COCAL Updates

by Joe Berry
joeberry@iCOCAL logo

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. More on the accreditation debate.

2. and a very good comment on the recent CHE article by aj

Comment posted in Chronicle of Higher Education’s article on Accreditation Task Force Report:

At trial, the State Chancellor had presented evidence of the well above average performance of CCSF students as measured by retention, persistence, completion, etc. ACCJC’s response to the data was:

“This information [Student Success Scorecard results]…to support the position that the college provides a quality education…is not relevant to whether the college met the accreditation standards…”

So by its own admission, ACCJC accreditation standards are not about quality education.

So, what’s it all about?

What ACCJC is really about is power, and power projection.

Barbara Beno’s 1985 doctoral dissertation “The Political Economy of Public Organizations: A Comparative Study” should be helpful in understanding ACCJC behavior. Her dissertation compares two environmental health agencies’ handling of their domain. One agency deals with its domain in a “parochial” traditional bureaucratic fashion. The other agency deals with its domain in a pro-active manner, creating its own new realities to expand its domain and legitimacy. Here’s one relevant quote from Beno: [Organizational] “Success” is defined as an organization’s ability to maintain or expand its boundaries in the face of external control of its resources and the resulting external influence on its actions.”

It’s important to note that Beno does not define organizational success in terms of how well it fulfills its mission. She defines “success” in terms of power and reach.

As the leader of ACCJC, it appears that Beno has modeled her agency after the “Downstate Agency” in her dissertation. It’s a model for the expansion and enforcement ACCJC’s domain and its organizational self-interest.

In a 2008 doctoral dissertion, “Shifting Alliances in the Accreditation of Higher Education: On the Long Term Consequences of the Delegation of Government Authority to Self-Regulatory Organizations”, Paul Weissburg concluded:

“From the perspective of the general public, however, there are numerous potential disadvantages to governments‘ growing reliance on privately run, self-regulatory organizations. There is no guarantee that the interests of the self-regulatory bodies and those of the general public will neatly coincide; if they do not, self-regulating organizations should be expected to pursue their own best interests. …. Further, selfregulation can result in a lack of transparency and accountability.”

The Weissburg conclusion hits the nail on the head.

BOTTOM LINE: ACCJC seeks to maximize its own organizational self-interest and “success”. ACCJC’s pursuit of organizational “success” works to the detriment of the public interest.


1. A general strike planned in India over issues familiar and important to all of us in contingent faculty movement.

Nan Scott
September 1 at 6:36am

PSI Asia Pacific Regional Organisation

Support and solidarity to all India workers, the National Convention of workers under the banner of joint platform of 11 Central Trade Union In India and all India federations of Central Government/State Government employees, Bank, Insurance, Defence, Railways and other service Establishments have called for an All India Strike on 2 September 2015.


1) Central Government should desists from its unilateral move to amend Labour Laws; should consult and honour the views of Trade Unions.

2) Withdraw the retrograde move allowing and hiking Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Defence, Railways and Insurance sectors.

3) Contractual/casual workers deployment should be stopped in permanent and perennial jobs; payment of wages and benefits to contract workers at the same rate as available to the regular workers of the Industry/establishment.

4) No disinvestment in the profit making Public sector undertakings.

5) Withdraw of new pension scheme.

6) Compulsory registration of Trade Union within a period of 45 days; immediate ratification of ILO core conventions C.87 & C.98

7) Containing the price rise.

8) Universal social security cover for all workers.

9) Containing employment through concrete measures for employment generation.

10) Fix minimum wages with provision of indexation.



1. The “coddled” kids are alright (the problem is repressive administrators, just like it has always been).

2. West Point law professor who advocated killing professors and journalists (and destroying Muslim holy sites) as part of the war on terror, resigns. Background.

3. San Francisco Art Institute Print-in for job security for adjuncts (SEIU). (Great pics.)

4. “The American Philosophical Association (APA) Committee on the Teaching of Philosophy invites abstracts for its upcoming session, “Our Obligations to Adjuncts,” planned for the 2016 Pacific Division Meeting of the APA, March 30-April 3, 2016, San Francisco, CA.”

5. Good cartoon on adjunct offices.

6. What religious freedom isn’t (with Duquesne as the prime example).

7. More on the MA CC union council board (MTA/NEA) election arbitration.

8. Call for essays to accompany new teaching edition of Alex Kudera’s novel, Fight for Your Long Day, to be published soon by our friends at Hardball Press (publisher of working class literature, including Helena Worthen’s What Did You Learn At Work Today: The Forbidden Lessons of Labor Education).

9. Sign on to a great petition against corporate education “reform” and then get your union to circulate it and your union leadership to endorse it officially, as some have already.

10. On why we “need” billionaires, school reform and more, from the Baffler.

11. HBCU’s are being starved by states.

12. Corporation takes over hiring sub teachers.

13. Rock Valley College faculty file to strike (not sure if this unit includes contingents).

14. Point Park U Pres listed as one of 100 most powerful in Pittsburgh (adjuncts organized there and he just laid off 32 faculty).

15. Some very interesting connections about a new commercial firm outsourcing the hiring of adjuncts and inked to Indiana state subsidy operation.

16. From Labor for Bernie: Labor, Bernie Sanders, and Direct Action: Larry Hanley and Morrigan Phillips on Laura Flanders | #GRITtv

17. Party of proud adjuncts to overwhelm IKEA and ferry in NYC (NYC launch the Adjunct Commuter Weekly mag and blog) their site and the article.

18. MN Interfaculty Org. settles new contract w/ MN Sate Coll and U system, with raises and larger ones for adjuncts.

19. CA judge certifies class action by drivers against UBER alleging misclassification as independent contractors rather than employees.

20. Austin (TX) CC Adjunct Faculty Association scores victory, some jobs with benefits.

21. Confessions of a poverty class academic.

22. A VT (St Michaels College) adjunct’s story, VERY good video by VT Workers Center

and a petition for their first contract.

23. Alabama Black Communists in the 1930s and some surprising lessons for today, and for us in the contingent faculty movement.

24. Labor for Bernie phone call. Might be a good opportunity to raise contingent faculty topic in front of a big sympathetic audience.

25. Letter to the editor from a Utah adjunct at Dixie State U.

25. How to be an adjunct: a part-timer realizes she is neither incompetent nor insane.

26. Adjunct petition against Florida Governor Rick Scott.

27. SF Bay Area Labor Notes Troublemakers School (highly recommended) Oct 17, 2015

28. SEIU Faculty Forward petition to Sec. of Labor supporting changes to FLSA to include more folks but also asking that we be included too.

29. More on College of St Rose (Albany, NY) first contract battle (SEIU).

30. Advice to new profs in IHE, but a lot of it is either irrelevant or wrong for us in the contingent majority, or could get us fired. Another example of us being the majority but still not normative in the eyes of the “big boys” or “smart guys”. Comments anyone?

31. Labor Day, a little history.

32. SEIU battles over Bernie.

NOTE: As noted previously, your COCAL UPDATES editor (Joe Berry) and his spouse/partner/colleague Helena Worthen, are teaching labor studies in Viet Nam for the fall 2015 Semester.  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.


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