[Marxism] There's something you don't see every day...

Mark Lause markalause at gmail.com
Thu Sep 10 14:57:52 MDT 2009

----- Original Message -----
From: "Seth Wigderson" <wigderso at CC.UMANITOBA.CA>
Sent: Thursday, September 10, 2009 4:40 PM
Subject: Faculty win in Michigan

From: Michael Honey <mhoney at u.washington.edu>

I went to Oakland University as an undergraduate from 1965-69. At the
time, there were only 2,500 students, and it was intended to be a
humanities-liberal arts education of broad scope. Later, it grew to
over 15,000 students, mostly commuters, and lost much of its
distinctive character: close relationships between students and
faculty, not a lot of so-called objective tests, and a bit of a hip
arts and politico scene. We started a chapter of Students for a
Democratic Society and created an activist campus newspaper, but the
next generation of students let them drop.

At that time, it seemed to me as a student that most faculty members
were unorganized and didn't have a grasp of the schism in our lives
represented by the corporate auto behemoths in the suburbs of Detroit,
and what we thought we were doing. But we did have some superb,
politicized professors.

I went back to give a lecture there several years ago. The beautiful
woods around the campus had succumbed to fast food malls. It was more
a commuter campus than ever. It seemed not very politicized. The
alumni magazine features tv personalities, stock brokers and real
estate moguls, and others who donated to OU. Just what I hope our
small campus of the UW in Tacoma never becomes.

But OU still has superb faculty and politically aware students. And
labor historian Dan Clark (one faculty there I happen to know) and his
colleagues have shown that faculty do have spine; that they can get
organized; that they will play hardball when administrators start down
a retrograde path.

And they won! In the midst of (official) 15% plus unemployment and a
state budget implosion, they actually improved their situation (see
below, if you haven't yet read it; the AAUP chapter at the bottom
gives you the best detail).

Look what a faculty union can do -- That's solidarity!

Michael Honey, Fred and Dorothy Haley Professor of Humanities
1900 Commerce St. Tacoma, WA  98402
253-692-4454 phone
692-5718 fax
University of Washington, Tacoma

Labor and Working-Class History Association

September 10, 2009 Michigan Profs Back in Class After Tentative Deal

Filed at 2:12 p.m. ET

ROCHESTER, Mich. (AP) -- Students reported for class Thursday at a
suburban Detroit university hours after professors reached a tentative
agreement that ended a weeklong strike.

The three-year deal at Oakland University included more money for
professors in the second year of the proposed contract, expanded
health care choices, and it allowed faculty to have more of a say on
issues regarding the school's future, according to the union.

''This agreement proves beyond a doubt that we faculty were never
concerned with economics,'' said Karen Miller, vice president of the
union's chapter that represents 450 faculty members at the public
four-year institution.

Professors on the 18,000-student campus went on strike Sept. 3, the
day classes were to begin, after the university proposed a three-year
wage freeze along with cuts in health-insurance benefits.

''We are extremely pleased to have found common ground on the issues
that had been standing in the way of an agreement,'' Virinder Moudgil,
the university's senior vice president and provost, said in a
statement. The school said it would not comment on the details until
the contract was ratified. The union said it likely would ratify the
contract at the end of the month.

Students said it was good to return to the largely commuter school in
Rochester, about 20 miles north of Detroit.

Gary Duma, 25, of Novi, a doctoral student in mathematics, waited
outside a classroom building eating a Pop-Tart. He said he knew the
strike wouldn't last long.

''I slept in, enjoyed myself and spent time with my woman,'' Duma said.

Some grew weary of the strike.

''At first it was all right, because I got a break. But after a while,
it got ridiculous,'' freshman Adam Suddon, 18, of New Haven said while
waiting outside for his 9 a.m. algebra class to begin. Suddon, a
biomedical engineering major, said he spent much of the last week
watching television, meeting people and playing video games.

Faculty members also were excited to return to class.

Ed Hoeppner, a 58-year-old English professor who has taught at Oakland
since 1988, said he will talk about the strike with his students, as a
teaching tool.

''It's great to be back,'' Hoeppner said. ''The money was never the issue.''


Associated Press Writer David Aguilar in Detroit contributed to this report.

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