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COCAL XI: The Way Forward

By Marcia Newfield

This is the sixth in a series of Academe Blog guest posts arranged by the AAUP Committee on Contingency and the Profession in celebration of Campus Equity Week. For information on and resources for CEW, see the national website at http://www.campusequityweek.org/2013/

COCAL XI will take place in New York City August 4–6, 2014 at John Jay College of the City University of New York ( 524 West 59th St ).

COCAL stands for the Coalition of Contingent Academic Labor. As described on the Campus Equity Week website (http://www.campusequityweek.org/2013/), COCAL has been meeting every other year since 1996, gathering contingents and allies from North America (Canada, the U.S., and Mexico).

The COCAL XI sponsoring union is the Professional Staff Congress, the union for CUNY’s 25,000 faculty and staff (PSC/CUNY). We need many other unions and associations to co-sponsor this event by contributing funds and in-kind services, including scholarships and sending participants. We are also in need of translation equipment. For more information about fundraising, contact Marcia Newfield, revolu@earthlink.net.

The conference theme is SHAPING AN EQUITABLE AND DEMOCRATIC FUTURE FOR HIGHER EDUCATION: THE WAY FORWARD. Plenaries include:

1.     Towards an International Coalition—visions of the way forward.

2.     The Nuts & Bolts of Contingent Organizing—from both outside the Academy and within

3.     Going Forward—crafting a collective take-away

cocal4.jpgThe format of the conference is designed to break with the usual structure of fragmented workshops and paper presentations. We want to generate a 3-day conversation so that participants all come away with plans, a cohesive sense of community, and a sense of purpose and vision that will motivate us to create changes in our environment as stated in the Political Declaration that came out of COCAL X in Mexico City (www.cocalinternational.org). To further this goal, we will be having larger-than-usual group discussions and workshops that reflect on the themes that are introduced at the plenaries. We hope to leave ample time for questions and commentary.

As preparation, we encourage participations to read Mike Fabricant’s article “The Twenty-First Century Gold Rush: The Plunder of Public Assets and a Radically Restructured Teaching Labor Force,” which appeared in Working USA, Volume 16, September 2013 (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/wusa.12061/abstract). The questions Fabricant poses are at the core of our challenge: How can part-time faculty create alliances with full-time faculty when their interests appear to be disparate?; How can collectivity be built by part-time faculty given the press of individual survival needs? How do we address the fundamental contradiction between the part-time faculty person moving through space to earn a living and the need for the locus of place to anchor effective organizing campaigns?; How do we build alliances outside the university in a moment when every part of the non-profit and public sector world is burdened with the intensifying conditions of austerity policy?

Call for Input

We are eager to receive reports on activities in your sector and could use your facilitation skills. We welcome participation by both part-time and full-time colleagues.

We are at present trying to secure an array of hotels, hostels, and educational and entertainment options so that your time in New York City may be a most satisfying interlude. Registration forms will be posted on www.cocalinternational.org as soon as they are available. The tentative registration cost is $250 (with early registration at $225).

For more information, contact Marcia Newfield, revolu@earthlink.net.

Marcia Newfield has been an adjunct for 25 years at Borough of Manhattan College/CUNY and has been the Vice President for Part-time Personnel at the Professional Staff Congress (PSC). She teaches English and has published poetry and books for children. She has represented adjuncts at AAUP, AFT, and COCAL contingent advisory committees. She is the coordinator of COCAL XI and has attended all but the first COCAL conference in D.C. in 1996.

For information about the AAUP Committee on Contingency and the Profession, see http://www.aaup.org/about/committees/standing-committees.

2 comments on “COCAL XI: The Way Forward

  1. obvious why anonymous
    November 2, 2013

    I have to wonder at expending so much energy doing something (organizing, unionizing, complaining, etc) that is so unlikely to succeed. The interests of TFs (tenured faculty) and those of PTs (part-timers) faculty are totally opposed: where would money and resources that PTs now lack be coming from? Why are PTs expecting TFs to help them against their own interests? Of course, TFs will make soothing noises. (Not even starting on the student’s side of this – see http://adjunct.chronicle.com/adjuncts-should-do-as-little-work-as-possible/ and be sure to read the comments.)

    • Aaron Barlow
      November 2, 2013

      Is it really a zero-sum game? I hope not, and hope all of us can work together to ensure adequate funding for education, meaning not robbing from Peter to pay Paul but finding ways of really doing justice to our societal goals for higher education. Many more adjuncts should be full-time; those remaining should be adjuncts only because they don’t want to work full-time.

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This entry was posted on November 1, 2013 by in contingent faculty appointments, faculty and tagged , , , , .
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