As I continue to advocate on behalf of mental health, neurodiversity, and gender equality in other aspects of my personal and professional life, I become more aware of the overlap with my adjunct activism, but I also become more aware of how insignificant the adjunct crisis can seem by comparison. Every adjunct activist, no matter how exploited, is given the opportunity to check our privilege when we begin to learn about and work with other contingent and precarious workers or in other movements.
This week’s post is from the inimitable Joe Berry, who literally wrote the book on adjunct organizing— Reclaiming the Ivory Tower: Organizing Adjuncts to Change Higher Education.
Joe was instrumental in getting the 1989 Cervisi decision passed, the California code that states contingent faculty have no reasonable assurance of employment, regardless of promised contracts, and are therefore eligible for unemployment insurance benefits. … More Always an organizer, sometimes a staffer, often a pain in the ass to someone
Every meeting brought in people whose understanding of what was going on ranged from people with an informed strategic vision and experience in making things happen to people whose primary reason for coming was some horrible personal disappointment they had experienced in their work as a teacher. Outrage ignited by moral injury is an essential motivator, but it has to be harnessed into constructive collective effort in order to get anything useful done. That was a lot of the work in those early days; it was basic labor education. … More Riding Down a River on a Wobbly Log
So I did what I knew how to do, find others experiencing a similar loss and fight back. I didn’t realize I was walking into a new movement that was going to become one of the stronger interventions to the neoliberal university under the gig economy. I also didn’t realize I was walking into one of the largest mobilizations within the labor movement in many years.