Friday, November 9, 2012

Together at last!

Getting together. this?
#Adjuncts are steadily building networks, using technology to improve communications and share information. Is that enough? What are our options? Could Alternative (Academic) Worker Organizations, not unions as we know them, but something else ~ as yet undetermined, be a possible solution for adjuncts nationwide or regionally? Alternatives are especially important in regions where union organizing is, to repurpose a polite euphemism, problematic? "But what about us?" comments to a recent post on NFM's Facebook page about increased adjunct organizing activity reminded me of the too often overlooked plight of adjuncts. After sharing Bill Lipkin's good advice about focusing on local campus action, I recalled a few articles at New Unionism (also on Facebook here and @newunionismand started looking for more.

Or this?
"Together" sounds like something  we could learn something from...and perhaps national higher educations unions as well. In New Zealand the NZCTU actually does something instead of just preaching, "Don't mourn: organize."
We’re calling it a thing because it doesn’t really fit into any of the usual drawers. It’s not a union, not an NGO, not an organisation, not a network, not an association, club, sect, faction, fraction, tendency or movement. What it is, above all else, is a potential solution to several of the quandaries that unions have been trying to solve for at least 10 years.
Read the rest of Together at last! at NewUnionism's Blog

The Precariat meet’n'greet (also from New Unionism) also suggests possibilities. After all, what did workers do before the trade union movement?
The New Unionists of the late 19th century built trade unions as we know them by organizing the proletariat – the working class of the day. Similarly, today’s new unionists are beginning to organize the precariat – workers without security. To say this latter group represents the most rapidly growing sector in society entirely misses the point. The labour force has fundamentally changed. It is time we admitted that most of us have failed to grasp both the prevalence and significance of precarity at work.
Union Responses, globally (psst... higher ed union members, check these out... maybe recommend some up the hierarchy)
Most unions have tended to see the precariat in terms of its constituent members, rather than as a whole. Over the last ten years there have been some innovative attempts to organize freelancers, care workers, agency workers, self-employed producers and subsistence farmers. For instance:
  • Canada’s largest media union has set up a union for freelance workers (more).
  • The U.S. Freelancers’ Union has grown phenomenally (more), and has developed a whole new model of membership.
  • Agency workers are now fairly well organised in some countries, notably Belgium, Denmark, Finland and Sweden[xxv].
  • In the UK, BECTU offers freelancers legal advice and online services (more).
  • In Italy, three union federations have created structures internal structures to protect and represent atypical workers (more).
  • Two Dutch federations have been signing up the self-employed (more).
  • In India, SEWA has recruited about 700,000 self-employed women members (more).
  • Spain and Georgia both have unions for the self-employed. Germany’s Ver.di offers freelance workers a support hotline.
  • In Australia, 35% of APESMA members are self-employed (more), and this is the fastest growing sector in the union.
  • The global union UNI recently set up a Freelance Network (more), along with a charter for unions who work with the self-employed (more).
Susan Hayter, senior ILO industrial relations expert, recently reported on efforts made to apply collective bargaining tools to improve the terms and conditions of employment of non-regular workers
UCubed or Union of Unemployed, Freelancers UnionUNI Temp & Agency Workers Global Union for temporary employment, and a few others come to mind.

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