Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The (Possible) Postdoc Union Boom

Inside Higher Ed
By Colleen Flaherty
October 31, 2017

The past few years have brought unprecedented attention to the working conditions of academics off the tenure track.  With that attention has come increased unionization efforts among adjuncts and graduate students on private campuses, following a major decision from the National Labor Relations Board saying they're employees entitled to collective bargaining.

Could postdoctoral unions grow in number for the same reasons?  Some experts think so.

Read the full article at the Inside Higher Ed website here.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

After a Year of Tumult, Evergreen State Revises a Policy on the Use of Campus Space

The Chronicle of Higher Education
By Chris Quintana
October 24, 2017

As public colleges become the staging grounds of a national battle over speech and security, campus leaders have searched for ways to keep their institutions out of the fray.  One popular strategy: taking a long hard look at the policies that dictate who can use their facilities.

After a tumultuous year of protest, Evergreen State College, the small public liberal-arts college in Olympia, Wash., has joined the ranks of institutions to do so.  Ans in doing so, it has made a point not to provide space to "organizations which do not assure the college that they do not discriminate."

Read the full article at The Chronicle of Higher Education website here.

AGB Urges Trustees to Back Shared Governance

Inside Higher Ed
By Colleen Flaherty
October 25, 2017

The Board of Directors of the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges released a statement reminding trustees of the importance of shared governance.  "In higher education's volatile environment, shared governance is essential," the statement says.  "It adds substantial value to institutional progress and innovation.  In fact, responsibility and accountability for addressing colleges' and universities' thorniest challenges often rest with multiple parties.  Effective shared governance is about more than who is responsible for what.  At its best, shared governance is about how key constituents in institutional communities -- traditionally faculty, administrators and board members -- engage in achieving a commonly supported mission.

The statement is based on a 2016 AGB study of shared governance and includes four principles for trustees concerning shared governance: board should not only understand but champion value; it must be based on a culture of meaningful engagement; it requires a constant commitment by campus and board leaders; and policies related to shared governance should be reviewed periodically to ensure their effectiveness.

Read the full article at the Inside Higher Ed website here.

Monday, October 23, 2017

AAUP and AFT-Wisconsin Condemn Attacks on Public Higher Education

October 23, 2017

A series of recent actions taken by Governor Scott Walker, the Wisconsin state legislature, and the University of Wisconsin system board of regents represents a concerted attack on the university as a public good and on the university's role in fostering democratic participation.  The stewards of the university system appear determined to destroy it.

In 2011, Governor Walker proposed, and the legislature passed, Act 10, curtailing the system faculty's rights to negotiate collectively.  In 2015, the legislature severely weakened tenure, shared governance, and due process-and, by extension, academic freedom.  The board launched its own salvo earlier this month, approving an anti-free-speech proposal allowing for the expulsion of students for "disrupting the free speech of others," announcing a plan to merge the system's two- and four-year institutions, and changing the procedures governing searches for chancellors and presidents-all without meaningful faculty input.  Troublingly, the new search procedures put virtually the entire process of hiring new 'campus CEOs' in the hands of the very regents who seek to undermine the public obligation of the university, with limited roles for other campus constituencies.  At the time of this writing, there is also a bill before the state legislature that would abolish a partnership that allowed university employees to work and train students at Planned Parenthood.

Read the full statement at the national AAUP website here.

University of Chicago Graduate Workers Affirm Union

October 19, 2017

University of Chicago graduate employees voted decisively and overwhelmingly for union recognition in a history-making vote tallied today.  Founded in 2007, Graduate Students United (GSU) has worked together to enhance conditions on their campus.  GSU will now be formally affiliated with the American Association of University Professors, the American Federation of Teachers and the Illinois Federation of Teachers.

AAUP President Rudy Fichtenbaum said: "Chicago graduate workers have already set standards and accomplished much for their campus by standing together.  GSU's strength and tenacity in the face of relentless challenges by the administration is an inspiration to colleagues across the country, colleagues who recognize their campus contributions as significant.  The work they do is critical to the university's teaching and research mission and the university works because they do.  We look forward to supporting GSU every step of the way to maintain a meaningful voice on campus and quality in higher education."

Read the full article at the national AAUP website here.

DeVos rescinds 72 documents regarding rights for disabled students

By The Washington Post
October 21, 2017

WASHINGTON -- The Education Department has rescinded 72 policy documents that outline the rights of students with disabilities as part of the Trump administration's effort to eliminate regulations it deems superflous.

The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services wrote in a newsletter Friday that it had "a total of 72 guidance documents that have been rescinded due to being outdated, unnecessary, or ineffective -- 63 from the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) and 9 from the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA)."  The documents, which fleshed out students' rights under the individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the Rehabilitation Act, were rescinded Oct. 2.

Read the full article at the OregonLive website here.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

AAUP and AFT Oppose Punitive Protest Policy

(Reposted from National AAUP)

For Immediate Release
October 12, 2017 Contact:
Laura Markwardt
(202) 594-3635

MADISON, WISCONSIN--Last week, the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents approved a policy to suspend and expel students who protest speeches on University of Wisconsin campuses. Sixteen of the board's 18 members are appointees of Republican Governor Scott Walker.

Read the full press release at the national AAUP website here.

Ciccariello-Maher Suspension Is Problematic

AAUP National
October, 12, 2017

The Drexel University administration's unilateral suspension of George Ciccariello-Maher, an associate professor in the Department of Political Science and Global Studies, raises concerns about the academic freedom and is at odds with normative academic procedures.  The AAUP today wrote to Drexel University administrators to express our concern that bysuspending Ciccariello-Maher against his will, they have bowed to pressure from those that are threatening him and reinforced the belief that, as Ciccariello-Maher put it, "you can control a university's curriculum with annonymous threats of violence."  A suspension is a severly adverse personnel action, and imposing one on Ciccariello-Maher without consulting an appropriate faculty body raises concerns for his academic freedom and tenured status.  It is especially concerning that the suspension is indefinite.

Read the full article at the national AAUP website here.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Campus Equity Week Highlights Contingent Faculty Working Conditions

October 10, 2017

Get ready for Campus Equity Week!  During this week, which occurs every other year during the last week of October, groups plan local actions to draw attention to working conditions of faculty in contingent or adjunct positions.  Such faculty, who constitute three fourths of the teaching faculty in higher education, typically work without job security, for low wages, and without access to the professional working conditions that support student learning.

Campus Equity Week (known as Fair Employment Week in some states and in Canada) is supported by a large coalition of faculty activists and organizations of all sizes.  Local actions can be of any size and shape, ranging from those conducted by a handful of people with a minimal budget to chapters with more significant resources.

Read the full article at the national AAUP website here.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The Trump Administration Says Colleges Are Suppressing Free Speech. How Should They Respond?

The Chronicle of Higher Education
By Sarah Brown
October 2, 2017

When officials at the University of Utah learned in late August that a student group had invited Ben Shapiro, a fiery conservative commentator, to speak on campus, they had to grapple with an increasingly thorny questions: how to ensure that everyone's free speech rights - both Mr. Shapiro's and those of the student protesters - would be protected.

The university's administration from the public safety, communications, and student affairs units started meeting a month in advance.  They even sent a team to the University of California at Berkeley, so officials could see how that institution handled the controversial speakers who were invited to campus this spring.  When Mr. Shapiro spoke last week, hundreds of students protested, two people were arrested, and several others were briefly detained.  The university spent about $25,000 on security costs.

Read the full article at The Chronicle of Higher Ed's website here.

Supreme Court justices clash over whether workers can join together to fight a company policy

Los Angeles Times
By David G. Savage
October 2, 2017

The Supreme Court justices returned to the bench Monday ready to argue - and disagree sharply along usual ideological lines - on a basic questions of workers' rights in the 21st century.

Can employees join together to argue their company is violating law by denying them overtime pay or minimum wages or by discriminating against women or minorities?

To the court's four liberal justices, this looked like a case of back to the future.  Early in the 20th century, companies often required workers to waive their rights to join a union or take collective action.  Those agreements were referred to as "yellow dog contracts," Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg noted.  In 1935, under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Congress adopted the National Labor Relations Act, which guaranteed workers a right to join a union and to take "other concerted activities" to protect their interests.  The yellow dog contract became a thing of the past.

Read the full article at the Los Angeles Times website here.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Canada's wake-up call to the US on NAFTA

By Elizabeth Warren
October 1, 2017

(CNN) - President Donald Trump, a loud and persistent critic of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), recently began renegotiating this trade deal with Canada and Mexico.  The President promised to secure a fair deal for American Workers.  That sounds great.  After all, we don't think Americans should be forced to compete with poorly paid workers from Mexico or elsewhere, and we can demand that companies that want to trade with us lift wages, benefits, and health and safety standards for their foreign workers.

So it probably came as a shock that one of Canada's main goals in this renegotiation is to get the United States to treat our own workers better.  Canada doesn't want its workers competing with poorly-treated laborers -- including workers in the United States.  And they have a specific target in mind.

Read the full opinion piece on the CNN website here.

Sens. Warren, Brown, Gillibrand, Rep. Sherman Introduce Legislation to Protect Workers Ahead of Upcoming NAFTA Renegotiations

Senator Elizabeth Warren- Press Release
September 20, 2017

Washington, DC - United States Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) today introduced the Protecting Workers and Improving Labor Standards Act, to prohibit states from introducing laws that it harder for workers to form unions and fight for higher wages and better working conditions.  The legislation introduced today would repeal section 14(b) of the Taft-Hartley Act, which currently gives states the ability to ban union security agreements - so-called "right-to-work" laws.  The introduction comes days before the third round of renegotiations of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) are set to take place in Ottawa.  An evaluation of state "right-to-work" laws is part of the renegotiation of NAFTA given their impact on worker rights and workplace protections.

Additional Senate cosponsors include Senators Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.).  Congressman Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) today announced that he will introduce companion legislation in the House of Representatives, along with 5 of his colleagues.

Read the full press release at the Senator Elizabeth Warren website here.