Sunday, September 15, 2013

in the air…#CEW2013, #NCC strike, other precariat actions

…are they precursors of change or another round of promises? Will momentum continue to build, moving toward a tipping point, a major swerve? I'm still working on another change post, building off the last. The concept no sooner gels than something pops up to change it. Change is like that. This is not about change but not quite not about change. Starting as a gap fill post, it has come to feel more like watching for the wave.

Screen Shot 2013-09-10 at 4.08.07 PMWith a month and a half to go, a new Campus Equity Week page launched. What did Mission Control used to say? We have lift-off. Later than advised but well ahead of the 2009 and 2011 late starts.

From its inception, CEW was as a genuine grassroots effort. Yet without the focus of a dedicated home base and a point person designated to round up, report, announce and share resources, it was not thriving as it had earlier. Not that anyone wanted to see it go, but there was no concerted effort for a large scale push. Pockets of activities persisted on scattered campuses.
Pages archived from halcyon Equity Weeks past ~ 2001200320052007 and the AAUP's resource page online remained available as reminder and resources for individual campuses. Canada's Fair Employment Week fared better, perhaps for being annual rather than biennial, updating resources and having a home on CAUT.

In counterpoint...

For a few days, striking Nassau Community College adjuncts defied the NY Taylor Law. 150-200 adjuncts out of over 1200 were on the picket line.  Turnout number matter less than the determination. The Nassau AFA page has a separate page on media coverage. From the Newsday video clip and pictures on the AFA page, we see  that the strikers are older adjuncts. Where are the younger ones? Where are adjuncts from nearby community colleges? The Taylor Law prohibits public employee strikes, But can it prohibit non-striking public employees from supporting strikers on their own time? Other adjunct groups sent messages and offers of support but, it would seem, no bodies to join Charles Loiacono's crew on the picket line. On the other side of the country, Paul Haeder expressed appropriate outrage in his School Yard Fights column in Dissident Voice.

We must look a sorry bunch to fast food workers, Wal-Mart workers and the valiant adjuncts of NCC on their picket lines. They are willing to risk change. We watched and cheered politely. All are marker buoys, each bearing different messages, some encrypted.


  1. Never you, Vanessa! This poem reminds me of you ;-)

    A Coat

    I MADE my song a coat
    Covered with embroideries
    Out of old mythologies
    From heel to throat;
    But the fools caught it,
    Wore it in the world's eyes
    As though they'd wrought it.
    Song, let them take it,
    For there's more enterprise
    In walking naked.

    William Butler Yeats

  2. an appropriately re-gendered Sailing to Byzantium might be more in order...LOL. For that endgame genre though, I prefer Dylan Thomas, not going gentle anywhere, by owl light or otherwise. Besides, I'm Welsh.

  3. Apropos, most definitely yes, hahahaha! Still, you are a fighter, always. And I can see you quoting those lines: "For there's more enterprise/In walking naked." Isn't this what you constantly do, going against the grain, no matter the consequences?

  4. For my explanation as to why there were only 200 out of 1200 adjuncts on strike at NCC, I suggest a thorough reading of my blog post "Concerning Strikes" at

    1. Thank you for commenting Paul, but isn't this just a bit late to be responding to a year old post? Considering campaigning nature of your link, I cannot help but wonder if you are more interested in "now" than "then."

      As any search (which I, in my turn suggest) would show, I have been following Nassau adjuncts since the strike and posting about them. I would certainly welcome a balanced guest post presenting all slates and sides, including the decertification attempt.

      As someone who runs a lot of has been blogging since 2006, three months is a baby blog ~ and imnsho does not sound very "personal."

      PS you need to code links manually for them to display as active in Blogger comments:

  5. Dear Vanessa,

    Thank you for replying. It is true that my blog is a campaign blog, which perhaps I should have explained upfront, however I believe it's nature or purpose is very apparent and self-explanatory. 

    In either case, I would have to answer your question "isn't this just a bit late", concerning my reply on the topic of the AFA strike of 2013, with a resounding "NO" for three reasons:

    1) First, even "now" it is valuable for union members to learn more about how and why a strike, called by what arguable was one of the most powerful adjunct unions in the country, failed so miserably and had such poor participation.

    2) Second, a year later is a very timely moment due to the fact that the Adjunct Faculty Association is still being rocked by the events of the 2013 strike right "now". Namely the one thousand or so adjuncts who were just fined $1,000, mid September 2014, by the AFA union president.

    3) Third, as you already mentioned, there apparently is some kind of “decertification” movement within the AFA. This is a very, very, “now” issue which stems almost entirely from adjuncts angered by the bungled AFA strike of 2013.

    With the AFA president Mr. Charles Loiacono up for re-election this November, it is the first time in the AFA's long history that his seat is not uncontested. The "year" time period you bring up is unintentionally ironic, because it was a year-and-a-week after the strike that Mr. Loiacono wrote and mailed a $1000 "penalty" letter to adjuncts who were not on the books as having been docked pay by the college for striking, or who were not recorded on poorly kept attendance lists at the picket line. About 1000 adjuncts at NCC received this "fine" letter (we weren't given numbers or names), in which Mr. Loiacono's last line is "Members not in good standing are ineligible to vote". Adjuncts received this fine, and removal of voting rights, 30 days before “nomination petitions” for the election were due and 60 days before the election was set to begin. Worse, this has led to both members and non-members of the union filing "IP" (Improper Practice) complaints with PERB against their own union. Now Mr. Loiacono has delayed the election. So if my comment was a year late, would you say the same of such a fine letter written by a union president just before a contested election for his seat?

    I have been a dedicated unionist since I graduated as an undergrad and entered the work force. I want to fight for adjunct rights and for fair and equitable contracts. I supported the AFA strike and took the PERB fine with pride. What I have lost pride in is the AFA’s leadership and it’s inability to build (or even consider) consensus, educate it’s members, and organize work actions of any kind. A strike is NOT something you vote on with only 120 members when the union is comprised of 3,301 adjuncts. Having the AFA’s strike broken by the college was something that adjuncts across the nation were watching.

In closing, I would be curious of what you thought about my blog post “Concerning Strikes” itself, if you ignore the obvious electioneering. I don’t pretend that most unions do everything I wrote, but the fact that the AFA did virtually none of what I wrote is really the issue. 

    Sincerely, Paul Guadagnino

    1. Paul, to the contrary ~ placing a comment on this old a post pretty much guarantees that hardly anyone but the person running the blog is likely to see it.

      You may not have been blogging long enough to realize but but comments on older posts are usually spam. Some blogs even close comments after any time from two weeks to several months.

      I've followed different sources and, without enough first hand information to have more than impressions, I have to say AFA was disappointing, not in the least for ignoring requests for more information or answering questions.

      On the other hand, maybe he will now....I had just been thinking that this old post would make a good "trip to the archives" (re)post. Updating/urging on call for comments to DoE also has high priority.

      I was disappointed in how little psychological support shown, even by many union adjuncts that I suspect probably sympathized. A hot potato. Understandable for New York adjuncts because of the Taylor Law, less so for others. I wondered at the time if not having a major national affiliation could have been another factor. So much for an injury to one is an injury to all. The strongest sympathy seemed to come from outlier states.

      Then there was the timing. National interest was holding until Nassau adjuncts got pushed below the fold by Margaret Mary Vojtko.

      Between administration and the union, I don't see how things can continue without change in some direction,

  6. To be honest, I only found your blog today while searching the internet during research for the job of president. I had read newsday and two other blogs during the strike, but had not come across yours for some reason.

    I am the type of researcher who enjoys it when someone has posted something new on an older story if it's relevant information. Nothing on the internet really ever disappears entirely.

    I agree that support for the strike was weak from other unions in NYS. I agree that the timing was bad.

    Getting information out of the AFA is like trying to get blood from a stone.

    An injury to one HAS been an injury to all, whether anyone wants to see it that way or not. The failure of the AFA strike will have a ripple effect on adjunct collective bargaining for decades as NCC and it's strategies now becomes the model for a college to beat a strike (adjunct or otherwise). I never thought I would see the day. Nothing has given the college (and it's attorneys) so much pleasure as watching us fail.

    The AFA has lagged behind other unions and is in desperate need of modernizing it's communication infrastructure as well as it's negotiation strategies. It's as if, somewhere along the way, the AFA leadership forgot how to be a union.


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