Will Teach for Food: Academic Labor in Crisis

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University of Minnesota Press, 1997 - Business & Economics - 308 pages
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Academic labor has never been more vulnerable to exploitation, or more galvanized into action. Threats to tenure, job shortages for new Ph.D.s, and an increasing reliance on poorly paid graduate students and adjunct faculty for teaching are the harsh reality on campuses across the nation. Will Teach for Food provides a clarion call to academic workers, summoning them to take action against the continued decline in working conditions on American campuses.

When graduate students at Yale University held a "grade strike" during the 1995-96 academic year, they were protesting policies such as downsizing, subcontracting, and outsourcing -- strategies currently wreaking havoc on the larger U.S. workforce. The debates at Yale mirror those on many campuses: whether graduate student teaching assistants are students or employees of the university; whether faculty are management or staff; what constitutes a reasonable teaching load and fair compensation.

In Part I of Will Teach for Food, participants describe the Yale student strike and examine what workers on other campuses can learn from this action. In Part II, activists and scholars place the challenge to academic workers in the context of U.S. labor history and assess the impact of university "corporatization" on the communities that surround them and on higher education as a whole.

A compelling examination of the human cost of today's corporate colleges and universities.

"When an elite institution dedicated to scholarship and education uses strong-arm tactics to suppress its own graduate students, when it starts asking its employees to susbist on poverty-level or sub-poverty-level wages -- this is more than a little disillusioning.It's like finding out that an elegant old gentleman you've always admired at a distance has a secret life as a mugger and a thug. It's painful to watch. But of course it's happening everywhere". Barbara Ehrenreich, from the Foreword

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