Coalition of Academic Labor Conference

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Join Local 500′s Coalition of Academic Labor part-time faculty, union members and activists, contingent faculty advocates, full-time faculty, student groups, administration allies, members of The New Faculty Majority and the Campaign for the Future of Higher Education, community allies and other stakeholders in higher education for an action oriented forum on the various and intersecting strategies for change in higher education on November 15th to the 17th in Washington, DC. The conference will be held at SEIU Headquarters, 1800 Massachusetts Ave., NW.

RSVP on the right, and check back for updates, panel information, and news as the conference. For more information on the conference, please contact Anne McLeer at For those in need of assistance in booking a hotel, please contact Barbara Bost at (202) 730-7752 or

Click here to learn more about the conference and read more about how submit papers, presentations, and panel ideas for consideration.

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Click on the link to submit a paper or panel proposal:


  • Inside/Outside Activism - Political, Institutional and Public Advocacy for Adjuncts
  • Panelists: Matt Williams, New Faculty Majority, Maria Maisto, President New Faculty Majority. Joseph Fruscione, adjunct assistant professor of writing at George Washington University, and a special guest.
  • Summary: This panel will explore the best practices for adjuncts on communicating inside and outside their institutions: communicating with each other and other faculty, speaking or writing in the press, speaking to students, the public and elected officials (of both parties) about your issues.
  • The eroding affordability and accessibility of higher education: the role of the for-profit and financial industries
  • Panelists: Malini Cadambi, SEIU, Micah Hauptman, Public Citizen, and Joe Berry, New Faculty Majority
  • As community colleges are closing due to lack of public funding, minority and disadvantaged students are losing access to affordable, quality higher education. At the same time predatory financial and recruitment practices by for-profit institutions of higher education – which are more expensive and have extremely low graduation rates – push disadvantaged students more and more into debt. The financial industry – companies such as Sallie Mae – also benefit from high levels of student debt and the practices of the for-profit industry.
  • Spoiling for a Fight: Will Millennials Ever Join a Movement against Student Debt?
  • Panelists: Austin Thompson, SEIU, Biola Jeje, New York Students Rising, Chris Hicks, Student Labor Action Project, Tiffany Lotfin, former president of USSA, and Greg Riedlinger
  • Summary: The millennial generation is the largest, most diverse and progressive generation in American history. It also happens to be the most in indebted. But is student debt an issue that sparks protest activity among millennials or inhibits it? There are arguments that in fact student debt it's self is largely to blame for the lack of movement in the United States. Others believe that the growing significance of student debt as a phenomenon will eventually lead to a mass rebellion. In this presentation, hear both sides of the argument and under what specific conditions broad opposition to education debt can occur.
  • The Market Value of a University Degree in a Globalized World
  • Presenter: Jay Taparia
  • Summary: What students need, what the world will demand in the future and what the world will be like by 2030.
  • A Performance of "For-Profit" by Aaron Calafato
  • Summary: Aaron Calafato's FOR PROFIT is an inside look at the For Profit educational industry and a a vibrant portrayal of the exploitation of the American student.
  • Follow the Money! Where do the Resources Go in Higher Education?
  • Panelists: Wayne Langley, SEIU Local 615, Bob Fernandez, Connecticut Community Colleges, Kalwis Lo, Legislative Director, United States Student Association.
  • Summary: Tuition has been increasing at a rate triple that of inflation, yet revenues going into instruction have declined in recent years. Half of instructional faculty is part-time with an average wage of $3,000 per course. With one exception – Georgetown University – no campus in the country has a living wage policy for hourly workers who serve students food, clean their dorms and classrooms or maintain facilities. So, where is the money going? What do “college costs” really entail? Is it possible to have a debt-free education, or even free public education in our nation?
  • Seattle Contingent Faculty Organize: Stronger Together: Understanding and Developing Relationships among Workers, Organizers, and Community in a Higher Education Campaign
  • Panelists: Micheline Murphy, SEIU; Michael Ng, Seattle University; Jane Harty, Pacific Lutheran University
  • Panel and Discussion: Ohio: Ohio Part-time Faculty Association –
  • Panelists: April Freely, Ohio Part-time Faculty Association, David Wilder, Ohio Part-time Faculty Association, Maria Maisto, Ohio Part-time Faculty Association
  • Summary: Members of the OPTFA discuss their efforts to organize in a union-hostile state, and how they are building solidarity and alliances with other campus workers and low-waged labor groups.
  • Panel and Discussion: Alternative and Creative Ways to Organize
  • Presenters: Bruce McKaig, Georgetown University, Marisa Allison, George Mason University, and Robin Sowards, Adjunct Faculty Association of the United Steelworkers
  • Summary: Increasingly adjunct faculty are coming together to make change in their institutions prior to or as a necessary alternative to traditional union organizing, and behaving like a union even in the absence of legal recognition. Adjuncts discuss the use of research, art and alternative legal strategies in organizing for equity on campus.
  • Online Activism to Create Change
  • Panelists: Jess Kutch,, Jason Rosenbaum, The Action Network, Mariah Quinn, SEIU
  • Summary: Panelists will discuss how to leverage different online platforms to both elevate the adjunct story online and create change within the workplace.
  • Students Supporting Adjuncts
  • Panelists: K B Brower, United Students Against Sweatshops, Sydney Browning, Georgetown University Student Activist, Caiden Jay Elmer, American University Student
  • Summary: As adjunct faculty have been organizing students have been supporting their campaigns – making visible their admiration for their adjunct teachers, demanding that institutions respect the rights of their employees to freely associate and organize, protesting the use of tuition revenues to fight unions, and educating students on how contingent faculty and students are allies in the fight to reform higher education.
  • Discussion: Campus Equity Week Debrief
  • Panelists: Craig Flannery, Anne Wiegard, CEW committee member
  • Summary: What are the goals of Campus Equity Week and what were the lessons learned from CEW in 2013?
  • Panel and Discussion: Taking on “Hired” Education, Labor’s Latest Goliath: Identifying the Problems and Potentialities in the Fight for Adjunct Justice
  • Panelists: T.L. Mack-Piccone, External Organizer, SEIU Local200 UNITED , Ann Kottner, Seth Kahn
  • Summary: The disembodied “Professor Staff” who fills course registration options every semester is not the first worker to face erasure from workplaces, coworkers, and his or her work’s worthy ends. While today’s self-identified “migrant” academic may represent the pinnacle of “hired” education’s corporatized university, adjuncts are only part of a long line of victims employers have successfully marginalized through the designation of contingency. Connecting the new majority pauper professoriate and other workers may be one key to our successful long-term fight for adjunct justice.
  • Presentation: The Crisis of Federal Funding for Area Studies in Higher Education.
  • Presenter: Laura Adams, Georgetown
  • Summary: In my presentation, I will look at the impact that cuts for language and area studies programs is having on U.S. universities. I will examine the ideological and structural underpinnings of the situation, as well as providing a perspective on what the consequences might be. Some of the ideological aspects I touch on are provincialism, securitization of education, and neoliberal market ideologies. The structural issues I examine have to do with how professional pipelines work for deep language and regional knowledge production, as well as broader funding dilemmas related to donor preferences for supporting programming rather than infrastructure.
  • Presentation: Fight for Your Long Day
  • Presenter: Alex Kudera
  • Summary: In Alex Kudera’s award-winning adjunct novel, Fight for Your Long Day (Atticus, 2010), some of the most compelling scenes show how the capitalist model of higher education fails to help both students and teachers). It could be that the title of the book has been part of the adjunct rallying cry in recent years. The author will read a section and also discuss his thinking about the scene and the book, and what he hoped to reveal about working conditions in higher ed when he wrote it. He will explore how contingency and even the rigor of "publish or perish" tenure lines interfere with the writing quality of "creatives" (MA/MFA teachers, etc.). The book mainly takes place in 2004 in University City in Philly where there were two of the first million-dollar college presidents/CEOs.
  • Panel and Discussion: Washington, DC: Bargaining Part-time Faculty Contracts with a Vision for the Future
  • Panelists: Peter Feiden, Heather Brown, Anne McLeer, David Rodich, Mark Habeeb, and Jill Niebrugge-Brantley
  • Summary:
  • This panel will discuss the strategy Local 500 has developed for bargaining adjunct contracts and the framing philosophy that has emerged from our adjunct bargaining and labor management teams. We will also discuss our vision for the future.
  • Discussion Forum on the Affordable Care Act
  • Panelists: Ilene Stein, Associate Director of Health Policy for SEIU, Bill Primosch, President, Montgomery College Part-time Faculty Union.
  • Summary: SEIU, like many progressive organizations, actively supports the implementation of the Affordable Care Act as a means to help working families and the under- and uninsured gain access to affordable health care. However, colleges and universities have been undermining the intent of the ACA by preemptively cutting the courses of adjuncts to avoid an employer responsibility to offer employees health insurance. The speakers will highlight the opportunities that the ACA offers to adjuncts who do not have employer-sponsored health coverage, and lead a discussion on how the debate on cutting adjunct hours “to avoid Obamacare” is a distraction from the real issues at hand.

Conference Schedule

Friday, November 15, 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.

  • Panel 1: Inside/Outside Activism - Political, Bi-partisan, Institutional and Public Advocacy for Adjuncts , 2 to 3 p.m.
  • Panel 2: The eroding affordability and accessibility of higher education: the role of the for-profit and financial industries, 3 to 4 p.m.
  • Panel 3: Spoiling for a Fight: Will Millennials Ever Join a Movement against Student Debt? 4:15 to 5:15 p.m.
  • Presentation: Jay Taparia – the Market Value of a University Degree in a Globalized World, 5:15 to 5:45 p.m.
  • Welcome and opening, followed by a wine and cheese reception. 5:45 to 6:30 p.m.
  • Free Performance of “For-Profit” by Aaron Calafato followed by discussion forum, 6:30 to 8 p.m.

Saturday, November 16, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

  • Breakfast
  • Panel 1: Follow the Money! Where do the Resources in Higher Education Go and How Can We Make College Affordable Again? 9 to 10 a.m.
  • Panel 2:Panel and Discussion Seattle: Contingent Faculty Organize 10 to 11 a.m.
  • Panel and Discussion – Ohio: Ohio Part-time Faculty Association 11:20 a.m. to 12:20 p.m.
  • Lunch and breakout discussion topics, 12:20 to 1:30 p.m.
  • Panel 3: Panel and Discussion: Alternative and Creative Ways to Organize , 1:45 to 2:45 p.m.
  • Panels 4: Online Activism to Create Change, 2:45 to 3:45 p.m.
  • Panel 5: Students Supporting Adjuncts, 4 to 5 p.m.
  • Discussion: Campus Equity Debrief, 5 to 6 p.m.

Sunday, November 17, 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

  • Breakfast
  • Panel 1: Panel and Discussion: Taking on “Hired” Education, Labor’s Latest Goliath: Identifying the Problems and Potentialities in the Fight for Adjunct Justice, 9 to 10 a.m.
  • Presentation: The Crisis of Federal Funding for Area Studies in Higher Education, 10 to 10:30 a.m.
  • Presentation: Fight for your Long Day, 10:30 to 11 a.m.
  • Panel 2: Washington, DC: Bargaining Part-time Faculty Contracts with a Vision for the Future, 11:15 a.m to 12 p.m.
  • Discussion forum on the affordable care act, 12 to 12:45
  • Closing Remarks – Merle Cuttitta, President, SEIU Local 500, 12:45 to 1 p.m.