Sunday, April 13, 2014

#PrecariousFaculty Network Links (weekly)

…from Union Book, ZCommunications, the New Left Project, ETFO Voice, Association of Governing Boards, MRSC, CounterPunch, Facebook, NYU, Google Docs, Iinternational Student Movement, Jacobin Magazine, Haymarket Books,
  • "For more than 50 years, Staughton Lynd has been a leading radical in the United States. He was an engaged supporter of the Black Liberation Movement in the Deep South in the early 1960's, most notably as coordinator of the Freedom Schools during Mississippi Summer in 1964. He was an active opponent of US aggression in Indochina, including as chairperson of the first national demonstration against the war in Vietnam in April 1965. In recent decades, Lynd has been an attorney representing prisoners, particularly at the Ohio State Penitentiary in Youngstown, and has written a book, a play and numerous articles about the 1993 uprising at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville.Since the late 1960's, Lynd has also been deeply involved in the labor movement as an activist, attorney and prolific writer. Inspired by Marty Glaberman, Stan Weir and Ed Mann, Lynd has been a passionate and prolific proponent of decentralized, rank-and-file driven unionism. In November 2014, Haymarket Books will publish a book by Lynd entitled Doing History from the Bottom Up: On E.P. Thompson, Howard Zinn, and Rebuilding the Labor Movement from Below and a new edition of his book Solidarity Unionism: Rebuilding the Labor Movement from Below with an introduction by radical labor scholar and activist Immanuel Ness will be published by PM Press in Spring 2015."
    • the labor movement is in catastrophic decline. My particular view is that the reason for this decline is not the Supreme Court, or the McCarthy period, or anything that might be remedied by changing the top leadership of unions, but the model of trade union organizing that has existed in all CIO unions since 1935
    • The critical elements of this model are
    • 1) Exclusive representation of a bargaining unit by a single union
    • 2) The dues check-off, whereby the employer deducts dues for the union from the paycheck of every member of the bargaining unit
    • 3) A clause prohibiting strikes and slowdowns for the duration of the contract
    • 4) A “management prerogatives” clause giving the employer the right to make investment decisions unilaterally
    • In combination these clauses in the typical CIO contract give the employer the right to close the plant and prevent the workers from doing anything about it.
    • How and why was the CIO consolidated as a top-down organization?
    • There is now a significant body of scholarship to the effect that
    • 1) Lewis centralized the administration of the UMW so as to minimize the traditional influence of local unions
    • 2) Lewis went out of his way to assure the business community that if they bargained with the CIO such phenomena as wildcat strikes would become a thing of the past
    • 3) many liberals and radicals such as Roger Baldwin of the ACLU opposed the Wagner Act, believing correctly that the result would be exactly what has occurred and that alternatives such as the Progressive Miners in southern Illinois would be steamrollered
    • 4) contrary to popular belief, the revival of unionism among miners began from below before the passage of the National Recovery Act
    • the sense of helplessness experienced by local groups may be exaggerated, even illusory. In a single workplace, workers in a particular strategic unit or department may be able to bring the entire enterprise to a halt
    • Energy should go into building strong nuclei of self-activity on the workplace floor. Stan Weir called such entities “informal work groups.” He was convinced that such groupings come into being wherever human brings work together, and develop leadership of a sort from below, as needed
    • drawbacks of the “exclusive representation” stipulation in the NLRA
    • Adjunct professors represent a potential for change that has not yet organized itself whereas tenured full professors are unlikely to be helpful, at least in significant numbers.
    • 2) Once a union is successful in winning a representation election pursuant to Section 9 of the NLRA (now LMRA), it becomes extremely difficult for a group of workers to “decertify,” that is, to choose another union
    • 3) Self-evidently, the Section 9 process made it seem impossible for a minority of workers to do anything meaningful until it became a majority
    • Professor Charles Morris, who argues that under the NLRA as originally conceived the employer had a legal obligation to bargain with any group of workers, even if was not a majority
    • bargaining status for a minority union is only a stepping stone to becoming an exclusive representative
    • in many European countries there can be many minority unions, each aligned with a different national political tendency. Such unions may join together for bargaining purposes.
    • 4) I think the Right has a point when it says that existing law and practice strips away the dimension of voluntariness from union membership
    • If you believe that a voluntary minority can accomplish more than an involuntary majority, the check-off recedes in importance
    • absent the check-off there is of necessity a greater tendency for activists to stay in the workplace
    • critiqued the Wagner Act for mistakenly presuming that the Act would equalize the bargaining power of management and labor
    • In truth, we live through the cycle of over-adulation of a leader, followed by disillusion
    • when the smoke clears that the structure of unionism in the United States has not changed
    • there is no substitute for public ownership of the “commanding heights” of the economy
    • one comes back in the end to workers. Here also there are divisions and sub-groups.
    • 1) The initial contact between a union organizer and a group of workers involves activities meaningless in themselves, such as collecting signatures on cards or petitions which are then forwarded to the NLRB. The obvious alternative is to build solidarity, what Stan Weir called creating a “family at work,” by means of small direct actions
    • Especially in an economy like that of the United States, stripped of manufacturing, “workers” need to be broadly defined. Moreover, it obviously will make a great deal of difference whether workers are encouraged to focus on individual material benefit, or, in solidarity, on common interests.
      As women come into the work force more fully and into positions of leadership I believe that solidarity will be nurtured.
    • persons with college degrees can make their best contribution not as manual workers, but as the kind of professional they have been trained to become, in daily contact with, and support of, other kinds of workers.
  • New Left Project | Article: "Precarious labour is hard to picture and even harder to study. In some cities, the throng of more or less uniformed, somnolent commuters—massing in cars or trains or buses, bustling into downtown towers, suburban office parks, or factories at the appointed hour—is simply disappearing. A bewildering array of precarious work arrangements, some deliberately and happily customised but many accepted with resignation, is replacing the 9-to-5 migration. The new world of work is part-time, temporary, seasonal, casual, contract, intern, trial, on-call, sessional, independent, home-based, intermittent, temporary, flexible, project-based, freelance, fractional, leased, sweat equity, contingent."
    • Community visioning is the process of developing consensus about what future the community wants, and then deciding what is necessary to achieve it. A vision statement captures what community members most value about their community, and the shared image of what they want their community to become. It inspires community members to work together to achieve the vision.
    • As Yogi Berra would say:
      "If you don't know where you are going - you might end up someplace else."
  • "According to a number of recent reports, however, we’re in the midst of a new economic  reality, the dominant  feature of which is “precarious work.” Economists  use  the  term  precarious to describe  workers  who  are  in  an  unstable employment position, have limited control over working conditions and wages, and lack union protection or clear regulations governing their workplace. A 2012 Law Commission of Ontario (LCO) report  estimates that 22 percent of  jobs fit the “precarious” definition. Those most adversely affected include women,  youth,  racialized persons,  persons with disabilities, and newcomers. Precarious work used to refer primarily to lower-income individuals, but a 2013 McMaster University– United Way study based on the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area shows that the phenomenon increasingly affects all income and education levels."
  • "The American labor movement won't be able to revive itself without organizing at its grassroots.The American labor movement has seemingly been on the verge of total obliteration for decades. Union membership and strikes are at their lowest levels in almost a century, former union strongholds like Michigan have become "Right to Work" states, massive inequality has shown little signs of abating. The American working class power has seen few darker days.Labor activist and scholar Kim Moody has long argued that the way to reverse labor's long slide is not through top-down reform efforts, but through renewed commitment to struggle at labor's grassroots." Tags: labor, #PFR
    • Union membership and strikes are at their lowest levels in almost a century, former union strongholds like Michigan have become “Right to Work” states, massive inequality has shown little signs of abating.
    • the way to reverse labor’s long slide is not through top-down reform efforts, but through renewed commitment to struggle at labor’s grassroots.
    • ailed renewal efforts — both from above and below
    • rise of American business unionism and the defeat of more progressive visions of unionism
    • Business unionism comes out of the defeat of socialism in the United States.
    • Kim Moody:
    • idea that labor doesn’t need any ultimate goals
    • comes out of the conditions in the US about 100 years ago, when we had an employer class that was unrestrained
    • power of the employers to undermine unions
    • some of the inventors of business unionism like Gompers were, in their earlier years, socialists and Marxists. But they drew the opposite conclusions from those politics: that to get along in the US, you had to function like a business
    • not unique to the US
    • labor leaders begin to think like and even see themselves as business people
    • embrace of the Democratic Party by labor
  • Since the onset of the economic crisis and the implementation of UC-system-wide austerity measures, UCSC has been a hotbed of resistance (Berkeley and Davis have been as well), and last week, early Wednesday morning the 2nd of April, twenty student workers and protesters, representatives and supporters of UAW local 2865, were arrested by riot cops for attempting to establish a picket at the west entrance. Two more were arrested the next day. Union members were out on the lines after leaders had called a strike to protest unfair labor practices and intimidation of graduate student teaching assistants. Joining the TAs as muscle were various left, largely undergraduate student groups, some gathered under the nom de guerre “Autonomous Students,” Bus drivers and construction trade workers joined the UAW TAs in staying off campus; and the picket lines were up and going all day Wednesday and Thursday at UCSC, Berkeley, Davis, San Diego, and Irvine. But only at UCSC were picketers and protesters arrested A small group of faculty has expressed its shock at the admin and the cops in a polite letter....The only factor that can change this balance of power is the faculty. Only tenured faculty members have the stature, security, and financial resources to stand up to the austerity cuts and unfair labor practices that are top on the corporatized UC admin’s agenda. If the response of the faculty in the struggle for the future of the California public university system is to be decisive, they will have to be prepared to organize, withhold their own labor, help shut down the campuses and defy the admin to pin bogus charges on them- not just their students. Within the present configuration of things, only the pressure of the tenured faculty has even the chance to force the UC to change its regressive course.
Posted from Diigo. The rest of PFR Network group favorite links are here.

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