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Working People

Mar 24, 2023

At colleges and universities across the country, a heated battle is playing out right now over workers' right to organize and have a say over how the institutions they keep afloat with their labor are run. From graduate student-worker unionization efforts and strikes at Temple University, the University of California, Columbia University, Johns Hopkins, Northwestern University, Northeastern University, the University of Chicago, and Indiana University, to faculty strikes (and near-strikes) at the University of Illinois at Chicago, The New School, Howard University, etc., to workers across the higher ed sector striking in the UK, the academic labor movement is one of the most explosive sites of labor struggle right now. Meanwhile, the administrative class is working overtime to not only slow down this movement, but to squash it altogether. As we speak, full-time and adjunct faculty at Rutgers University are prepared to strike for the first time in school history after months and months of bad-faith bargaining and union-busting from the university administration; at the same time, the Duke University administration has not only refused to acknowledge its graduate student-workers' right to unionize, but it has vowed to go to the National Labor Relations Board in the hopes of stripping that right from graduates at all private universities. 

In this panel episode, we talk with worker-organizers from Duke and Rutgers about the struggles taking place at their institutions and across higher ed. Panelists include: Matt Thomas, a PhD student in the English Department at Duke University and co-chair of the Duke Graduate Student Union; Kristina Mensik, a PhD student in the Political Science Department at Duke University and a member of the Duke Graduate Student Union; Bryan Sacks, an adjunct professor of Religion and Philosophy at Rutgers and vice president of the Rutgers Adjunct Faculty Union (PTLFC-AAUP-AFT); Todd Wolfson, associate professor of Journalism and Media Studies at Rutgers and general vice president of Rutgers AAUP-AFT

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Featured Music (all songs sourced from the Free Music Archive:

  • Jules Taylor, "Working People Theme Song