University of Iowa faculty sit-in to stand up against the boss

Non-tenure track (NTT) faculty at the University of Iowa took a stand by sitting down Wednesday, staging a 10+hour sit-in at the office of President Bruce Harreld to demand a meeting to discuss their need for better wages, job security, adequate health care and respect. The faculty proved tenacious, applying growing pressure on the president over the past weeks by marching to his office and his home.

“Really, just improving the conditions under which we work,” said Elizabeth Weiss, a writing lecturer at the UI. “So, we can work to the best of our ability and have stable careers here in Iowa.”

By 8:30 pm, the faculty secured their victory; President Harreld agreed in writing to meet with them and other UI decision makers for a face-to-face discussion of non-tenured faculty work conditions within a week.

Despite a controversial state law passed in 2017 curtailing the rights of public sector workers to bargain collectively, NTT faculty have taken to the streets to ensure their collective demands for change are met. Their campaign comes in the wake of other successful direct actions led by teachers in West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Arizona as well as union organizing drives of contingent faculty across the Midwest. Within the last month alone, NTT faculty at University of Chicago and Loyola University Chicago have ratified new contracts with pay increases of up to 51 percent and more secure and transparent appointments.

Read the coverage from ABC 9, Iowa City Press-Citizen, The Daily Iowan, and Little Village

Photo of Brooke Larson, Visiting Assistant Professor, Linguistics: “I am sitting in today because we’ve been told that the President of the University of Iowa is the person with the power to meet our demands.  We deserve to have our demands, which are morale black-and-white issues, to be heard by the person who can actually change them.  We will stay until we are heard.”