Friday, June 11, 2004
KC Johnson at CUNY has similar thoughts.
Events of the last few days offered a couple of different approaches for professors eager to maximize their political influence. At CUNY, our faculty union, the Professional Staff Congress, has attempted to transform itself into what one PSC leader, 2002 Green Party gubernatorial nominee Stanley Aronowitz, terms �the first academic union to be led by activist intellectuals,� through initiatives such as donating to the defense fund of Lori Berenson, imprisoned in Peru for aiding the Shining Path.And amazingly they can do all this using only 12% of union dues, so they can continue to charge the other 88% to faculty who do not wish to be part of the union.
Led by President Barbara Bowen and Vice President Steve London, two longtime associate professors short on scholarship but long on activism (Bowen, whose first job after graduate school was as a union organizer at western Massachusetts orchards, used to be fond of urging CUNY professors to think of themselves as apple pickers so as to increase their solidarity with adjuncts), the PSC has aggressively spoken out on a variety of political issues. Its May Delegate Assembly meeting passed a resolution of support for Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan president best known for his authoritarian tendencies and anti-American diatribes. This month, the union expressed concern about the American Federation of Teachers� unconditional endorsement of John Kerry, noting that Kerry has refused to �reject educational policies that involve �merit pay.�� (It�s not for nothing that the 1999 Schmidt Report worried about a �culture of mediocrity� at CUNY.)