A quick (well, you know) musing from your friendly APSCUF-WCU Mobilization Co-Chair on the way into the holiday weekend before the Strike Authorization Vote–
Yesterday, I had a conversation with somebody in the hallway about getting people to sign up for work we need done over the next months: staffing the voting tables, making themselves available for rallies and picketing, making phone calls and writing letters, and so on. We commiserated for a minute about the herding cats problem that lots of us academics use to describe ourselves.
But I’ve thought about this a lot over the years and think it’s somewhat more complicated than that. I haven’t done formal data collection on this, but anecdotally I know that many of us are drawn to the profession, along with our interest in our disciplines, because faculty work offers more autonomy than almost any other job I can think of. While we rightly get mad at the “They only work 17 hours” trope, it is true that many of the hours we work each week are flex time. We have more decision-making authority over our teaching and research (and even our service) than most people have over their job responsibilities. Yes, we’ve earned it and in many cases paid a dear price for it (years of grad school, student loans, all the financial/emotional stresses that come with those, and more). Nonetheless, it’s one of the features that distinguishes our jobs from most others.
Which is why at moments where unity and solidarity are at a premium, like right now in our contract negotiations/strike preparations, it’s that much more important for each of us to remember that we chose to become faculty, and we chose to become union members, and we therefore need to choose to commit to the solidarity it will take to stand strong for our students, our colleagues, our campuses, and our system against system management that claims to have a monopoly on all those in spite of their continued failure to fight for us and even alongside us instead of against us as they all too often do.
Well, if the people who run our state system were trying to get the new semester off on a sour note, they sure found a way to do it.
In a letter addressed to PASSHE students, Chancellor Frank Brogan makes a claim that I feel compelled to respond to before the semester starts–my goal here is to help APSCUF faculty think about how to respond when students accuse us, faculty, of not looking out for their interests should we have to strike.
Chancellor Brogan says:
We can only hope that APSCUF recognizes the potentially devastating impact that a strike would have on our students.
Yes, Chancellor Brogan, we understand. We wish you understood as well as we do. We’re the ones who work with the students and faculty across the system every single day. We–the students and the faculty–are the people who do the learning and the teaching that give the system, and hence your office and your staff, any reason to exist. We know our impact because we see it every day: in the classes we teach, in the clubs and services we oversee, in the advisees we mentor; in the athletes we coach. Our impact has been steadily and widely positive and productive through often challenging circumstances. We want to work in an environment that allows us to continue having our positive impacts for years to come
The implications of a strike could, in fact, be devastating. That’s why nobody on the APSCUF side wants to do it. On the other hand, if it takes a strike to make PASSHE understand that we’re not going to sacrifice the integrity of our system or our campuses, that’s a positive implication.
In other words, a strike doesn’t have to happen; all it will take to prevent one is for PASSHE to get to work bargaining in good faith like they should have been doing for more than 400 days now. And if a strike does happen, it will be because APSCUF believes that’s the only way to convince PASSHE to bargain in good faith. We know better than anybody in some office in Harrisburg what will happen to students if we strike. The people who are gambling blindly with our students’ learning conditions aren’t us.
If you know Dr. Mahoney and me, you know that we nearly always think pretty much the same things. Kevin has a gift for being a couple of steps ahead of me in his ability to make a clear case for what we both usually think.
His current piece on the Raging Chicken Press site is probably the strongest example of that phenomenon I’ve seen in 11 years of this. If you want to know what I think about the agreement, what it represents in terms of APSCUF’s status as a union and our role in defending public higher education, what it protects in terms of our job descriptions and workloads, how it defends against what was a brutal attack on our contingent faculty, what it costs economically and how those issues sift out, just read it.
Couldn’t have said it better myself.
A recent post on the APSCUF-KUXchange by friend and colleague Amy Lynch-Biniek. In a nutshell, she describes how the current PASSHE proposals regarding adjunct faculty hurt our adjunct brothers and sisters, our students, our departments, and our system.
To borrow a turn of phrase, you can tell a lot about a college by the way it treats its adjuncts. If you read the PASSHE Negotiation Objectives recently distributed to KU faculty via email (referred to parenthetically in this post as “Letter”), you are likely angered and dismayed by most if not all of their positions. For a moment, I’d like you to consider the repercussions of one element of their attack on quality education, their proposed treatment of contingent faculty. And make no mistake: the use and treatment of these faculty does indeed affect and reflect the education the state makes available to students.
Before I came to Kutztown University, I had been an adjunct at several colleges, though “adjunct” became a ridiculous term when I was running the writing center, directing the theater production and teaching several classes at a single institution on three “part-time” contracts. One…
View original post 1,704 more words
Our colleague Dr. Kevin Mahoney from KU says a lot here that I would also have said. He says it somewhat more savvily than I was going to, so I’m just reposting his version of it.
This past Saturday, APSCUF posted the following negotiations update on its blog:
APSCUF and PASSHE negotiators met Friday, September 14, at the Dixon Center in Harrisburg. The Chancellor’s team passed a proposal on retrenchment language and made suggestions for future bargaining sessions. APSCUF caucused and responded to their proposal in writing. The two sides reconvened and failed to come to agreement on the language, but agreed to session definitions for the next two times: on Oct. 5th APSCUF will present on curriculum, class size, and distance education and on Oct. 22nd the Chancellor’s team will discuss temporary workload and concessions on retiree health care. There was neither discussion of nor progress made on the Chancellor’s team’s demand for concessions on distance education, active and retiree health care, and temporary faculty workload.
There is so much packed into this statement, but I want to focus on one issue in…
View original post 1,452 more words
Filed under Advocacy, APSCUF, Benefits/Benefit Cuts, Budget, Budget Cuts, Collective Bargaining, Contingent faculty, Contract Negotiations, Office of the Chancellor, Tenure, Uncategorized
Just got this e-mail, via Lisa Millhous, via the PA Federation of Teachers:
Please read this important announcement from brother Ted Kirsch, President, AFT Pennsylvania:
As you may know, teachers in the Neshaminy Federation of Teachers bargaining unit have been on strike for 9 days. We are returning back to the classroom, but unfortunately, have not persuaded our school board to return to the bargaining table to negotiate a fair contract.
The board has refused to engage in good faith negotiations and has offered one proposal that decimates our rights as professionals. This impasse has lasted for way too long — almost 4 years — and needs to end. Please help us by signing our petition asking the board to negotiate.
At this point, it is not about who is wrong or right — it is about sitting down at the table to negotiate — something our board is refusing to do. Sign our petition here.
Feel free to forward the petition information to anyone who is concerned about education.
Take 5 seconds to sign the petition. This is beyond ridiculous.