Sunday, April 20, 2014

#PrecariousFaculty Network Links (weekly)

…labor history (1998 Syracuse U strike, pictured: Ben Shahn mural at SU), strikes, adjunct unions, organizing, censorship, social media, academic freedom, adjunct blog posts, Labor Notes Conference, unpaid academic labor, retirement, higher inequalities, two-tier system, adjunct response to NYT Op-Ed



  • The powerful compassion emanating from Shahn’s mural could serve equally to define the SU experience in the aftermath of the unusual September 1998 strike. In the belief that current labor unrest and the erosion of the humanities at universities spring from a common cause, I visited SU for five days in September in order to research the strike and its origins. During the summer prior to the strike, 750 unionized dining service workers, groundskeepers, janitors, and library employees at SU had found themselves without a contract. Negotiations between the SU administration and the union, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 200A, had foundered over the abuse of temporary workers, pay equity for library workers, the use of unskilled labor, and above all, subcontracting. Claiming that “modern institutions need flexibility,” the administration had demanded the right to subcontract any department with less than twenty-five employees .... Ultimately, the strike was about the search for identity, which made the fight over outsourcing particularly bitter. Outsourcing deprives employees of institutional identity, making them transients in the workplace. As universities deprive their employees of identity, they strive to create an illusion of identity for students and alumni. At Syracuse, pride in the football and basketball teams goes well beyond the university. In a 1988 interview, then chancellor Eggers called SU’s sports program “a vitality- generating activity, vitality-sharing activity” that “does provide a unifying theme, certainly more than anything I’ve seen in the community.” .... Even so, faculty, employees and students speak of a new feeling in the air, of exchanged looks of complicity in hallways, dining halls, and parking lots. “They [the administration] thought the strike would fracture this campus, but it has actually brought everyone together,” said union representative Coert Bonthius.26 The union victory surpasses the guarantees in the new contract. The strike ended the invisibility of those who clean the floors, prepare the food, mow the lawns, and fix the heaters. It revived a sense of identity and community, bringing Shahn’s powerful compassion to our remembrance, and his mural to life.
  • The AFT, the nation's largest union of higher education faculty and staff, launched its national effort to reclaim the promise of higher education April 11 during the annual AFT National Higher Education Issues Conference in Baltimore. More than 300 AFT members, leaders and experts in higher education, students, and community partners attended the conference.
  • - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: "Pittsburgh, the cradle of the American union movement, is now nurturing a new generation of union workplaces. “There’s more organizing drives going on in Pittsburgh than in any other city of the country,” said Richard Trumka, the national president of the AFL-CIO, in Washington, D.C., who came home to Pittsburgh Thursday to address the 41st Constitutional Convention of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO."
  • Adjunct faculty members are the working stiffs of academia. They can hold their own with tenured faculty on subjects ranging from analytic geometry to literary criticism. But they work for little money, often in the $3,000-$6,000 range per course. Some survive by cobbling together four or more courses per semester. Even then, they might stretch to earn $35,000 annually. Yet their numbers are growing. From 1993 to 2011, the percentage of faculty members without tenure jumped nationally from 57 percent to 70 percent, according to the American Association of University Professors. This is red meat for the Service Employees International Union, which has mounted successful efforts to unionize adjunct faculty at private universities. Tags: #PFR, boston, opinion, union, organizing, AdjunctAction, SEIU, metro-strategy
  • United Academics of the University of Oregon: UO Senate unanimously passed an academic freedom policy that, if signed by UO President Gottfredson, will be among the strongest in the country.The new policy gives free-speech protection to all UO faculty, students, and non-faculty employees for the purposes of teaching, research, shared governance, and public service, and states that "The academic freedoms enumerated in this policy shall be exercised without fear of institutional reprisal."The Senate's "Ad Hoc Academic Freedom Committee" was chaired by United Academics union President Michael Dreiling (Sociology). Securing a robust academic freedom policy has been a top priority. Tags: academic freedom, #PFR, university, oregon
  • Now in a new book, Degrees of Inequality, Mettler reveals how, over the past 60 years, American higher-education policy has gone from being visible and effective (the GI Bill and the Pell grant program) to being invisible and inefficient ($32 billion in federal funding for for-profit colleges with abysmal graduation rates). Congressional polarization along party lines, it turns out, played a major role, as did plummeting federal and state support for four-year public universities. I spoke with Mettler about why Republicans and reform-minded Democrats switched positions on for-profit colleges; why the liberal arts are underrated and MOOCs (massive open online courses) are overrated; and why corporate lobbyists are able to achieve so much influence in Washington for relatively little money. The interview has been condensed and edited for clarity. Tags: #PFR, higher ed, inequality, atlantic, interview
  • In a major political development, over 2,000 trade union activists and friends attended the conference, which was geared toward helping unionists find ways to build coalitions and win struggles in today's difficult political climate. Besides the Chicago Teacher's Union, official union delegations, some quite large, were present from other teacher's unions, the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), Teamsters, Steelworkers, the American Postal Workers Union (APWU), both major longshore unions ILWU and ILA, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the International Union of Electrical Workers (IBEW), the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), food and commercial workers, farmworkers, nurses and others. Some delegations were sent directly from International leadership offices. Tags: #PFR, #LN2014, Labor Notes, conference
  • "But the [Purdue] shooting sheds light on a practice little known outside of academia. As colleges have become more cash-strapped in recent years, researchers say departments are increasingly turning to undergraduates to fill teaching assistant positions. Undergraduate teaching assistants have served across various Purdue disciplines for at least 50 years, but the university has no central policy or required training for them, leaving that to the discretion of each department. Purdue has no historical count of how many undergraduates have served in that role, according to Frank Dooley, associate vice provost for undergraduate academic affairs, so there's no way to know if the practice has grown. That may change as administrators, professors and students reflect on what — if anything — can be done to prevent a repeat of last month's tragedy." Tags: academic labor, undergrad TAs, unpaid-labor, Purdue, #PFR
  • Ms Mentor's Advice from The Chronicle of Higher Education...PS not for adjuncts who usually can't afford to retire and go until they drop in harness or jump off the roof
  • Yet, not only have millions of our people been shoved into the abyss of the working poor, but our soulless corporate and political elites tell us to get used to it, for the Walmartization of work is our nation's future.If you think it couldn't happen to you, consider the situation of one group of more than a million workers today who had assumed that they were going to be solidly middle class, but--surprise!--each one has ended up struggling to make ends meet by working three, four, or even more poorly paid, part-time, temporary jobs. To put a name to this little-known segment of Americans, I've created "Victoria," who is drawn from my reading of dozens of their stories. She's a composite, but all too real
Posted from Diigo. The rest of PFR Network group favorite links are here.

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