This week, Labor Notes published an article by Union Semester alum Michael McCown, who served as staff organizer for AFT 2121’s recently contract campaign and strike. That article, outlining the campaign strategy and how it unfolded, is re-posted below with permission. See the original article at Labor Notes.
By Michael McCown
For the first time in its 40-year history, the union of full- and part-time faculty at City College of San Francisco recently went on strike—and it worked.
Teachers (AFT) Local 2121 pulled off a one-day strike April 27, despite the administration’s claim that the strike was illegal. By July, to head off another strike, the college agreed to a union contract with substantial raises. Faculty members had been working without one for a year.
Strikes in higher education are rare. Faculty work is isolated, and despite the popular portrayal of academics as having the ultimate job security, most instructors are part-timers with short-term contracts.
Part-timers often have to rush off to other jobs, making it difficult to build the social bonds necessary to take risky action together. And going on strike can be perceived as hurting students, many of whom at the community-college level are quite vulnerable: English-language learners, former prisoners, and the homeless.
At City College, a public community college of nine campuses built to serve 100,000 students, faculty faced the additional threat that the school could be shut down entirely. They organized anyway. Continue reading Community College Faculty Strike, Win Contract