by Jewel Caruso
Timothy R. Cain, associate professor at the McBee Institute, provides context and insight in a Time article covering the ongoing strikes at the University of California, "How the. University of California Strikes Could Reshape Higher Education" by Katie Reilly.
Cain touches on the significant difference in job security and lower pay between full-time faculty members and other university instructors and researchers, "There's such stratification between the tenured full professor and a graduate student employee or a postdoc or a tutor." He continues, "They're doing a great deal of the work, and the work that they're doing in the classroom is often very similar to the work of others who are getting paid substantially more."
Cain was also interviewed by NPR on this issue, saying "One of the effects that unions have are what we think of as spillover effects. Other organizations can look to what's coming out of a unionization effort at another campus and change their own conditions." Podcast host Stephanie Hughes add that this would help them compete for workers.
The strike at UC began on November 14 and is heading into the third week. Represented by the United Auto Workers, many teaching assistants, graduate student researchers, and postdoctoral scholars are claiming unfair labor practices and have walked out. The strikers accuse the university of "implementing changes related to compensation during bargaining and failing to provide information related to bargaining topics." The university has rejected these claims and maintains that meeting the demands of the union would have significant adverse financial implications for the university.
Experts say that this strike has potential to "shape a new model for higher education across the country."
Cain, who studies campus activism, academic freedom, and unionization, is a recognized expert in the area of unions in higher education. Since the summer, he has been interviewed for stories in The Chronicle of Higher Education.