In 2016, more than five thousand faculty members and coaches in the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties successfully struck in the union’s first ever such action in thirty-five years as an official bargaining agent. Two faculty members active in the union reflect on their experience in a wide-ranging interview about how years of careful, often painstaking organizing made such a success possible. The strike was the product of both ten years of increasingly acrimonious negotiations and considerable tactical work by a new generation of union members who learned a number of lessons from the process, including the necessary work of persuading faculty members that they, too, were workers.
“They’re Not Alone”: An Oral History of the Pennsylvania Faculty Strike of 2016
GORDON MANTLER is executive director of the University Writing Program and associate professor of writing and of history at George Washington University. His first book, Power to the Poor: Black-Brown Coalition and the Fight for Economic Justice, 1960–1974 (2013), was the inaugural volume in the Justice, Power, and Politics series at the University of North Carolina Press. His current research focuses on multiracial electoral politics and community organizing in Chicago in the 1970s and 1980s, as well as public history narratives and memorialization in Washington, DC.
RACHEL RIEDNER is associate dean of undergraduate studies, Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, and professor of writing and of women’s, gender, and sexuality studies at George Washington University. Her research brings analysis of global circulation of gendered and racialized rhetorics to an interest in transnational feminist activisms. With Kevin Mahoney, she is the author of Democracies to Come: Rhetorical Action, Neoliberalism, and Communities of Resistance (2008). She is also the author of Writing Neoliberal Values: Rhetorical Connectivities and Globalized Capitalism (2015), as well as multiple essays and book chapters. In the late 1990s, Rachel worked as a labor organizer for the United Auto Workers, organizing part-time faculty and graduate student workers.
Gordon Mantler, Rachel Riedner; “They’re Not Alone”: An Oral History of the Pennsylvania Faculty Strike of 2016. Labor 1 September 2020; 17 (3): 8–18. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/15476715-8349317
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