Reflections on organizing adjunct and precarious workers in the neoliberal university

Call for participation in an open discussion, Tuesday 21st April, 2:40–4:20pm, Regency C, Hyatt, West Tower, Gold Level, as part of the Subconference of the Association of American Geography Annual Meeting in Chicago, IL.

The ongoing neoliberalization of the university and other third-level workplaces manifests in the de-valuing of academic labour and in a lack of security for the future of academic workers. Existing political organizations while sympathetic to this problem are often unable or unwilling to engage with these changing labour practices and the forms of exploitation they produce.

Third Level Workplace Watch is a collective of precarious teachers and researchers working in the Irish third-level sector trying to organize for better pay and working conditions. While many people have shared their stories with us and support what we stand for, it has proven difficult to move from identifying the key problems to challenging them in a way that would actually improve people’s everyday pay and working conditions; the fact that many of us work between different third-level institutions or in a part-time capacity makes it difficult to build up relationships or knowledge of particular departments.

The motivation for this session is to stimulate discussion around these difficulties and to identify different tactics and strategies for organising. With this in mind we will focus the discussion around the following two questions:

  • what makes organizing adjuncts/precarious academic workers different to other forms of organizing?
  • what have been some of the successful strategies for organizing adjunct/precarious academic workers and what can we learn from them?

We welcome all temporary, occasional and adjunct lecturers, researchers and tutors.

This discussion is hosted by the 2015 Subconference of the AAG and is being organised alongside Thursday’s main conference panel discussion Academic Worker Inquiry: Notes from the Field, which takes place 8:00–9:40am in Crystal B, Hyatt, West Tower, Green Level.

Enquiries can be directed to Paddy Bresnihan or Jim White.

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