The ArtCenter
Faculty Federation

Know Your Rights
About Us
Why a Union?
Contact Us

Contract negotiations
have begun

Your colleagues on the ACFF Bargaining Team—elected by a majority of faculty—have committed to not only meeting frequently with one another, but also with management, in order to advance the negotiations process during a time when so many faculty need their concerns addressed and resolved with a fair contract.

Your Bargaining Team is willing to meet on nights and weekends to get this done. Moving forward, we will share all updates on the process here.

NOTE: These proposals are initial documents and do not represent the final positions of our union or management.

Summary of Proposals (updated 10/6/22)

Yes to Faculty, No to the “Task Force”

Our response to “Faculty Employment Experience Task Force”

Know your rights!

Now that ArtCenter’s faculty union is legally recognized, faculty are entitled to certain legal protections. It’s important that we understand our rights so that we can work productively with our Chairs and other administrators throughout the process of structuring our union and negotiating our contract.

Know Your Rights Sheet

We’re sure there are many questions we can’t answer on this site. Please don't hesitate to send us an email if you have additional questions.

About us

In the summer of 2020, a group of our colleagues came together to discuss how we might leverage our collective power to build a more equitable ArtCenter College of Design. Since then, this group has grown to encompass a majority of faculty from across the institution. We are full-time and part-time faculty from all departments, ranging from teachers who have just joined our community to those who have been here for several decades. Together, we are creating a structure for all ArtCenter faculty to have a real voice in the decisions that affect our work, our students, and our lives.

We are optimistic that ArtCenter can model a new path forward, one that helps our community become more transparent and inclusive. The first step toward shaping this new ArtCenter is to ensure that all those who work here are safe, valued, and heard. Change must come from every level of the organization, and faculty unionization lays the foundation for this deep, lasting structural change. Once ArtCenter faculty is empowered, the institution will fundamentally shift. We believe that with new leadership, the time is right to begin making these changes.

We care deeply about ArtCenter and we believe a better future is possible. We are ArtCenter and we stand together.

Why do we want to
form a union?

Though different hopes and concerns inspire our call for change, they are united under a common principle:

Our working conditions are our students’ learning conditions.

How will a faculty union help students?

A major reason we are fighting for a union is for our students’ benefit. If faculty have better working conditions, we can provide a better learning environment for our students. When faculty aren’t worrying about what we are teaching next term or whether our courses will fully enroll, and focusing on countless other concerns and busywork related to our employment status, we can give our students the time and attention that they deserve.

How will a faculty union help the institution?

We are the institution. A more equitable, transparent, and clear organization will enhance our ability to help guide the institution and to provide quality education from a secure foundation. When we feel supported by and invested in our workplace, we do our best work and ArtCenter thrives.

Equity and justice are integral to our work as educators. Institutions of higher education across the country are being called to account for the ways they have perpetuated a culture of white supremacy, discrimination, and the oppression of marginalized groups. Faculty have a central role to play in confronting that legacy. We stand together with the ArtCenter students and staff who have called for systemic change in our community.

How will a faculty union change our working conditions?

A union contract directly involves faculty in decision making at the College. The best decisions come from a fair, transparent, and collaborative process. As educators, we need the power to help our students succeed and help the College respond wisely to the challenges and opportunities we face as a learning community.

Will the costs be passed along to students?

No. Unionized faculty will pay minimal dues out of our own wages (typically around 1.5%–2% of gross pay). The school’s budget process is separate from the negotiation of a faculty collective bargaining agreement.

Have faculty at similar institutions unionized?

Absolutely! The unions at our peer institutions prove that when faculty stand together, change is possible. Faculty at RISD, Pratt, CCA, Otis and many other private art and design institutions like ours have unionized to improve their teaching and employment conditions and make their organizations better.

Click here for a sampling of the concrete issues they have addressed.

I’ve never been part of a union, how does the process work?

Private sector employer unionization is governed by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and is under the jurisdiction of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The process requires getting faculty to sign union authorization cards. A union authorization card simply states that you want the union to represent you with respect to wages and working conditions. The authorization cards are anonymous, and will only be seen by the California Federation of Teachers (CFT) and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Once faculty signatures are collected and confirmed, the NLRB holds an election. If a simple majority (50%+1) of the faculty who vote in the election vote in favor of unionizing, the NLRB will recognize our union and ArtCenter will be required to begin negotiations with us on our first collective bargaining agreement.

Are we joining a union or creating our own?

We are creating a new union local within the California Federation of Teachers (CFT), a union that represents educators across the state including both contingent and full-time faculty at University of San Francisco and the lecturers and librarians in the University of California system. Our union local will be composed of ArtCenter faculty, and CFT will provide us with expertise, resources, and logistical support in exchange for dues (discussed below). CFT chapters have autonomy with regard to bylaws, leadership, contract negotiations, and dues.

People often ask questions about the “union” as if it were a third-party, but that’s a misunderstanding: We, the faculty, are the union!

Frequently asked questions

ArtCenter FAQ Sheet


“Dear Colleague” Letter

Summary of issues addressed in other art/design college CBAs

Independent financial audit of ArtCenter

Links to Other Art School Unions

California College of the Arts adjunct faculty
Maryland Institute College of Art part-time faculty
New School part-time faculty
Otis College of Art and Design
Pratt Institute
Rhode Island School of Design (full-time)
Rhode Island School of Design (part-time)

Let’s talk

If you have questions or want to get involved, please reach out to your faculty colleagues or send us an email from your personal email. We want to hear your ideas and feedback and to learn about the experiences of all faculty. Our organizing committee has an open door—we would love to have you join us and help shape the direction and priorities of this effort!