The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds. It was a small part of the pantomime.
As you may well not have heard on your corporate nightly news, the Obama-era National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has been near-paralyzed by years of Republican dirty tricks leading to resignations and scandal that included frequent leaking of confidential board proceedings to former Republican board members advising the Romney camp. With the Department of Justice eyeballing the corporate hacks in question, however, the NLRB may finally be set to address academic labor issues.
Several of the regional NLRB panels have already decided core higher ed cases; just last month a federal judge spanked Chicago’s Columbia College for interfering with faculty union activities, ordering them to the bargaining table, posthaste.
Evidently the national NLRB plans to make up for lost time. Over the next few…
Cary Nelson completes his third consecutive term as AAUP president next week. No one serving in that role has accomplished so much with so little against a mountain of obstacles that would have sent weaker personalities scurrying back to their carrels and laboratory benches. During his tenure, he averted near-certain financial collapse, calmed near-annual rebellions from the union affiliates, appeased traditionalists, weathered the unionization of the staff, oversaw the departure of two general secretaries, rode out nearly-continuous irrational litigation, renovated an appallingly dysfunctional membership operation, herded the cats of Committee A, and brought communications to the very brink of modernization.
He never gave up on his efforts to refashion the organization into an institution…
As a professor, I am a professional slacker. After all, professors like me hardly work, are way over paid, and are the source of ever-increasing tuition at institutions of higher ed.
At least that is the conclusion of David C. Levy, a man who works for something called the Cambridge Information Group, does not list a single teaching position in his biography, and yet was somehow allowed to describe himself as “a career-long academic” in The Washington Postlast week as he exposed me and my slacker colleagues.
Levy’s argument is simple: unions and professors are bad. See what happened is that
With the 1970s advent of collective bargaining in higher education, this began to change. The result… senior faculty at most state universities and colleges now earn $80,000 to $150,000, roughly in line with the average incomes of others with advanced degrees.
Back in 2004, Bush appointees to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) stripped private-university teaching and research assistants of the right to unionize, reversing a unanimous, bipartisan decision in 2000. The NLRB now has an opportunity to restore their rights. All that’s required is actually ruling on a petition for a union election brought by the Graduate Student Organizing Committee at New York University in April 2010.
Due to Republican shenanigans in the Senate, however, there is effectively a deadline of the end of the year. Considering that the new year is less than a month away, private-university administrations may be breathing a sigh of relief. Without a ruling, the law will enable them to legally refuse recognition of graduate employee unions, even if a majority of employees wish to form one.
I ask this question probably six times a month: “So, you want to work in publishing? What do you think a job in publishing is like?”
The bright-eyed students who sit, smiling, across from me in my over-stuffed, over-heated basement office will spin tales where the act something they refer to as “lunches with writers” figures largely. They’ve collected impressions of what life as an Editorial Assistant is like from reading dour novels by young authors, watching Sex and The City or Mad Men, and from movies so old their characters are still permitted to smoke indoors.
I believe it’s part of my job to help them understand what their futures might hold.
But of course, I listen to them first. The most honest ones explain, sotto voce, that they only want to work publishing until their own writing “takes off.” They believe that a job at a magazine, trade publishing house, academic press…
Laborious, according to the Oxford English dictionary, means
requiring much work, exertion, or perseverance: a laborious undertaking or characterized by or requiring extreme care and much attention to detail or characterized by or exhibiting excessive effort or
given to or diligent in work.
At this point, our relationship to labor must be laborious. Here we are on Labor Day, a day that the US Department of Labor says happens on
the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.
And yet, as we know now, things have never been worse for labor. The actual number of unemployed Americans is about 25…
When we added humorous chapter books (eg Roscoe Riley) to my three-year-old’s story time, we were appalled to find that one of them featured one of the cruder and, we thought, outmoded Asian stereotypes–the New Kid from the Black Lagoon, it turns out, is not the scary blue-skinned alien from Mars that the other kids imagined, but simply Xu Ping, whose family has flown all the way from Beijing to start–you guessed it, a Chinese restaurant. How reassuring.
When planning her own recent humorous chapter book, Brainstorm colleague Naomi Schaefer Riley (no relation to Roscoe) apparently didn’t get the memo that the “lazy professor” stereotype has been consigned to the cultural dustbin since, roughly, her own graduation from kindergarten. As you might surmise from the title (The Faculty Lounges–har har–And Other Reasons You Won’t Get the College Education You Paid For), the book relies…
Nearly three years after his hitch began, Gary Rhoades leaves the AAUP much stronger than he found it. He forged strong relationships between the national elected leadership and the big collective bargaining chapters. He was an especially successful ambassador to AFT and NEA. He made a series of small but important spending reforms. He led several critical organizing drives.
As general secretary, the organization’s top staff position, Rhoades had a darned difficult job during a once-in-a-half-century crisis and organizational re-definition.
On his watch, AAUP’s own staff unionized (with the full support of the elected leadership). Rhoades successfully managed the transition into the period covered by that first contract.
The organization completed a complex three-way partition that clarified the relationships between its three roles as a foundation, professional association,…
Twenty years of schoolin’
And they put you on the day shift
Look out kid
They keep it all hid
—Bob Dylan, Subterranean Homesick Blues
On March 22, a prominent group of education bloggers agreed to provide statements loosely organized on the theme of “why faculty like me support unions.” Unexpectedly Stanley Fish, a career-long opponent of faculty unionism, joined them. “I recently flipped,” he confessed,”and what flipped me, pure and simple, was Wisconsin.” In particular, it turns out, it was reading new Brainstorm colleague Naomi Schaefer’s Riley’s assault on faculty bargaining rights in that newspaper you find under your door in cheap motel rooms:
What Riley fears is that if colleges and universities were unionized, teachers with far out, discomforting ideas couldn’t be fired. It’s hard to imagine a better argument for unions (and also for tenure)…. Riley makes no…
This Sunday a fellow member of the University of Illinois Graduate Employees Organization, Zach Poppel, and I traveled to Madison to support the occupation of the Wisconsin Capitol. We went there in support not just of public workers in Wisconsin, but of the very idea of collective bargaining. Many of us also were there because we know graduate employees in Wisconsin, and know how higher education in Wisconsin will be decimated by these proposals.
The University of Wisconsin would find it much harder to retain faculty if its professors have to surrender their hard-fought gains in collective bargaining (currently faculty on the Eau Claire and Superior campuses are unionized, and the LaCrosse campus recently voted for unionization as well). Similar proposals for gutting unions are being pursued elsewhere—Indiana, Ohio, New Jersey, Florida,…
American workers have for decades—decades—suffered the givebacks and arrows of outrageous fortunes. They’ve watched their wages shrink, or given up wages on the promise of future benefits. They’ve found no successful way to resist outsourcing or right-to-work laws. They suffered through Ronald Reagan destroying the air-traffic controllers’ union, Bill Clinton downgrading labor as low priority, and generations coming of age contemptuous of, or indifferent to, labor, and unaware of the degree to which a decent society depends on respect for those who work. Demoralized, resentful, and passive, they’ve responded to most of the insults with a collective cringe. Around them, factories rusted, and go on rusting; solidarities thinned; crystal meth labs mushroomed; and not least, bankers thrived.
Now come the public workers of Wisconsin saying: Enough! Well aware that their jobs cannot be …
You’ve probably been watching or reading about a remarkable event here in California—a group of parents at Compton’s McKinley Elementary using the nation’s first “trigger law” to transfer management of the school. It’s an important story, raising interesting questions about a potentially useful law that is already being imitated across the country.
The problem is that you are getting the for-profit and charter school industry’s script—word for word—by most major news outlets, print and broadcast. Here’s some of the story you didn’t get:
+ The Compton parents didn’t rise up on their own; they were among half a dozen communities targeted for door-to-door sales campaigning by Parent Revolution, an “Astroturf organization” (i.e., fake grassroots) spun off by Green Dot, a charter group managing fifteen Los Angeles schools.