NATIONAL CONFERENCE ON CONTINGENT ACADEMIC LABOR
January 12-14, 2001
San Josť City College, San Jose California
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January 16, 2001, Tuesday
SECTION: EDUCATION, LABOR RELATIONS
HEADLINE: NATIONAL FACULTY CONFERENCE IDENTIFIES THREATS TO HIGHER EDUCATION
DATELINE: San Jose, California, January 16, 2001
Higher education faculty from 16 states and 4 Canadian provinces gathered for COCAL IV, a National Conference on Contingent Academic Labor, in San Jose, California, January 12-14, to seek solutions for one of the deepest problems facing college and university educators. Frustrated at the lack of institutional support and its impact on their ability to fulfill their professional obligations to their students, part-time, adjunct, and non-tenure track faculty joined with an increasing number of their full-time colleagues to claim appropriate working conditions and compensation.
The fourth annual conference on contingent academic labor, having moved from its birthplace in the Northeast to the West Coast this year, greatly expanded its base of support to include more than forty organizations, both faculty unions and professional associations. COCAL IV also initiated steps to link with students and classified employees on campuses, and with labor activities in the broad area of contingent employment.
The conference drew more than 150 activists, whose organizing experience averaged well over 10 years. During the three-day conference, new coalitions formed, old coalitions expanded, and successful strategies were shared, creating the foundation for a Canada-United States "equity week of action" projected for Fall 2001.
Arriving on Friday afternoon, attendees were excited to learn that California Governor Gray Davis had moved to support part-time faculty in California's community colleges. On Wednesday, acting on a budget proposal from the CCC's Board of Governors, Davis had announced inclusion of 62 million dollars in his 2001-02 state budget proposal, specifically earmarked to reduce the inequity of part-time faculty compensation.
Keynote speakers Scott Wildman (author of Assembly Bill 420, 1999) and Senator John Vasconcellos (Chair of the Senate Education Committee) were both honored at the conference for their unwavering support of California's community colleges. They, along with Elaine Alquist (Chair of the Assembly Committee on Higher Education), welcomed conference attendees to California and encouraged their work for higher education.
"It is becoming increasingly clear that the inequities under which non-tenure track faculty are employed are as damaging to our institutions and our students' education as they are to the lives of faculty members. Governor Davis's bold action signals a major shift in public policy priorities," said Chris Storer, the Executive Council Chair of the California Part-time Faculty Association (CPFA). CPFA hosted COCAL IV under the guidance of Mary Ellen Goodwin, CPFA Director of Administration and faculty member at the San Jose City College Campus where the conference took place.
Continuing a long tradition of California leadership in higher education, the Davis announcement started the conference on a positive note. The constructive tone led to a unanimous decision by the participants to redouble outreach efforts to their own academic communities, and more broadly, to the public at large and public policy decision-makers. "Use of marginalized professionals on temporary assignment to staff our colleges and universities is short-sighted. It exploits the idealism of faculty while hiding actual costs incurred from increased administrative workload. It also burdens regular full-time faculty who must shoulder an increasing amount of the professional activities demanded by quality academic institutions," said Lantz Simpson, CPFA Legislative Analyst, and President of the Santa Monica College Faculty Association.
An "equity week" steering committee was established to plan concurrent actions across North America in the fall to heighten awareness and increase pressure for change. The steering committee will develop a broad plan, seek support from sponsoring organizations, and report back to COCAL participants before April when equity week plans will be formally announced.
Ending the conference, Vicky Smallman of the Canadian Association of University Teachers announced the desire of her colleagues to host COCAL V in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. This suggestion was met with enthusiasm and unanimous support.
For more information go to www.cpfa.org/cocal or contact Mary Ellen Goodwin, Chair of the Conference Steering Committee (408-378-7888; email@example.com or Chris Storer, CPFA Executive Council Chair (650-949-2287; firstname.lastname@example.org.
The California Part-time Faculty Association is an organization of California community college faculty, representing the professional interests of thirty-one thousand community college faculty and their students. Its mission is "to create the opportunity for community college students to have equal access to quality education by promoting professional equity for all faculty. As professional educators, we understand that only with faculty who share equally in the responsibilities and rewards of the profession can such opportunity for academic success and education be afforded all students in the California Community College system."
Coalition of Contingent Academic Labor,
San Jose City College Academic Senate
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