Tag Archives: Labor

Marx, Engels and the Critique of Academic Labor

MARX, ENGELS AND THE CRITIQUE OF ACADEMIC LABOR

Special Issue of Workplace
Edited by
Karen Lynn Gregory & Joss Winn

Articles in Workplace have repeatedly called for increased collective organisation in opposition to a disturbing trajectory in the contemporary university… we suggest that there is one response to the transformation of the university that has yet to be adequately explored: A thoroughgoing and reflexive critique of academic labor. 

Table of Contents

  • Marx, Engels and the Critique of Academic Labor
    Karen Lynn Gregory, Joss Winn
  • Towards an Orthodox Marxian Reading of Subsumption(s) of Academic Labour under Capital
    Krystian Szadkowski
  • Re-engineering Higher Education: The Subsumption of Academic Labour and the Exploitation of Anxiety
    Richard Hall, Kate Bowles
  • Taxi Professors: Academic Labour in Chile, a Critical-Practical Response to the Politics of Worker Identity
    Elisabeth Simbürger, Mike Neary
  • Marxism and Open Access in the Humanities: Turning Academic Labor against Itself
    David Golumbia
  • Labour in the Academic Borderlands: Unveiling the Tyranny of Neoliberal Policies
    Antonia Darder, Tom G. Griffiths
  • Jobless Higher Ed: Revisited, An Interview with Stanley Aronowitz
    Stanley Aronowitz, Karen Lynn Gregory

UNITE HERE Local 8 and the AESA 2016 meeting in Seattle

The American Educational Studies Association is meeting in San Antonio this week and the key issue of its business meeting on Saturday was how the organization should respond to the ongoing union boycott of the site of its 2016 meeting in Seattle.

UNITE HERE / Hyatt Dispute and Settlement

Several years ago AESA entered into a contract with the Grand Hyatt in Seattle for its 2016 meeting. The Hyatt hotel chain has for some time been an organizing target of UNITE HERE, whose 265,000 members work primarily in the hospitality industry.

In July 2013, an agreement was reached between Hyatt and UNITE HERE that ended a years long stalemate between the union and Hyatt as well as ending a national boycott of Hyatt-managed properties.

Doug Patrick, senior VP of human resources for Hyatt said of the agreement:

The national agreement between Hyatt and UNITE HERE is great news for our associates in markets where they haven’t seen wage increases in four years … The associates will see the increases in wage and benefit enhancements they deserve.

UNITE HERE described the key provision of the agreement as establishing “a fair process,” which includes a mechanism for employees at a number of Hyatt hotels to vote on whether they wish to be represented by UNITE HERE.

David Sherwyn, associate professor of law and academic director for The Center for Hospitality Research at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration has described the deal as good for both sides. He told Hotel News Now (HNN),

What it also shows is the belief of the inadequacy of the NLRB election. UNITE HERE was adamant that they didn’t want to go to an NLRB election where you can do all kinds of mean and nasty stuff.

HNN reported that that Hyatt didn’t want to authorize card-check voting. According to Sherwyn, Hyatt wanted employees to go into booths to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ for elections. Card check involves a lot of peer pressure because voting is done in public, which Hyatt was against.

“(UNITE HERE is) giving them an election, and I’m sure that they set some sort of ground rules about what they can and cannot be said and how the election is going to be done and so on,” Sherwyn told HNN. “What I’m inferring is that Hyatt feels good because at the end of the day their employees are getting a vote.”

The rub for AESA’s 2016 meeting in Seattle is that the national agreement applies only to Hyatt-managed hotels and the the owner of the Grand Hyatt Seattle, Richard Hedreen, has refused to allow employees access to that fair process (e.g., card check).

The response from UNITE HERE Local 8 in Seattle has been to ask customers to boycott the Grand Hyatt Seattle (and Hyatt at Olive 8).

UNITE HERE Local 8 says the Boycott of Grand Hyatt Seattle is based on the following issues:

  • Heavy workloads. Hotel housekeeping work is difficult work that can lead to debilitating pain and injuries. Hyatt at Olive 8 Houseman Yuan Ping Tang reports that he turns over up to 38 rooms a shift.
  • A slippery slope of subcontracting. In the past year, the Hyatt at Olive 8 has used more temporary, subcontracted workers, a precedent that can threaten full-time jobs.
  • Workers want their say. Workers at the Grand Hyatt Seattle and the Hyatt at Olive 8 have called on the hotels’ owner, Richard Hedreen, to give them a fair process to decide for themselves whether they want a union. This is a process that Hyatt agrees will be implemented if and when Mr. Hedreen gives the OK. So far Mr. Hedreen has refused.

Discussion at AESA 2015 Business Meeting

At the AESA 2015 business meeting this afternoon in, ironically, San Antonio’s Grand Hyatt, I made the motion that “AESA honor the UNITE HERE Local 8 boycott and not hold its 2016 meeting at the Grand Hyatt Seattle.”

There was a long and vigorous discussion of the issue, with many members stating their support of the motion and others offering supportive sentiments for the Grand Hyatt Seattle workers, but arguing against the boycott because of the financial implications for AESA (which, because of contract provisions, would be on the hook for over $80,000 if they canceled).

After a long debate, the members in attendance voted to refer the boycott motion back to the Executive Council of AESA, thus stopping the discussion among the general membership and by-passing an up-or-down vote on the motion.

Previously, AESA members had participated in a straw poll on honoring the UNITE HERE Local 8 boycott, with the anti-boycott position winning by a slim margin, although fewer than 100 members participated in the poll.

Read more about the boycotts of Grand Hyatt Seattle here:

Attorneys honor Hyatt boycott rather than attend Bar awards | October 4, 2013
The Stand
Hotel Workers Say: Boycott Hyatt! | August 30, 2013
Seattle Gay News
Update! Hyatt Hotel Owners Respond to Boycott | August 30, 2013
The Stranger
Union activists call for boycott of 2 Seattle Hyatt hotels | August 28, 2013
The Seattle Times
Hyatt workers urge boycott of Seattle hotels | August 28, 2013
The Stand
Workers Call for Boycott on Two Seattle Hyatts | August 27, 2013
The Stranger

Professors in Poverty

Via Brave New Films: PROFESSORS IN POVERTY
An average of 51% of faculty are adjunct or working on a part-time only basis. 31% of those adjuncts live near or below poverty levels and are forced to work multiple jobs just to make ends meet. Astonishingly, some make as little as $12,000 annually; meanwhile college presidents are making on average salary of over $400, 000. The corporate model is destroying the integrity of our academic institutions and has to stop. Help us fight for adjuncts and their right to a living wage by sharing this video.

Meet Dr. Wanda Evans-Brewer. She has been teaching for 20 years, has a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, and a PhD in Education. She is also living in poverty.

YouTube Preview Image

Neoliberalism and the Degradation of Education (Alternate Routes, Vol. 26)

Alternate Routes V 26 cover

Alternate Routes: A Journal of Critical Social Research

VOL 26 (2015)

NEOLIBERALISM AND THE DEGRADATION OF EDUCATION

Edited by Carlo Fanelli, Bryan Evans

Contributors to this anthology trace how neoliberalism has impacted education. These effects range from the commercialization and quasi-privatization of pre-school to post-secondary education, to restrictions on democratic practice and research and teaching, to the casualization of labour and labour replacing technologies, and the descent of the university into the market which threatens academic freedom. The end result is a comprehensive and wide-ranging review of how neoliberalism has served to displace, if not destroy, the role of the university as a space for a broad range of perspectives. Neoliberalism stifes the university’s ability to incubate critical ideas and engage with the larger society. Entrepreneurship, however, is pursued as an ideological carrier serving to prepare students for a life of precarity just as the university itself is being penetrated and occupied by corporations. The result is an astonishing tale of transformation, de-democratization and a narrowing of vision and purpose.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

ARTICLES

Carlo Fanelli, Bryan Evans
Jamie Brownlee
Jeff Noonan, Mireille Coral
Paul Bocking
Simten Cosar, Hakan Ergul
Garry Potter
Eric Newstadt
Caitlin Hewitt-White
Mat Nelson, Lydia Dobson
Paul Orlowski
Teresa Marcias
Tanner Mirrless

INTERVENTIONS

Heather McLean
Henry Giroux
Christopher Bailey
Carl E. James
Jordy Cummings
Joel D. Harden
Jordy Cummings
Carlo Fanelli

REVIEWS

Peter Brogan
Christine Pich
Jordan Fairbairn
J.Z. Garrod
Madalena Santos
Amanda Joy
Shannon T. Speed
Aaron Henry

Organizing adjunct faculty: In whose interests?

In  2012, the Service Employees International Union announced a locally focused organizing strategy, aimed at adjunct faculty working in large metropolitan areas. The idea is that by unionizing as many institutions as possible in a metro area, market pressures will build for colleges and universities to improve adjuncts’ pay, benefits, and working conditions, creating new local benchmarks.

SEIU Local 500  has had success in Washington DC area organizing adjunct unions  at American University, George Washington University,  Georgetown University and Montgomery College in Maryland. And organizing efforts are progressing at other area institutions, such as the University of DC.

SEIU’s Adjunct Action effort has since spread to Boston (Tufts University, Northeastern University, Lesley, Bentley University), Los Angeles, (Whittier College, University of La Verne) and Seattle, (Pacific Lutheran University) and other US cities, including Philadelphia.

But now, a little over a year since the SEIU metro strategy was announced, the American Federation of Teachers have announced their own citywide adjunct organizing strategy in Philadelphia, where they’ll be in direct competition with SEIU’s efforts.

According to Inside Higher Ed, the AFT’s United Academics of Philadelphia has targeted adjuncts (and graduate employees) at a number of the City of Brotherly Love’s higher education institutions, including: Temple University, Moore College of Art and Design, University of Pennsylvania, Bryn Mawr College, Swarthmore College, Community College of Philadelphia, Villanova University, and St. Joseph’s University. United Academics’ aim is to “become a city-wide bargaining unit under a common contract onto which individual campuses could sign.”

Is there enough adjunct love to go around in Philly?

Is the competition between SEIU and AFT to represent Philadelphia adjuncts a good thing for their potential members?

What is happening in Philadelphia seems to be a burgeoning turf war between SEIU and AFT and the prize is dues money (and clout). The Philadelphia situation is nothing new, merely a variation on a long running theme of unions battling for (each others) members, something that has intensified as organized trade union membership in the US has continued its slide. Recent examples include: SEIU v National Union of Healthcare Workers (Kaiser Permanente in California); Transportation Workers Union v Teamsters (American Airlines mechanics); Teamsters v International Association of Machinist (US Airways); and SEIU (SPM) v Federacion de Maestros de Puerto Rico (FMPR), to name a few.

Certainly these situations are bad PR for unions (especially since nearly 90% of the workforce in the US is unorganized). It’s also true that union raiding and organizing battles contradict the notion of solidarity amongst all unions and workers. The fact is that union bosses pretty much operate on the mantra of “solidarity for never” (as Rich Gibson says). Examples: Lawsuits filed by the nurses union against SEIU or the TWU’s legal actions against the Teamsters. Ironically (or not) what fuels these intra-labor union wars, at least in part, are the concessions these same unions have bargained away (e.g., job cuts, two-tier wage scales, benefit givebacks, the right to strike, etc.) all in order to ensure the flow of dues money.

Unions ≠ Worker Solidarity

Solidarity is the power of labor, no doubt. But worker solidarity shouldn’t be conflated with trade unions and their bosses. From the examples above we can see the divisions union bosses often create among workers and between union members and other members of the working class, with whom they share collective interests. In short, workers need to cast a wary eye toward their own unions because the unity of interests often described between the rank-and-file workers and their unions is most often a chimera.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d rather be a union member than not and I support organizing of all academics because unions have the potential to improve workplace rights, working conditions, wages, benefits, etc. But organizing, followed by bargaining a contract is merely the first steps of building solidarity and there are serious limitations to the kind of “business unionism” contracts we see for teachers and academics in particular.

For example, teacher unions in the US have tied their interests to corporate education reform (note that not all teachers have, but the union leadership has). The solidarity offered by National Education Association and AFT is not with the source of real educator power—that is unity with poor and working class parents and students who have everything to gain from school. Some early teacher unionists, such as Margaret Haley (who worked in both the NEA and AFT in the early 1900s), led campaigns that drew on the powerful unity of interests among students, teachers, and parents around issues such as class size, freedom to control the local curriculum, and a more just tax system.

Unfortunately both NEA and AFT have abandoned the vision that would link the activities of school workers with students and parents. The most obvious example of this estrangement of interests is the 1968 Ocean Hill-Brownsville teacher strike, which pitted the New York City teachers union, led by the late, long-time AFT President Albert Shanker, against the African American community. The conflict centered on community control of public schools. The union won and community control was lost, establishing a labor-management model that mirrors private industry, one in which educational policy was determined in bilateral negotiations between a highly centralized school administration and highly centralized union. 

Neither of these unions, anywhere, has attained attractive and enforceable rules about class size. Neither union has fought hard against the shift of the tax burden onto poor and working people. Neither the NEA nor AFT has defended academic freedom from the onslaught of standardized test regulations, indeed they commonly support a mandated curriculum (e.g., NCLB, Common Core State Standards).

The good news is that workers and their unions are not synonymous and there are movements within (and outside) of unions led by workers to pursue real, collective solidarity that extends beyond narrow unions interests.

In a nutshell, criticizing the actions of labor unions is far from throwing the interests of rank-and-file workers (or the working class) under the bus, indeed it is one of the first things we have to do to protect ourselves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The New Academic Labor Market and Graduate Students

The Institute for Critical Education Studies at UBC is very pleased to announce the launch of a new issue of Workplace: Journal for Academic Labor: The New Academic Labor Market and Graduate Students.

Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor
No 22 (2013)

The New Academic Labor Market and Graduate Students
Special Issue Edited by Bradley J. Porfilio, Julie A. Gorlewski , & Shelley Pineo-Jensen

Table of Contents

The New Academic Labor Market and Graduate Students: Introduction to the Special Issue

Brad Porfilio, Julie A. Gorlewski, Shelley Pineo-Jensen

Dismissing Academic Surplus: How Discursive Support for the Neoliberal Self Silences New Faculty
Julie Gorlewski

Academia and the American Worker: Right to Work in an Era of Disaster Capitalism?
Paul L. Thomas

Survival Guide Advice and the Spirit of Academic Entrepreneurship: Why Graduate Students Will Never Just Take Your Word for It
Paul Cook

Standing Against Future Contingency: Activist Mentoring in Composition Studies
Casie Janelle Fedukovich

From the New Deal to the Raw Deal: 21st Century Poetics and Academic Labor
Virginia Ann Konchan

How to Survive a Graduate Career
Roger Todd Whitson

In Every Way I’m Hustlin’: The Post-Graduate School Intersectional Experiences of Activist-Oriented Adjunct and Independent Scholars
Naomi Reed, Amy Brown

Ivory Tower Graduates in the Red: The Role of Debt in Higher Education
Nicholas D. Hartlep, Lucille T. Eckrich

Lines of Flight: the New Ph.D. as Migrant
Alvin Cheng-Hin Lim

Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor republishes back issues #1-5 and #9

Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor, back issues #1-5 and #9 are now reformatted and accessible through the Archives.

Thanks to the outstanding editorial work of ICES GRA Maya Borhani, we’ve been able to work forward and republish these back issues. The balance of back issues will be accessible in due time. We did our best to make this remediation work and apologize for any errors in the transfer. Please inform us if you pick up mistakes here or there. We also thank all of those who contribute/d as editors,reviewers, readers, and authors.

Some may prefer the more anarchic aesthetic of the original online format, wherein access remains at
http://louisville.edu/journal/workplace/issue5/back_issues.html and
http://louisville.edu/journal/workplace/workplace1/wokplace.html and
http://louisville.edu/journal/workplace/workplace2/wokplace2.html and
http://louisville.edu/journal/workplace/workplace2-1/wokplace2-1.html and here at UBC in the future.

Thank you for your interest in ICES, Critical Education, and Workplace.

Please keep the new manuscripts flowing in!

Sandra Mathison, Stephen Petrina & E. Wayne Ross, co-Directors
Institute for Critical Education Studies http://blogs.ubc.ca/ices/
University of British Columbia
____________________________

Inaugural issue revisited: Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor

ICES is returning to the archive and rolling out back issues in OJS format! We begin with the inaugural issue and its core theme, “Organizing Our Asses Off.” Issue #2 will soon follow. We encourage readers and supporters of Workplace and Critical Education to revisit these now classic back issues for a sense of accomplishment and frustration over the past 15 years of academic labor. Please keep the ideas and manuscripts rolling in!

Thanks for the continuing interest in Workplace and Critical Education,

Stephen Petrina & E. Wayne Ross, co-Editors
Institute for Critical Education Studies (ICES)
University of British Columbia

Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor
No 1 (1998): Organizing Our Asses Off
Table of Contents
http://ojs.library.ubc.ca/index.php/workplace/issue/view/182236

Articles
——–
Foreword: The Institution as False Horizon
Marc Bousquet

What Hath English Wrought: The Corporate University’s Fast Food
Discipline
Cary Nelson

Unionizing Against Cutbacks
Paul Lauter

What is an “Organization like the MLA”? From Gentleman’s Club to
Professional Association
Stephen Watt

The Future of an Illusion
Christian Gregory

Resistance is Fruitful: Coalition-Building in Ontario
Vicky Smallman

This Old House: Renovating the House of Labor at City University of New
York
Barbara Bowen

Jobless Higher Ed: An Interview with Stanley Aronowitz
Stanley Aronowitz, Andrew Long

Life of Labor: Personal Criticism
——–
Looking Forward in Anger
Barbara White

Performing Shakespeare: Writing and Literacy on the Job
Leo Parascondola

The Good Professors of Szechuan
Gregory Meyerson

Forum: Organizing Our Asses Off
——–
Cannibals, Star Trek, and Egg Timers: Ten Years of Student Employee
Organizing at the University of California
Kate Burns, Anthony M. Navarrete

Critical Year
Edward Fox, Curtis Anderson

What’s Next? Organizing After the COGS Union Affiliation Vote
Julie Marie Schmid

7,500 Down, 200,000 To Go: Organizing the City University of New York
Eric Marshall

Unions, Universities, and the State of Texas
Ray Watkins, Kirsten Christensen

Organizing Democracy: A Response
Karen Thompson

Beyond the Campus Gates: The Personal Is Still Political
Vincent Tirelli

Institutional Memory and Changing Membership: How Can We Learn from What We
Don’t Recall?
Alan Kalish

Field Reports
——–
Report on the 1997 MLA Convention
Mark Kelley

Report on the “Changing Graduate Education” Conference
Alan Kalish

Book Reviews
——–
Review of Michael Denning’s The Cultural Front: The Laboring of American
Culture in the Twentieth Century
Derek Nystrom

Review of Staughton Lynd’s Living Inside Our Hope
Paul Murphy

CFP: Graduate Studies and the Academic Labor Market

Call for Papers:
Graduate Studies and the Academic Labor Market

Special Issue of Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor 2012
Guest Editors: Bradley J. Porfilio, Julie A. Gorlewski, and Shelley J. Jensen

 Workplace invites and authors to submit papers for a special issue on Graduate Studies and the Academic Labor Market. What are the futures of the academic labor market for graduate students? Or more to the point, is there a future in academic labor for graduate students? Even a casual glance at The Chronicle of Higher Education and, in Canada, at the CAUT Bulletin and University Affairs, suggests a shrinking job market for PhDs. In some disciplines, academic careers have all but disappeared. Post-PhDs are increasingly tracked or streamed into adjunct and sessional appointments, most of which are dead-end and even on full time bases may amount to less than $25,000 per year. This “income” is oftten typically annulled by student loan payments; indeed, the income to debt ratio for post-PhDs adds to a heavy burden of anxiety. We readily romanticize the life of the intellectual, but – more and more – this life does not put food on the table. Food banks are becoming more and more common on university grounds and the lines are not limited to students.

  •  What is the nature of this phenomenon in higher education?
  •  What do these trends mean for the future of education and learning beyond mere technical training?
  •  How do economic hardships affect scholarly pursuits?
  •  How might graduate students reclaim their futures in the professoriate?
  •  What roles exist for the scholar activist – both novice and veteran?
  •  What other questions we should be asking?

The editors request abstracts for papers by September 15, 2012, with full drafts due by December 15, 2012.

For more information and due dates contact Brad Porfilio (porfilio16@aol.com)