posted by CAA — Apr 01, 2014
Significant progress has been made by United University Professions (UUP) and other unions, disciplinary societies, the media and lately the U.S. Congressional staff to draw attention to the plight of contingent academic labor. What is needed now is a visible project to activate the nearly one million contingent teachers themselves. Individuals and organizational leaders around the country are coming together to form a National Mobilization for Equity, whose initial effort will be to organize rallies and other public events, beginning on May Day (May 1, 2014).
Mayday $5K Campaign
Last spring, activists at SUNY New Paltz launched a Mayday $5K Campaign. This calls for a minimum starting salary of $5,000 for a three-credit course, halfway between the current average compensation and the $7K recommended by the Modern Language Association as a minimum starting salary. The Mayday $5K Campaign calls for a number of important measures:
1. Increase the starting salary for a three-credit semester course to a minimum of $5,000 for all instructors in higher education.
2. Ensure academic freedom by providing progressively longer contracts for all contingent instructors who have proven themselves during an initial probationary period.
3. Provide health insurance for all instructors, either through their college’s health insurance system or through the Affordable Care Act.
4. Support the quality education of our students by providing their instructors with necessary office space, individual development support, telephones, email accounts and mail boxes.
5. Guarantee fair and equitable access to unemployment benefits when college instructors are not working.
6. Guarantee eligibility for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program to all college instructors who have taught for ten years, during which they were repaying their student loans.
7. With or without a time-in service requirement, allow all college teachers to vote and hold office in institutional governance, including faculty senates and academic departments.
This $5K Campaign has been endorsed by nearly a thousand individuals, by New Faculty Majority and by the statewide Executive Board and Delegate Assembly of the UUP, the nation’s largest higher education union. The $5K figure is not set in stone. Depending on the locale, it can be adjusted up or down, according to specific circumstances.
National Mobilization for Equity
The National Mobilization for Equity focuses on organizing May Day activities nationwide, either in support of the $5K Campaign or simply to highlight the plight of contingents and the need for change. On February 3, 2014, UUP’s full Delegate Assembly unanimously passed the following resolution:
Resolved, that the Contingent Employment Committee supports efforts by UUP members to form a National Mobilization for Equity that will, collectively with other unions and organizations, organize rallies and other events annually, beginning on May 1, 2014. These activities are intended to focus attention on the urgent plight of contingent academic labor and to publicly advocate for change. The Contingent Employment Committee asks the full Delegate Assembly for its endorsement of the National Mobilization for Equity and additionally requests UUP President Fred Kowal to reach out to NYSUT and AFT to secure their material support for this effort.
We need to create a MOVEMENT, to activate the one million contingents at the grass-roots’ level, which would greatly help those in organizational leadership positions working with state or federal agencies and legislatures. In addition to contingents, we need to activate tenure-track faculty, retirees, students and their parents, allied organizations, community groups and the general public. Organizing events around the country on May Day can help develop to organize a national grass-roots movement.
During the past decade, we have collectively spent thousands of hours and considerable financial resources working for equity. Our movement lacks any single MLK-like charismatic leader. Instead, there are many dedicated unionists and activists willing to work together to build an equity movement from the bottom up. Individuals or organizational leaders who want to work on this are invited to contact me. A Mobilization steering committee is being formed and will be announced shortly. Please join us!
Peter D.G. Brown, Chapter President
Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus
United University Professions
SUNY, Lecture Center 6a
New Paltz, NY 12561
Please sign the Mayday Declaration here