My name is Jacob, and I’m a clinical associate professor in the Gallatin School. I also organize with Contract Faculty United – UAW. It’s been a busy few weeks as the term has started, as we’ve met our newest colleagues and introduced ourselves to our students by passing out thousands of leaflets.
So what does it mean when I say that I organize with CFU? On a day-to-day level, it means I talk to my colleagues. We talk about why we want a union, we make plans to go to rallies or to leaflet on campus, and sometimes we take collective action together, like last year, when we met with our dean to agree to an easier and fairer reappointment process.
This semester, it means my being a visible supporter of the union, and encouraging my colleagues to be visible supporters of the union. I wear my union button every day — to class, to faculty meetings, and in the hallways — and I always have a handful of extra buttons in my office in case anyone needs them. I ask my colleagues to put posters up on their doors. At Gallatin, every day we show the administration, our colleagues, and our students that just like a majority of contract faculty across campus, we support Contract Faculty United, and that it’s long past time for the administration to recognize our union.
These are easy conversations, because each one is low stakes. I’m not asking people to take big risks. All I’m doing — all we’re doing — is normalizing the union. Because here’s the fundamental truth: New York University is already a union campus. Our clerical and technical colleagues have been members of UCATS since 1979; graduate workers negotiated their first contract in 2001; our adjunct colleagues founded their union in 2002. And that’s not even mentioning building services, security, dining hall, and other campus workers who have had the protections of union contracts for decades. What I’ve found is that most of my colleagues are gung-ho and excited to be members of the labor movement, and they’re eager to learn what more they can do to help build our union.
I’ve been working to build our union for five years, and I can say this with certainty: we’ve never been closer to winning a union and starting to bargain the legally binding contract we need. We are making good progress in our discussions with the administration’s lawyers, and if we can come together to keep up the pressure, the administration will agree to a fair process for recognizing our union.
So what will you do to help build and win our union?
Make sure you’re wearing your CFU button, and make sure you have a poster on your office door. Our new posters aren’t just for contract faculty. Keep a stack in your office for colleagues and students who want to hang them around campus. Need buttons or posters?? Click here and an organizer will deliver what you need.
Talk to your colleagues. Have a newly hired contract faculty colleague? Introduce yourself and tell them why you’re building your union. Need help or feel nervous? Respond to this email and we’ll be in touch to give you the support you need.
Gallatin School of Individualized Study