I don’t often post messages but I thought I should share with you an update on events that took place here in Vancouver over the weekend. I think that COCAL can take a lot of the credit for making those events happen.
First, some background. The FPSE has a standing committee of contingent representatives from each of our 19 locals. The committee is called the Non- Regular Faculty Committee (NRFC). It meets twice a year as do all our standing committees. Furthermore, each of the other 10 standing committees includes a non-regular rep appointed by the NRFC. Last year, the NRFC decided to host a regional conference on contingent faculty. That conference occurred this last Saturday. The conference was attended by NRFC members, the entire CAUT Contract Academic Staff Committee, and representatives from Faculty Associations not affiliated with FPSE including Faculty Associations from the BC Institute of Technology, the University of Victoria, the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University and the University of Northern British Columbia. We also invited Joe Berry and Jack Longmate and boy did they ever deliver!
The actual conference was on Saturday; however, Jack and Joe were in town for a few days. On Thursday, they met with what we call our Local 21 Organising Committee. Local 21 is busy organising private for profit ESL schools in Vancouver. They have had a lot of success over the last several years. They have organised several ESL schools, negotiated a number of first collective agreements, improved salary and working conditions for hundreds of people, and have earned the grudging respect of ESL school owners in the city. The meeting was inspiration both for Local 21 members and for Jack and Joe.
On Friday Jack and Joe spent time with the executive members of the VCCFA. Has many of you know, Frank Cosco, President of the VCCFA has done a lot of work with Jack and with the New Faculty Majority. On Friday evening, the NRFC held its regular meeting and Jack and Joe attended as guests. Although we had sent a few people to COCAL X, it was great to have Jack and Joe at the committee as our reps reported out on the conference. Both of them added much to the discussion.
Joe was a keynote speaker at the conference on Saturday. He gave a great presentation on the history and growth of COCAL as well as a wonderful review of the important milestones along the way and the lessons learned. The rest of the conference dealt with the challenges that face us, as always, but also about how we can move the agenda forward. We all learned a lot from each other and came out of the conference stronger and more united than ever.
Naturally, the three days were enriched by much dining and socialising. Those times were as valuable, if not more, as any of the formal events. New friendships and bonds were made.
We all came out of this revitalised and more strongly committed to the movement. The weekend really hammered home two important lessons for me. First, it is essential that we work together within our own unions and organise our memberships around contingent issues. However it is equally important that contingent faculty work with other organizations and across unions to advance the cause. Second, expecting security of employment, decent pay, and good working conditions is not a radical concept and we should not treat it as such. Rather, it’s the way things should be. As one of our members said to Joe one evening as he was commending the Vancouver model, “It isn’t the Vancouver model or the BC model or any of that; It’s the union model.” Truer words, truer words.
Again, thanks to both Joe Berry and Jack Longmate for accepting our invitation and coming to Vancouver. They made a huge contribution over a few brief days. We are very grateful for their work and for the inspiration they provided to us. I also know that the event would not have been possible without the inspiration and connections that COCAL has provided over the years. This event came together because a whole bunch of folk knew each other or of each other through COCAL. For that, I think you can all take some credit. Thank you.
Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of BC
400-550 West 6th Avenue
Vancouver, BC V5Z 1A1
Last week I took part in three inspiring days as a visitor to meetings and a conference hosted by the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators (FPSE) of British Columbia, the primary union of higher ed faculty in the province.
Because British Columbians have actually accomplished things like equal pay for part-time faculty and job security--and at Vancouver Community College, even provisions that allow contingent faculty (term faculty) to accrue seniority while on maternity leave (see http://vccfa.ca/newsite/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/2010-2012-VCC-VCCFA-Collective-Agreement-244-Pgs.pdf Appendix III-B), and the fact that both full-time faculty and union staff people sound very similar to contingent faculty leaders in terms of the values expressed and organizing ideals, it felt like being in “Activists' Heaven.”
Joe Berry was also there as a American visitor and guest speaker, and I think he enjoyed the time as much as I did.
The first day was spent with the leadership and organizers of the FPSE’s remarkable private sector division, Local 21 (ETEA). The ETEA has organized the faculty at private institutions, like privately owned ESL or business schools. While not every one of the ETEA’s efforts to organize have been successful, it has successfully organized the teachers at 6 ESL schools, with a 7th in process, which amount to several hundred members. The ETEA local 1’s collective bargaining agreement establishes a beginning full-time wage at $50,000, professional development, pro-rated pay for part-time faculty, which is excellent for the ESL field.
The passion and eloquence of ETEA these individuals as they described the efforts. (As an ESL instructor for 7 years for a private non-profit myself in Seattle and deeply frustrated at the lack of career growth in compensation and professional credentials, I was active with efforts to upgrade the field during my time, but I never believed that unionizing private ESL schools was possible.)
The organizing that ETEA is hardly involves contacting colleagues to see if they’d like to join. It was largely an underground effort, making contact with potential members in an clandestine manner, communicating with them in a way to keep their confidence. Management of these private schools, some of which were large international corporations, would try to derail the organizing effort, sometimes by using scare tactics along the lines of “You know, if this union is approved, we’re all going to lose our jobs” and otherwise implying that jobs were at stake.
While U.S. contingents might be inclined to dismiss this information as not relevant, I believe that would be incorrect conclusion since it shows what real union organizing, vision, and dedicated leadership can accomplish. I believe the passion and eloquence of those involved in the ETEA is truly inspiring of the sort that I don’t believe I’ve ever sensed in the U.S. faculty unions.
Joe and I were welcomed to a luncheon held by the chief steward and in-coming president of the Vancouver Community College Faculty Association (VCCFA) for her 12 stewards. As I come from an NEA-affiliated union that has no stewards, it was impressive to have an army of informed and dedicated individuals to defend the contract and faculty rights. Part of the discussion entailed the case of a dispute where the union was victorious when because the faculty members happened to have a stronger understanding of the procedures in place--the administrators were unaware that such procedures existed.
The evening of the second day featured an FPSE provincial meeting of “non-regular” (the U.S. equivalent of “non-tenured”) representatives of locals throughout the province. The meeting was led by its chair, Teressa Fedorak, who spoke at COCAL. Part of the meeting involved a status report of the action items passed at the last FPSE Annual General Meeting that pertained to contingents, and activism. Fair Employment Week, the Canadian counterpart of “Campus Equity Week,” is actively promoted by the FPSE, and preparations for this year’s campaign at the provincial level were discussed.
The discussion touched on upcoming bargaining, and an effort is being made to collect the priorities of each local that would make up a common platform. Two of five goals of the FPSE goals are the Right of Reappointment (so that one’s job is protected by seniority and that one cannot be displaced capriciously without due process) and the End of Secondary Scales (so that all, full-time and part-time, according to the same scale. While these provisions are in place in a number of British Columbia locals, they are not universal. Especially within the four-year schools, an impulse toward stratification counters the FPSE egalitarianism principles.
Having led gatherings of contingents during his days throughout his career, from COCAL to his work with the California Federation of Teachers, Joe Berry offered his experience and, at the meeting’s conclusion, commended the positive supporting sentiment these contingent faculty received from the FPSE.
Of note is the FPSE’s commitment to promoting involvement of its contingents. Not only does the union cover the expense of its contingent faculty representatives to attend these biannual provincial meetings, a contingent faculty member serves on each FPSE provincial standing and ad hoc committees, which, considering the geographical expanse of British Columbia, bordering Montana on the southeast and Alaska in the northwest, is considerable expense.
Our third day was a faculty conference featuring members of the FPSE non-regulars as well as the Contract Academic Staff committee of the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT), several of whose members were from eastern Canada, one being from Acadia.
The conference began with the question of “What is our one demand?” and “What is the biggest obstacle?” The consensus of that discussion, from my point of view, was job security was the most pressing demand, and the chief obstacle is the cultural inertia of the status quo that presumes that contingents don’t deserve to have job security because they’re contingent and that’s they way things are. (It would be an interesting experiment to see if the same discussion in the U.S. would have the same outcome.) I don’t believe a lack of public funds was mentioned as the chief priority.
As George Davidson, the topmost FPSE person present, declared that one of the FPSE’s goals is the “elimination of secondary scales” (so that full-and part-time faculty would be paid on the same basis), I commented that it seems unusual for such shocking words to roll off the tongue as if that idea were commonplace. U.S. contingents might hear talk of “pro-rata pay,” as a casually mentioned goal without a practical way of achieving it. Since most FPSE colleges have eliminated secondary scales already, there is more credibility to the claim.
Joe Berry delivered an historical overview of the contingency faculty movement, going back to 1996 with the first COCAL conference up through Mexico City in 2012. One of the things he said is that gatherings like that don’t take place in the U.S. but it is incumbent on faculty to organize.
Leslie Jermyn of the University of Toronto presented a very well formulated discussion of the pro-rata model as applied to workload, distinguishing teaching, service, and scholarly activity, such as research, as the chief components of the faculty workload in making a case against its fragmentation.
Frank Cosco, as FPSE second vice president, gave an overview of FPSE policy with regard to contingent faculty, citing the excellent “Policies and Principles for Bargaining in BC’s Universities” http://www.fpse.ca/files/uploads/argpolsprinciples4universities201106_AMENDED.pdf, with a number of the principles requiring nominal funds to implement. He also cited some of the bargaining accomplishments won by his local, VCCFA. On the topic of pro-rata workload breakdown, Frank explained that workload composition is determined at the department level; at VCC, there are roughly 50 departments at VCC and those who teach part-time are expected to perform the full-job of teaching only on a scaled back basis. Teressa Fedorak, chair of the FPSE non-regulars, also recapped her efforts as chair of the FPSE non-regular committee.
Among the most memorable conversations I had in Vancouver was with recently retired Ingrid Kolsteren, who served as head steward for many years. As we were discussing the “Vancouver Model,” she qualified that expression, saying, “It’s not the Vancouver model.” At that moment, I expected her to say that it should be considered the British Columbian model, because many British Columbian colleges, not just Vancouver Community College, have a single pay scale and a system of regularization. But what she said was that “It’s the union model.” Indeed, it is the job of unions to defend the interests of the members, especially their lowest ranking members.
Caste and Classes: Contingent Academic Labor Confronting Inequalities in Higher Education
Join part-time faculty, union members and activists, contingent faculty advocates, full-time faculty, student groups, administration allies, members of The New Faculty Majority and the Campaign for the Future of Higher Education, community allies and other stakeholders in higher education for an action oriented forum on the topic of how academic labor practices are perpetuating the increasing inequalities in our society and what we are doing to fight back.
Speakers and Panelists to be announced
Call for Presentations:
We invite proposals for short presentations and/or groups discussion items (10 minutes). Suggested topics include, but are not limited to:
Contingent academic labor struggles and saving the middle class - The effect of contingency on the knowledge economy - The student movement in higher ed reform - Public education, public investment, and reinstating the social compact - Reclaiming professionalization of higher education teachers - The growing dominance of the for-profit model in non-profit and public education - The rise of for-profit institutions and declining outcomes - How to achieve accessible, affordable education for all - Grassroots organizing to confront contingency and improve student success - Fighting for dignity, stability, respect and a living wage for academic workers - Who are the 99% on campus: are colleges and universities a microcosm of American society?
Please send proposals for presentations/discussion topics to Anne McLeer by October 31st, at email@example.com
Two legendary figures -- environmental scientist and activist Barry Commoner and historian Eric Hobsbawm -- died on Sunday, both at the age of 95. Both changed the way we view the world. Both influenced scholars and activists alike.
Josh Freeman's Post-war History: Josh Freeman's new book, American Empire: The Rise of a Global Power, the Democratic Revolution at Home, 1945-2000, is in the Hobsbawm tradition. It is a broad history of post-World War 2 America. As Tom Sugrue writes in his review in The Nation, "American Empire is comprehensive in its sweep, but returns to three major themes: the country’s extraordinary economic growth, especially in the quarter-century following World War II; the proliferation of mass movements to bring the promise of democracy to fruition on the home front; and the dramatic expansion of American power in the world."
My New York book tour: I'll be giving two talks in New York City this month about my new book, The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame. On Tuesday, October 16, I'll be speaking at the New School (Wollman Hall, Eugene Lang Building, 65 West 11th Street, 5th floor). The event starts at 6 pm. On Thursday, October 18, I'll be speaking at the think tankDemos with Bill Moyers. It will start at 6:30 pm at Demos' offices (220 Fifth Avenue, 2nd floor). I'll also be speaking at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff next Monday, October 8th at 6 p.m. in the Cline Library, Assembly Hall.
Sarah Silverman Takes on the GOP: This video, "Let My People Vote," is hilarious and serious. Sarah Silverman speaks out about the Republicans' voter-suppression campaign.
Kuttner on Scott Brown: In an article in Huffington Post, Bob Kuttner reveals that Sen. Scott Brown's attempt to rebrand himself as a Republican moderate is "hogwash." Brown is facing Elizabeth Warren, the courageous progressive who is considered Enemy #1 by the banking industry, which has poured huge sums into Brown's campaign coffers.
The Truth Behind Proposition 32: Proposition 32, which will be on the California ballot next month, is touted by its supporters as a magic bullet that will stop influence peddling in Sacramento by corporate and union interests alike. However, beneath the ballot measure’s lofty rhetoric lies a radical truth: Prop. 32 will almost exclusively silence the voice of organized labor while deeding the state’s political landscape to big business and the independently wealthy. Matthrew Fleischer's fantastic investigative reports about Proposition 32, published on the feisty Frying Pan News website, gives readers the truth about this dangerous initiative. This Wednesday, October 3, Crosby, Stills & Nash, along with Tom Morello, will be performing at a concert to raise awareness about the dangers of Proposition 32. It starts at 7 pm at the Nokia Theater in downtown LA. Tickets are free. Check this website for more information.
Governor Brown's Outrageous Vetoes: On Sunday, California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, an important piece of legislation that would have provided key workplace protections for nannies, housekeepers, and other domestic workers. Here is the reaction from Ai-Jen Poo, director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance. She'll be speaking at Occidental College on October 23. On the same day, Brown vetoed two bills that would have improved working conditions -- and prevented serious injuries and deaths -- for California's farmworkers, according to the United Farm Workers union, which supported both bills. Donald Cohen and I explained why these bills were so important in an article on Huffington Post a few weeks ago. In contrast, Brown signed a bill to allow young undocumented immigrants to obtain drivers licenses, as reported by the Los Angeles Times. Many of the farmworkers and domestic workers who lives will be hurt by Browns' vetoes are the parents, brothers, sisters, and other family members of the young undocumented immigrants who will be helped by being able to get drivers licenses. California's business groups lobbied hard against the bills to protect domestic workers and farm workers. When it comes to protecting the state's most vulnerable workers, Brown -- who in an earlier life was an ally of the UFW -- is now on the wrong side.
Angelica Salas at Oxy: Immigrant rights activist (and Occidental College alum) Angelica Salas will be speaking at Oxy this Tuesday (October 2) at 7 pm about "Dreaming Big: Immigrant Rights and the 2012 Election." As the executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights in Los Angeles (CHIRLA), she is one of the most impressive and effective activists in America today -- a national leader of the immigrant rights movement, a frequent guest on national TV and radio shows, and often quoted in the local and national media. She’s met with President Obama at the White House as a representative of the immigrant rights movement and has played an important role in the successful campaign for the Dream Act. Several years ago, Oxy gave her an honorary degree for her service to the community. Her talk will be held in Mosher Hall, lecture hall 1, on the Oxy campus.
Oxy's Campaign Semester: Thirty-two Occidental students are now working on Presidential and U.S. Senate campaigns in key swing states, including Florida, Hawaii, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Wisconsin, Montana, Massachusetts, and Virginia. In Hawaii, we have Oxy students working on both sides of the U.S. Senate race. These students are all participating in Oxy's Campaign Semester program, which began in 2008. They get a full semester's credit. After the election is over, they return to campus for an intensive five-week seminar. Their weekly emails about their experiences are inspiring to read. They are learning a great deal about the real world of politics and about themselves. As far as I know, it is the only program of its kind anywhere in the country.
It's not everything we hoped for, but legislation rarely is.
This bill was sponsored by CFT and carried by Senator Leland Yee. It took a while, but it finally came through.
Here is Judy Michaels's (CFT chief lobbyist) description:
"I am delighted to note that Governor Jerry Brown has signed a California Federation of Teachers-sponsored bill to expedite accurate reporting of creditable hours worked for community college part-time/adjunct faculty. Beginning July 1, 2013, SB 114 (Yee) requires that districts electronically submit collective bargaining or employment agreements for community college instructors, reflecting the full time equivalent for each class of affected employees to the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS). A big thank you goes to Senator Leland Yee who introduced the bill in February 2011 and effectively carried it through California’s Senate and Assembly."
P/T English Instructor at Cosumnes River College
Since New York has had similar legislation in place for some time, this makes it coast to coast.
From Fred Glass, Communications Director, California Federation of Teachers
The AAUP’s Journal of Academic Freedom(http://www.aaup.org/AAUP/pubsres/jaf/) seeks scholarly articles relating to the topic of academic freedom and globalization. How is the expansion of US higher education around the world and the increasing international integration of academia affecting academic freedom? In what ways, conversely, is the globalization of higher education transforming academia within the United States, shifting and impinging upon traditional notions of academic freedom?
Some of the topics that might be germane to this discussion include:
The due date for papers on the topic of academia and globalization is January 31, 2012.
In addition to accepting scholarly papers relating to this topic, the Journal of Academic Freedom continues to welcome submissions on eclectic topics.
Electronic submissions should go to firstname.lastname@example.org and must include an abstract of about 150 words. The journal uses the sixteenth edition of the Chicago Manual of Style and authors should anticipate that if their article is accepted for publication, it will need to be put into Chicago style.
Ashley Dawson, Editor, Journal of Academic Freedom
On December 14, 2010, adjuncts at East-West University won a victory in one of the unfair labor practices brought against administrators at East-West University in downtown Chicago. The NLRB judge hearing their case that day prevailed upon EWU administrators to reach a settlement restoring five union activists to their jobs at East-West and also providing them back pay. For more information, check out the press release below. Leaders of the effort continue the struggle to organize adjuncts at EWU and are very much encouraged by the strong decision from the NLRB.
Adjunct faculty have been organizing at East-West University in downtown Chicago. After filing a petition for a union representation election, ALL of the adjunct faculty received letters from the administration stating that they should no longer consider themselves to be employed. This union-busting tactic has already received national attention and was the focus of a picket on Monday morning, June 21.
The United Adjunct Faculty Association (UAFA) at East-West University (EWU) withdrew its petition to vote for a union. In a letter addressed one day before EWU administration received the National Labor Relations Board collective bargaining petition notice for adjuncts, Chancellor M. Wasiullah Khan informed all department chairs, full-time faculty, part-time faculty and staff that "no contract will be renewed this year effective the forthcoming summer session and the academic year beginning with Fall quarter 2010." The letter went on to point out that no department chair, full-time faculty, part-time faculty or staff member would be hired back "without first meeting with the Chancellor." As an adjunct at EWU, I have never ever witnessed such blatant disrespect and disregard for the many hard working people who care deeply about their job. The primary reason for the petition withdrawal is based on the administration's attorney argument that no adjunct would be an employee at East-West during the summer so the petition for collective bargaining was no valid. UAFA members are not deterred. It will regroup and re-file the petition at the start of fall 2010. For more information and words of support, please send to EWUadjuncts@gmail.com.
"Filing parties" are springing up like tulips - one was held at the College of DuPage on May Day, another on May 10 at the CLEP offices in Chicago and another was held at SIU-Edwardsville..
The organizers are beginning to develop materials to make this run as smoothly as possible. Check out the items listed below and get ready to fight for your right to unemployment!
Several hundred activists from across North America met in Quebec City from August 13-15, 2010 for the ninth Coalition of Contingent Academic Labor conference. This was a great opportunity to discuss trends in higher education (such as privatization, funding crises), particularly as they affect contingents, to ponder the issues (e.g. job security, academic freedom, collective bargaining) facing us, and to consider various strategic responses. Interesting presentations came from the AAUP (American Association of University Professors) and the New Faculty Majority, the latter of which is working on a draft "Program for Change." More information and links on these are below.
Two activists from Chicago COCAL, Joe Berry and Frank Brooks, presented at a workshop on Unemployment Benefits. We'll post some of the information from that as it becomes available.
Unfortunately, it was impossible to get the leader of the effort at East-West to the conference, but you can read his statement to the conference here.
Links for the New Faculty Majority:
Earlier versions of this pamphlet have been available on the COCAL website since October 2007. Now it has been updated and published with beautiful graphics after generous financial help from the National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers and the American Association of University Professors.
You can still download a PDF version of this revised pamphlet from this website (without the cover page) by following the "download" link below.
Ordering print copies:
If you want to order print copies (with the cover page above), follow the Google Checkout procedure below. The cost per booklet is $5, plus $2 shipping.
Chicago COCAL developed out of Campus Equity Week 2001. On November 2, 2001, the final plenary session of the Metro Chicago CEW Conference at Harold Washington College adopted a resolution to form this group, modeled on the COCAL chapter already organized in Boston. Chicago's chapter brings together adjuncts, temporary full-time instructors, graduate students, and others concerned about the working conditions of contingent academic labor in our area.
An open steering committee has met monthly since November of 2001 and has involved instructors from several Chicago colleges and universities, most of whom are involved in existing or emerging faculty unions. In addition, union organizers and officials from the Illinois Federation of Teachers, Illinois Education Association, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, other unions have attended.
Our primary purpose at this time is to develop strategies for improving the status, pay and treatment of contingent academic labor in Chicago and its suburbs and to support efforts by other groups in public and private universities and colleges to do the same. Meetings so far have discussed contract negotiations at Columbia College, the emergence of a organizing committee in the city colleges, relations with NAFFE, planning for the upcoming COCAL meeting in Chicago, and many other concerns.
Joe Berry has compiled a list of articles specifically focusing on strategies for organizing contingent faculty. His list is limited to pieces that attempt a broader strategic focus across institutions and disciplines. Workshops at COCAL VI are planned to deepen and extend this discussion. Click on the link below.
Reclaiming the Ivory Tower: Organizing Adjuncts to Change Higher Education by Joe Berry, is just out (2005) from Monthly Review Press and North American Alliance for Fair Employment. Look at http://www.reclaimingtheivorytower.org for full information, bulk ordering discounts, to join a group blog/discussion, or to invite Joe to speak at an event.
Karen Stanley of TESOL has updated her internet bibliography of articles, organizational pages, job sites and so on dealing with contingent academic labor. Follow the link below:
Christine Pfeiffer of P-FAC at Columbia College prepared an extensive report on health insurance options (and challenges) for the contract bargaining team at Columbia in December 2005. Although this was geared to helping Columbia adjuncts negotiate some kind of health coverage there, the review of options is thorough, clearly written, and extremely helpful in framing the issues. It's available for download here. Christine and others from Chicago COCAL will be bringing it to discussions at the upcoming AFT/NEA Higher Education Conference in Orlando in March 2006.
One of Christine's major conclusions is that trying to get employer-linked health coverage will continue to be very difficult (and not just for adjuncts), so we should focus on single-payer plans. One possible avenue is trying to shape the Illinois plan mandated by the Health Care Justice Act. For more information on this, consult the Campaign for Better Health Care website (they were one of the main advocates of this law).
At its November 2002 meeting, Chicago COCAL passed this resolution opposing war on Iraq:
Since our resolution, many other labor groups, including some in higher education, have also come out against the war. For more information, consult Anti-War Page.
Click on the buttons in the header above to find out what else is on this site. The site is still under construction, so suggestions, criticisms, corrections, and praise are all welcome. A brief description of the current contents follows:
The Links Page - other sites of interest to contingent academic labor.
Campus Equity Week 2001 - the site for the Chicago area, as it existed in the fall of 2001. It's now archived on this site and clicking here will open it in a new browser window.
Contact Page - use this to get on our e-mail list and to help us develop a list of contacts for news and action in the future.
Archive - old items retired from this page.