Fleet Foxes has a song that just about sums up my feelings about the strike. We have all been taught that we are “something unique”, and we are. But we are also part of something beyond ourselves, and this year, it was the mighty, mighty union, APSCUF.
What strikes me now is that as chapter president, I was indeed a “cog in some great machinery serving something beyond me.” From the students and faculty who worked on campus to the 14-campus group we were all part of, from my local executive council and our officers and strike team up to the state leadership, it was awe-inspiring to be in the middle of a movement. Let’s not forget that.
So, enjoy this song. It may not be your stylistic cup of tea, but it’s mighty inspiring.
“If we strike, I will be on the line partly for my own interests, of course, but mostly on behalf of my colleagues. My dual-income household means that I am in the incredibly fortunate position of being able to weather a strike financially, and that makes it even more important for me to take part in the strike. I have a buffer. I can be visible and loud and persistent and not worry about how we’ll pay our bills. It’s my OBLIGATION to myself, my colleagues both at WCU and across PASSHE, and my students to show up on the picket line and fight for fairness and respect. I know how worried my colleagues are — especially junior colleagues and adjuncts, but associate & full professors too. I know how much some of them will struggle without a paycheck. I am prouder than I can say that they were among the first to sign up to picket, that local folks are scheduling parking shifts in their driveways, and that we are taking note of thinly scheduled shifts and offering to cover those times. What I’m getting at is this: can we somehow highlight positive testimonies about why we’re supporting the strike? Do you think that it would help? I’d be glad to sign my name to my words, but we could offer an anonymous option too… I’m trying to listen to my better angels here rather than encourage exposure of faculty who are threatening their peers if they strike. I still can’t wrap my head around that. If it’s useful, you may share this email. I don’t know if my idea has merit, but I’d like to think that we could counter these rumors — and perhaps convert some undecided colleagues — with a show of unity and positivity. Thank you for all of your work!
Yes, Gabrielle, what a great idea! Faculty, please send your positive testimonies about the strike to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will post them on the blog as they come in. Please indicate whether you want your name printed or if you wish to remain anonymous.
By now, many of you have read of Long Island University’s Brooklyn Campus lock-out, which may well turn out to be one of the most anti-union attacks on a faculty in modern times. The ploy at LIU is, in effect, to hire scabs and empower non-faculty to administer courses based on syllabi collected by the administration via Blackboard.
The cynical gambit at LIU will ultimately fail because it takes much more than “content”, a learning management system and a syllabus to foster excellence. We know from for-profit, distance education institutions that courses proctored (not taught) by poorly paid and unsupported instructors have terrible completion rates. And if the lock-out proceeds for a significant length of time, LIU could damage their “brand” (i.e., reputation) and become a corporate degree mill to be shunned and ridiculed.
I very much doubt that the Chancellor would have much to gain by using this rare (but increasingly prevalent) tactic against APSCUF in our current situation. A management lock-out would prove that the Chancellor cares more about saving money than delivering a high-quality education, and would warn potential new faculty hires to look elsewhere if they want a secure career that keeps pace with the cost of living.
If you are not sure whether playing defense against a lock-out is better than preparing for a strike, consider the power of taking a strike authorization vote.
A vote for strike authorization demonstrates that the faculty stands solidly behind its bargaining team. It is a vote for fair raises, affordable healthcare, and continued shared governance.
A vote for strike authorization sends a resounding message that we stand for the quality of our universities, and that hiring and retaining the best faculty is the best way to ensure the excellence of our institutions.
A vote for strike authorization publicly declares the faculty’s solidarity and resolve to the Chancellor, the BOG, the Legislature, the Governor, our students and their families.
A vote for strike authorization demonstrates your strong support for the collective bargaining process on our campus. Not very long ago, the Weisenstein administration paid an outside consultant via the WCU Foundation to lobby faculty strenuously to support secession from PASSHE. Thankfully, they failed. This move could have turned us into an institution much more like Long Island University, and without the strong protections of APSCUF.
This Labor Day, please take a moment to reflect that every page of your CBA was written thanks to 30+ years of your colleagues regularly stepping up and arguing for your rights and for the betterment of the bargaining unit. Then join with me on September 7 – 9 by voting YES for Strike Authorization.