COCAL Updates

COCAL logo smallby Joe Berry

COCAL is the Coalition of Contingent Academic Labor, a nearly 20 year old network of contingent activists and their organizations that does a conference (now tri national – USA, CAN, MEX) every other year, usually in August. It also sponsors a listserv, called ADJ-L, and has an International Advisory Committee and a website and Facebook page.


1. Teachers resisting education and labor “reforms” in Oaxaca, Mexico.


1. Interesting slide show from TX used for National Adjunct Walkout Day.

2. Working poor (us in higher ed) are the real philanthropists in higher ed.

[I might also note that one of the first novels written by a worker in English was called, using the same insight, The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell, a socialist house painter in England in the very early 1900s, still in print by Monthly Review Press and well worth reading.]

3. Chicago City Colleges’ part-time (credit) faculty and librarians protest for a pay raise and a new contract. [I am prejudiced because I was one of the founders of this local, City Colleges Contingent Labor Organizing Committee, CCCLOC, IEA/NEA. I am, needless to say, very proud of them.]

4. Chicago court orders Chicago State U admin to stop trying to shut down Faculty Voice blog and here.

5. Full report of doing in Colorado from our colleague Don Eron:

Hi All,

This past Monday the Colorado AAUP staged its first “Mini-Innie” for Colorado community college activists, The “Mini-Innie” was held on the heels of the AAUP Summer Institute (the “Full-Innie,” so to speak), which took place last week at Denver University.

Here’s an account by Suzanne Hudson, posted on the Colorado AAUP blog, that should make you wish you were there.

Hank Reichman, the First Vice President of the AAUP, participated in the Mini-Innie and posted his take on the Academe Blog.

Hank also posted on the AB this intriguing account of the session that Caprice Lawless conducted at the Summer Institute (the Full-Innie) last week, on organizing community college faculty. In the post, Hank publishes Caprice’s extensive session notes.

Finally, for the past several months I’ve intended to post the following clip to this list. It is of the contingent faculty panel presentation at a shared governance conference that the Colorado AAUP sponsored/conducted last fall in Durango.

Scroll down to panel three (“Strengthening Contingent Faculty”). Beginning at the nine minute mark are, in my estimation, terrific back-to-back-to-back presentations by Caprice, Suzanne, and Miranda Merklein.

I hope you agree.


6. Can migrant academics learn something from migrant farmworkers? [I think so.]

7. Call for papers for sessions at the NE MLA convention in March.

I’ll be moderating the below sessions at the above convention; please submit an abstract, and/ or pass on this email to anyone else who may be interested:

Composition Pedagogy: Is Love all You Need? (roundtable)
Much has been written and said, in recent years, about the role of love and passion in instruction/enquiry more generally, incl. in writing/composition studies. Choosing a topic or project one is “passionate” about is believed to foster a better outcome all around; passion/ love is also believed to be the driving force behind bold, successful career and academic trajectories.This raises the question of the downside of such passion/love – not only, as some have already pointed out, that it may not last or be enough, but others. For ex., is love, in this context, blind or blinding, causing us not to see the flaws in our own or others’ projects, ideas, and larger constructs?Can it also, as in relationships, make us tolerate abusive treatment or other unethical behaviour?Papers addressing this question, and its relevance to all constituencies,whether students, faculty, or administrators, are sought, as are those proposing solutions or successful compromises – for ex., methods of identifying and pursuing passions whilst also doing quality work, meeting the needs of readers and others, as well as, of course, sustaining passion, even channeling same toward more constructive or lasting/ stable purposes. Presenters may focus on, for ex., successful and less successful student projects; instructional strategies; and larger implications, whether personal, pedagogical, professional,even social/ ethical.

Please use this link to submit your abstract.

Detective Fiction: How Dead Is The Past? (panel)
Recent examinations of the functioning of the past within detective fiction– whether going back in time to reconstruct a crime or examine a larger criminal pattern/ trend in a past period – raise the question of how “dead,” to borrow Faulkner’s famous line, the past is. Whether considered from the standpoint of physics (time as a function of space and the expansion of the universe) or, as may seem more obvious, history, time is clearly neither dead/finished nor objective, even indifferent, or perceived as such.Papers are sought which examine the functioning and role of the past/ time perception in works of detective fiction, exploring the perspectives of individuals or whole groups (everyone involved in detection and pertaining to historical events/ memory) as well as more basic reconstruction of crimes. In particular, papers applying various disciplines, such as the sciences, psychology or history, to this question are welcome. For example, to what extent does past trauma, such as of a victim of murder or another crime, persist into the present and motivate the action of detective fiction, as has often been considered the case with fictional detectives? How does the victimization of a larger group, such as through genocide, serve to rationalize future crimes, such as those driven by vengeance? How authentic, and helpful, is going back in time to reconstruct not only criminal acts, but even motives and memories? To what extent do changes,whether in police practices, even entire regimes, serve to bury or even undo or compensate for the past?

The link for submitting abstracts.

Couple of other procedural notes:
You can view the full CFP.

The deadline for submitting abstracts is 30 Sept., though some deadlines may be earlier (check the session description). Contact the chair/s with any questions, but abstracts may only be submitted to the links above.

Finally, you may present on only one panel/ seminar, though you may also participate in a roundtable or creative session.

Maria L. Plochocki (plo-hots-kee)
“Better to be the poor servant of a poor master …” Homer, Odyssey

8. Kaplan and Lincoln Tech settle with MA Attorney General.

9. Upcoming UASAS student labor movement gala. Wash, DC, August 7.

Dear Joe,

We know what you’re thinking — how can I have a great time AND celebrate student labor solidarity next weekend?! Never fear, USAS has exactly what you need!

In just one week, our Second Annual Student Labor Movement Gala will bring together students, USAS alumni, allies from other social justice movements . . . and whether or not you fit one of those categories, we hope to see YOU.

Quick, buy your tickets here, and organizations interested in sponsorship (and a special shoutout) can get more info here. The event will take place in the Teamsters’ penthouse, located at 25 Louisiana Ave NW, from 5:30-8:00 on August 7th.

Then if you still haven’t gotten enough of USAS, email for more information about the Alumni and Allies Retreat taking place from 9:30am to 6pm the next day.

And if you’re a student, remember that the most important days for you are August 8th and 9th, when we’ll scheme together at our Summer Convention. Keep an eye out for a separate email with more info.

Can’t be around DC for any of these events? You can always show your support for student and worker power by donating what you can today, and stay tuned for more opportunities in your zip code.


Deanna Nagle

Coordinating Committee Rep – International Solidarity Campaigns

Penn State USAS Local 123

10. One in 8 Americans burdened by student loan debt including 700,000 seniors.

11. Advice for new students from older ones: forget the admin and seek supporters among profs.

12. Whittier College (Orange Country, CA) win first union contract, SEIU 721.

13. Badass Teachers Assoc. news on fighting corporate education “reform.”

14. New writing by our colleague Alex Kudera.

Hi Friends,

Please pardon this direct solicitation, but I’m desperate to sell my blood as well as a new e-single, “Frade Killed Ellen.” I promise I’ll only e-mail you twenty or thirty more times between now and August 31.

Sorry, all of the above was an extended typo. The blood ain’t for sale, and I won’t bother you again until a novel arrives in the fall. Here’s a pitch for the e-book:

If anyone is looking for an hour or two of accessible fiction, I have a new e-single from fledgling Dutch Kills Press in Brooklyn. This tale has everything we look for in writing, from stalking to chess to Chinatown, but if you need death, liquor, and library basements, don’t worry, because it has all that, too, and more. Did I mention the story takes place in Philly, North Carolina, New Orleans, and Cambridge, Massachusetts? Yes, indeed. Human Trafficking? Hunting Elk? Gambling on fiction? Let’s let the readers decide if they’re in there.

Anyway, I’m always grateful for a sale, read, or review. It’s available at Amazon, iTunes, and can be read off the screen of any computer at Atavist.

Thank you, sincerely, for considering and enjoy the second half of summer.


Alex Kudera

The United States of Kudera.

When Falls the Coliseum.

15. Organizing is key to defeating Friedrichs case (anti-agency fee).

16. UCONN grads get first contract (UAW).

17. Upcoming Labor Notes Troublemakers Schools:

Save the Date

Saturday September 12, 2015: Puget Sound Troublemakers School – Registration now open!

Saturday, October 17, 2015: Bay Area Troublemakers School

April 1-3, 2016: Join us for the biennial, international Labor Notes Conference in Chicago.

18. Fort Hays (KS) Online college adjuncts get raise (can’t have anything to do with organizing, can it?).

19. Bergen CC (NJ) to eliminate 150 FT lecturer positions.

20. Cuts at UAS Fairbanks. More on Alaska cuts.

21. Court backs labor board (NLRB) on speedy election decision

22. Excellent universities begin with excellent faculties.

23. Adjunct Sudoku by Kevin Temple.

24. More of U of Phoenix FTC investigation.

25. Stats and trends in Pell Grants (fewer getting them and they are worth less).

NOTE: As noted previously, your COCAL UPDATES editor (Joe Berry) and his spouse/partner/colleague Helena Worthen, are going to teach labor studies in Viet Nam for the fall 2015 Semester. We would like to take some gifts related to the union/workers movement in the US to give to folks there. We are leaving from CA August 14. If any of you would like to have us take union or other movement hats, T-shirts or similar union gifts to VN from your organization as a gesture of solidarity for their labor movement and as a gesture of support for us, please send them to us at 21 San Mateo Road, Berkeley, CA 94707 so that we receive it by August 13, 2015. Unions in Viet Nam are grappling with how to deal with the influx of foreign (capitalist) direct investment there and the need to build local unions that can effectively fight for workers in this new context. Thanks in advance for your assistance.


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