Category Archives: Faculty

#UBC says Now is the Time to Speculate #ubcnews #highered #bced #caut

With the Chair of BoG and Sauder School of Business administrators under investigation, UBC advises that now is the time to speculate about President Gupta and all University affairs, if not everything. As it should be at a research institution. As it should be with the economy in shambles.

Over the past few weeks, speculation on the sudden resignation of President Gupta has been impressive. For starters, here are some running reasons for the resignation:

  1. The University guesstimates that the resignation was a “leadership transition.”
  2. The FAUBC reports that the University also presumes that the President “wishes to return to the life of a Professor of Computer Science.”
  3. Martha is inclined to accept at face value that this was Arvind’s “decision to step down” and whatever the reason we should respect whatever the University says it is or isn’t.
  4. Jennifer suggests that in challenging Montalbano, Chair of BoG, the President lost a masculinity contest. In other words, he lost what the Romans called a ludi mingo (roughly translated as a p-ing game or contest).
  5. Wayne postulates that triskaidekaphobia finally took its toll on the President, the thirteenth in UBC’s history. The presidential hot-seat– think of the Spinal Tap drummer syndrome here.
  6. Eva fancies that the President was told by the Chair of BoG that his fountain would not spew higher than the Martha Piper Fountain, prominently configured on the highest point of campus at the centre of the Martha Piper Plaza. Alas, President Piper must be reinstalled. This reason adds missing clues and details to #4.
  7. The Ubyssey posits that the President might have found something foreboding in his “performance reports.” This may have required reading between the lines.
  8. Nassif presupposes that the President was yet another of the “victims of end runs by deans,” wherein there is a well-trodden path dating back more than a century.
  9. Charlie conjectures that Montalbano and the BoG evened the score by making Gupta’s tenure difficult after he canned or nudged out VP Ouillet.
  10. Tony has a suspicion that, post Gupta’s resignation, UBC leaders adopted PM Harper’s template of denying implication in the controversy.
  11. CUPE Locals believe that Gupta was “removed by the largely unelected Board of Governors.” Emphasis on “unelected.”
  12. Simona and Frances figure that administrators still left on campus have some answers. They gather that Gupta “didn’t treat administrators with the same care” as faculty members. Needy as they are, certain admin got anxious and jealous. “Arvind was alienating people one at a time,” one administrator confided. It was time for him to go back down to research and teaching.
  13. Andrew reckons that “there’s some kind of mutual agreement” at work. Nobody knows what this agreement is or if it was really mutual or just a fist-bump and not really an agreement in the official sense if it was just a wink wink to agree to disagree.
  14. ? [send us your reckons]

UBC says now is the time to speculate. Indeed, we’re hearing that a new motto for the next one hundred years at UBC is being bounced around in Central: Occasio Speculatio. After all, Tuum Est, the motto for the first hundred never recovered after the students in the 1960s dubbed it: Too Messed.

#UBC crisis of administration extends downward to bloated middle management #highered #caut #bced #ubcnews

The University of British Columbia’s current failures of academic governance may have been publicly signalled by the sudden resignation of President Gupta on 7 August, but the crisis of administration extends well back into the University’s recent past and down into the lower chain of command. In fact, the President’s resignation is just the tip of the iceberg. The failures and crises extend from the President’s Office through the deans down to the bloat of middle managers, assistant and associate deans. Most noticeably, UBC has been skirting and fumbling around Canada’s Federal Contractor’s Program to appoint its middle managers. One might conclude that favouritism, if not nepotism in cases, is common while searches bound by the Federal Program of employment equity are rare. For this rank of middle managers, appointments are made with no procedures and hence there is no input from faculty members or the wider academic community and reappointments are made with no evaluation or review.

Unlike policies governing the appointment of department heads and deans, which are regulated by searches and reviews, there is no University policy to regulate the appointment and reappointment of assistant and associate deans. UBC has 97 policies but suspiciously none to regulate the hiring of these middle managers. Why is this? And unlike other universities (e.g., Simon FraserToronto), at UBC the deans have liberty to appoint middle managers at pleasure or whim. The result is a bloating of the assistant and associate dean ranks from 47 in 2000 to 72 in 2015— ostensibly all without searches or regard for policy. With no policies or searches to regulate or monitor qualifications, the result is a mixed bag and questionable levels of competence.

Faculty members were expecting President Gupta to clean up a mess. Cleaning house, he predictably ran into the resistance of status quo. The provosts and middle managers preferred to leave well enough alone. Consider this for instance:

On 19 September 2014, a few months into President Gupta’s appointment, I submitted a request to the Board of Governors to form a policy for hiring and reappointing assistant and associate deans. Basically, the request was to reign in these at whim appointments, curb the bloat of middle managers and align with fair hiring practices. Refusing to address the request, in October the BoG bounced it to University Counsel, which proceeded to ‘consult’ with the Provosts, Vancouver and Okanagan. On 12 January, I was told by University Counsel that the two Provosts, “who would be the Responsible Executives for such a policy do not consider this to be a priority.” In other words, employment equity does not apply to a large and bloated subset of management within the University. On 23 February and 30 March 2015 I followed up with renewed requests to the President’s Office. The President advised re-routing the request back to the Provost’s Office. I hesitated until the announcement of the Provost, pro tem. Sadly, unwilling to shake up status quo, on 24 June the new Provost repeated the old: “I also do not see it as a priority at this time.”

Although the provosts, and by prerogative the deans, do not consider employment equity and fair procedures “to be a priority” in the appointment of the University’s managers, for the balance of the University faculty and staff, this remains priority.

Bounced around the President’s Office for nearly a year, this basic request to align administrative appointments with hiring guidelines and peer universities has come full circle. The middle management bloat at UBC coincidentally began with President Piper’s initial appointment. Now, looking back and wondering how we got here, requests to deal with the administrative crisis are piling up, higher and deeper. Now, with President Piper back in office, this specific request lands on her desk, regardless of how and where it has been bounced.

With the Faculty Association of UBC calling for the resignation of the Chair of the BoG, perhaps this faculty governance body will make good on its responsibility to form meaningful policy. Top down or bottom up, its time to clean up UBC’s administrative mess, failure by failure, crisis by crisis. Sorry to say provosts, this actually is a priority.

Threat Convergence: The New Academic Work by Petrina, Mathison & Ross #highered #criticaled

THREAT CONVERGENCE:
THE NEW ACADEMIC WORK, BULLYING, MOBBING AND FREEDOM

Stephen Petrina, Sandra Mathison & E. Wayne Ross

The convergence of the casualization, fragmentation, intensification, segmentation, shifting and creep of academic work with the post-9/11 gentrificaton of criticism and dissent is arguably one of the greatest threats to academic freedom since the Nazi elimination of the Jewish professoriate and critique in 1933, Bantu Education Act’s reinforcement of apartheid in South Africa in 1952, and McCarthyism in Canada and the US in the 1950s and 1960s. In the history of education, this would be quite the claim yet the evidence seems to speak for itself. Academic work has been fragmented into piecemeal modes and intensified as academics absorbed, through amalgamation, traditional clerical staff and counseling work. The balance of the academic workforce has been reduced and casualized or segmented to an “at whim,” insecure, unsalaried part-time labor pool, the 8-hour workday and 40-hour academic workweek collapsed to 60-80 hours, and the primary locus of academic work shifted off-campus as the workplace crept into the home and its communal establishments. Academic stress— manifested as burnout through amalgamation and creep of work, and as distress through bullying, mobbing and victimization— underwrites increases in leaves of absence. Non-tenure track faculty are hit particularly hard, indicating “contingency or the precariousness of their position” as relentless stressors.

Nowadays, it’s whimsical to reminisce about work-life balance and promises that the academic workforce will be renewed as boomers retire with baited expectations, or that the workweek and workplace for salaried full-timers could be contained within the seduction of flextime and telecommuting. In many ways, the flexible workplace is the plan for boomers by boomers with both nest eggs and limits on retirement age breaking. As currency values, retirement portfolios, and savings spiral downward while dependent children and grandchildren and inflation spiral upward, incentives to retire erode. Precariously unemployed, underemployed and part-time academics aside, boomers still in the academic system are trended to face the biggest losses. As economic incentives to retire decrease, incentives for intellectual immortality and legacy management flourish with the boomers’ political leanings moving toward the center. One can hardly blame them.

Enthusiasts of anything “flexible” (learning, space, time, work, etc.) and everything “tele” (commuting, conference, learning, phone, work, etc.), academics readily workshift with additional liability but no additional remuneration— instead is an unquestioned acceptance of the “overtime exemption”— while the employer saves about $6,500 per year per worker in the tradeoff as worksite or workspace shifts from campus to home. The academic workweek is now conservatively 60 hours with many PT and FT reporting persistent 70-80 hour weeks. Perhaps academic women can finally have it all after putting in the 120 hour workweek. One reason institutions now cope with many fewer FT hires is that academics are all too willing to do the work of two. As Gina Anderson found a decade ago, “with apparently unconscious irony, many academics reported that they particularly valued the flexibility of their working week, in terms of both time and space… in the same breath as reporting working weeks in the order of 60 hours.” For most academic workers, the cost of flexibility is effectively a salary cut as overheads of electricity, heat, water, communication and consumables are shifted to the home. Carbon footprint reductions are a net benefit and for a minority, the savings of commuting and parking offset the costs of this homework or housework. What is the nature or implications of this increasing domestication of academic work and displacement of the academic workplace? For academic couples with or without children, the dynamics of housecohabitry, househusbandry or housewifery necessarily change as the academic workplace shifts and labor creeps into the home. With temptations to procrastinate on deluges of academic deadlines, academic homes have never been cleaner and more organized. Nevermind the technocreep of remote monitoring. Over the long run, although some administrators cling to the digital punch card and time stamp with Hivedesk, Worksnaps or MySammy, “smashing the clock” in the name of flextime and telework is about the best thing that ever happened to academic capitalism.

This is not exactly a SWOT analysis, where Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats are given due treatment. Rather, the focus is on this threat convergence as it resolves through historic displacements of the academic workplace and work. To what degree are the new policies for academic speech inscribed in academic work, regardless of where it’s done? As the academic workplace is increasingly displaced and distributed, are academic policies displaced and distributed as well? Observed at work, monitored at home and tracked in between—these are not so much choices as the cold reality of 21st century academic work.

Read More: Threat Convergence

 

CFP for iPopU #edstudies #occupyed #criticaled #ices #ipopu

CFP: iPopU

Topdown 100 Innorenovations 
Special Issue of Workplace (iPopU2015

iPopU is cataloguing its mold-breaking outside-the-box ‘you won’t find these on the shelf of brick and mortar’ innorenovations. So this is a chance for U to contribute to the iPopU Topdown 100 countdown. See the Innovation in Evaluation nomination for No. 11 in iPopU’s Topdown 100.

Contributions to the iPopU Topdown 100 for Workplace should be about 500-1,500 words in length and yield to iPopU style. Submit all iPopU Topdown 100 innorenovations via the Workplace OJS.

Petition to support #BCed teachers #BCTF delivered @ChristyClarkBC #bcpoli #yteubc

BCTFRallyJune2014b

Today, we delivered a petition signed by 477 faculty members, librarians, administrators, students, and staff in post-secondary institutions across BC to Premier Christy Clark and Minister Peter Fassbender.

Thanks you to all who signed! Comments made by signatories are extremely insightful and emphasize the widespread support of the teachers / BCTF. We will leave the petition open to reach another goal of 600 signatures.

SIGN THE PETITION TO SUPPORT BC TEACHERS / BCTF

Dear Premier Clark and Minister Fassbender,

We the undersigned, faculty members, librarians, administrators, students, and staff in post-secondary institutions across British Columbia, encourage you to increase your support of public education by recognizing the value of our teachers. We encourage you to demonstrate this recognition by bargaining with the BCTF with an open mind to quickly meeting the teachers’ very fair proposals. The BC Public School Employers’ Association’s (BCPSEA) retaliatory lockout further eroded the teachers’ right to bargain and threatened fair labour practices across the BC public sector. BCTF President Iker argues “It’s time for Premier Christy Clark to provide the employer with new funding that will help bring the two sides closer together on class size, composition, staffing levels for specialist teachers, and wages.” We agree.

Please invest in education and labour by resolving this dispute at the bargaining table rather than through retaliatory lockouts and unrealistic proposals. Please meet the teachers’ most recent proposal for common ground. The teachers, who are the BCTF, and all public sector employees through their unions, deserve a fair, timely process of reaching a collective agreement. Thank you.

Petition to support #BCED teachers #CapilanoU #EmilyCarrU #RoyalRoads #SFU #TWU #UBC #UFV #UNBC #VIU #UVic

BCTFRallyUHill

BC teachers picketing at University Hill Secondary School, Vancouver, with support of UBC faculty and staff

 SIGN THE PETITION TO SUPPORT BC TEACHERS / BCTF

BC Premier Christy Clark and Minister Peter Fassbender,

We the undersigned, faculty members, librarians, administrators, students, and staff in post-secondary institutions across British Columbia, encourage you to increase your support of public education by recognizing the value of our teachers. We encourage you to demonstrate this recognition by bargaining with the BCTF with an open mind to meeting the teachers’ very fair proposals. This includes de-escalation by backing down on the BC Public School Employers’ Association’s (BCPSEA) retaliatory lockout, which further erodes the teachers’ right to bargain and threatens fair labour practices across the BC public sector. BCTF President Iker argues “It’s time for Premier Christy Clark to provide the employer with new funding that will help bring the two sides closer together on class size, composition, staffing levels for specialist teachers, and wages.”  We agree.

Please invest in education and labour by resolving this dispute at the bargaining table rather than through retaliatory lockouts. The teachers, who are the BCTF, and all public sector employees through their unions, deserve a fair process of reaching a collective agreement. Thank you.

Sign the petition in support of BC teachers / BCTF

Petition to support #BCed teachers / #BCTF #bcpoli #ubc #sfu #yteubc

BCTFQueenMaryElementary2014BC teachers picketing at Queen Mary Elementary School, Vancouver

 Sign the Petition to support BC teachers / BCTF

BC Premier Christy Clark and Minister Peter Fassbender,

We the undersigned, faculty members, librarians, administrators, students, and staff in post-secondary institutions across British Columbia, encourage you to increase your support of public education by recognizing the value of our teachers. We encourage you to demonstrate this recognition by bargaining with the BCTF with an open mind to meeting the teachers’ very fair proposals. This includes de-escalation by backing down on the BC Public School Employers’ Association’s (BCPSEA) retaliatory lockout, which further erodes the teachers’ right to bargain and threatens fair labour practices across the BC public sector. BCTF President Iker argues “It’s time for Premier Christy Clark to provide the employer with new funding that will help bring the two sides closer together on class size, composition, staffing levels for specialist teachers, and wages.”  We agree.

Please invest in education and labour by resolving this dispute at the bargaining table rather than through retaliatory lockouts. The teachers, who are the BCTF, and all public sector employees through their unions, deserve a fair process of reaching a collective agreement. Thank you.

Sign the petition in support of BC teachers / BCTF

CFP: Academic Mobbing (Special Issue of Workplace) #education #criticaled #ubc

LAST Call for Papers

Academic Mobbing
Special Issue
Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor

Editors: Stephen Petrina & E. Wayne Ross

Editors of Workplace are accepting manuscripts for a theme issue on Academic Mobbing.  Academic mobbing is defined by the Chronicle of Higher Education (11 June 2009) as: “a form of bullying in which members of a department gang up to isolate or humiliate a colleague.” The Chronicle continues:

If rumors are circulating about the target’s supposed misdeeds, if the target is excluded from meetings or not named to committees, or if people are saying the target needs to be punished formally “to be taught a lesson,” it’s likely that mobbing is under way.

As Joan Friedenberg eloquently notes in The Anatomy of an Academic Mobbing, the toll taken is excessive.  Building on a long history of both analysis and neglect in academia, Workplace is interested in a range of scholarship on this practice, including theoretical frameworks, legal analyses, resistance narratives, reports from the trenches, and labor policy reviews.  We invite manuscripts that address, among other foci:

  • Effects of academic mobbing
  • History of academic mobbing
  • Sociology and ethnography of the practices of an academic mob
  • Social psychology of the academic mob leader or boss
  • Academic mobbing factions (facts & fictions) or short stories
  • Legal defense for academic mob victims and threats (e.g., Protectable political affiliation, race, religion)
  • Gender norms of an academic mob
  • Neo-McCarthyism and academic mobbing
  • Your story…

Contributions for Workplace should be 4000-6000 words in length and should conform to APA, Chicago, or MLA style.

FINAL Date for Papers: May 30, 2014

to blog or not to blog?

The International Studies Association (political science folks) is discussing a proposal to ban Association journal editors, editorial board members and anyone associated with its journals from blogging. Here is the language:

“No editor of any ISA journal or member of any editorial team of an ISA journal can create or actively manage a blog unless it is an official blog of the editor’s journal or the editorial team’s journal,” the proposal reads. “This policy requires that all editors and members of editorial teams to apply this aspect of the Code of Conduct to their ISA journal commitments. All editorial members, both the Editor in Chief(s) and the board of editors/editorial teams, should maintain a complete separation of their journal responsibilities and their blog associations.”

Singling out blogs, but no other social media or letters to the editor or op eds, the ISA asserts that blogging is some how unseemly, that it is a kind of discourse that is not proper professional behavior, and that if one blogs one is likely to sink into some abyss losing a grasp on one’s dignity and respectability.

At best this proposal is quaint, a desire for a past when professors stayed in their offices and wrote for and engaged with their peers through narrow publication channels (like the ISA journals). At worst, this is a draconian effort to challenge academic freedom, to squelch professors’ engagement in public life, and to control access to knowledge. The silliness of this proposal does little to obviate its threat to civic engagement of scholars, both the activist minded and those who understand the world is bigger than the university campus.

Eastern Michigan U Faculty resist neoliberal education policies and fight to keep public education public!

Support Eastern Michigan University faculty in resisting the neoliberal agenda for teacher education. Sign their petition and check out the protest and teach-in on December 3, Welch Hall, EMU.

Petition Background
The leadership of Eastern Michigan University (EMU) entered into an inter-local agreement that created the Education Achievement Authority (EAA). They did so in a manner that fostered assumptions that members of the education faculty at Eastern were actively engaged in the EAA — misleading the citizens of the state; the professional educators of the state; AND the students of the University. The fact is EMU faculty were not invited to give input into such an arrangement or asked for our expertise as researchers and professionals in the complex and varied aspects of education (school administration, teacher development, and student achievement) as the EAA was established. To date, the faculty have been excluded from any direct participation in the creation or implementation of its policies, operating procedures, professional development, curricula or pedagogical practices, many of which the faculty find questionable at best.

Furthermore, the faculty find the undermining of democratic processes represented in the creation of a district outside the purview of public decision-making and oversight to be in direct conflict with this university’s mission and our legacy as a champion of public education. This violation of our principles is now beginning to affect our historically strong relationship with local schools.

Thus, the faculty find Eastern Michigan University’s participation in the Education Achievement Authority unacceptable. These negative impacts on our reputation, our local relationships, our students and programs, the clear effect on enrollments and thus revenue to the university are a repudiation of Eastern Michigan University’s legacy as a champion of public education and a leader in the preparation of educational professionals. The faculty implores you to remedy this situation as quickly as possible by unanimously voting to withdraw from the contract creating the Education Achievement Authority.

Protest & Teach-In
Protest and teach-in on Tuesday December 3rd outside Welch Hall. Your presence will help illustrate the misstep that the EMU administration made as they entered this agreement under a cloak of arrogance.

There are two half-hour protests outside Welch Hall for you to participate in (one or both):

– 7:45 to 8:15 to coincide with the 8 AM start of the EAA Audit Committee meeting; and,
– 8:45 to 9:15 to coincide with the 9 AM start of the EAA Executive Committee and Regular Board meeting!

There will be a Teach-In to follow from 10-12:30 at Halle Auditorium.

Introduction and Welcome
Dr. Steve Camron, Special Education
Dr. Rebecca Martusewicz, Teacher Education

Panel 1: 10:10-11:00
Dr. Tom Pedroni, Wayne State University
Rep. Ellen Lipton, MI House of Representatives
Ms. Michelle Fecteau, MI State Board of Education
Ms. Elena Herrada, Detroit Public Schools Board of Ed.

Panel 2: 11:00-11:30
Ms. Brooke Harris, Former EAA Teacher
Mr. Christopher Turkaly, Former EAA Teacher
Mr. Delbert Glaze, Former EAA Teacher

Panel 3: 11:30-12:00
EMU Faculty

Discussion: 12:00-12:30

Sign petition: Eastern Michigan University Leadership: Preserve the Integrity of the University as a Leader in the Preparation of Educational Professionals

Workplace #21 Launched: “In/stability, In/security & In/visibility: Tensions at Work for Tenured & Tenure Stream Faculty in the Neoliberal Academy”

We are extremely pleased to announce the launch of Workplace Issue #21, “In/stability, In/security & In/visibility: Tensions at Work for Tenured & Tenure Stream Faculty in the Neoliberal Academy” at http://ojs.library.ubc.ca/index.php/workplace/issue/view/182389

This Special Issue was Guest Edited by Kaela Jubas and Colleen Kawalilak and features a rich array of articles by Kaela and Colleen along with Michelle K. McGinn, Sarah A. Robert, Dawn Johnston, Lisa Stowe, and Sean Murray.

In/stability, In/security & In/visibility provides invaluable insights into the challenges and struggles of intellectuals coping with everyday demands
that at times feel relentless. As the co-Editors describe the Issue:

A tapestry of themes emerged… There were expressions of frustration, confusion, self-doubt, and disenchantment at having to work with competing agendas and priorities, both personal and institutional. Authors also spoke to how, even in challenging times and places, it is possible to find and create opportunities to survive and thrive, individually and collectively.

Narratives and findings therein will resonate with most if not all of us. We encourage you to review the Table of Contents and articles of interest.

Workplace and Critical Education are hosted by the Institute for Critical Education Studies (http://blogs.ubc.ca/ices/), and we invite you to submit manuscripts or propose special issues. We also remind you to follow our Workplace blog (http://blogs.ubc.ca/workplace/) and Twitter @icesubc for breaking news and updates.

Thanks for the continuing interest in Workplace,

Stephen Petrina & E. Wayne Ross, co-Editors
Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor
Institute for Critical Education Studies
http://blogs.ubc.ca/ices/
http://ojs.library.ubc.ca/index.php/criticaled
http://ojs.library.ubc.ca/index.php/workplace

Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor
No 21 (2012): In/stability, In/security, In/visibility: Tensions at Work for Tenured & Tenure Stream Faculty in the Neoliberal Academy
Table of Contents
http://ojs.library.ubc.ca/index.php/workplace/issue/view/182389

Articles

In/stability, In/security & In/visibility: Tensions at Work for Tenured &

  • Tenure Stream Faculty in the Neoliberal Academy (Kaela Jubas, Colleen Kawalilak)
  • Navigating the Neoliberal Terrain: Elder Faculty Speak Out (Colleen Kawalilak)
  • Being Academic Researchers: Navigating Pleasures and Pains in the Current Canadian Context (Michelle K. McGinn)
  • On Being a New Academic in the New Academy: Impacts of Neoliberalism on Work and Life of a Junior Faculty Member (Kaela Jubas)
  • “You Must Say Good-Bye At The School Door:” Reflections On The Tense And Contentious Practices Of An Educational Researcher-Mother In A Neoliberal Moment (Sarah A. Robert)
  • If It’s Day 15, This Must Be San Sebastian: Reflections on the Academic Labour of Short Term Travel Study Programs (Dawn Johnston, Lisa Stowe)
  • Teaching and Tenure in the Vocationalized University (Sean Murray)

Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor
http://ojs.library.ubc.ca/index.php/workplace

An Open Letter Concerning CUPE 2278 and Job Action

An Open Letter Concerning CUPE 2278 and Job Action

A strike is a good thing and especially a good thing for the University of British Columbia at this moment in time. The very courageous CUPE 2278 labour action, full strike pending, is a wake up call, a breath of fresh air, or a catalytic measure for an apathetic campus, faculty and student bodies inclusive. Yes, there are individuals taking chances and stances on issues online and off, but a collective movement has materialized at UBC. Yes, those of us fortunate enough to be members of unions or the Faculty Association accept that a collective agreement is better than an individual agreement.

We invite students, faculty, staff, and administrators to do all they can to make CUPE 2278’s—the Teaching Assistants’– strike meaningful, effective, and successful and help the GTAs inject the campus with the spark and power of activism.

What to do as a student, faculty member, or administrator in the face of a strike? The question for staff tends to be redundant as union members in sympathy will rarely, if ever, have to or want to cross picket lines.

First, a matter of policy.  UBC’s Strike Policy and Guidelines note that the “University respects the right of students, staff or faculty members as a matter of conscience, to refuse to cross a picket line in a labour dispute.” Once a student communicates a decision to side with the striking workers (usually by the first or second day of the strike), accommodations have to be made or will be made once the job action resolves. Missed assignments will be given an extension and have to be completed. Students can gain access to a “senior faculty member to serve as an academic arbiter for students who have sought to resolve their concerns with their Faculties but feel that they have been treated unfairly.” Yes, faculty members, GTAs or undergraduate student employees, and staff may surrender salary for the duration of time taken as a matter of conscience, but it is a small price to pay for activism, dignity, and solidarity.

Strikes are not left vs. right politics, as eventually most want nothing more than fair treatment and find or would give a lot for the security and protection of unions. Reciprocity and shared benefit may be expected in the future when your union is mobilizing for job action. Just as the CUPE 2278 strike is a good thing for UBC at this point, honoring or participating in this strike is a good thing.  Individual dignity is bound to collective power.

Undergraduate students, keep in mind that inasmuch as you can organize a protest, and some of you have, you can also strike in sympathy with your graduate student peers. You can strike regardless of whether CUPE 2278 strikes. The BC Labour Code establishes limitations to the rights of workers or unions such as CUPE 2278, but is does not govern student strikes. As an example, the Quebec student strike lasted seven months, the longest student strike in Quebec history. For an excellent guide to student strikes, see the FAQ from the Students’ Society of McGill University http://ssmu.mcgill.ca/blog/2012/03/student-strike-faq/. It is a fair question to ask, in this case, ‘why don’t faculty members strike?’  Many faculty members at UBC wish we could but our Collective Agreement with the University has a “Prohibition of Strikes and Lockouts” clause. We will support strikes in sympathy nevertheless.

Second, a matter of pragmatics. From a labour activist standpoint, ‘do everything in your conscience and power to support the job action.’ Neither desire nor expect business-as-usual, as a disruption of this business is the intent of most job action, boycotts, etc. If you have to, plan ahead and retrieve necessities from your office or locker prior to the strike, as crossing a picket line is an aggressive response to the striking workers. If you find yourself behind picket lines, move to reposition yourself on the other side of the pickets. If your building of campus is picketed, do not try to sneak in a rear entrance to rationalize that you did not actually “cross” a picket line to get there. Being asked to cover and doing the work of those on strike is an anti-labour or anti-union response that invalidates the purpose of the job action and ultimately makes for a heated, toxic workplace, or in this case university. Be present and invest in strength in numbers. If you’re an administrator, especially without a real “management” designation, well, use your conscience and please don’t direct minutiae from the top down to intimidate the students and faculty. Call in sick if you don’t want to join your students and faculty on the picket line.

What do we have in common and when should we act collectively? For the most part, day in, day out, the only group demonstrating their political capital or clout at UBC is management, and in many ways what a conservative, corporate-driven, regressive politics this turns out to be! Management has its aggressive side and we can readily draw the connections between this and a learned apathy of faculty and students. As 180,000 students took to strikes, protests, and occupations of campuses and streets between February and August in Quebec, it is an affirmation of activism for a student movement to materialize here at UBC and what we used to call the ‘left coast.’ A strike is economically a good thing as well, as it sends a message to the University and government that “net zero workers” and bad faith approaches to collective bargaining are not working. A net zero mandate removes the ability of unions to actually bargain and legitimizes an employer’s option to shirk accountability at the bargaining table. The reasonableness of a CUPE 2278 strike is undeniable, as it would help workers across the province— everyone gains. So, the graduate teaching assistants’ union decision to hold a strike vote and mobilize for action is precisely the injection of student power into activism and bargaining that this campus needs. And let’s not forget the courage of CUPE 2278 in its valiant effort to bring a sense of fairness to the University and government in the full strike of 2003. Again, this is a declaration of full support.

Thank you,
Stephen Petrina & E. Wayne Ross, co-Directors of the Institute for Critical Studies in Education (ICES), co-Editors of Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor, and blogging at Workplace.

New Issue of Workplace Launched

Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor has just published Issue #20, “The New Academic Manners, Managers, and Spaces.”  This issue includes key conceptual and empirical analyses of

  • the creation and avoidance of unions in academic and business workplaces (Vincent Serravallo)
  • the new critiquette, impartial response to Bruno Latour and Jacques Ranciere’s critique of critique (Stephen Petrina)
  • the two-culture model of the modern university in full light of the crystal, neural university (Sean Sturm, Stephen Turner)
  • alternative narratives of accountability in response to neo-liberal practices of government (Sandra Mathison)
  • vertical versus horizontal structures of governance (Rune Kvist Olsen)
  • teachers in nomadic spaces and Deleuzian approaches to curricular practice (Tobey Steeves)

We invite you to review the Table of Contents for Issue #20 for articles and items of interest. Thanks for the continuing interest in Workplace (we welcome new manuscripts here and Critical Education),

Institute for Critical Education Studies (ICES)
Workplace Blog

Workplace Issue #19 Launched

The Institute for Critical Education Studies is pleased to announce the launch of Workplace Issue #19, “Belonging and Non-Belonging: Costs and Consequences in Academic Lives.” The new issue is accessible at Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor.

This special issue represents powerful narrative analyses of academic lives– narratives that are sophisticated and sensitive, gut-wrenching and heart-rendering. “Belonging and Non-Belonging” was guest edited by Michelle McGinn and features a rich array of collaborative articles by Michelle, Nancy E. Fenton, Annabelle L. Grundy, Michael Manley-Casimira, and Carmen Shields.

Thank you for the continuing interest in Workplace and Critical Education.

Institute for Critical Education Studies
http://blogs.ubc.ca/ices/