Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for October, 2012

Last night on the 10pm newscast, WFMZ ran APSCUF’s strike authorization vote as the lead story. It was a pretty good story and from what I am told, WFMZ actually beat the Associated Press to the story. Pretty cool.

STATE COLLEGE, PA

Delegates from the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties unanimously approved a strike authorization vote Saturday, according to its members.

Delegates from each campus, including Kutztown University and East Stroudsburg University met in State College Saturday for the decision.  The vote will now head to the full membership of the APSCUF.

The vote comes amid stalled contract negotiations….

Check out the full story here

While the story was pretty objective, I posted a couple of my concerns about the story as it ran on the APSCUF-KU 411 facebook page. Here ya go:

Pretty good coverage from WFMZ. While the story as a whole was pretty objective, there are a couple issues of concern:

1) On the 10pm live newscast (not in the text on the linked page) mentions the issue of a 35% cut in the pay for temporary faculty as an “other issue.” That does not reflect the position of our negotiating team or our discussions at yesterday’s Legislative Assembly. The attack on temporary faculty is a CENTRAL issue of contention. PASSHE’s proposal would und

ercut the quality of education and the ability of PASSHE universities to attract high quality faculty. (see Amy Lynch-Biniek’s article on this issue: http://goo.gl/ryycn ).

2) Again, on the 10pm live newscast, but also on the linked page, health care and retiree benefits are simply listed as “issues.” This can leave the impression by viewers/readers that we are asking for MORE benefits – a concern that is born out in the comments on WFMZ web page. APSCUF is no asking for more and the details of what PASSHE has been doing with our health care over the past decade or so is down right despicable, if not criminal. Over $100 million dollars “stolen,” in the words of our lead negotiator, from our health care plans. And, PASSHE wants to TAKE AWAY retiree benefits. That’s the issue. I really hope some crack reporters will get into these issues seriously at some point. It’s like a murder-mystery once you see the details.

All-in-all, though, thanks to WFMZ for the solid coverage. They were one of the first news outlets on the story. I heard tell that they actually be the AP on this one!

We do have our work cut out for us.
Advertisements

Read Full Post »

 

I will be tweeting from the Special Assembly. Follow me at @kuxchange or check out the twitter feed on the right. Look for hashtags #apscuf and #apscufLA.

 

Read Full Post »

As readers of the XChange know, this past Thursday, APSCUF members from across the state converged on the Dixon Center in Harrisburg for the October meeting of the PASSHE Board of Governors. APSCUF President Steve Hicks reminded the Board that APSCUF’s offer of binding interest arbitration expires this coming Monday – October 15th. As I reported in a previous post, the day before the Board of Governor’s meeting, the Chancellor’s Office told APSCUF that it was limiting public comments from faculty to three speakers each limited to three minutes. You can listen to the public comments made by APSCUF by clicking the links at the end of this post (I was pleased that my recordings came out so well).

I was thrilled to see over 100 faculty members from 12 of the 14 PASSHE universities represented at the Board of Governors meeting. Kutztown was well represented and many of those who could not make it, sent cardboard Avatars thanks to the creative work of some of our members (you can see all my photos of the event on the APSCUF-KU 411 Facebook page). Our picket before the meeting was serious and lively. When we moved inside to the meeting, APSCUF members packed the hall.

Now, we wait until Monday for the Chancellor’s response to our offer of binding interest arbitration. Next Saturday, October 20th, APSCUF has called a special Legislative Assembly in State College with only one item on the agenda: discussion and vote on strike authorization. Meanwhile, around the state, faculty are doing the practical work of preparing for the possibility that we will be forced to go on strike to preserve the quality of our jobs and the quality of education in PASSHE. We are putting whatever we can in savings. We are sending our off-campus email addresses to our local offices. We are making placards. We are planning actions. We are talking to students. We are talking to our neighbors. We are writing letters. We are visiting the offices of our state legislators. We are getting ready.

At our September Legislative Assembly meeting, I was struck by how different this negotiations felt and how unified the delegates were about the seriousness of the issues we are facing. I felt like I was with like-minded people who saw our current contract fight for what it is: it is a fight to preserve public higher education in Pennsylvania, a fight to preserve our profession. It is a fight for our students, our children and their futures. I felt the same seriousness of purpose in APSCUF members at the Board of Governors meeting.

Below are links to the comments made by APSCUF members at the Board of Governors meeting. They are MP3 files, so they should play on any computer or device.

APSCUF President, Steve Hicks – “Monday is the Deadline” 

Kevin Mahoney, APSCUF-KU – “You Can’t Have It Both Ways, Chancellor”

APSCUF-KU President, Paul Quinn – “In the Trenches”

Mary Popovich, APSCUF-CAL – “Hitting Below the Intellect”

Read Full Post »

It’s about 3:30 am and I am up preparing for today’s PASSHE Board of Governors meeting in Harrisburg. I am printing out the last faculty letters to the Chancellor that I received late last night, reviewing my notes for my 90 seconds before the Board of Governors, rechecking Google maps directions to ensure I can return to KU in time for my office hours and afternoon class, and hoping that enough faculty members from our 14 university system will make the trip to Harrisburg today to pack the Board of Governor’s meeting. As an academic – especially one that teaches writing and advocacy rhetorics, I am compelled to accept the persuasive power of rational discourse and I hope that the words of my colleagues and I will have some degree of impact on the Chancellor and the Board of Governors. I want to believe that we can help convince PASSHE administrators to bargain in good faith and help us secure a good and lasting contract.

However, the activist in me, the labor unionist in me, is also compelled to recognize that the persuasive power of words – yes, even in an academic context – have power only insofar as they are backed by people willing to act up on those words. Words, by themselves, are constrained by context – e.g. if there is no one listening, or a decision has already been made, or there are no institutional rules that require those in power to listen. If words are not empowered to be meaningful in any given institutional context, then their source of power must come from outside that institutional context. As Frederick Douglass memorably put it:

“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”

For sure, Douglass was no slouch when it came to a commitment to the persuasive power of words. However, he was also no fool. His direct experience with slavery and racism taught him otherwise.

Late yesterday we found out that the Chancellor’s Office has limited the public comments section of today’s meeting to three speakers. Each speaker will be limited to three minutes. Then, that’s it, comments are cut off. The Chancellor’s Office limited public comments to three speakers at least once before – when cafeteria workers from IUP, represented by SEIU, were protesting the Board of Governor’s meeting because of Sodexo. The take away? When workers in the PASSHE system – from cafeteria workers to academic workers – seek to make their concerns part of the official discussion, the Chancellor’s Office turns off the mic after providing just enough time for comments so they can claim to have been “open” to public concerns, but not enough time for any substantive discussion. It’s not about discussion after all. It’s about control.

I will be splitting my time with our local APSCUF-KU President, Paul Quinn. Before hearing that the Chancellor’s Office was going to limit debate, each of us had three minutes. But, we’ll take what we can get. I will deliver faculty letters and I will make some brief remarks. But, in the end, what will matter is if the Chancellor and the Board of Governors see that they are not up against three or four faculty members, but hundreds. The power of our words will be measured by the number of faculty members packing the meeting room and manning the picket lines outside the Dixon Center.

I prepare to drive to Harrisburg knowing full well that the Chancellor’s Office has already stacked the deck against us. That the only reason I am  being given time to speak is because the Chancellor’s Office needs to appear to to be open to public comments. I don’t have any illusions about that portion of today’s meeting. I am going to Harrisburg to stand with my colleagues from across the state who, through their physical presence, are saying, “Enough!” I am going to Harrisburg to provide the Chancellor’s Office with a small taste of what a picket line looks like. I am going to Harrisburg to begin a process of demonstrating what gives a union power at the negotiations table  – not simply the negotiation skills of the people at the table, but the collective power of our more than 6,000 members across the Commonwealth. I am going to Harrisburg to begin a process of putting limits on the aspirations of would-be, petty tyrants.

 

Read Full Post »

For those of you who don’t know, in the spring of 2011 I launched a progressive media site called Raging Chicken Press. While I described the site as a “side project,” it is really more of a place where my teaching and scholarship meet in practice.  For example, this semester I am teaching ENG 316 Rhetoric, Democracy, Advocacy and next semester I will be teaching a Special Topics class ENG 390 Activists Writing Media: Composing Democratic Futures. I’ve published on activist rhetoric in  Democracies to Come – co-authored with Rachel Riedner of the George Washington University, as well as articles on “Viral Advocacy” in Reflections: A Journal of Public Rhetoric, Civic Writing, and Service-Learning and rhetorics of labor advocacy in Seth Kahn and JongHwa Lee’s fantastic collection, Activism and Rhetoric. I’ve always had the need to do more than teach and write about rhetoric. I’ve found it critical to also be a practitioner. In fact, I would argue, my teaching, scholarship, and practice are all intimately related and in dialogue. Raging Chicken Press has been my latest site of practice and it has taken off faster than I could have imagined.

Last week I launched a new series called “Smashing Apples: Shock Doctrine for Public Education.” The series focuses on the attacks upon public education in PA and across the region and nation. I wanted to let readers of the XChange know for a couple of reasons. First, I am always looking for new writers, photographers, videographers, cartoonists, and podcasters interested in contributing to the site. Given APSCUF’s continuing contract fight, I thought there might be some of you out there who have got some things to say, and who are looking for a place to say it. While our APSCUF-KU efforts are currently focused on letters to editors and to the Board of Governors and Chancellor, Raging Chicken Press might give you a space to contribute in different ways.

Second, I wanted to let you know of some of the articles we have recently published in which you may be interested. Here you go:

Hope you find some these articles compelling and if you’re mad as hell and can’t take it any more, consider submitting to the Raging Chicken

 

Read Full Post »

In a new blog post, APSCUF explores the question: Where is the Chancellor?

Chancellor John Cavanaugh sits on the Governor’s Commission for Post-Secondary Education. He testifies annually in front of both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees about the State System’s budget request. He is the leader of State System and should be its biggest advocate. So what is his vision for PASSHE’s future?

Read Full Post »