Left Strategies for the Academic Workers' Movement

Exploited, indebted and facing a precarious future amidst the accelerating privatization and commercialization of higher education, graduate student workers have been building one of the most vibrant and radical parts of the American labor movement today; for example, the TAA at Madison sparked the whole Wisconsin uprising by starting the Capitol occupation, and the reform caucuses at the grad unions in California and Massachusetts in recent years transformed them into radical, grassroots social movements. Furthermore, mass proletarianization of academics is beginning to break down the age-old separation on the Left between intellectuals and workers; today, we who engage in intellectual production and dissemination are ourselves exploited workers.

How do our intellectual commitment and activist commitment reinforce or contradict each other? What are the successes and challenges that the grad student unions have experienced in creating a democratic, militant and empowering movement? What are the prospects of broader unity among workers occupying different positions in the academy, including grad students, adjunct professors, postdocs, and tenured faculty, to build strategies to resist privatization, precarity and professionalization, and to struggle for socially useful academic production? We seek to explore how the burgeoning academic labor movement can contribute to the revitalization and radicalization of trade unionism, in the era of continuing capitalist crisis.

Anais Surkin (moderator, GEO-UAW, UMass) 0:00-1:12
Shannon Ikebe (speaker, UAW2865, UC) 1:13-11:55
Anna Waltman (speaker, GEO-UAW, UMass) 12:00-24:06
Conor Tomas Reed (speaker, PSC-CUNY) 24:27-37:49
Michael Billeaux (speaker, TAA-Wisconsin) 37:59-56:38
Nantina Vgontzas (GSOC-UAW, NYU) 56:42-1:09:12

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