COCAL Updates

by E Wayne Ross on May 8, 2012

Updates in brief and links

1. A good short discussion about strikes and general strikes, public and private. Appropriate for us and for Mayday. Go out and make some noise on May Day. See below.

2. Latest edition of Too Much, the newsletter about the superrich and economic inequality

3. A very good post on the issue of conflicts/commonalities of interest with FTTT faculty, joint unions, etc, by our wise friend in Vancouver, Frank Cosco. He posted this as after a notice of the new combined union forming at U of OR and subsequent disucssion on the ADJ list. See below

4. More report, on workshop on contingent faculty at Green River College, WA.
and see below

5. A reminder of the roots of May Day and why it is both dangerous and important to teach about it (and other labor history)

6. And more on May Day

7. And a poem for May Day, from Christy Rodgers at (see below)

8. For-profits schools fighting proposed regulations in CA

9. Colorado State Adjuncts: the new majority

10. CA State U faculty in SFA vote overwhlemingly for rolling strike authorization

11. Walmart forced to pay millions in lost overtime. [Is there a lesson here for us?]

12. Kalamazoo CCC (MI) contingents file for union recognition with AFT local.

13. What a difference did MayDay make?

14. A new adjunct reflects on our status

15. The April 20 “The Solution to Faculty Apartheid” conference held at Green River Community College in Auburn, WA, which featured Keith Hoeller, Frank Cosco, Kathryn Re, and me, is described in a feature in that college’s student newspaper, The Current, at Click on the issue and then advance to page 10. It has a nice picture of Frank and Keith.
To view the Youtube video of the conference, select
Jack Longmate

16. Lettert exchange in CHE

17. Student debt ande adjunct wages

18. PT lecturers in Taiwan protest wage gap

19. Contingent faculty on welfare

20. Adjunct Hero

Updates in Full


“If you want a General Strike organize your co-workers”
An Interview with Joe Burns, author of Revivingthe Strike

at Lawrence, Mass.Bread and Roses Centennial April 28th, 2012

by Camilo Viveiros

Introduction: Many in the Occupy movement have called for a general strike on May 1stbut most Occupy activists aren’t involved in labor organizations or organizedin their workplaces. While General Assemblies may be somewhat effectiveinstitutions at reaching the agreement of assorted activists around future directactions, workplace stoppages require the large scale participation of workersin decision-making structures. The interview below gives some organizing advicefor those who have called the general strike. I hope that this interview willinspire Occupy activists to consider the difficult work ahead that is needed tobuild democracy in the workplace. We are the 99%!

Camilo: You’ve written this very important book Reviving the Strike that gives us a lot of insight about some ofthe challenges, but also the importance of strikes as a tactic. Thank youfor your work promotingthe increased use of the strike as a tool to use building working class power. In”Reviving the Strike” you argue that the labor movement must revive effectivestrikes based on the traditional tactics of labor– stopping production andworkplace-based solidarity. As someone who sees the strike as avital tactic to achieve economic justice I want to ask you a few questions.

Right now Occupyand other activists across the country have been agitating for a general strikeon May 1st. Resolutions have been passedat General Assemblies around the country.

There are alot of new activists that have joined the Occupy Movement, some never havinghad any organizing experience or labor organizing experience. Could you share some of the examples of creativeways that newer activists and established labor activists can think about thiscoming year, maybe toward next May 1st or toward the remote futureof how people can embrace new creative strategies to organize toward strikesinvolving larger numbers of folks.

Joe Burns: First of all, I think the fact that people are talking about this strikeand the general strike is a good thing because it starts raising people’sconsciousness about where our real source of power is in society, which isultimately working people have the power to stop production because workingpeople are the ones who produce things of value in society. On the other hand, if you look back throughhistory about how strikes happened, how in particular general strikes happened,what you’ll find is that they’re organized in the workplace by organizersorganizing their co-workers. And that’sreally the key aspect here. If you lookat how most general strikes in the United States have come about, it’s becausethere’s been strike activity in the local community, people have built bonds ofsolidarity. And then, let’s say oneLocal goes out on strike, they put out an appeal for other Locals to help them,and then eventually it breaks out beyond the bounds of the dispute between justthem and their employer and becomes a generalized dispute between all theworkers in the city and the employers in the city. So it really happens as part of a process ofsolidarity being built step by step.

“It hasn’treally happened where people have put out a general call saying let’s strike,let’s do a general strike on this day. “

It hasn’treally happened where people have put out a general call saying let’s strike,let’s do a general strike on this day.

One of thethings that I focus on in my book, is the need to refocus on the strike. And to do that, that really takes workplaceorganizing in both union and non-union shops, where people go in and do thehard work of talking to their co-workers, forming an organization, andultimately walking out together. I thinkit’s scary to do, to strike, to ask people in these isolated workplaces tostrike all by themselves makes it very difficult.

“…people goin and do the hard work of talking to their co-workers, forming anorganization, and ultimately walking out together”

Camilo: What do you think it would take to actually organize, to bring back thecapacity to have a general strike in the United States?

Joe Burns: In order to have a general strike I think we need to have a workers’movement that’s based in the workplace. If you look at, in the early 1970’s there’s a good book called Rebel Rank and File that a number of folks edited and it’s got articles. It’s really about how the generation of 60’s leftists,a lot of them went back into the workplaces and did organizing, and that in theearly 70’s there were tons of Wildcat strikes which aren’t authorized by theunion leadership. Some of them, like thePostal Strike of 1970 involved 200,000 postal workers striking against thefederal government, in an illegal strike. But that didn’t happen just by itself, it happened because people wentin to their workplaces and organized it. So, how are we going to get a general strike in this country? I think it’s going to be because we redevelopa labor movement or a broader workers’ movement that’s based on thestrike. I think the efforts of Occupyfor the class-based sort of thinking will help in that. Ultimately, though, I think we need at somepoint to devote our attention to the workplace, because the workplace is thesite of where the strike and struggle need to generate from.

Camilo: During the takeover of the capital building in Wisconsin somefolks speculated that what should have happened is that public sector workerswho were under attack should have gone on strike. But in some ways public sector workers areeven more restricted around strike guidelines than private sector workers andso they have less right to strike. Whatare your thoughts around public sector workers who are really bearing a largebrunt of the attack on labor over the last year, and what would the challengesbe to building the solidarity necessary to consider strikes of public sectorworkers?

Joe Burns: I think what you find studying labor history is that even though strikeswere illegal up until 1970, Hawaii became the first state to authorize a legalstrike, regardless of that workers struck by the hundreds of thousands, publicsector workers in the 1960’s. And infact the laws giving them the right to strike were done after the fact, andthey were only passed because workers were striking anyway and legislaturesdecided to set up an orderly procedure to govern strikes. So what you find is hundreds of thousands ofteachers striking throughout the 1960’s, and that’s really how public employeesbuilt their unions. And they did it inthe face of injunctions, so a judge may order them back to work and startjailing leaders, but like in Washington state in a rural community all theteachers showed up together, everyone who was on strike, and told the judge toarrest them all. And the judge backeddown because it didn’t look good.

So that’sreally how we won our unions to begin with in the public sector, in the 1960’s,so when you fast forward to today and look at strikes in the public sector, whenyou look at Wisconsin in particular, clearly the Wisconsin teachers is what reallykicked off the whole Wisconsin battle. They organized calling in sick, and two-thirds of Madison teachersdidn’t show up to work and that’s what really kind of fueled the beginning ofthe takeover of the capitol, along with the grad students and so forth. So it was based on a strike. Some people wanted that to expand into ageneral strike, but that really wasn’t going to happen unless the people mostinvolved which were the public employees, took the lead on that. And they chose, and made a strategic decisionafter four days to go back to work and fight by other means. I think that’s the strategy that they wantedto do and that made sense for them.

Camilo: With union density not at its peak what are the some of theopportunities for non-union organizations to use striking as a tactic? What aresome of the lessons we can learn from the Wildcat strikes of the 70’s, and howcan we have enough flexibility to try to go beyond the stranglehold that Laborlaw has on workers’ organizations right now?

Joe Burns: I think there’s been a lot of good movement in recent yearsto look at different forms of worker organization beyond the traditionalunions. So you’ve had workers’ centers,you’ve had various alternative unions, the IWW and so forth, all looking at howdo you organize particular groups of workers. The question that all of them eventually run into is, you can have youralternative form of organization but ultimately it’s a question of power, anddo you have the power to improve workers’ lives. And to do that traditionally, that’s been atthe workplace the ability to strike or otherwise financially harm anemployer. So I think part of what movingforward we’ll see with the revival of the workers’ movement in this country isa lot of coming together of these different forms of organizations, embracingtactics such as the strike. And reallysome of them are the best situated to do it, because they don’t have the hugetreasuries and buildings and conservative officials that you find in a lot ofunions.

“…ultimatelyit’s a question of power, and do you have the power to improve workers’ lives.”

Camilo: So, what would your advice be to a non-union Occupy activistwho maybe voted for a general strike during a general assembly, or who wants tosee a general strike come to fruition at some point, what would your suggestionsbe for those activists that are out there who are seeing the need for thistactic to be embraced.

Joe Burns: I think go into your workplace. The strike and strike activity needs to berooted in the workplaces, and if it’s based on people outside of the workplacecalling on people to engage in strike activity, that’s not going to work. Not saying you need to just bury your head insome local place, you need to have a broader perspective and broader activism,but if you really want to see a general strike, go out and organize workers,your co-workers or however you want to do it to build forms of organizationin the workplace.

Joe Burns is staff attorney and negotiator, withthe Association of Flight Attendants/ Communications Workers of America andauthor of Reviving the Strike.

Camilo Viveiros has been a multi-racial economicjustice organizer for over 20 years. Hehas developed organizing trainings for the Occupy and does campaign and leadership development,popular education, strategy and direct action trainings for grassroots groups. 401-338-1665

On Sun, Apr 29, 2012 at 7:52 PM, Michael wrote:
May Day has generated a lot of talk about “general strikes.” Here’s what the unions in Ontario said about what it took to organize a real general strike there years ago (attached).

General strikes are like heaven. Everyone who talks about it isn’t going there.

To be effective, movements need to be credible in the eyes of their constituents. When they start to speak in terms that are hyperbolic, bombastic, exaggerated, flatulent, or wishful thinking, they lose credibility.

The class struggle is not a ‘dream state’ in which one gets to conjure up fantastic plans and have them turned into reality. Unlike the little engine that could, repeating the words frequently does not make it possible to do what social reality says can’t be done(in that moment).

Magical thinking is not a good substitute for careful planning, painstaking organizing, and the demonstrated readiness of massive numbers of people to take responsibility for constructing a new social reality.

General strikes are always mass protests. All mass protests, however, are not general strikes. It pays to know the difference.


Ualeindiv mailing list
3. Evening
It is good news when a new union gets going…it’s a really difficult process with lots of emotion, fears and doubts. Not nearly as tough as it was in the past but still tough.

In our post-sec world the fear of conflict of interest as this thread is called is real because single units composed of the “in” group and the “out” group too often haven’t measured up to the unity implicit in the word union. There are too many examples of the “out” group ending up even weaker. The result is that people sadly end up in the seemingly-bizarre but realistic position of arguing that two unions have to be better than one.

Any objective view cannot justify the inequities of privileging overtime for one group of members while denying pay equity for the other. The same goes for the privileging of one group with the right to continually evaluate the other (acting as the worst type of unprofessional manager) in ways that are hard to distinguish from bullying.

Doesn’t have to be that way. Hope the Oregon effort ends up on the better side of the history around these efforts. It won’t be at all easy for a single unit. They would have to tread new ground just to make life less contingent for their contingents. To create a really equitable situation will probably require new vision and concerted effort by the safer and more secure full-time leaders over a couple of decades.

The 20 or so federated post-sec unions in FPSE in BC, Canada, have worked hard at it for most of thirty years and still can’t point to wall to wall success although we have some significant examples of equitable situations. What started as a system of only community colleges has seen a half dozen of its institutions morphed into universities with mixed research, teaching and service workloads within “teaching” university contexts. Sad to report that the unions in a couple of the new universities have succumbed to the strange allure the privileged and stratified model but happily most of them have retained the equitable model that is in the genes of FPSE locals.

Last year, FPSE developed a set of bargaining policies and principles for universities. They can be viewed at the website (type university bargaining principles or something similar into the site’s search box). It is an attempt to provide useful guidelines for approaching the challenges of university bargaining. (Questions and comments welcome.)

In the Program for Change (check it out at the website from May) Jack Longmate and I have set out a wide longterm agenda/menu for change that can really make life better for folks. There are successes in the States to point to. Many aspects of work life are under the control of faculty and can start to change in 2012 without any cost at all, with or without a union. We are not completely helpless.

In a unionist view, there’s nothing magical about the research or service part of one’s work. If it’s work that the boss paying for, it’s work. Those faculty leading unions need to think as unionists first and faculty second.

Frank Cosco

Quoting Jack Longmate :

Hi Karen,

Pleased that we have concurrence about overloads. With course overloads, it
makes it very difficult for full-timers to argue that they are overworked
and underpaid, so the practice amounts to being self-inflicting wound apart
from contributing to the dysfunction of the system. To get those full-time
faculty invested in teaching course overloads to recognize that is easier
said than done. I don’t believe it’s ever happened voluntarily. (When the
limit on course overloads was imposed on my campus–no more than 167 percent
of full-time workload–one union officer complained about how this
restriction would cause an economic hardship for her family. That is, she
had customarily taught about 167 percent of a full-time load.)

In Washington community and technical colleges, part-time faculty are
restricted by a workload cap and cannot teach full-time at a given
institution period, so a simply status conversion, unfortunately, is a not a
realistic at present. In Vancouver, by contrast, conversion from
probationary “term” status to non-probationary “regular” status is a natural
progression. It’s helped by the fact that part-time and full-time faculty
are paid from the same salary scale and have the same set of expectations
(unlike here where part-timers are hired to “just teach”).

—–Original Message—–
From: [] On Behalf Of
Karen Thompson
Sent: Saturday, April 28, 2012 5:40 PM
To: Contingent Academics Mailing List
Cc: Contingent Academics Mailing List
Subject: Re: [adj-l] Conflicts of Interest

Of course there should be no overloads for full-timers (except perhaps for
summer), but faculty need to negotiate a variety of ways to make sure their
salaries are deservingly high. Part-time faculty who teach a full-time load
must be converted to full-time. Limits on part-time teaching are necessary
to make sure those teaching s full-time load are considered full-time
faculty. These are simultaneous goals in negotiations. Again full-time and
part-time faculty can be on the se page here: limits AND conversion.

Sent from my iPhone

On Apr 28, 2012, at 6:58 PM, “Jack Longmate”

Hi Mayra,

Course overloads are certainly allowable through collective bargaining.
my college, Olympic, the current CBA imposes some limits on full-time
faculty overloads: no more than 167 percent of a full-time load. Since
ratification, at least one full-timer for one term taught at 297 percent,
that is, approximately three times a standard full-time workload. I wrote
about that in, pages 12
and 9. (Before that limitation was enacted, I had heard rumors of similar
percentages about some full-time faculty.) But while I’m pleased that my
college has imposed some limits, those limits only affect overloads in
excess of 167 percent–those between 100 and 166 percent, from the
standpoint of the CBA, are consider normal and routine and perfectly fine.

When full-time faculty are able to teach course overloads at will, there’s
very, very little chance for job security to be extended to part-time
faculty, because if part-time faculty jobs were actually protected, it
interfere with the ability to teach course overloads. This is sort of the
gist of the conflict of interests.

The other side of the coin are caps on the workload of part-time faculty.
You’re probably aware that in California, there’s been considerable debate
and legislative action regarding the cap on part-time workload–I believe
it’s no more than 67 percent that a part-time instructor can teach in a
given community college district. In Washington state, the cap is a bit
more liberal–I believe it’s 85 percent at my college–but I don’t think
pay is close to that of California’s.

In Washington, caps exist in order to avoid cases of backdoor tenure. In
Washington state, by teaching full-time for a period of time, one can
satisfy one of the statutory requirements of tenure. In order to ensure
that it never happens, colleges impose these caps.

In my forays into possible reform of the state tenure laws–to eliminate
caps in order to thereby enable those who want and need more work–one of
the obstacles offered by one union lobbyist has been an aversion to
up the state’s tenure statutes for the fear being that tenure might run
risk of getting eliminated altogether, which closes the discussion.

The solution, which would avoid the in-fighting that Karen alludes to,

adj-l mailing list

adj-l mailing list

4. The remarkable workshop entitled “Teach-in on Adjunct Faculty” that took
place at Green River Community College on April 20, 2012, moderated by Keith
Hoeller and Kathryn Re, is available for viewing at

One highlight is Keith’s reading of a statement of support from Cornel West.
It’s at about the 0:01:00 mark.

Frank Cosco, president of the Vancouver Community College Faculty
Association, speaks on “Abolishing the Two-track System”; his remarks begins
at about the 0:06:00 mark.

My portion, “The Overload Debate: Conflict of Interest between Full- and
Part-time Faculty” begins at 0:20:30 is synchronized with a set of
Powerpoint slides–should anyone wish a copy, please let me know.

The video was masterfully edited by Mr. Dave Prenovost.

Best wishes,

Jack Longmate

adj-l mailing list—


A Poem for May Day

By “Mr. Toad” former Detroit autoworker, 1980
(with thanks to Shaping San Francisco)
The eight hour day is not enough;
We are thinking of more and better stuff.
So here is our prayer and here is our plan,
We want what we want and we’ll take what we can.

Down with wars both small and large,
Except for the ones where we’re in charge:
Those are the wars of class against class,
Where we get a chance to kick some ass..

For air to breathe and water to drink,
And no more poison from the kitchen sink.
For land that’s green and life that’s saved
And less and less of the earth that’s paved.

No more women who are less than free,
Or men who cannot learn to see
Their power steals their humanity
And makes us all less than we can be.

For teachers who learn and students who teach
And schools that are kept beyond the reach
Of provosts and deans and chancellors and such
And Xerox and Kodak and Shell, Royal Dutch.

An end to shops that are dark and dingy,
An end to bosses whether good or stingy,
An end to work that produces junk,
An end to junk that produces work,
And an end to all in charge – the jerks.

For all who dance and sing, loud cheers,
To the prophets of doom we send some jeers,
To our friends and lovers we give free beers,
And to all who are here, a day without fears.

So, on this first of May we all should say
That we will either make it or break it.
Or, to put this thought another way,
Let’s take it easy, but let’s take it.