[Marxism] Labor Studies at UMass under attack

robert montgomery ilyenkova at gmail.com
Fri Nov 25 11:59:20 MST 2005

 As the article from Sunday's Boston Globe makes clear the UMass-Labor
Center has been in the forefront of leading the fightback against
defunding, privatization and adjuncting. There's a strong left
political culture at UMass, and Labor Center students and faculty have
played a leading role in catalyzing campus unions and students. The
Center plays a key role in labor and working class struggles in
Western Mass, Boston and throughout New England. As faculty member
Stephanie Luce wrote recently in ATC the UMass Administration is
trying to kill off the Labor Center by "Death by a thousand cuts." The
key issue now, which isn't really dealt with in the Globe article, is
the University's renegging on a prior promise add an African American
faculty member. Emails to the limousine liberal Chancellor and Provost
can have an effect, as they'd like to do in the program under cover of

Send EMails to Chancellor and Provost, respectively:
 Lombardi at umass.edu
 cseymour at provost.umass.edu


Professors fight UMass over hiring
Cuts in labor studies payback for activism on campus, they say
By Diane E. Lewis, Globe Staff  |  November 24, 2005

Labor studies professors at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst
say they are being punished by school officials for practicing what
they teach.

The professors said UMass officials are retaliating against them for
years of on-campus labor activism, including criticizing the
administration for hiring temporary lecturers instead of full-time
professors. The labor studies department, they said, has lost three
full-time staff members over the past three years due to budget cuts.

Most recently, the professors said the Amherst administration
curtailed a search for a new tenure-track labor professor while
allowing other departments in the College of Social and Behavioral
Sciences to recruit new teachers.

''Because we have high visibility on campus, it is pretty clear that
the administration is punishing us for our activism," said Thomas
Juravich, director of the Labor Studies Center.

The Massachusetts Society of Professors has filed a grievance on
behalf of Juravich and two other labor professors. A university
official held one hearing on the grievance last Tuesday, and is
expected to hold another Monday. A decision could come within 10 days
after the last hearing.

The professors have also filed a complaint with the state Labor
Relations Commission over the administration's decision to end the
search for a labor professor.

Deputy Provost John Cunningham, who represented the administration at
the hearing, could not be reached for comment this week. Provost
Charlena Seymour declined to discuss the issue, and Edward F.
Blaguszewski, director of news and information, said the
administration would not comment on pending litigation.

The labor studies department is a degree-granting department that
teaches courses on US labor history and labor law and conducts
research on the union movement.

Budget cuts have been an ongoing problem throughout the UMass system
and the Amherst campus. State funding for Amherst dropped 14.6 percent
from fiscal year 2002 to fiscal year 2004. Some departments got
hammered in the process. In fiscal 2004, the Amherst campus eliminated
four operations, including an early childhood education lab and the
campus newspaper. Departments such as athletics, UMass Extension, and
international programs had as much as half of their funding cut.

The labor studies department, meanwhile, saw funding fall 16 percent
over a three year period, to $383,716 in fiscal year 2004. Since then,
funding has rebounded at the program and the university. But Juravich
said budget hikes for his department reflect salary increases to
UMass-Amherst professors that state government withheld for three
years but are now required to pay under the professors' union

Still, the professors believe they are being punished for
extracurricular activity, including pushing for workers' rights on
campus. In 2001, the professors organized a faculty meeting with the
provost to discuss the university's refusal to obey a Massachusetts
Labor Relations Commission order allowing students to unionize.

More recently, associate labor professor Eve Weinbaum in December
planned a protest of the university's hiring of additional temporary
adjunct lecturers rather than permanent professors. Her research
showed that the number of tenured and tenure-track professors had
dropped by 200, to 880, over the past decade due to budget cuts.

Weinbaum said the labor studies department raised $1.8 million from
foundations, private groups, and organizations because of the
university's financial problems. Professors also increased the number
of students in their tutelage, to as many as 100 in some classes. In
return, they said university officials promised three years ago not to
close the department.

''We were very successful in every respect, and there are waiting
lists for our undergraduate classes on work and women, globalization,
and workplace discrimination," said Weinbaum. ''But it is now clear
that no amount of hard work makes any difference.

Send EMails to addresses below-- Chancellor and Provost, respectively:
 Lombardi at umass.edu
 cseymour at provost.umass.edu

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