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Reports and full presentations  from COCAL XII, August 2016, Edmonton, Alberta, CAN:

COCAL is the Coalition of Contingent Academic Labor, a 20 year old network of contingent activists and their organizations that does a conference (now tri-national - USA, CAN (including QBC), and MEX) every other year, usually in August. It also sponsors a listserv, called ADJ-L, and has an International Advisory Committee, a website and Facebook page <>, as well as this news aggregator, COCAL UPDATES. See below at bottom for details on joining the listserv.

GREAT Quote for the new year from US Labor Against the War, authored by Michael Eisenscher, their organizer emeritus.
Do you find yourself missing national Campus Equity Week celebrations this year?
Looking ahead to October of 2017, a grassroots group of contingent artist-activists scattered across the U.S. have been working under the auspices of New Faculty Majority for several months to design a theme that captures our need to both conceal and reveal our complex identities as members of the precarious academic workforce: mAsk4campusEquity.
We are exploring three basic customizable options for unified Campus Equity messaging and activities in 2017 that capitalize on the change-making power of art:
1. Historical re-enactment of creative social justice protests;
2. Other modes of performance art such as mock funerals, carnival processions, etc;
3. Exhibits that illustrate the diversity of our workforce and the issues of contingent employment.
Over the next few months, we hope to
·      build a large network of artist-activists and supporters;
·      partner with a number of organizations related to the arts;
·      engage participants with expertise in various art media from music and performance to photography, sculpture, graphic arts and new media, to flesh out plans for local actions that will resonate across the country.
If you want to join our campaign on the ground floor, please contact Anne Wiegard at
Andy Davis
Natalie Barnes
Jessica Lawless
Kat Jacobsen
Rita Lilly
Jennie Shanker
Lydia Snow
Anne Wiegard

1. ACCJC Pres. Beno, while on admin leave, will serve as paid “advisor” ACCJC now says
2. What happens if free tuition comes to campus?
3. Bob Samuels, Pres. of UC-AFT Council and author of Why Public Higher Ed Should Be Free, on the New York state free tuition plan
1. University of Sao Paolo, Brazil, president vows to eliminate trade unionism on campus. Sign up to protest.
2. US company linked to Gates, trying to privatize public education in Africa
1. More on the recent good NY court decision on faculty handbooks as binding contracts
2. 5 Ways unions ands worker centers can defend immigrant members (and students)
3. December E-Note from the National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in Higher Education and the Professions (lots of good info on recent organizing)
4. A very excellent piece on the need for a new teacher unionism from a year ago by former Milwaukee local president Bob Peterson. a must read
5. As adjunct professor numbers increase universities seek balance
6. A PhD in organizing: grads organize across the nation
7. New study says 95% of jobs created in past 8 years were pt or contract (right wing source, beware)
8. Tenure v. adjunct in Kansas
9. U of Hartford (CN) contingents vote union (SEIU)
10. A sobering economic wage report on minimum wage and what many of our students face (and some of us on our “other” jobs)
11. Another very good piece on labor after election and what we should do now in the unions especially. Continues discussion by Fletcher and Wing
12. U Mass-Lowell adjuncts decry low wages
13. Rise in adjunct faculty in higher education
14. Article from CA F of T "CA Teacher" on job security bill passed for PT CC faculty in CA
and in same issue, (go to site above) our contingent colleagues a U of CA. Berkeley act in solidarity with Standing Rock
and our colleague Cynthia Mahabir of Peralta CCD (who won her job back with union action) is co-author (and only contingent) on study of Amer Sociology Assoc. task force in Teaching Sociology on differences in conditions between FT and PT instructors.
15. U Mass-Lowell sets lower compensation standards for adjuncts than other U Mass campuses
16. NLRB refuses to block union vote by contingents at U of S CA, despite admin’s objections
17. Unions in the Trump era
18. U of CA clericals in Teamsters to strike all of U of CA campuses on one day ULP strike, Jan 10
19. Two new studies on what institutions are doing with the money they save by hiring contingent faculty. (Hint: not being used for FTTT faculty but for administration). A Must -Read, and quotes NFM president Maria Maisto. Be sure to read the extensive comments.
20. from Morning Education
NLRB DENIES REVIEW OF DUKE PROOF IN GRAD STUDENT CASE: The National Labor Relations Board on Wednesday denied a request from SEIU to review Duke's "offer of proof" that PhD students at the Durham, N.C., university were not employees under the board's August 2016 decision in Columbia University, which said grad students at Columbia were both students and employees. In accordance with NLRB regulations, Duke, upon request, provided the regional director handling the case the offer of proof, which outlined the issues and evidence it planned to present.

Had the regional director deemed the offer of proof insufficient, evidence on these issues wouldn't have been presented in the case. But the regional director accepted Duke's offer, allowing Duke to present 28 points in its favor. SEIU appealed that decision, arguing that the facts in Duke's offer were "either completely irrelevant to the issue of employee status, or were addressed and outright rejected in Columbia University." But the full board disagreed, writing that there were "no substantial issues warranting review." The full decision is here, and SEIU's appeal is here.
21. Highlights from the first season of “Real adjuncts of Orange County College”
22. An adjunct’s Christmas list
23. See below for resolution of this dispute
Make a call to support unionized workers at the Sierra Club who are having trouble in negotiations. Many of us in the contingent faculty movement are members and I’ll b et some of the workers are ålso contingent faculty, or have been.
Hi Folks,

I'm Labor Coodinator for Sierra Club and now President of John Muir Local 100 representing Sierra Club employees.

We have a sister union in Oakland called SIERRA EMPLOYEE ALLIANCE, LOCAL 2103 (SEA). They're hitting a serious blockade in negotiations due to lack of respect for the labor movement they need a real show of solidarity. 

Your support would be greatly appreciated.

Please see a script and request below and let us know if anyone does it.

Thank you
Hi Friends,

I have quick action support request for you. Would you be willing to make a call to my executive director today? We're in contract negotiations and it would make a big difference if our director knows people outside our walls care.

He's out of town, but please call his office line and ask to leave a message that is passed along to him. It's helpful if name your institution [SEIU, UC Berkeley, etc], but if that's beyond your comfort zone you can say, "I'm a mom / I'm a community organizer / I'm a Sierra Club members/supporter/donor"

After you call, can you please drop me quick email to say you did?  


Here's his number and a script.

Phone: (415) 977-5662

Hi Mike Brune - 
This is  _[YOUR NAME]_ calling from _[INSTITUTION]__. I understand you have a contract deadline approaching, and I'm concerned that you and the Sierra Club are not living up to your values as progressive leaders and supporters of labor. I'll be watching to see that the Sierra Club delivers on living wages and accountability for toxic behavior. 


Larry Williams Jr. , Founder
24. Year end organizing report from SEIU 200 in Upstate NY and VT. One of the best in US this year.. See below for details
25. American Postal Workers Union wins big privatization fight against Staples
and from APWU
26. Another Friedrichs case on agency fee in pipeline
27. More US workers have unstable volatile incomes
28. A very good piece on pensions and the threat to them by one of our best FTTT (retired) colleague allies, Harry Brill from U Mass
29. On the need for a new labor and left internationalism (which we in contingent faculty movment have begin but just barely) by our colleague Leo Fink at U of IL, Chicago
30. The haves and have nots of higher ed (community colleges)
31. Good piece from our colleague Caprice Lawless of Front Range CC in CO and a national VP of AAUP
32. Great news on unemployment comp for adjuncts nationally.
See below for details and go to and scroll down a bit.
23. Great news from the Sierra Club. As you can see below the Sierra Employee Alliance Local 2103 (SEA) was able to reach a contract with the club and the two unions John Muir Local 100 (JML) and SEA exhibited historic cooperation to achieve this. 

I'm proud to work for an organization with an unions and an executive team that value the rights of it's employees to be protected from  toxic behavior in their work environment rooted in power and privilege. 

Thanks to the great allies on this thread who contributed to SEA getting this language in our contract by providing anti-toxic behavior language or commenting on the "Grievances for Toxic Behavior" thread  a few weeks back

Additional thanks to those who called our executive team to support our efforts to express your support for these organizational upgrades.

Special thanks to:

William Berry
David Kamper
Carrie Blackwood
Jerry Levinsky
Jimmy Kelly
Kurt Spiegel
Ruth Needleman
Michael Mauer
Tess Ewig

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Melanie McCrea <>
Date: Sat, Jan 7, 2017 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Thanks for your support & bargaining update

Hi friends,

Thank you so much for calling this week to hold the Sierra Club to high standards in labor negotiations! We had more than 30 calls from partners and friends, and I'm so pleased to report that we signed a tentative agreement late last night. We could not have gotten this done without you!

For the first time in Sierra Club's history, this agreement establishes contractual protections for staff facing toxic behavior in their work environment -- meaning we now have a legal backstop that supports staff in challenging harmful behavior rooted in power and privilege. We were also able to secure improved parental leave policies, significant improvements in salary scales for our lowest-earning members, and annual raises that should keep member salaries increasing slightly ahead of inflation.

While our work was easy in comparison to the fierce campaigning being done by Fight for 15, the hotel and casino organizing drives happening in the Bay right now, and many other union struggles -- let alone the challenges many people face simply to survive in this deeply inequitable world -- it was nonetheless a hard-fought contract by Sierra Club standards. This agreement lays important groundwork for advancing our internal transformation on anti-oppression and equity. It has also been a political education process for many of our members, and has helped provide people with some stability over the coming years that will free us up to participate more in local solidarity and movement-building. 

I'm confident that your support helped make the difference, and I hope you will call on us if we can be of support to you in the challenging times ahead.

All my gratitude,

Larry Williams Jr. , Founder
24. Brothers and Sisters,
Here’s an update on what the SEIU Local 200 United organizing team has been working on in 2016 and what our goals are for 2017. 
2016 was another year of empowering higher education faculty and workers to win justice, respect and dignity at their campuses.  Through the work we did to support them, workers won higher wages, increases in job security and more dignified campus environments. 
In 2016 here’s what we organized:
-We organized about 600 adjunct faculty to settle their first contracts at St. Mike’s College, Champlain College and The College of St. Rose.  They won increased levels of job security and wage increases of up to 35%.  Shout out to the bargaining committees and John Longtin, Sean Collins and Will Brown for their hard work on these campaigns.
-Zeke Perkins led the organizing in Central NY and helped 80 Wells College Contingent Faculty and Ithaca College Full-Time Contingent Faculty win their unions while supporting the efforts at the bargaining table.
-Ashley Drzymala led our riskiest campaign, a long and hard fought two year battle at Marist College to represent 500 adjunct faculty.  At the most conservative school we have tried to organize to date, adjunct faculty came up from behind in a second election and came within 9 votes of winning.
-We created language for a New York State Adjunct Faculty Minimum Wage Bill and began meaningful coalition work with the goal of introducing the bill in 2017.
While a giant shadow has been cast over the labor movement and the rest of the left by our national political climate, the need to organize into unions with the power to fight back and hold the line is more important than ever.  Working people must brace ourselves for attacks from conservative groups that won political power by both consolidating and continuing to build power.
In 2017 our goal is to double down on our organizing strategy:
-We plan to continue our path of settling robust first contracts with more 800 faculty at Siena College, Schenectady County Community College, Ithaca College and Wells College. 
-We plan to continue organizing contingent faculty into the union with a goal of adding an additional 1,000 new members into the union in 2017.  We are excited to have the help of organizers from our international union and wish to welcome Kristin Kelleher, Andreina Granado, Freya Hughes and Brendan Dunn to the 200United Organizing Team.
-We will continue exploring The New York Adjunct Faculty Minimum Wage Bill as well as other opportunities to build power in higher education and strengthen our voice in the industry.

Chris Machanoff
Organizing Director
Faculty Forward / SEIU Local 200United
32. I’m pleased to announce an important victory for us all that could potentially be putting more money into the pockets of struggling adjuncts across the country very soon.

Sorry I’ve been absent for a while—got booted from the list when my email service was interrupted and only just got back on. Some of you might remember that, back in 2012, I announced here the NEA Contingent Faculty Caucus’s first big win, a New Business Item asking the NEA to help us get the Department of Labor to instruct the states that contingent faculty are eligible to collect unemployment insurance between terms.

This effort was initiated by New Faculty Majority, and NFM has worked in the years since then to coordinate all the unions representing contingent faculty to bring it to fruition. This has been a long and heavy lift, but I am very pleased to announce that the DOL has finally issued the letter we were asking for. This lays the groundwork for contingent faculty members in all the states to collect unemployment insurance between terms (a right we already have in California).

This strategy was Maria Maisto’s idea. She found the document that is used to prevent contingent faculty from collecting, which was issued in 1987, called a UIPL (Unemployment Insurance Program Letter). That UIPL, however, doesn’t address higher education at all, even though it’s been applied to higher ed ever since. So Maria thought the DOL needs to issue a new UIPL addressing higher ed. In the end, all the lawyers (in the unions and the DOL) agreed. And now we have our letter!

A lot of people have been working hard on this for several years. This success highlights the importance and effectiveness of NFM’s work, often quietly knitting together key activists and constituencies to achieve far-reaching results.

The next step will be to start campaigns to get people to apply, and to use the DOL letter to appeal denials and start setting precedents.

There is a link to the actual DOL letter at the bottom of this page.

Please read, below, the message Maria posted to the NFM Facebook page:
Good news for contingent faculty applying for unemployment insurance between academic terms (like now): DOL guidance clarifies to state agencies how to understand adjunct employment and our right to unemployment under the law.

The DOL's just-released Unemployment Insurance Program Letter (UIPL) 05-17 provides long-overdue guidance to address the new reality of contingent academic employment in higher education. New Faculty Majority and the NFM Foundation have been at the forefront of the effort to advocate for the issuance of this guidance. As we explained when we launched our Steve Street National Unemployment Compensation Initiative, this letter is a tool that adjunct faculty can use at the state level, both individually and collectively, to ensure that state agencies are correctly understanding and applying federal law. "The Department is issuing this guidance to remind states of the requirements," the UIPL explains, as well as to clarify relevant definitions and to explain how contemporary situations might be addressed -- a necessary step since the last guidance on this issue was released in 1986.

Highlights of the letter include: acknowledgment of the inconsistent application of the law in many states, clarification that unemployment cannot be denied if the adjunct's "economic conditions" in the second term or year are "considerably less than those of the first academic year or term." State agencies must investigate, and most significant, unemployment insurance cannot be denied as long as there exist contingencies "within the employer's control." Contingencies within the employer's control can include decisions about funding in addition to standard practices such as assignments based on programming and administrative discretion.

In advocating for the issuance of this letter, NFM has built on the groundbreaking work of AFT union members and staff in California and Washington who helped win the landmark 1989 Cervisi legal decision and the Washington state statute; of Joe Berry, Helena Worthen, and Beverly Stewart, who wrote a 2008 guide for adjuncts applying for unemployment, and their colleague Frank Brooks; and activists like Jack Longmate and our late colleague Steve Street. Around the country adjuncts have worked to change their state laws to strengthen adjunct access to unemployment and we hope this guidance letter will be helpful to them in their state efforts.

NFM was proud to lead the effort to inform the DOL of the need for this updated letter after we uncovered the 1986 version and proposed requesting its update. We were grateful to collaborate with AFT, NEA, SEIU, AAUP, UAW, USW, and especially adjunct leaders and staff within the unions, on this project. The work we all did together was a wonderful example of what we can accomplish with mutual respect, determination, and solidarity.

We will provide more detailed discussion of the letter in the coming weeks.

In solidarity,

Judy Olson

Chair, NFM Foundation Board

Chair, NEA Contingent Faculty Caucus

"Reclaiming the Ivory Tower: Organizing Adjuncts to Change Higher Education". by Joe Berry, from Monthly Review Press, 2005. Look at <> for full information, individual sales, bulk ordering discounts, or to invite me to speak at an event. 

To receive the periodic news aggregator, COCAL Updates, Email <>  It is archivedat 

To join international COCAL listserve email <> If this presents problems, send an e-mail to or, send "Subscribe" to <

Join the national membership organization for contingent faculty and their allies, New Faculty Majority (NFM). Support, resources,and strategies for all things related to precarious faculty. <>

Plan to attend COCAL XIII in Queretaro, Mexico,  at the Autonomous University of Queretaro, August 2018. 
See for reports of COCAL XII Edmonton, Alberta, Canada) and plans for COCAL XIII.

Joe Berry
510-527-5889 phone/fax
21 San Mateo Road, 
Berkeley, CA 94707