Joe Berry's picture

Public schools are at the center of the manufactured breakdown of the fabric of everyday life. They are under attack not because they are failing, but because they are public. Henry Giroux
COCAL is the Coalition of Contingent Academic Labor, a 20-plus 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. 2018 was in San Jose, CA. and 2022 (waiting another year!) will be in Queretaro, Mexico. 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 and other resources.

Due to the CORONA Virus, the COCAL XIV conference to be held in Querétaro, Mexico, has been postponed until August 2022. Details at <>
SPECIAL NOTE FROM THE EDITOR: Please see recent additions below.

Upcoming zoom event: Book Talk with Berry and Worthen : January, 14, 2021. Friday.  5:30-7:30 ET (3:30 CT, 2:30 PT)
To reserve a spot:

Pluto Books has released (August 2021) a new book, Power Despite Precarity: Strategies for the Contingent Faculty Movement in Higher Education, by Joe Berry and Helena Worthen. Order at from Powells through the ILWU local 5 portal at <> Paperbacks come with free e-books. See two early reviews below.

The book starts with an atttempt to answer the repeated question: What is the best union contract for contingents ion the US and how did they get it? Focusing on the 40 years' fight of Lecturers at the CA ST U system, we attempt to tell that story and draw the lessons available from that long and continuing struggle. We also look at the history of higher ed from the point of view of the faculty workforce, suggest some strategies and frame some of the key strategic troublesome questions that arise in nearly all efforts to organizing and fight collectively.

As editor of COCAL UPDATES, let me personally invite you to get and read the book and then send me your comments (which I will share if you permit). We also solicit reviews in other media and invitations to speak or give book talks. We are open to publishing selections in other places. Bulk orders by unions and other groups are welcome and will receive a deep discount. A study guide for use in study groups and book clubs is in process and will be available soon.

We hope that this book can be a useful addition to the continuing movement to organize contingent faculty for action in our own behalf and, ultimately, to abolish contingency in higher education and for all workers. If you can help with any of these efforts, please contact us at <>

In solidarity,
Joe Berry, editor, COCAL UPDATES 

Early reviews and interviews/presentations:$

and an interview

Here is the link to the presentation by Helena Worthen about our book, Power Despite Precarity: Strategies for the Contingent Faculty Movement in Higher Educaiton, hosted by the Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies at the University of Washington on October 27, 2021.

and a recent review from Jacobin, by our PT colleague Fred Glass

and from the CA F of T Part-timer Newsletter

November 2021:
Recent related article by Worthen and Berry in New Politics

Nov. 28,  Editorial in LA Times mentioning book and quoting Berry, Worthen (and John Martin of CPFA)



1. Cantonese language claases at risk at CCSF


1. Argentine teachers strike against neo-liberalism.

2. Book chapter on professoriat internationally


1. Columbia The World Is Watching! Striking Student Workers of Columbia UAW Digital Solidarity Meeting
The 2,000 Student Workers of Columbia - UAW who are on strike held a digital solidarity rally and 
meeting on 12/23/21 and reported on the history of their fight, the union busting tactics of the 
University and their latest demands. It is now the largest strike in the country and they want to build 
support and solidarity.
Student Workers of Columbia - UAW

2. U of NM grads win union in card count, University fights it in court

3. From Who Gets the Bird?
K-12: This week saw an uptick in COVID actions among K-12 workers, as the Omicron variant spreads like wildfire, especially along the East Coast. In Philadelphia, teachers at Olney Charter High School called in sick en masse, forcing classes to go virtual, after a 17-year-old student died from COVID last week. The MORE Caucus of the UFT in New York City began putting out daily bulletins to cover all the school-based organizing, calling on schools to shut down early before the holiday to stop the spread. Outside of COVID organizing, K-12 workers in Sandusky, OH have new contracts, after the last teachers contract expired in 2020.

4. From Rick Baum at CCSF.

 I teach part time at City College of San Francisco (CCSF.)  Under the recent union member ratified concessionary one-year agreement, I expected a pay cut, but not one that results in my pay being 10% lower than it was in the spring. Including my loss of dental benefits, the cut in my salary package comes to 14.2%.

Compared to many other part-time faculty, I am lucky—I still have a job teaching the same number of classes. Those who lost their jobs are taking a 100% cut in pay.

In a May 8,  2021 union bulletin, the leaders of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) 2121, representing CCSF faculty, described the one-year agreement as consisting of “progressive concessions on salaries” in which the cuts “range from 4% to 11%,” a sacrifice that would preserve jobs. Their description grossly understated the impacts of the cuts on part-time faculty.[1]

5. The financial shock in 2008 caused some short-term discomfort, but the richest universities were buffered against these developments by continued growth of their endowments, and they used that wealth to hasten a profound shift in the structure of higher education. Historically, the faculty was the core of the university, assisted in their duties by a small cadre of administrators (often professors taking time off from teaching duties). The need to control costs while attracting valuable, full-pay students encouraged huge expansion in the range of student services and intensification of the amenities arms race. To pay for the administrators necessary to provide these goods, universities curtailed tenure-track hiring, relying instead on the cheaper, short-term instructors who have become the majority of the faculty in the American university.

And so faculty of my generation are disillusioned, too. The dark mood isn't limited to thousands of Ph.Ds who were trained for tenure-track positions that don't exist. Even some of those who secured what are known in the trade as "good jobs" are questioning whether the benefits outweigh the costs. COVID-related disruptions and policy changes are just the latest burden. Even the new rules work for some instructors in some fields and at some levels, online classes are disastrous for the kind of intensive, personalized seminars that drew many of us into the academy in the first place. 

6. With the Omicron variant spreading rapidly and the fall semester now over, many faculty are reflecting on the ongoing, disparate impact of the pandemic on their careers while bracing themselves for what comes next. The pandemic already compounded inequalities for many women, particularly women of color, and nonbinary faculty in tenure-track roles. Several say they are stretched thin, again.

“I think everyone is just so exhausted,” said Dr. Leslie D. Gonzales, an associate professor in the higher, adult, and lifelong learning unit at Michigan State University in the College of Education. “I have been in academia since 2010, and I have never been more tired. I definitely am not alone. I know women of color especially have experienced loss after loss. And the university just keeps plugging along.”

McClure pointed out that contingent faculty, or those who are not in tenured or tenure-track positions, and staff members should not be forgotten when assessing the pandemic’s disparate toll on the academic workforce. He has heard in interviews with staff in positions with high student contact and relatively low compensation, that the pressures of their job are mounting, so leaving higher education has become more appealing to many.

8. From Who Gets the Bird?
Columbia University’s administration has tabled its “best and final offer” for UAW Local 2110, and it seems like the final sticking point is primarily over recognition of “casual” and hourly student workers as members of the bargaining unit. Whether the union will choose to consolidate the gains on the table here and fight another day, or to stick it out and fight for these hourlies – many of whom have been on strike alongside the rest of the student workers for the past eight weeks – sounds likely to determine whether this thing ends.

and As Omicron surges during the holiday break, the K-12 reopening debate is roaring back to life; as is not infrequently the case, the Chicago Teachers Union is leading the way, and talking about strike action if the district won’t agree to two weeks of remote learning or negative tests for all students. Obviously it’s not a problem unique to Chicago, it’s just that Chicago has one of the most proactive and ready-to-strike unions in the country.

9. A good look at the impact of COVID in health care and education from teachers and nurses

10. From Penn St. letter to the editor comparing salary of new president and faculty adjuncts

11. "Part-Time Professors Deserve the Opportunity for Full-Time Work" 

by Alexis Moore, Jack Longmate, and Keith Hoeller

In his veto message, [Governor] Newsom explained that he is “committed to considering options” in the “forthcoming January budget proposal.” Primary among those options must be:

• Extending state-paid annual health insurance to all California professors who, at a minimum, teach 50% of full-time in an academic year, which is especially warranted during a pandemic.
• Including substantial money in his budget solely to increase part-time faculty salaries and related benefits, as Washington state did in every biennial budget from 1996 until 2009 when the Great Recession hit. Though Washington stopped short of full equality for its part-timers, it increased part-time salaries by $50 million.
• Amending Section 87482.3 of the California Education Code to eliminate the workload cap imposed upon part-time college instructors.
• Abolishing the practice of allowing full-time instructors to teach overtime at will, thereby taking courses and income away from poorly paid part-time instructors.
For complete article, please see:


12. Dear friends and colleagues,
I'm proud to share that the WSJ printed my letter to the editor.  See:
My letter was a response to this opinion piece on the strike by UAW-represented graduate assistants at Columbia:
If you're on Twitter, please Re-tweet:
Please share widely and let me know what you think!
Ben Kreider, Ph.D.
Policy Research Consultant

13. Ten predictions for the year ahead in labor, with campus labor at the top!


14. Notes from the Adjunct Underground, part 4
That’s all for now,

Joe Berry, editor
co-author with Helena Worthen, of Power Despite Precarity: strategies for the contingent faculty  movement in higher education. Order at or from Powells through the ILWU local 5 portal at <>
Paperbacks come with free e-books.



"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 or email

To regularly receive this periodic news aggregator, COCAL Updates, Email <>

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. <>

To access the Center for the Study of Academic Labor (CSAL) and its journal “Academic Labor: Research and Artistry” go to

To access "Workplace: a Journal of Academic Labor" go to

Also COCAL XIV in August, 2022 in Queretaro, Mexico. WWW.COCALINTERNATIONAL.ORG
Joe Berry
510-527-5889 phone/fax landline
21 San Mateo Road, 
Berkeley, CA 94707
cell-510-999-0751 or
Skype: joeberry1948