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 www.cocalinternational.org and Facebook page <https://www.facebook.com/COCALInternational>, as well as this news aggregator, COCAL UPDATES. See below at bottom for details on joining the listserv.
- But the long-simmering controversy over the accrediting organization that made the decision - the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, known as ACCJC - is coming to a head.The accreditor's fate will once again be on the line when a federal accreditation panel considers it next week.
- California faculty unions, student activists and some members of Congress waged battle against the accreditor in 2015, pressing the Obama administration's Education Department to take action against an organization they argued was making destructive decisions and failing to meet federal rules for accreditors.
- The Obama administration last year stripped the accreditor of its power to approve new four-year degree programs at California's community colleges - and said that the accreditor was out of compliance with seven federal standards. The Education Department gave the accreditor six months to fix those problems.
- On Wednesday, the Trump administration said in a report that the accreditor has resolved the issues raised and that Education Department staff recommended the accreditor continue to receive federal recognition for another 18 months. The report also recommends lifting the restriction on the accreditor's power to approve some four-year degrees. Read the full recommendation here.
- The National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity, known as NACIQI, is slated to meet next Wednesday through Friday in Alexandria, Va., and hear testimony about the recommendation.
- California Federation of Teachers Communications Director Fred Glass tells Morning Education that the union plans to send members to the hearing next week to "present evidence that ACCJC's time has come and gone." Glass said that while the CFT welcomes the re-accreditation of City College of San Francisco, it believes the problems with the accreditor are "deeper and wider" than any one particular college.
- Also on the NACIQI agenda: a request by a national accreditor of many for-profit colleges offering health care programs to receive federal authority to accredit master's degree programs. The Trump administration on Wednesday recommended granting the request made by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools. Read that report here.
For Immediate Release: February 14, 2017
Contact: Chris Machanoff, 585.880.3345
After 18 Months of Bargaining, Ithaca College Contingent Faculty Vote to Authorize Strike 88%
ITHACA, NY— After two days of voting, part-time lecturers and full-time contingent faculty members at Ithaca College (IC) voted to authorize the IC Contingent Faculty Union/Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 200United Bargaining Committee to call for any action up to a strike. The authorization vote comes after 18 months of bargaining between the union and the IC administration.
Tom Schneller, bargaining committee member and Part-Time Lecturer in the School of Music, said: “We are energized and excited by the outcome of the vote, which demonstrates that contingent professors at IC are fed up with the status quo and willing to stand up and fight for job security and fair pay. We are fed up with being exploited as cheap disposable labor, to be hired and fired at will. We reject the Walmart model of higher education that is espoused by the administration. It is immoral and unsustainable that our top administrators are raking in massive salaries while many of the professors who provide the education our students struggle to afford are living in poverty. Our proposals are reasonable and achievable: for part-time faculty to attain pay parity at IC would make up 0.3% of IC’s current budget. Doing the right thing at minimal cost to the college should not be a difficult decision. It is time for the IC administration to stop stonewalling and do what’s in the best interest of faculty and students at Ithaca College, rather than their own financial priorities.”
The strike vote comes after months of escalation in the contingent faculty’s struggle for a fair first contract. The college administration has refused to budge on union proposals that would provide part-time lecturers pay parity with their full-time faculty colleagues and job security for full-time lecturers, the two main issues for the union membership. Last October, over 300 students, faculty, and community members rallied outside an IC Board of Trustees fundraising gala and the bargaining committee released a photo essay over social media that explained the day-to-day life of part-time lecturers at Ithaca College.
Students, faculty, and other community members also launched a petition drive, sending letters to Senior Vice President Nancy Pringle and members of the Board of Trustees, calling on them to reach a fair first contract. Since the start of the drive, over 450 of letters have been sent.
“As students we are standing up for what is fair for ourselves and faculty. Our teacher’s teaching conditions are our learning conditions. We are prepared to take action to make Ithaca College be a leader in our community for equity and justice,’’ said Alex Koshgarian a Freshman at Ithaca College and a senator for student government.
Over the past two weeks, faculty from several departments across Ithaca College released letters of support, promising to not hire replacements and committing to not fill their classes if the IC Contingent Faculty Union/SEIU Local 200United does go out on strike.
Patricia Rodriguez, a tenured faculty member in the Politics department, said: “The unionized contingent faculty at IC demonstrate to us all the courage to stand up for change and voice in a system that has them at the bottom of the pay scale, for no other reason than that is what the system is like. But they show us that it does not need to be this way, that there can be power in showing solidarity, in workers of all different ranks standing side by side, such that the ranks begin to matter less and less one day hopefully.”
After this vote, the union negotiating committee will return to the bargaining table for two more federally mediated bargaining sessions.
The union of part-time lecturers was formed in May 2015 after an overwhelming 3-to-1 vote to unionize and has been at the bargaining table for 18 months. Full-time contingent faculty members later voted in May 2016 to join their part-time lecturer colleagues at the bargaining table.
Faculty Forward is a project of SEIU Local 200United, launched in 2014. Over 2,000 contingent faculty across Upstate New York and Vermont have joined, including contingent faculty at Wells College in Aurora, NY, Champlain College in Burlington, VT, and the College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY.
Faculty Forward / SEIU Local 200United
Friday evening consisted of standing committee meetings; the one I visited was Human Rights and International Solidarity; sensing both the nature of the concerns and the dedication and passion of the individuals present was quite encouraging to me. Most of the evening consisted of a round-robin reports from each of the roughly 20 locals about human rights events. One is an FPSE Speakers Tour, featuring such authors as Naomi Klein (author of Shock Doctrine) and Bev Sellers, an Aboriginal British Columbian non-fiction writer, and others. One common theme, mentioned in descriptions of both FPSE and communities sponsored activities, such as the Women’s March on Washington that took place in Kelowna, BC, was the increased levels of numbers/support for Human Rights generally and the speculation that its the consequence of the election of Donald Trump. One member of the committee joked, “He’s good for something.”
Also considered were several resolutions that the committee is forwarding to the union’s Presidents’ Council executive committee for possible action by the provincial union, one being to protest the violation of the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights in Nicaragua and Honduras.
The Saturday event was the FPSE “Spring Leadership Conference.” President George Davison opened the conference we by acknowledging that we were in unceded Aboriginal territory. After an excellent analysis by an economist about the situation in BC, there were break out sessions, two of which should be of interest to contingent faculty.
I did not attend the “Harassment and Anti-Bullying” breakout session but did a years ago when it was called “Member to Member Conflict.” It impressed me greatly because it consisted of scenarios where you, as a union leader or steward, were given all sorts of reasons to consider a given faculty member a real jerk, but then, as obligated by your role in the union, were forced into a position where you had to help out this person whom you had reason to personally dislike or disrespect. I was thinking how it directly related to the overt treatment of adjuncts by their union officers (and the more covert treatment by union negotiating teams). I found the presentation so powerful at conveying what a real union is really supposed to be doing for its members that I proposed that the British Columbian presenters be invited to present it at the to the WEA Higher Ed council at the WEA office in Federal Way, which happened in April 2010. Alas, the presentation seemed to fall flat or on deaf ears. At the outset, the president of the local at Lower Columbia College challenged the premise or relevance of a discussion about personal conflicts within a union framework, saying it would be within the domain of the college’s administration, not the union. The presenter, Leslie Burke-O’Flynn, who presented yesterday, politely responded to him that the intent of the discussions were to strengthen union solidarity. She also pointed out what she termed a quid pro quo, that the union, in exchange for serving as the exclusive collective bargaining agent, is obligated to manage itself democratically and inclusively. Anyway, I sensed that the WEA members, presidents of their locals, didn’t see much relevance from the discussion.
The breakout session that I did attend was “Precarious Academic Work & Secondary Scales,” conducted by Weldon Cowan. It was comprehensive of both two-year colleges and four-year universities, and I found it to be a very well organized and I believe it warrants careful study by advocates and the contingent faculty movement. Secondary Scales refers to the discounted pay systems, where the tenured or full-time instructors are paid at one rate and the contingent or part-time are paid at a discounted rate. Drawing upon recent Canadian data, one of the many important points was how the contemporary practices devalue teaching and have the effect of “deskilling” faculty members. While his presentation was intended for union leaders, I believe the implications apply to policy makers, like legislators.
One minor thing that I suppose is obvious but one that strikes me as significant is the fact that from the standpoint of the employer, there are no “market signals” to indicate a problem in paying contingents at a discounted, secondary scale. Another thing was data from a 2016 Canadian study that 85% of the general public “is not even aware that post-secondary institutions have precarious employees.”
Most of the participants in the breakout discussion on precarious academic work were full-time faculty, one of whom cited how he has served on search committees that strive very carefully to select the best available candidate. He said that when regularization converts existing faculty into a full-time position, that person may or may not be the best person. As that comment was made in the closing moments, it was not debated in the session, but it was countered by a statement another participant made that sounded to me so very much like a paraphrase of the Golden Rule. He said, “What we wish for others we also wish for ourselves,” suggesting that if we wish to have decent pay and reasonable job security, we should want the same for others.
The concluding portion of the conference had a very specific focus: Vote Post-Secondary 2017, the upcoming provincial elections of May 9. This entailed a real effort to engage conference participants in an effort to vote in a new provincial government. It was a workshop on overcoming apprehension in talking to strangers about politics (I shared with one person my dismal memory of knocking on doors for George McGovern) and to provide the rationale about why a change in the BC government is needed. (On this point, I reflected on the backlash on this list when, to the surprise of AFT members, AFT president Randi Weingarten announced that the AFT was for Hillary Clinton, with the NEA later following suit.)
I really like the two following quotations that were presented to encourage people to get involved:
Wynton Marsalis: “We always hear about the rights of democracy, but the major responsibility of it is participation.
Aberjhani: “Discourse and critical thinking are essential tools when it comes to securing progress in a democratic society. But in the end, unity and engaged participation are what make it happen.”
I really like taking part in the FPSE events for the sense of solidarity with fellow faculty, both full- and part-time. While it isn’t universal, I found myself really pleased when I shared that over 70 percent of Olympic College full-time faculty teach course overloads, one British Columbian faculty union president was something like, “That’s horrible. It’s a shame that tenured faculty feel the need to be so greedy and deprive part-time faculty out of work.” That’s not the response I’d get from an Olympic College full-time faculty member.
I'm writing to let you know that a collection I've been working on as
co-editor since 2013 was released in open access e-pub format yesterday.
The book is called *Contingency, Exploitation, and Solidarity: Labor and
Action in English Composition*
<https://wac.colostate.edu/books/contingency/>, published by the WAC
Clearinghouse (print version will be available soon from the University of
The collection features contributors across ranks/statuses/institution
types who have confronted contingency in a variety of ways. The chapters
offer some success stories, some cautionary tales, some principles/ethical
precepts for advocating well... an array of approaches and advice that
should at least be generative and provocative if not instructive. They also
offer plenty of what some of you will find to be anti-models and may offer
some insight into the thought processes of people you think have made bad
I'm happy to answer questions about the book if anybody has them. For now,
expecting this one to be first (at least it would be my first one), I'll
say that we realize three tenured co-editors of a book about contingency
might be problematic (even alarming) for some people. The project was born
at a panel we did together in 2012 at which we talked about how the APSCUF
contract language providing for adjunct conversions hadn't proven to be the
panacea we all hoped it would, and tried to make some headway understanding
why not. Once the project started to take shape, we realized that as
editors, if we could deploy our institutional support and security in
service to supporting work that adjuncts find useful (and supporting
chapters most of which are at least co-authored by adjuncts), that was the
most important thing we could do. There are contributors to the book who
many of you know, and I hope if they were pressed they'd confirm that we
exercised zero editorial control over the chapters. Among the contributors,
14 are currently contingent; another 5 were when they proposed and drafted
their chapters; another 4 were long-time adjuncts before they moved into
tenure lines or stopped teaching.
We hope people find pieces in it that are useful for your own work and for
movement-building. We also figure everybody will find at least one piece in
it that deserves an... avid... response, and we look forward to those too.
Seth Kahn, PhD
West Chester University
Department of English
"Let's save pessimism for better times." --Eduardo Galeano
adj-l mailing list
"Reclaiming the Ivory Tower: Organizing Adjuncts to Change Higher Education". by Joe Berry, from Monthly Review Press, 2005. Look at <http://www.reclaimingtheivorytower.org> 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 <email@example.com> It is archivedathttp://precaritydispatches.tumblr.com/COCAL-Updates-Archive
To join international COCAL listserve email <http://adj-l.org/mailman/listinfo/adj-l_adj-l.org> If this presents problems, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or, send "Subscribe" to <email@example.com>
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. <www.Newfacultymajority.info>
Plan to attend COCAL XIII in Queretaro, Mexico, at the Autonomous University of Queretaro, August 2018.
See www.cocalinternational.org for reports of COCAL XII Edmonton, Alberta, Canada) and plans for COCAL XIII. Reports and full presentations from COCAL XII, August 2016, Edmonton, Alberta, CAN: see https://sites.google.com/site/cocalxii/home
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Berkeley, CA 94707