Lowell McAdam visited Boston this morning to speak at the JP Morgan Technology, Media, and Telecom Conference, where hundreds of Verizon strikers were waiting in front of the Westin Copley Plaza to greet him. At the conference, McAdam addressed the negative impact the strike is having on Verizon's bottom line. Read more here.
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88 Members of the US House of Representatives have just issued a statement urging Verizon to bargain fairly with its workers, stating, “We firmly believe it is in the public interest to protect middle class jobs, reduce outsourcing and offshoring, and ensure high quality telecommunications services to the public.”
In this open letter, Jobs with Justice National Executive Director Sarita Gupta explains why customers shouldn't cross the picket line. It's a great resource for your friends who might not be familiar with unions or strikes!
“This is not just about money – at this point it is about respect.”
Adjunct professor Nancy Johnson
University of Massachusetts Lowell, World Languages Department
These were words that seemed to ring true with every one of the adjunct professors, and their allies, with whom I spoke to during their demonstration outside of the UMass Club in downtown Boston. The UMass Lowell Union of Adjunct Faculty (UAF/UAW), the union that represents the university’s adjunct professors, is not asking for anything outside the realm of what they deserve. UML adjuncts get paid at a much lower rate than their colleagues in other institutions that are part of the UMass system, such as UMass Boston and UMass Amherst. In addition, they are also denied benefits, access to facilities necessary for them to meet the demands of their occupation and a representative voice in department meetings.
The images that come to one’s mind when thinking about the agents of academia is one of tenured professors in tweed jackets pondering the metaphysical. However, the people I spoke to Wednesday afternoon making their demands heard on the sidewalks of Boylston street were anything but. While speaking to professor Johnson, I got to see a person whose reality is one in which she has to work two part time jobs outside her teaching to be able to barely cover her costs. She shares an office with about 20 other adjuncts at any given time and does not even have the ability to leave graded papers in her office, and needs to carry all of her materials home after every session.
Adjuncts at UML have been in a grueling negotiation for 11 months with their university’s administration. Speaking to someone in the bargaining team clearly showed what kind of haughty and downright disrespectful position UML has taken on this issue. Rob Talbot, adjunct professor in the English department, explained to me with a well deserved air of disgust how when the simple question of why these professors are getting paid up to 30% less than their counterparts at the Boston and Amherst campuses for doing the same job was raised to UML administration, their response was as simple as it was dismissive: “We simply have a different model”. This is not a call for anything but parity. Why should these adjunct professors not get paid the same for doing the same job?
The feeling of solidarity was strong not only in the streets of downtown Boston, but throughout the UMass system. As professor Talbot explained to me, people from other campuses, as well students from Lowell and many other institutions have showed their support. An inter-campus meeting was held last Monday attended by faculty and staff from Lowell, Boston, Amherst as well as from community colleges throughout the state. The under appreciation of faculty, administrative bloat and rising cost of tuition is not something unique to UMass Lowell. As a UMass Boston student, I see similar practices destroying the system that our communities have put in place.
Michael J. Brown, Ph.D., an adjunct professor in the chemistry department at UMass Lowell, put it best. He deemed UMass Lowell “A Harvard for the proletariat”, fully understanding that state institutions such as these are the ones that serve the people who need them most. How is one to assume that this service is in fact happening when the people in charge of educating our future community leaders are not being met with respect and living wages? This is a question that should not only be answered by the administration of UMass Lowell but by staff, students, and our whole community at large.
Want to show your support? Sign and share the online petition here!
In response to today's Boston Globe article, the Jobs with Justice team has issued the following statement:
Massachusetts Jobs With Justice proudly stood in solidarity with the thousands of students in Boston who self-organized to walk out of schools across the city on Monday, March 7th. The Boston Globe’s implication that the walkouts were instigated by Jobs With Justice or any other outside groups discredits the leadership and autonomy of the young people and their organizations who were fittingly described on Monday as "the Fannie Lou Hamers and Martin Luther Kings of their time."
Jobs with Justice is proud to have a diverse funding base. Our budget is comprised of funds from hardworking union members, a variety of grants, and grassroots fundraising -- namely, activists and JWJ supporters who donate monthly as part of our sustainer campaign, and without which we could not do this work.
These contributions are what sustain our organization in the fight for economic justice. They afforded us the ability to organize with our statewide base of volunteers and members to help fight for -- and win -- a raise in the minimum wage and earned sick time for Massachusetts workers. Without these contributions, we would not have been able to mobilize activists every year on Black Friday to ensure that Walmart workers throughout Massachusetts could see their community standing beside them in their fight for respect on the job -- efforts that helped get a raise for over 11,000 Massachusetts Walmart workers this week although we have work ahead of us to ensure all workers make at least $15 hour.
It is with these resources that we also proudly carry out our statewide campaign to protect public education. We strongly believe that education justice is economic justice. Our state can afford to provide a quality public education for all students, and schools must be adequately and equally funded to ensure that students and educators thrive. There is no excuse for denying students the essential services they deserve or denying working parents their right to send their child to a school that meets their needs. There is no excuse for denying educators the resources they need to be able to cultivate an environment that meets the needs of all students. This is why we stood in solidarity with the students who walked out.
We will continue to work alongside teachers, parents, and students to protect our public schools. We believe strongly in transparency and hope that the same level of scrutiny regarding funding and organizational relationships is applied to charter school advocates. If you would like to donate to help continue our work click here.