Duke Faculty Union and allies will protest union-busting on Sunday, December 5

Durham, NC – On December 5, 2021, from 3pm-4pm, unionized faculty in the Thompson Writing Program (TWP), students, graduate students, librarians, tenured faculty members, and other supporters will gather in front of the Chapel at Duke University prior to the performance of Handel’s Messiah to protest union-busting efforts in the TWP.

Despite a 56% increase in the Duke endowment in the last fiscal year to an all-time high of $12.7B, Duke has claimed that their financial situation was so dire after Covid that they needed to increase the size of TWP classes by 25%, thus producing faculty redundancies.

In 2017, the Duke Faculty Union negotiated its first contract with Duke University, winning job
security for precarious faculty members, including some in the TWP. The TWP is a multidisciplinary writing program that offers first-year students a mandatory introduction to  academic writing through the disciplinary expertise of faculty members. It has been voted the “must-take class” by Duke students and is the second-ranked program in the country per US News and World Report, the highest-ranked program at Duke.

Yet, with at least six current faculty members slated to be non-renewed–an issue of contention in up-coming bargaining this spring–the university has posted job ads to hire at least six new non-union faculty members, essentially taking the very jobs that will be subject to bargaining, without consulting or even informing the TWP faculty. Further, unionized faculty have been informed that the top-ranked program will be facing a sudden “strategic change in direction” towards a writing in the disciplines model of instruction that requires Ph.Ds in rhetoric and composition as opposed to the current multidisciplinary model. This means that current unionized faculty are not qualified to apply for these new positions, and it creates the conditions to replace even those unionized faculty on renewable contracts. Together, these moves in Duke’s highest-ranked but also most heavily-unionized program amount to union-busting.

For more information, contact TWP union representative Paolo Bocci at (919) 358-8095 or paolo.bocci@gmail.com