This post was originally featured in the New Labor Forum. Want to dig deeper into organizing strategies for contingent faculty? Join us at our upcoming forum Organizing the Academic Precariat: Perspectives on National Trends and Recent Successes on March 24th and hear from Malini Cadambi Daniel and others.
By Malini Cadambi Daniel
The once hallowed and secure work life of American university faculty has for the past quarter century been in turmoil. Being a professor was once a respected, stable profession, but is now increasingly characterized by low pay, minimal benefits, and no job security. An expectation of tenure—the permanent status that was once a hallmark of the profession—is replaced by the reality of contingency, which means that college instructors must reapply to teach courses every year, or even every semester. This new contingency is not a temporary employment arrangement, nor is it confined to a sector of higher education such as community colleges. According to the Coalition of the Academic Workforce’s 2014 report, contingent faculty now comprise more than 75 percent of the instructional faculty in the United States. Faculty contingency is now the norm.
However, contingent faculty are confronting these changes to their profession by organizing and forming unions, the likes of which have not been seen since the graduate student organizing of the 1990s. Continue reading Contingent Faculty of the World Unite!
Cooperative business models are increasingly recognized as an essential element for transforming our economy. But where can you go to learn about them?
In a recent article in the Chronicle Review (Curricular Cop-out on Coops), Nathan Schneider offers a somewhat dispiriting picture of the higher education landscape for cooperative economics. He writes:
Education has been a basic feature of the modern cooperative movement since a group of textile workers established its now-canonical Rochdale Principles in 1844; promoting education is still part of how the International Co-operative Alliance defines cooperative identity.
And yet, MBA and other business-focused programs, while they appear to move increasingly away from profit-only models, mostly avoid mention of anything cooperative. For example, “At Harvard Business School […] Rebecca M. Henderson has written the latest in a decades-long series of Harvard case studies on Mondragon, and she teaches it in her “Reimagining Capitalism” course. As far as she knows, though, that’s the extent of exposure to co-ops available at the school.” Continue reading Cooperative Business and the State of Higher Education
This morning, Harvard dining service workers walked off the job and went on strike. This marks the first walk out at the University since 1983.
Today’s strike saw 700 workers rallying in Science Center Plaza and marching to Massachusetts Hall. From the Harvard Crimson:
Over the course of the months-long bargaining—which began mid-June—Harvard and union negotiators have faced a stalemate over wages and health benefits.
University spokesperson Tania deLuzuriaga wrote in an emailed statement that Harvard has “proposed creative solutions to issues presented by the union, and hoped union representatives would contribute to finding creative, workable solutions at the negotiation table.” Continue reading Harvard Dining Service Workers Commence Strike
We are please to announce the recent publication of a new book from Murphy Institute consortial faculty member Prof. Steve Brier, Austerity Blues: Fighting for the Soul of Public Higher Education, published by Johns Hopkins University Press.
Co-authored with Michael Fabricant, Austerity Blues examines the social consequences of disinvestment in public higher education, particularly its effects on growing economic disparities in our cities and communities. This book is essential and timely reading for anyone grappling with the question of how public higher education can be an instrument of opportunity and equality.
When he isn’t teaching labor history at the Murphy Institute, Brier is a professor of urban education and coordinator of the Interactive Technology and Pedagogy program at the CUNY Graduate Center. He is the co-founder of CUNY’s American Social History Project and the co-author and co-producer of Who Built America, a multimedia curriculum developed by the Project. His co-author, Michael Fabricant, is a professor of social work at the CUNY Graduate Center and a Vice President of CUNY’s Professional Staff Congress.
Yesterday’s PSC protest at the offices of CUNY central administration led to the arrest of several dozen CUNY faculty members. Hundreds of CUNY staff and faculty members participated in the protest, held on behalf of the approximately 25,000 faculty and professional staff members who have been working without a contract, and without raises, since 2010. From the New York Times coverage of the action:
On Wednesday, before the protest, the university made an offer for a six-year contract, beginning in 2010, which would include salary increases totaling 6 percent. The university described the contract in a news release as reflective of its “current fiscal condition and its ability to fund a new contract.”
But Dr. [Barbara] Bowen [president of the Professional Staff Congress/CUNY] said the increases would not keep up with inflation and therefore represented a salary cut. “We feel that education at CUNY is endangered,” said Dr. Bowen, a professor of English at Queens College and CUNY’s Graduate Center. She said that salaries at CUNY were not competitive with other public universities in the region.
“CUNY’s secret has always been that it has attracted the first rank of faculty and staff,” she said.
“What has happened in this contract period and now with Chancellor Milliken’s failed offer is that that will not be possible anymore,” she added. “We think it’s depriving our students of what they need. We think it’s an attack on our students.”
For the full article, visit the New York Times.
How can institutions of higher education spread critical understanding of and context for significant current events? How can we use social media to become more conscious about race, about our history, and about how to be better activists, allies and participants in the civic sphere?
#CharlestonSyllabus is the Twitter hashtag started by Chad Williams, Associate Professor of African and African-American studies at Brandeis University, in the wake of the recent tragedy in Charleston, SC. Prof. Williams sought to use the hashtag to aggregate “historical knowledge that frames contemporary racial violence and its deep roots,” inspired by the #FergusonSyllabus hashtag from last summer. From an interview with Prof. Williams by Stacey Patton at the Chronicle of Higher Ed:
Q. Where is the #CharlestonSyllabus hosted, and what kind of measurable response have you seen so far?
A. It’s on the African American Intellectual History Society’s website. Since Saturday, when it went up, it’s had over 55,000 views, averaging 900 an hour. It’s gotten almost 20,000 likes on Facebook, 13,000 mentions and 28,000 engagements on Twitter. We’ve had a few trolls who’ve tried to hijack the thread with rants about how the Confederate flag is not a racist symbol but a source of Southern heritage and pride. But over all, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. By Sunday we had about 10,000 suggestions of books, articles, and other documents.
Continue reading #CharlestonSyllabus Brings Context to Tragedy