Campus Labor and the Corporate University: A LaborOnline Forum

Source: Clarence Lang, Naomi R. Williams, Jim Barrett, LaborOnline, July 9, 2013

…What does the surge of neoliberalism in higher education mean for faculty, graduate employees, and other forms of labor in the university setting? This was the key question explored in a roundtable session, “Campus Labor and the Corporate University,” that took place at the recent national conference of LAWCHA (“Rights, Solidarity, Justice,” June 6-8, New York City). Below, two of the participants from that conference roundtable – Naomi R. Williams, Graduate Student in History, and member of the Teaching Assistants’ Association (TAA) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and James R. Barrett, Professor of History at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and President of the Campus Faculty Association (CFA) – revisit themes from the session. Specifically, they respond to the following questions:
– What opportunities, as well as obstacles, do you perceive in the particular area (faculty, graduate employee) you are organizing, or have organized?
– What opportunities, as well as obstacles, do you perceive in organizing campus-based labor across the diverse categories of faculty, graduate student, and service employee? That is, how does one proceed in the task of unionizing categories of people who often view their relationship to the university, and consequently their relationship to fellow employees, in dramatically different terms?
– As difficult as it is to unionize university and college campuses, what are the prospects for linking these activities to organizing efforts beyond campus boundaries?…