Dorothee Schneider, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Long-Term Cycles in Academic Labor Organizing: From World War One to the Great Teachers Strikes. Dorothee Schneider University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign In the past year, the strengthening labor movement among educators gained much attention among the larger public. The nearly continuous labor struggles in higher education over the past twenty years have been overshadowed by the massive teacher strikes of the past year. This paper will demonstrate how unionization in higher education, while originally closely aligned with the formation of public school teachers unions, has moved on a cycle somewhat different from the rest of the labor movement, including k-12 education, through much of the past century. After an initial burst of activity in the post World War I era, higher education unionized in greater numbers in the early 1970s and again from the mid 1990s on. Periods of greatest union activity in higher education ran somewhat counter-cyclical to organizing in other parts of the labor movement in the United States. My paper will examine the structural factors that led to labor organizing in higher education on such a different “schedule”. The recent coincidence of union activity in higher education with increasing unionization in other parts of the labor market points to a convergence of structural factors that affect the conditions of labor in most parts of post-industrial America. As the corporate university is becoming a model for higher education in general, university and college teachers, confronted with the corporatization of their work environment, are linking up with broader segments of the labor market to the benefit of organized labor.
No extended abstract or paper available
Presented in Session 251. Educational Work and Workers