education Association. A later amended complaint accused the college of retaliating against Diana Vallera, a photography instructor who is president of the faculty union.

Judge Carter found that the college unlawfully refused to assign Ms. Vallera a second class to teach in the fall 2012 semester for discriminatory reasons, and ordered the college to compensate her for lost wages and benefits stemming from that decision. He also ordered the college to compensate some union members who taught courses for which the college had previously reduced credit hours.

The judge declined to impose on the college several broad penalties that had been requested in the case, noting that although the college did violate the law, “it did not engage in conduct that manifests an attitude of opposition to the act and its purposes.” While he wrote that the relationship between the college and the union “is a strained one,” he added that it is “not beyond repair” because the two parties have participated in productive negotiations in the past.

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