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Power Despite Precarity

Fri, January 14, 2022 @ 5:30 PM - 7:30 PM

$7 – $11

Strategies for the Contingent Faculty Movement in Higher Education

with authors Joe Berry and Helena Worthen

“A masterful look at the challenges involved with organizing workers in higher education. Berry and Worthen provide excellent recommendations regarding vision and strategy, making the book valuable beyond the field of higher education.” —Bill Fletcher, Jr., author of They’re Bankrupting Us: And Twenty Other Myths about Unions

Higher education is the site of an ongoing conflict. At the heart of this struggle are the precariously employed faculty ‘contingents’ who work without basic job security, living wages or benefits. Yet they have the incentive and, if organized, the power to shape the future of higher education.

Power Despite Precarity is part history, part handbook and a wholly indispensable resource in this fight. Joe Berry and Helena Worthen outline the four historical periods that led to major transitions in the work-lives of faculty of this sector. They then take a deep dive into the 30-year-long struggle by California State University lecturers to negotiate what is recognized as the best contract for contingents in the US.

The authors ask: what is the role of universities in society? Whose interests should they serve? What are the necessary conditions for the exercise of academic freedom?  Providing strategic insight for activists at every organizing level, they also tackle ‘troublesome questions’ around legality, union politics, academic freedom and how to recognize friends (and foes) in the struggle.

Joe Berry is a founder of the Chicago Coalition of Academic Labor and a long-time leader of the international COCAL and New Faculty Majority. He has served on many national contingent faculty committees. He is the author of Reclaiming the Ivory Tower: Organizing Adjuncts to Change Higher Education (Monthly Review Press, 2005).

Helena Worthen is a novelist, union activist and retired contingent faculty worker. Her book, What Did You Learn at Work Today? The Forbidden Lessons of Labor Education (Hardball, 2013) won the 2014 Best Book award from the United Association for Labor Education.

BOOK AVAILABLE AT plutobooks.com


THE TIMES LISTED ARE EASTERN US and CANADA Eastern Standard Time / This event will be 9:30 to 11:30 PM GMT




Fri, January 14, 2022
5:30 PM - 7:30 PM
$7 – $11
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