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1 THE UNION MAKES US STRONG: A CASE STUDY IN THE GRADUATE LABOR MOVEMENT By DEEBPAUL KITCHEN, II A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2011
2 2011 DeebPaul Kitchen, II
3 To Shannon and Sariya
4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS T here have been countless people who have helped and supported me throughout this project, especially, the members of UF GAU and the broader movements it is a part of. They will forever have my gratitude and solidarity. My committee gave me freedom and endless encouragem ent and advice, but I couldnt have worked with any of them if I didnt know each to be good people from the outset. In particular Connie Shehan has been more of an academic mother than she realizes, and Kendal BroadWright answered so many small questions. Hernan Vera is not technically a part of my committee, but he is a mentor, and I am forever in debt to him. Throughout my time in graduate school I have learned more from my brilliant colleague Maura Ryan about sociology and life than I could articulat e. She is a great teacher and a better friend. My cousin (more of a brother) Willy who somehow ended up in this boat with me, is one of the people who make it possible to bear reality as well as school. Ruth and Grace just might be angels. My wife and sp o n sor, has had to endure having all of the movies she enjoys ruined for the last seven years. She is the best for so many reasons Sariya, my research and teaching assistant, sounding board, and the best reason to procrastinate ever, I hope witnessing this entire process has taught h er to make better decisions. It i s all about geriatric medicine. Lastly I have to thank Nadine, Donna, Hollie and Melisa who kept me from going mad trying to figure out what I was supposed to be doing 90% of the time. All of th ese people ROCK!
5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS .................................................................................................. 4 ABSTRACT ..................................................................................................................... 8 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION ...................................................................................................... 9 Specific A ims ............................................................................................................ 9 Background and Significance ................................................................................. 13 Unionization in the United States ............................................................................ 16 Unionization of Faculty in Higher Education ..................................................... 19 The Yeshiva Case ............................................................................................ 22 Recent Developments on Campus ................................................................... 24 Contributions of Research ...................................................................................... 29 2 THE HISTORY, LEGAL CONTEXT, AND RAMIFICATIONS OF GRADUATE UNIONIZATION ...................................................................................................... 32 Origins and Prevalence of Graduate Unionization .................................................. 32 The Legal Context of Graduate Unionization .......................................................... 36 Graduate Unionization in Contemporary Universities ............................................. 40 Impact on Organizational Work Relationships .................................................. 41 Economic Impact .............................................................................................. 44 Functions and Possibilities ............................................................................... 45 Organizing Graduate Workers: Obstacles and Strategies ................................ 48 Discussion of Literature in Relation to this Project .................................................. 52 3 THEORETICAL SENSITIVITY ................................................................................ 55 Theories of Practice and Social Movements Framing ............................................. 55 Relational Roots of Power ...................................................................................... 55 Social Movement Framing ...................................................................................... 58 Collective Action Frames .................................................................................. 59 Framing Tasks .................................................................................................. 60 Varying Aspects of Collective Action Frames ................................................... 66 Framing Processes ................................................................................................. 71 Discursive Processes ....................................................................................... 72 Strategic Processes ......................................................................................... 73 Contested Processes ....................................................................................... 74 Frame Dissem ination ....................................................................................... 76 Context of Framing Processes ................................................................................ 77
6 4 RESEARCH METHODS ......................................................................................... 81 Graduate Assistants United at the University of Florida .......................................... 8 1 Study Design .......................................................................................................... 84 Starting From the Standpoint of Union Organizers ........................................... 84 An Insiders Perspective ................................................................................... 86 Research Methods .................................................................................................. 88 Participant Observations .................................................................................. 88 Interviews ......................................................................................................... 89 Active Interviewing ........................................................................................... 95 Texts ................................................................................................................ 97 Analysis .................................................................................................................. 99 Benefits, Risks, and Usage ................................................................................... 102 5 THE DISCOURSE ON ORGANIZING .................................................................. 104 Unionizing Equals Organizing ............................................................................... 105 Organizing as the Means and End ........................................................................ 106 The Orga nizing Model ........................................................................................... 107 Organizing as Communication and Collaboration ................................................. 113 Structure as Personal Presence ........................................................................... 119 Discussion ............................................................................................................ 125 The Discourse on Organizing in this Project ......................................................... 127 6 FRAMING CONTESTS AND COUNTERFRAMING ............................................. 130 Scarcity: A Master Frame (or close to it) ............................................................... 133 Employees or Students: Interorganizational Framing Contests ............................ 145 Fee Fighting .......................................................................................................... 150 Discussion ............................................................................................................ 164 7 STORYTELLING AND ORGANIZING .................................................................. 167 Na rrative and Framing .......................................................................................... 168 Paychecks, Computers, and Hurricanes ............................................................... 172 Orientation: Managing Conflicting Frames ............................................................ 177 Making the Comic Book ........................................................................................ 183 Discussion ............................................................................................................ 186 Reflections on Storytelling in this Project .............................................................. 191 8 ON GRADUATE UNIONS AND CORPORATIZATION ......................................... 195 Contributions to Corporatization ........................................................................... 198 Discussion ............................................................................................................ 208
7 9 CONCLUSIONS AND REFLECTIONS ................................................................. 214 Contributions and Future Research ...................................................................... 216 Why Unionize? ...................................................................................................... 223 Why Oppose Unionization? .................................................................................. 227 My Next Step ........................................................................................................ 230 Key Conclusions ................................................................................................... 232 LIST OF REFERENCES ............................................................................................. 236 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH .......................................................................................... 250
8 Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy T HE UNION M AKES U S S TRONG : A C ASE S TUDY IN THE G RADUATE LABOR MOVEMENT By DeebPaul Kitchen, II May 2011 Chair: Con stance Shehan Major: Sociology This research explores the work associated with collective action framing in the increasingly prevalent graduate labor movement. Specifically I examine the discursive aspects of mobilization efforts within the structures of academia and organized labor. This is achieved through the utilization of ethnographic participant observations within a local union chapter. I also rely heavily on interview data. I conduct both group and individual, in depth interviews with labor activists associated with Graduate Assistants United at the University of Florida. In terms of my organizational focus, I am interested in the actualities and organization of work graduate union organizers perform. In terms social movements, I am investigating the use of narrative in organizing and framing efforts. This research offers insight into the dynamic relationship between framing processes and the intended audience and documents the tools used by social movement organization activists. Furthermore, I am utilizing this case as a window into the changing dynamics of academia and organized labor in the twenty first century.
9 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Specific Aims The purpose of this doctoral research is to examine the work graduate l abor union organizers do at one major research university: The University of Florida. Of interest is how these organizers do, manage, and understand union work within the context of their specific university and academia more generally. I examine this phenomenon from the perspective of the graduate labor organizers. Dorothy Smiths (Smith D. E., 1990; 2005) ideas pertaining to work and social relations serve as the conceptual starting points for this inquiry. In this sense, work refers to anything people do that takes time, effort, and intent. Specific attention is paid to the everyday work performed by activist s in the graduate labor movement as well as the con text it is performed within, the tools used a nd the way activists underst and their work in relat ion to the structures of higher education and organized labor. Concerns with the ways in which texts and communicative technology become relevant in the course of doing union work are prominent in this project given the influence of documentary forms of or ganization on the events at the local level (Smith D. E., 1990; 2005) One example relevant to this research is how a contract crafted in one setting influences peoples work in other settings across time. Work such as that required to negotiate a contrac t or promote the organization is largely discursive in nature and often is done for purposes of framing issues and situations, so that graduate workers, allies, adversaries, and bystanders will see and interpret experiences and issues pertaining to their w ork life in ways that benefit the unions aims. Or as Dorothy Smith (1990) puts it, it is intended to achieve the
10 "mobilization of people's concerted activities" (p. 80) Work on relations of ruling and the functions of texts in organizational settings offer a useful framework for understanding this. Furthermore, methodologically her ideas offer a way for me to integrate myself, my research and the context of graduate educ ation into both the analysis and the data. Given that I am scholar researching how the institutional context of the academy organizes work, combined with the fact that I am drawing on my personal experiences as a participant in UF GAU, I have to draw upon my experiences as a researcher, an employee, as well an activist. Dorothy Smiths work pushes me to account for how these mediate the work this research requires and how the actualities of graduate studies become relevant in the work processes of the union that represents me. Understanding the work of graduate labor organizers is important given the increasing number of graduate assistant ( GA ) unions on university campuses and the continuing reliance on graduate assistants to bear the burden of work that for the most part used to be done by faculty ( Bousquet, 2008; Ehrenberg R. G., K laff, Kezsbom, & Nagowski, 2002) Sociologically this work examines the way movement activists see their work in relation to their intended audience. It also explores rel ationships between movement organizations, other groups, and the cultural and institutional context. Framing provides both a theoretical and empirical link between micro level action of graduate labor activists and the broader macro level conditions in whi ch these actors are situated. In order to study the work of graduate labor activists I conducted a case study of the University of Floridas chapter of Graduate Assistants United (UF GAU). Drawing on organizational texts in depth qualitative interviews w ith fourteen graduate labor
11 activists, more than 16 0 hours of participant observation, and five years of prior personal experience as an active member and elected officer within the chapter under examination. In order to document and examine my own experiences as a union activist and as a researcher examining unionists I draw upon autoethnographic strategies (Ellis, 2000; 2004) Further inquiry and analyses are g uided by grounded theory methodology (Charmaz C., 2006; Charmaz & Mitchell, 2001) and concentrate on processes involved in the operation of this union, specifically framing processes. By illuminating activists rich descriptions and interpretations of their own experiences and social relations this research offers both theoretical and empirical insights into the present state of and future possibilities for the graduate labor movement and the broader university enterprise As this research shows, graduate labor activists engage in work that is largely discursive in nature. In Chapter 5, I show how t hey develop and use a discourse on organizing that favors participatory processes over efficiency and functions to carve out a niche or a specialty for graduate unions within academic politics as well as organized labor Their specialization in organizing distinguishes GAU and renders them as valuable allies for various interest groups on campus and in the local community All of which allows UF GAU to exert influence over issues beyond their right/obligation to negotiate and enforce a contract. This reflects broader trends in academia and organizations towards specialization and interdependence (Meyer, 2002). In Chapters 6 and 7 I examine how that discourse is put to use while doing union work To say it differently, the union discourse on organizing is itself an organizing tool. I examine it through the lens of framing contests that UF GAU activists have engaged
12 in primarily with the university administrationthe documenting of institutional history and attempts to promote the union and mobilize sympathizers Each of these requires creating and maintaining various relationships and communication networks in order to create the necessary conditions for graduate labor activists to use the discourse to advance their agenda. Some of these processes, such as storytelling examined in Chapter 7, highlight the distinctive dynamics of labor organizing in this context: the diversity of the workforce, competing and contradictory cultural factor s, high turnover, and that graduate unions can be seen as simultaneously existing in all three of the stages Ewick and Silbey (1995) identify for social movements ( fledgling movements, movements responding to setbacks and i nstitutionalized movements ) Add itionally, unionists use stories to set themselves up as experts because they see it as helping their more logical, reasoned arguments resonate with their intended audiences. In Chapter 8, I look into the ways GA union activists see their efforts in relati on to the corporate university. Several scholars (Bousquet 2008; Lafer 2003; Rhoads & Rhoades 2005) have pointed towards graduate unions as the best hope to turn back trends towards the corporatization of higher education. This research challenges those notions by showing how graduate labor activists see themselves as reluctant, vested contributors in the corporatizing process. This is not to say that they see their work as pointless, but they do not see the same potential in their movement that other schol ars do. In Chapter 9, I conclude with thoughts and reflections on this research and attempt to tie together seemingly puzzling union and administrative practices. Why do GA organizers invest so much in unionizing if it contributes to the source of the problem
13 (corporatization)? Likewise, why do university adm i ni st rat ions almost universally oppose unionization in light of research showing its economic and academic utility? The common thread is broader university democracy. Both sides seem to see the GA unions as mobilizing beyond merely labor issues. Background and Significance Labor activists organizing graduate employees in university settings face distinct challenges due to the composition of the workforce they deal with, the diverse types of work laborer s actually do, and conditions under which it is done. Major research universities are populated with people from all over the world bringing with them various views, interests, and expectations. In order to fund their studies, graduate students in these institutions frequently work for the university (Zinni, Singh, & MacLennan, 2005) The work that is performed varies across, and often within, academic disciplines. Some students assist professors with teaching while others are the teachers. Other graduate employees perform research, some work in libraries, others in laboratories, and still others do field work. Additionally, a number of graduate assistants perform clerical work or provide academic advice. Moreover, graduate employment differs in terms o f the levels of freedom and accountability afforded to workers. Some instructors are required to follow a preset syllabus and grading criteria while others design every aspect of their classes. Graduate Assistants ( GAs ) working in labs often work under t he surveillance of their lead researchers; others merely fill out reports pertaining to the work they have done over a given period of time. Beyond all of this, graduate assistants at universities carry a dual status within the institution (Isler, 2007; Zi nni, Singh, & MacLennan, 2005) They are simultaneously
14 students and employees. The sticking point in debates over the appropriateness of graduate unionization is often which status should be acknowledged, employee or student (Lafer, 2003; Zinni, Singh, & MacLennan, 2005) For those graduate assistants, employed as researchers, the distinction between their school work as a student and their employment is not always clear. The research that they work on for their degrees is often connected to the researc h being conducted by the professor that they are assisting for pay. Because the union deals exclusively with employee issues and therefore not student issues questions and conflicts arise as to the appropriateness of union involvement in rectifying problems. Further concerns, according to Zinni et al. (2005) for labor activists are rooted in the fact that the employers and employees themselves typically understand graduate employees to be temporary workers. In other words, they do not have permanent employment relationships with the universities at which they study Thus, their membership is limited to the years they are in graduate school. From an organizi ng standpoint, this means that the union loses officers and activists regularly, and with incoming students every year there are many new people to educate about the union. What is more, it is difficult to maintain any momentum garnered through organizing campaigns from year to year, and solidarity among workers is strained due to limited resources for which academic units must vie. This why graduate labor unions existence is a bit puzzling to economists and scholars of collective bargaining who observe unions typically forming when workers have long term attachment to their employers (Ehrenberg R. G., Klaff, Kezsbom, & Nagowski, 2004)
15 This combination of factors creates a unique set of often contradictory concerns activist s and employees operating in this context must negotiate (Isler, 2007) In order to make unionization appealing to all graduate workers they must demonstrate how the goals and methods of organized labor pertain to a vast range of concerns and groups yet the individuals doing the demonstrating are basically a homogenous group comprised of students from the humanities and social sciences (Rhoads & Rhoades, 2005) The unique structure of graduate labor and the logical pressures of graduate education lead to dilemmas for organizers and activists. Because graduate workers top priority is typically their scholarship as opposed to their employment, they progressively have less time to contribute to union activity throughout the course of their academic careers as a result of time demands made by dissertations, exams, and job searches. This creates unique dynamics internal to graduate employee unions. The employees most able to assume leadership are people who have been at the university as graduate students the least amount of time. C onsequently, the institutional memory of graduate activists is limited. Furthermore, because of attrition throughout the course of graduate education, the most promising pool of recruits for membership is the new GAs. This means that activists are approaching people without an employment history at the university, people without issues to organize around. Logically, they have not had incidents that would lead them to embracing unionization. These particulars faced by graduate unionists are things that are often addressed through training sessions and educational literature produced by locals parent organizations. However, because the nature of graduate employment is unique even
16 within the higher education labor movement, the effort to aid organizers and activists on the part of the parent union frequently miss the mark because they are tailored to other workers. For the purposes of this research I am interested the work graduate union activists do. I enter this project interested in how these unionists do and organize their work in relation to organizational behavior. My analysis stems from the perspective of the union activists. The conceptualization of work that I bring with me is rooted in the ideas of Dorothy Smith (1990; 2005). In this sense, work refers to anything people do that takes time, effort, and intent. Based on examination of my experience within UF GAU and preliminary observations, I pay close attention to framing processes, and the discursive work they entail. Specifically, I will attempt to outline characteristic features of frames utilized by UF GAU activists when discussing unionization, identify prominent framing processes and the tools utilized in these processes and, and spell out various cultural contextual factors that infl uence these framing processes. I will begin my examination of these phenomena by contextualizing graduate labor and union organizing within the history of worker activism in academia and the current trends and practices that are influencing academic economies. Unionization in the United States The roots of collective bargaining in the United States are found in the trade union movement of the nineteenth century. In spite of many efforts to organize laborers and strikes, employers generally controlled the salaries and working conditions of their employees in the late nineteenth century. Unionization and collective bargaining were integrated into the conventional American industrial workforce through legislation
17 (Getman & Pogrebin, 1988; Millis & Brown, 1950) White collar workers such as college faculty members did not begin to organize into unions until the second half of the twentieth century (Kearney, 1992) Faculty unions in higher education emerged nearly thirty years after the large nonprofessional unions were entrenched in American industrial relations. In 1935 the United States Congress passed the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) also known as the Wagner Act, granting workers the rights to join unions, bargain collectively through represent atives, to choose those representatives and generally organize and affiliate freely (Getman & Pogrebin, 1988; Millis & Brown, 1950) These rights were premised not only on justice for laborers, but also for the benefit of business (Millis & Brown, 1950) The intention behind the legislation was to limit the control management had over the workforce. In the two decades following the NLRA many industrial unions were recognized as representing employees for the purposes of collective bargaining. I n 1947, Congress passed the Taft Hartley Act giving the federal government the power to issue injunctions against union action thus eroding some of the benefits labor had gained under the NLRA (Getman & Pogrebin, 1988) Furthermore, it outlaws closed shop hiring agreements. In other words, employers can hire nonunion workers (Getman & Pogrebin, 1988) Non union employees, under the federal law, must still pay union dues if they receive any benefits that are derived from the bargained contract, creating an incentiv e for workers to join their union so they can have a vote in meetings giving them some kind of a say in how that money is used (Russo, Gordon, & Miles, 1992) State labor laws vary in this regard. Right to work laws, such as Floridas, allow
18 employees to take the benefits from unionization without any contribution to the union that represents them, eroding much of the incentive for membership. The last couple of decades have been economically transformative in North America. Likewise, the fac e of organized labor has changed. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) (2009) reports that union members accounted for 12.4% of employed wage and salary workers in the U nited States in the year 2008. This is up slightly from 12.1% in 2007 but down signific antly from the 20.1% in 1983, the first year for which comparable statistics are available. Generally, according to Clawson and Clawson (1999) unions have declined in terms of density, organizing capacity, level of strike activity, and political effecti veness (p. 95) This decline is linked to various factors such as demographic issues, lack of action on the part of unions, state and legal systems, globalization, neoliberalism, and efforts on the part of employers. In response, labor unions have shifted attention to organizing broader segments of the work force (Clawson & Clawson, 1999; Isler, 2007; Wickens, 2008). Increasingly organizing campaigns are focusing on new, previously ignored populations of workers and are resorting to member concentrated tact ics that recognize the changing look to American labor and focuses on the issues specific to the workers. For example, unions have more success organizing women and people of color when they make womens issues or racial i nequality labor issues This is a lso seen in the nurturing of alliances between organized labor and previously antagonistic groups such as immigrants and environmental activists (Clawson & Clawson, 1999). One group that is emerging as a target of labor organizers in North America is Gradu ate Assistants.
19 During the 1990s union membership and representation declined in general as well as in most sectors, yet it rapidly spread among GAs, and this growth has continued through the first decade of the 21st century (Dixon, Tope, & Van Dyke, 2008; Lee, Oseguera, Kim, Fann, Davis, & Rhoads, 2004; Zinni, Singh, & MacLennan, 2005) Tanock and Flocks (2002) and Dixon et al. (2008) credit this to multiple factors: tight financial situations within universities general shifts in academic economies, a nd campus environments that offer ideal settings for organizing and activism. Furthermore, organized labor groups have begun concerting efforts to capitalize on these dynamics (Dixon, Tope, & Van Dyke, 2008; Zinni, Singh, & MacLennan, 2005) Unionization of Faculty in Higher Education The fundamental elements of a union contract are fairly consistent across the board. These include salaries and benefits. This is the case with collective bargaining agreements in industrial contex ts as well as higher education. Professional unions often seek to have their specific duties and expectations contractually defined and a compensation package articulated. This is typically the case with contracts between faculty and administrative bodies in higher education. Typical faculty specific issues addressed through collective bargaining agreements include tenure, self governance, and intellectual property rights. Under the Wagner Act recog nition of unions rose quickly. Industrial laborers in the automotive, coal, and steel industries negotiated contracts guaranteeing better pay working conditions. White collar workers did no unionize in large numbers until the middle of the 1960s. Among those who began organizing were workers in higher education, predominantly in the public sector.
20 In 1967, the AFT organized the first public sector faculty union at the United States Merchant Marine Academy starting a trend of unionization in American higher education (Kearney, 1992) This academic labor movement emerged within the c ontext of land grant colleges established in the late nineteenth century growing into large universities in order to accommodate the increasing number of college students that the post war baby boom created. Moreover, the number of community colleges was also increasing so as to meet the growing demand for higher education. According to Kearney (1992) faculty unionization in the 1960s was spurred by low salaries, attacks to the tenure system, and faculty reduction. These still are the primary reasons facu lties organize into unions (Kemerer, 1975; Ponack, Thompson, & Zerbe, 1992) The previously mentioned increase in community colleges dramatically increased the population of faculty members working in the public sector. I t is at this level that the union movement initially had its greatest impact in higher education. This boom in community colleges so noticeably altered the prevalence of collective bargaining in higher education that it was above all, seen as a community college phenomenon (Wiley, 1993) By 1984 collective bargaining was more than twice as prevalent on twoy ear college campuses as on four year campuses (25% compared to 12%) with 160,000 community college professors at 547 institutions being represented by a union (Kearney, 1992) In the 1960s and 1970s unionized faculties were chiefly represented by three groups: the National Education Association (NEA), the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), and the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) (Kearney, 1992) Although the NEA and the AFT each began organizing unions at the
21 elementary and secondary levels nearly two decades previously, it was not until the late 1960s that they start ed to focus on college and university faculties (Kearney, 1992) It was not until 1973 that the AAUP, representing 64,298 faculty comprising 62 bargaining units (Annuziato, 1995) first issued a statement in support of collective bargaining (American Association of University Prof essors, 1984) All of these began as professional associations intende d to foster students and facultys educational development. None of these outfits is a national union, but at the local level they can be certified as the bargaining agent for a faculty union. The expansion of these organizations into labor unions was a prod uct of necessity. This movement towards unionization was seen as essential for securing acceptable economic compensation for faculty members. According to Annuziato (1995) unions represented professors on 1,075 campuses in the United States by 1994. The vast majority of unionized faculty members were at 987 public colleges and universities. According to Ehrenberg et al. (2004) in 1996 thirty eight percent of all fulltime faculty members in public institutions of higher education were covered by collective bargaining agreements as opposed to six percent at private institutions. Wickens (2008) credits faculty in public institutions with 95% of all faculty unionization in higher education. Faculty unions in the public sector tend to develop wi thin the context of unfavorable political sentiments towards higher education and when other university employees are organized into unions (Johnston, 1994) According to DeCew (2003) out of roughly two thousand institutions granting bachelors degrees or higher in the United States approximately three hundred have negotiated contracts. At seventy five colleges
22 and universities unions have been voted down by the faculties. Rhoads and Rhoades (2005) note that unionized faculty earn about six percent more than nonunionized faculty. Hechscher (1988) links faculty unionization to organizational problems within institutions that are not contract related. Particularly problematic is the effect the unions presence has on facult y relations with administrators. Putten, McLendon and Petersons (1997) work on the perceptions of university staff find that communication between faculty and administrators at unionized schools takes on a more defensive posture which detracts from its effectiveness. Overall their study finds that unionization leads to centralizing and formalizing decision making. Without union contracts management is more decentralized, informal, and inconsistent. The literature on faculty unionization generally has been wrought by concerns for the causes and effects of unions on higher educations campuses relationships between faculty members and administrators, particular bargaining issues, and legal issues surrounding unionization (Garbarino, 1975; Kemerer F., 1975; Ladd, 1973; Leslie, 1975) This type of research was most prevalent during the 1970s and early 1980s, a time when faculty unionization caught the attention of policy makers. More recently research in this area has examined unionizations impact on collegial structures (Kemerer & Baldridge, 1981; Lee B., 1979) and salaries (Guthrie Morse, Leslie, & Hu, 1981; Smith T., 1992) The Yeshiva Case The decision handed down by the United States Supreme Court in the Yeshiva case (1980) severely limited the ability of faculty in the private sector to unionize, accounting for much of the discrepancy between unionization rates at public and private
23 colleges and universities. This verdict was rooted in the NLRA which prohibits supervisors from unionizing. A supervisor is defined as any individual who m ay hire, promote, remunerate or propose to do such (Getman & Pogrebin, 1988) The Supreme Court ruled that the faculty at Yeshiva University could not organize into union on the basis of them performing managerial activities (Bodner, 1980) Since they decide salaries and determine the promotion as well as tenure of faculty, the court defined the functions of university self governance committees as supervisory in nature (National Labor Relations Board v. Yeshiva University, 1980) By serving on committees that set admission standards, and thereby controlling the number of students admitted to the school, faculty were seen as control ling the universitys revenue. T he faculty became supervisors. This was t he first time that the United St ates Supreme Court we ighed in on the principles of collective bargaining at a private academic institution (Kaplan & Lee, 1995; Metchick & Singh, 2004) The Yeshiva Decision does not apply to public sector institutions (Bodner, 1980) Collective bargaining in public colleges and universi ties is regulated by state law. They are exempt from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) rulings (Kaplan & Lee, 1995) (Singh, Zinni, & Maclennan, 2006) In 1987 the faculty at the University of Pittsburgh became the first at a public institution to be denied collective bargaining rights based on the Yeshiva Decision. This ruling was, however, overturned on appeal (Blum, 1990) Currently the Yeshiva Ruling appl ies only to private sector institutions. The concentration of faculty unionization in the public sector is in no small way linked to the Yeshiva case. In the wake of the decision, according to Annuziato (1995) thirty faculty unions were disbanded, and by 1995, at only seventy private colleges and
24 universities did faculty have collec tive bargaining rights. Furthermore, the ruling rendered faculties workloads as no longer a mandatory subject of bargaining under the NLRA as it had been (Annuziato, 1995) One of the consequences of the Yeshiva case is that administrators who wish to prevent collective bargaining do so by granting more power and decision making responsibilities in the hand of faculties (McCain, 1985) In fact, the union at Bradford College was allowed to remain intact under Yeshiva because the president made clear, in wr iting, that the faculty exercise no administrative authority (Bradford College v. National Labor Relations Board, 1982) Recent Developments on Campus Over the last three decades colleges and universities have increasingly made use of part time faculty ( Bousquet, 2008; Ehrenberg R. G., Klaff, Kezsbom, & Nagowski, 2004; Lafer, 2003 ; Steck, 2003; Rhoades, 1996; Washburn, 2005) In general, management can exert more control over part time employees because they usually have more leeway with regard to hiring and firing them and determining the necessary qualifications. Part time employees are rarely turned into fulltime, permanent faculty members (even though the prospect is frequently presented). Moreover, part time labor is typically not covered by union contracts, so utilizing more part time workers allows administrators further power over personnel (Ehrenberg R. G., Klaff, Kezsbom, & Nagowski, 2004; Bousquet, 2008 ; Rhoades, 1996) In the 1990s the practice of using graduate teaching assistants as part time faculty expanded dramatically (Bousquet, 2008; Ehrenberg R. G., Klaff, Kezsbom, & Nagowski, 2004; Lafer, 2003) This presents a problem to unionized faculty to the extent that these graduate workers are unorganized, for it offers a way around dealing with contract restrict ions placed on administrators. Historically, the NLRB has denied
25 graduate laborers the right to unionize on the grounds that they are primarily students not employees (Bousquet, 2008; Gartl and, 2002; Leatherman & Magner, 1996; Singh, Zinni, & Maclennan, 2006) But a series of rulings and reversals (Brown University v. NLRB, 2004; New York University and NLRB, 2000; NLRB and Yale, 1999) over the past decade have demonstrated that this is far from being settled law. These shifts in the boards opinion only have bearing on organizing i n private schools In public institutions unionizing graduate students is regulated by state law in th e same way faculties are. The primary issue for graduate t eaching assistants are that their workloads are comparable to those fulltime faculty members carry and yet receive minimal compensation and are granted minimal protections (Bousquet, 2008; Cage, 1995; Rhoades, 1996; Rhoads & Rhoades, 2005) Corresponding t o the increased use of graduate students to meet institutions teaching obligations is the boom of graduate labor unions that occurred in the 1990s and the first decade of the twenty first century (Ehrenberg R. G., Klaff, Kezsbom, & Nagowski, 2004; Lafer, 2003; Rhoads & Rhoades, 2005; Singh, Zinni, & Maclennan, 2006) The existence of labor unions is seen as evidence of the changed and changing nature of academic economies over the past two decades. To be exact they are seen as a result of academic capital ism and broad trends towards corporatization (Bousquet, 2008; Lafer, 2003; Rhoads & Rhoades, 2005; Slaughter & Rhoades, 2004) whereby institutions of higher education increasingly engage in m arket type behaviors and display the culture, practices, policies, and workforce strategies more appropriate to corporations (Steck, 2003, p. 66)
26 In many circles corporatization is understood as one of the most menacing buzzwords among academics. They see it as a threat to their professions most cherished ideals and altering the institutional and organizational structures they work within (Steck, 2003) Some of the changes include an increased commercial orientation of research, the casualization of teaching staff, and the commodification of instruction (Lafer, 2003) The perceived threat of corporatization is not the province of any particular ideological group or class of partici pants within higher education. Though most criticisms have come fro m left wing analysts who are generally skeptical of capitalism, corporatization does not neatly divide left liberals from conservatives nor faculty, admini strators and graduate students. Concerns over these developments and their implications have been expressed from all corners of the academic universe (Lafer, 2003; Steck, 2003) Of course some have no problem with corporatization. In fact, it is seen as the only viable model for maximizing all of the educational resources in the modern world (Steck, 2003) In 1997 the president of the University of Florida, John Lombardi, illustrated this when he boastfully exclaimed We have taken a great leap forward and said, lets pretend were a corporation (Hammonds & Jackson, 1997) Steck (2003) is quick to note that the academys entanglement with busi ness enterprise is nothing new. But he also concludes that the movement within the academy over the past 30 years constitutes a fundamental shift in nature of higher education. The push towards corporatization has been propell ed by a series of developments. Firstly, the increase in the size of higher education institutions after the second w orld w ar required administrators to deal with many more students and to function in completely
27 differen t ways. Running colleges and universities in this new context required managers equipped for bureaucr atic and financial management. Furthermore, the fiscal crisis of the state imposed harsh new realities on public and private universities alike (Steck, 2003, p. 68) These financial realities were accompanied by th e language of the corporation. Downsizing, strategic planning, reducing overhead, restructuring, and realignment began to displace concerns as to the content and quality of education. As a result universities and coll eges have been forced to adopt entrepreneurial revenue strategies (Lafer, 2003) Additionally, it is hard to overstate the sweeping transformations ushered in by information technology with regards to undermining the role of faculty, while increasing the power of administrators (Noble, 2001; Steck, 2003) Two additional developments that are related to the use of graduate labor are the impact of the BayhDole legislation of the early 1980s and globalization (Lafer, 2003) Bayh Dole (named for its princi ple proponents in the United States Senate) reversed the longtime public policy mandating that the products of publicly funded research were public property (Lafer, 2003, p. 27) Promoted by many of the organizations leading the charge towards corporatiz ation, this legislation, allows universities and corporations to patent the fruits of publicly funded research (Lafer, 2003; Minsky, 2000) Consequently, university research is more and more market oriented and scarce resources are directed towards project s and disciplines with the greatest propensity for turning a profit. Moreover, globalization has caused nation states to be less significant as sites of capital accumulation. In this context, universities cease to be essential entities guarding national culture (Lafer, 2003) The loss of this traditional function of universities has
28 eroded public support for non utilitarian ventures and universities have been mobilized for the purpose of global competition (Steck, 2003) Within this framework graduate students labor as with all part time worker s becomes a valuable resource. But making use of this resource creates tension and engenders its own resistance because it eliminates the faculty jobs to which graduate students and many other part time employees aspire (Bousquet, 2008; Lafer, 2003; Rhoads & Rhoades, 2005) The utilization of part time employees is most prevalent in the disci plines with the highest demand. These are the same academic disciplines that the majority of graduate labor unionists hale from those within the humanities and social sciences (Rhoads & Rhoades, 2005) Yet these are the areas of study with the least opportunities for fulltime, tenure track employment, demonstrating the utility of part time labor to the project of expansion (Lafer, 2003) In 1973, eighty seven percent of Ph.D. s went into permanent research employment in academia or industry. By 1995, that number had fallen to fifty six percent (Lafer, 2003; Weed, 2000) illustrating Bousquets (20 08) point that finished doctoral degrees are byproducts of the university enterprise that need to be gotten rid of, not cultivated future faculty members and that the difficulty of finding fulltime academic employment is not a consequence of overproducing Ph.D.s. but rather the result of elevated admission rates for the purposes of securing cheap labor. The trends that mark the corporatized university undercut the humanities and social sciences that rarely develop the types of commercial products neces sary to attract external funding. These disciplines are therefore afforded less priority by administrators pulling the purse strings, allocating dwindling state funds. Resources are
29 directed towards the hard sciences and startup operations that can market laboratory research and make universities more enticing partners to private businesses. These movements within academia transform universities into market based institutions, and they redefine graduate education as an economic function. When administrators are chiefly concerned with the bottom line graduate employees become a crucial component of their financial reckoning. Increasingly labor unions are seen as the only entities powerful enough to counterbalance these developments (Lafer, 2003) Contribut ions of Research While scholars have turned some attention towards graduate assistants among the new groups being engaged by organized labor there is generally a dearth of research examining this population. Sociologically, the scholarship in this area has concluded that graduate employee unionization should be thought of as a national social movement (Dixon, Tope, & Van Dyke, 2008; Rhoades & Rhoads, 2003) because of organization into national networks Metho dologically the empirical research on GA unionization tends to focus on localized phenomena employing case study methods (Isler, 2007; Lee, Oseguera, Kim, Fann, Davis, & Rhoads, 2004; Rhoades & Rhoads, 2003; Rhoads & Rhoades, 2005) What is more there is m inimal research that begins from the standpoint of the unionists involved (Rhoads & Rhoades, 2005) This research primarily seeks to address some of the shortcomings of the existing literature to be discussed in more depth in C hapter 2 But more g enerall y this is also an examination of social relations (Smith D. E., 1990; 2005) That is to say that I investigate how the work of organizing graduate employees is mediated by the everyday practices and organization of higher education and organized labor. Th is study will utilize and enrich the social movement framing literature to be discussed in
30 C hapter 3 namely by adopting a view of framing as an interpretive and intersubjective practice (Gubrium & Holstein, 1997) t hus showing the collective action frames of the graduate labor movement (what it says it believes and does), along with the work framing (producing, contesting, and negotiating meanings) entails. In a practical, political sense, this research can serve as an aid to union activists in the growi ng GA union movement and polit ical organizers more generally. It creates a platform for participants to critically reflect on and discuss subtle, often taken for grant ed aspects of their union work. By offering an indepth examination of the tools at their disposal and by mapping out some of the perceived possibilities, strategies, obstacles and concerns faced by people engaged in this work, this project holds the possibility of enabling activists to approach their work in more deliberate ways. Moreover, t his project gives union activists an opportunity to reflect on and talk about their efforts and experiences and uses these as the foundation to the project. As I previously stated, I begin my inquiry from the standpoint of graduate l abor union activists. T heir experiences define the starti ng point; they are the experts. In the end this is a study of the social organization of their work and the goal is to craft a representation how they see unionization working. As Ewick and Silbey (1995) this has both pol itical and epistemological ramifications that are not independent of one another. The commitment to privileging the knowledge and experiences of unionists is a product of the philosophical rejection of any singular, objectively apprehended truth. Convers ely, this rejection of objectivity is rooted in recognition of knowledges s ocial and political foundation. The use of a situated perspective is seen to have the capacity to
31 undermine the notion of objective knowledge that is oftentimes a mechanism for sustaining oppressive social relations. Often qualitative researchs relevance is viewed as being limited to only the particular setting under examination, but this, according to Dorothy Smith (2005) ignores the contemporary realities of how the local is penetrated with the extraor translocal relations that are generalized across particular settings (p. 42) The nature of institutions in contemporary society is that they are forms of social organization that simplify and generalize across multiple specific settings. The institutional settings relevant to this investigation are themselves fit this bill. Therefore the ideas created here should speak to others whose standpoints within institutional regimes are similar to that of graduate labor activist s.
32 CHAPTER 2 THE HISTORY, LEGAL CONTEXT, AND RAMIFICATIONS OF GRADUATE UNIONIZATION Origins and Prevalence of Graduate Unionization In recent years interest in graduate student unionization has been increasing in the United States. This interest was largely spurred by a unanimous decision of the National Labor relations Board (NLRB) in 2000 to acknowledge the graduate student union at New York University (NYU) and the subsequent ruling in the case of Brown University v. NLBRB (2000) which overturned the verdict of the NYU case. Furthermore, due to the growth of unionization among graduate assistants during the 1990s, when unionization in the United States was decreasing overall, labor organizations have begun focusing more attention to organizing graduate workers ( Dixon, Tope, & Van Dyke, 2008 ; Lee, Oseguera, Kim, Fann, Davis, & Rhoads, 2004; Zinni, Singh, & MacLennan, 2005) The recent attention to graduate labor organizing comes at a time of transition for both organized labor and higher education. Scholars trace the origins of the graduate labor movement to students protests at the University of California at Berkeley, particularly the Free Speech Movement in 1965 ( Draper, 1965; Lipset, 1965; Rhoades & Rhoads, 2003; Singh, Zinni, & Maclennan, 2006) which was a response to campus policies that censored student organizations on campus. These protests were also conducted simultaneously with antiwar protests on campuses across the United States. The Free Speech Movement led to a teaching assistants strike and later the formation of a local chapter of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) demanding the right to negotiate with the universitys adm inistration on behalf of teaching assistants (Singh, Zinni, & Maclennan, 2006) This chapter did not last, however. It was not until 1999 that teaching assistants
33 in the California state system w o n their right to organize and affiliated with the United Aut o Workers (Rhoades & Rhoads, 2003; Singh, Zinni, & Maclennan, 2006) Draper (1965) and Singh, Zinni, Maclennan (2006) identify the Free Speech Movement as a catalyst for politicizing the faculty at Berkeley, many of whom organized into two opposing groups foreshadowing the disagreement among faculty towards the current graduate labor movement The Committee of Two Hundred was a faculty organization that supported the student organizing that was going on. The Faculty Forum formed in opposition it. Thi s division among faculty is a phenomenon that is still observed in literature on graduate unionization. All in all, the Free Speech Movements most significant consequence may be the way that i t drew attention to issues of student organizing and initiated discussions about relations on campus Particularly of interest to this research is the manner in which it challenged existing ideas as to what it means to work on college campuses .1 In 1969 the Teaching Assistants Association (TAA) was the firs t graduate student union to be recognized as a bargaining agent for graduate workers (Cavell, 2000; Ehrenberg R. G., Klaff, Kezsbom, & Nagowski, 2002; 2004; Saltzman, 2000; Singh, Zinni, & Maclennan, 2006Zinni, Singh, & MacLennan, 2005). Administrative r ec ognition was voluntary and came with little legal protection or guarantees. In the spring of the following year the TAA went on strike. The strike was deemed illegal and the teaching assistants were ordered back to work. Another strike in 1980 led to the university withd rawing recognition of the TAA. Subsequent political pressure produced a state law in 1986 granting teaching assistants the rights to organize and collectively 1 For a more in depth discussion of the Berkeley student protests see Lipset & Wolin 1965 and Draper 1965.
34 bargain. These rights, however, came with a strike ban that also applies to other state employees (Saltzman, 2000; Singh, Zinni, & Maclennan, 2006). At other universities graduate labor unions have not been voluntarily recognized and have been dependant on legal protections to secure collective bargaining rights. Initially many G As joined faculty unions (Singh, Zinni, & MacLennan, 2006) and graduate unionization continued to grow into the 1970s. This first wave of growth was spurred on by several factors according to Ehrenberg, Klaff, Kezsbom, and Nagowski (2002; 2004) and Singh, Zinni, and MacLennan (2006). The time to degree increased as did the cost of living. Higher education budgets were slashed, leading to cuts in graduate programs reduced graduate students stipends and fewer academic jobs available to students upon graduation. These factors in conjunction with increased student activism on campuses overall, are credited with catalyzing the early growth of graduate student unions. After an initial surge, graduate student unionization stagnated for a couple of decades. This lull was followed by another period of rapid growth during the late 1990s. In 1990 there were five graduate employee unions in the United States. By 2000, GAs at twenty three universi ties had voted for union representation and organizing campaigns were underway on nineteen other campuses (Rhoades & Rhoads, 2003). By 2006, more than forty American universities had recognized graduate labor unions with 40,000 members (DeCew, 2003; Singh, Zinni, & Ma cLennan, 2006; Wickens, 2008). The surge during the 1990s came at a time when overall union membership in the United States declined, and it went down within most sectors. The union growth among GAs in the 1990s has continued through the first decade of the 21st century
35 ( Dixon, Tope, & Van Dyke, 2008 ; Lee, Oseguera, Kim, Fann, Davis, & Rhoads, 2004; Zinni, Singh, & MacLennan, 2005). Although there is some minor disagreement as to just how many graduate assistant unions there are in the United States, there is general agreement is that the trend is towards increasing unionization (Ehrenberg R. G., Klaff, Kezsbom, & Nagowski, 2004; Lafer, 2003; Saltzman, 2000; Zinni, Singh, & MacLennan, 2005; Si ngh, Zinni, & MacLennan, 2006). By the end of the t wentieth century roughly thirty two major public research and doctoral universities in the U.S. and Canada had recognized graduate student unions according to Ehrenberg, Klaff, Kezsbom, and Nagowski (2004) and Zinni Singh, and MacLennan (2005). Lafer (2003) reports, that as of 2001, roughly 20% of graduate employees in the United States are covered by union contracts. Scholars credit this current wave of GA unionization to multiple factors: universities have encountered tight financial situations forcing them to replace public money wi th private funding ( Dixon, Tope, & Van Dyke, 2008; Lafer, 2003); there have been general shifts in academic economies (Aronowitz, 2000; Lafer, 2003; Soley, 1995; Steck, 2003; Washburn, 2005; White, 2000) increasingly unders tood to reflect corporatization whereby institutions of higher learning adopt operating models that reflect the logic and values of private business; the boom recent of information technology has undermined t he role of faculty ( Noble, 2001; Steck, 2003); and campus environments offer ideal settings for organizing and activism because GAs have space and unsupervised time which allows them to talk with each other and union representatives (Tanock & Flocks, 2002). As a consequence, organized labor launched i ntensi ve efforts to capitalize on these dynamics (Dixon, Tope, & Van Dyke, 2008). Because these conditions that
36 spurred graduate unionization are intensifying, there is general consensus unionization will continue to spread, particularly in the public sect or. To date, only one union in the United States has successfully negotiated a contract for GA s at a private university: NYU. But the administration at NYU withdrew from continuing negotiations in 2004, when a ruling from the National Labor Relations Board provided legal cover for them to back out (Jaschik S., 2009). This discrepancy in unionization at public and private universities is, in large part, due to the differing legal contexts that govern organizing campaigns. The Legal Context of G raduate Unionization The University of Wisconsins voluntary recognition of the TAA is an exception, not the rule. In the majority of cases, university administrations have vigorously opposed graduate assistants unionizing which means the fates of GA unions are contingent on legal protections to guarantee their status as bargaining agents for graduate workers (Ehrenberg R. G., Klaff, Kezsbom, & Nagowski, 2004) Organizing efforts are conducted in a broad array of contexts, for state laws govern organizing at public universities while it is federal law that governs at private ones (Bousquet, 2008) Achieving union recognition in public universities has required a state by state approach (Bousquet, 2008) In some states no laws exist that protect the rights of grad uate workers at public schools to bargain collectively. In other states including Florida graduate employees are formally recognized as state employees with acknowledged bargaining rights. However, this status typically comes with a prohibition against s triking (Hayden, 2001; Leatherman C. 2000) the threat of which provides workers leverage at the bargaining table. So although basic legal protections and
37 recognition are secured, unionists are unable to utilize organized labors bluntest tool for advancing their positions. According to Bousquet (2008) in spite of the varied political and legal contexts of the states, successful efforts to force collective bargaining in public universities tend to have common threads. They usually begin with prolonged liti gation in public employee relations boards and appellate court and they often require appeals to state legislatures to write new law. It is not uncommon for these campaigns to last for many years, decades even. The efforts to organize the graduate employees in the California state system began in the 1960s, yet attempts to gain recognition and negotiate a contract took twenty five years (Rhoades & Rhoads, 2003; Singh, Zinni, & Maclennan, 2006) The main focus of the legal literature on graduate unionization, which has greatly expanded in the last six years, focuses on campaigns at private universities, and has flourished in response to the back and forth verdicts regarding New York University and Brown Universitys graduate workers (Euben, 2004; Singh, Z inni, & Maclennan, 2006; Wickens, 2008) In private universities the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) governs union organizing Prior to 1970, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) refused to hear cases pertaining to student employment arguing tha t it was beyond their jurisdiction. The refusal was due to the fact that student employment is educational or charitable in nature and has no effec t on interstate commerce. Therefore it does not trigger the par ticular provisions of the NLRA. The reversal in 1970 was based on the notion that changing economic realities had blurred the line between commercial and noncommercial activities. Within this new context the NLRB asserted that it could best
38 effectuate policies of the NLRA by asserting jurisdiction over nonprofit, private educational institutions (Cornell University v. NLRB, 1970) Currently the debate at the labor board and in courts centers on the issue of whether or not the law recognizes students as employees ( Bousquet, 2008; Singh, Zinni, & Maclennan, 2006) For the most part two criteria have been utilized in determining student employment status: the primary purpose test and service test ( Gartland, 2002; Singh, Zinni, & Maclennan, 2006) The decisive factor for d etermining employment status using the primary purpose test is whether or not the primary purpose of the position at hand is economic. If the purpose of the work is deemed to be primarily educational rather than economic, then collectiv e bargaining rights are denied. If the primary purpose is economic, workers are entitled to these rights. The service test regards as employees anybody who provides compensated services. The logic underpinning the service test prevailed in the landmark NYU case, mentioned previously which granted graduate students who work as teaching assistants rights to form a union and collectively bargain. In that case, the NLRB said that graduate assistants perform their duties for, and under the control of, the Empl oyers departments or programs are paid for their work and are carried on the Employers payrol l system (N ew York University v. N LRB, 2000, p. 2). The subsequent ruling in the case of Brown University v. NLRB (2004) that overturned the NYU verdict restored the primary pur pose test as the criterion used in determining graduate assistants employment status. This decision was reached along party lines with the two D emocratic appointees dissenting while those appointed by George W. Bush made up the majority.
39 The Brown decis ion has ramifications for organizing campaigns currently underway on private campuses: Brown, Columbia, and Yale Universities as well as the University of Pennsylvania plus several other campaigns that were in their embryonic stages ( Jaschik S. 2009 ; Singh, Zinni, & Maclennan, 2006 ) Union leaders have several options in terms of mounting a challenge to the ruling. For example, t hey can appeal the decision to federal court, make the case to the NLRB that Brown is significantly different than other priv ate universities and should therefore have to negotiate with the union, or they can organize direct actions through strikes and work stoppages intended to force voluntary recognition. The approach opted for thus far has been to concentrate organizing efforts elsewhere and wait until the political climate changes and the composition of the NLRB is more favorable, to renew efforts at private universities. Given new President Barack Obamas vocal support of GA unions at private universities this mo ve may be beginning to pan out. His first act in relation to the NLRB was the designation of union friendly Wilma B. Liebman as chair. She has since publicly indicated that the board would be open to ruling in favor of the graduate workers ( Greenhouse, 2010 ; Jaschi k S. 2010) Inside Higher Ed reports: The chair of the National Labor Relations Board gave a strong indication here Monday that, now that the board has new members appointed by President Obama, unions could expect it to back collective bargaining rights f or graduate teaching assistants at private universities (Jaschik S., 2010) Liebmans comments came on the heels of President Obamas appointment of Craig Becker a lawyer for the American Federation of Labor Congress Industrial Organizations ( A.F.L.C.I.O.) and the Service Employees International Union and Mark Pearce, also a pro union lawyer to fill two of the other three vacancies on the five
40 member board (Greenhouse, 2010) Regardless of the course of action pursued or the rulings of a remade labor relations board, the B rown and NYU cases illustrate the primary hurdles organizing efforts encounter at private universities. Namely that legal protection and recognition is hard to secure because the rules governing unionization are subject to the fluctuating trends that exist where politics and law intersect. In Canadian universities graduate workers employment status is pretty much settled law (Singh, Zinni, & Maclennan, 2006; Zinni, Singh, & MacLennan, 2005). The issue was settled through two cases in the mid 1970s. In the case of Graduate Students Association v. York University (1975) the Ontario Labor Relations Board (OLRB) used the service tests logic in concluding that the teaching assistants are in fact employees because they are compensated for their work which is not part of their graduate programs of study. The York verdict excluded research assistants, but that was quickly overruled by the British Columbia Labor Relations Board in 1976 (Rogrow & Birch, 1984). These rulings have essentially settled the matter in Canada. Canadian GAs rights to bargain collectively are more firmly entrenched than in the United States as a result (Rhoades & Rhoads, 2003). Graduate Unionization in Contemporary Universities Recently scholars have turned some attention towards graduate assistants unionization, yet outside of the area of labor law there is generally a dearth of research examining this phenomenon The scholarship that does exist deals with the effects of unionization on organizational work relationships (Hewitt, 2000 ; Julius & Gumport, 2002; Lee, Oseguera, Kim, Fann, Davis, & Rhoads, 2004; Wickens, 2008) the economic impact of GAs collective bargaining (Ehrenberg R. G., Klaff, Kezsbom, & Nagowski, 2004) the functions and possibilities of unionized graduate assistants within higher
41 educations current political economy and particularly in relation to the corporate university ( Bousquet, 2008; Gubrium, 2001; Lafer, 2003; Rhoads & Rhoades, 2005) organizing s trategies (Bousquet, 2008; Isler, 2007; Rhoades & Rhoads, 2003) a nd unique barriers and issues confronting GA unionization ( Isler, 2007 ; Lee, Oseguera, Kim, Fann, Davis, & Rhoads, 2004) Impact on Organizational Work Relationships The organization of graduate employees has engendered great unease about the impact on relationships between faculty and students yet there is very little in the way of empirical research examining its effects (Wickens, 2008) Opponents of graduate labor unions maintain that the vital mentoring relationship between a graduate students and t heir faculty advisor would be severely damaged turning faculty mentors into mere supervisors who can neither offer honest criticism or feedback nor devise programs of study to meet individual students needs (DeCew, 2003; Ehrenberg R. G., Klaff, Kezsbom, & Nagowski, 2004) In a letter to the university community, Columbia Universitys president expressed such fears: A union would reduce the flexibility that faculty advisors and students currently have to structure teaching and research assignme nts to meet individual needs as well as other aspects of graduate training (DeCew 2003: 105 and Wickens, 2008, p. 557) Additionally since faculty frequently serve on university bargaining teams some have expressed concern that tensions might rise in the event of intense disagreements during bargaining, or a strike (Julius & Gumport, 2002; Wickens, 2008) In some cases, the relationship among faculty and students has suffered simply from efforts to acqui re union recognition. At the end of the fall semester of 1995, teaching assistants used a grade strike at Yale University in an attempt to force
42 recognition of the Graduate Employee Student Organization (GESO). Students participating were threatened with t ermination, bad professional recommendations and possibly expulsion by faculty as well as administrators at the department and college level (Hayden, 2001; Lafer, 2003; Wickens, 2008; Zinni, Singh, & MacLennan, 2005) GESO filed an unfair labor practice (U LP) with the NLRB. Yale won the first round of hearing s, and the strike was deemed illegal (NLRB and Yale, 1999) GESO appealed their case, and eventually GESO and the administration settled. The charges of unfair labor practices were dropped in exchange for posting rules affirming employees rights to free speech. In light of these arguments by graduate union opponents some empirical research has investigated whether or not the concerns expressed pan out. Hewitt s (2000) is the most frequently cited. He surveyed faculty from the liberal arts and sciences at five American universities that have legally recognized collective bargaining agreements with their GAs. Overall Hewitt concludes that faculty at these schools do not view gr aduate unionization negatively. The most frequent concern among these faculty members was that union activity might diminish the amount of time spent on academic work. Still they held that graduate employees are underpaid, overworked and generally exploited. Most importantly, g raduate unionization is not seen as an impediment to mentorship. Two other interview based studies examine the impact of graduate unionization on relationships between students and their advisors ( Julius & Gumport, 2002; Lee, Oseguera, Kim, Fann, Davis, & Rhoads, 2004) Both suggest that fears of graduate workers organized into a labor union will detract from relationships between students
43 and advisors are not only misplaced but that unionization actually enhances these connections. Julius and Gumport (200 2) conducted interviews with representatives of graduate employee unions, their respective universities faculty unions, and university negotiators at all of the American universities where graduate workers were seeking employer recognition of a certified b argaining agent or were formally organized for the purposes of collective bargaining. They conclude that collective bargaining had not compromised the student faculty relationship. Indeed, the clarification of jobs, responsibilities, expectations, and work place policies had helped to improve mentoring relationships. Julius and Gumport suggest a couple of possible explanations for the observed improv ement of relationships between student s and faculty members First GAs are often unclear as to whom they are really negotiating with (e.g. the university, their department, or the state government) and do not necessarily see their professors as their employers. The second reason they put forward is that the relationships between students and their mentors are una ffected by unionization because of students dependence on faculty for good evaluations and recommendations. In the current, tight academic job market bad references would seriously jeopardize a career. Essentially, graduate students cannot afford to take part in actions that are too antagonistic or spiteful towards faculty. Lee et al. (2004) interviewed members of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) community who were involved with some facet of collective bargaining or who had knowledge of teaching assistants. When asked about these relationships in the wake of unionization, some students not only denied conflicts, but went further insisting
44 that relationships with faculty had actually improved. Specifically, these students cite their reduc ed workloads and improved working conditions as aiding their performance. These more impressive showings led to better relationships with faculty. Contractual limitations on teaching assistants workload likely allow GAs to dedicate more time research and other scholarly activities (Lee et al. 2004). What is more, unionization affords a more explicit, formal and structured method of handling disagreements, which can facilitate communication and avoiding hurtful interpersonal interactions. Lee et al. also su ggested that the asymmetrical power distribution between faculty and graduate students is so firmly entrenched that unionization cannot reshape this relationship. Economic Impact One of the factors identified as contributing to administrative resistance t o GA unionization is fear of negotiated benefits causing severe economic consequences that would drain resources from other academic projects and likely lead to tuition increases (Ehrenberg R. G., Klaff, Kezsbom, & Nagowski, 2004) To date there is only one empirical study exploring the economic impact of graduat e labor unions. Ehrenberg et al. (2004) were granted access to data on the salaries, compensation and costs of teaching and research assistants at a set of public universities for a number of recent years. There data is very limited and access to it was conditioned on strict confidentiality. Over the time span examined, t he average teaching assistant costs for the non union schools rose relative to the average teaching assistant costs for the scho ols at which graduate students were organized during the entire period, as well as relative to the average teaching assistant costs at institutions at which graduate students were organized only at the end of the period.
45 After e xamining the available data Ehrenberg et al. (2004) also conclude that graduate labor unions do not increase GAs salaries relative to the salaries of assistant professors. At first, the lowest ratios of average teaching assistant salary to average assistant professor salary are at the institutions that never had collective barg aining for graduate assis tants. But over the time period studied, it rises relative to the comparable ratios at universities at which graduate students bargained throughout the period. Likewise, it was highest throughout the period at the institutions that began bargaining with th eir GAs only during the last sample year. Ehrenberg et al. (2004) suggest that one should expect that the ratio of graduate assistant to assistant professor salaries will remain stable over time at these public institutions, for numerous contracts with gra duate workers specify that the salary increase GAs receive will mirror, in percentage terms, the increases granted to the faculty. Preliminary comparisons do not support for the argument that graduate student unions increase universities academic year cos ts for graduate students during the period, nor do they support the notion that collective bargaining has a significant positive economic impact on the lives of those GAs represented by a union relative to faculty. Overall the empirical research available suggests that worries over graduate unionization excessively draining resources from other projects are overstated. These findings come with a cautionary note, for the data is very limited and differentials could be credited to varying rates of tuition increases. Functions and Possibilities In order to understand the functions of graduate labor unions one can look at the issues at the center of collective bargaining and strikes. According to Zinni et al. (2005) and Gubrium (2001) the issues that are most frequently observed are the same issues
46 that led to the union movements formation in the first place: insistence upon higher wages and stipends, decreased workloads and tuition, more substantial benefits, and more favorable, organized processes for redressing grievances. Rhoades and Rhoads (2003) examination of the public discourses of GA labor unions identify educational transformations within universities, which are seen as products of corporatization discussed previously, as sparking the surge in GA unionization in the late 1990s and the early twenty first century. More recently GA unions have also used their platforms for highlighting contemporary issues including, gender and racial discrimination and samesex partner benefits as well as broader tr ends such as corporatization in higher education. These actions and agendas reflect the influence of both organized labor and the student movements of the 1960s (Rhoades & Rhoads, 2003) Within the context of changing academic economies and corporate universities graduate employee unions are seen as a potential source of resistance and progressive change (Bousquet, 2008; Lafer, 2003; Rhoads & Rhoades, 2005) It is probably not a coincidenc e that the empirical research available notes that the vast majority of graduate assistants willing to take on the tedious, time consuming work of union organizing are from the humanities and social sciences (Rhoads & Rhoades, 2005) It is within the disci plines that the reliance on graduate labor and time to degrees has risen the most dramatically and the chances of attaining tenure track employment upon graduation have dropped the most These are the same disciplines that have been receiving diminishing s hares of institutional monies that are disproportionately allocated to potentially profitable or productive departments and academic units (Bousquet, 2008; Rhoads & Rhoades, 2005)
47 The concentration of unionists in particular fields highlights the differ ing fa tes of various fields of study. But ironically, according to Rhoads and Rhoades (2005) this also illustrates the functions of particular academic disciplines. The social sciences and humanities purpose, in part, is to develop criticism and commentary on relevant social institutions, practices, and politics. In a way, corporatization has created the conditions from which its challenges have emerged. This contradiction of academic capitalism leads Rhoads & Rhoades to view the presence of GA labor unions on campuses as simultaneously indicating that corporatization is underway and offering the potential for resistance too corporatization. Bousquet (2008) sees graduate labor unions in conjunction with adjunct instructor unions as offering the best chance of turning the tide of corporatization due to the fact that there are just so many GAs and contingent faculty working on campuses that collectively they can wield an incredible amount of influence. Furthermore, they are currently the only source of en ergy, movement, critique and theory available. Bousquet rules out hope that tenurestream faculty unions will contribute to stymieing corporatization because they are beneficiaries of a sharply tiered labor forces, and they often cooperate with management in creating and maintain them. Lafer (2003) agrees with Bousquet that GA labor unions offer the best source of resistance to corporatization. But Lafer sees the i r potential being rooted in the power of example. Graduate labor unions, in his eyes, have the potential to spark organizing drives among faculty and other employees, and they offer a working model. Unionization would be the best form of opposition to corporatization, according to Lafer because organized labor alone offers the capability of counterbalancing current trends.
48 Although no spike in faculty organizing efforts has been observed, Lafer contends that recent practices such as salary freezes, transfers of intellectual property rights, limits on academic freedom and the erosion of tenure protections have created an environment in which unionizing is a more seductive prospect. Organizing Graduate Workers: Obstacles and Strategies The research examining the actual process of organizing graduate assistants tends to focus on strategies t hat can be used by organizers working with GAs as well as on unique obstacles and barriers to organizing this population. In some respects the strategies discussed are linked to obstacles specific to organizing graduate laborers (Bousquet, 2008; Isler, 2007; Wickens, 2008) In other instances, the strategies under consideration are rooted in, and framed in relation to, the traditions and tactics of organized industrial labor rather than the protest movements of the 1960s. What is more, they facilitate acti vism at the local level through professional organizations (Rhoades & Rhoads, 2003) The existence of graduate labor unions is a bit of an a nomaly to labor scholars. The literature on unions suggests that workers are most likely to unionize when they have long term attachment to the organization that employs them. Graduate workers do not have permanent employment relationships with the institutions where they study. This guarantees high attrition rates through graduation and each year brings dozens of n ew employees making solidarity and organization difficult to maintain. Furthermore, it ensures that union officers and activists will turnover frequently. Bousquet (2008) notes similarities of strategies among GA unions that are able to manage this charac teristic problem and sustain themselves over long periods of time. These involve continuous action and ongoing efforts to organize and educate workers and policy makers.
49 One lesson that many successful unions have learned is that legal and political victo ries can be short lived and oftentimes inconsequential. In many instances, university administrators have refused to bargain with GAs even though the law requires it. Bousquet observes that direct action, demonstrations, and appeals to state legislatures t o enforce existing laws are necessary on these occasions. In the case of the California state systems GAs, threats of unruliness inspired the legislature to threaten withholding money if the administrators continued to illegally refuse to bargain. When the composition of legislatures change, and when union veterans of past battles have moved on, administrators oftentimes backtrack on workers gains forcing repeats of previously settled dis putes. In 1976 the administration at the University of Michigan attempted to change their stance on GAs employment status claiming they were not in fact workers. Because le gal battles are costly and long, and administrators protracted them at every turn, the Michigan graduate assistants took a more grassroots approach. They started collecting dues faceto face, regularly holding rallies addressing economic issues, and authorizing strikes, walkouts, or work stoppages seven times from 1987 through 2002. Currently the contract at the University of Michigan is considered to be one of the strongest graduate employee contracts in the United States (Bousquet, 2008) So even though legal battles have been won, success over long periods of time is dependent on incessant organizing campaigns and educational efforts designed to inform both graduate workers and legislators about the issues facing GAs. Wickens (2008) somewhat echoes Boussquets argument with her comparison of labor strikes in the United States and Canada, noting that in Canada where union
50 actions are more frequent both faculty members and graduate assistants collective bargaining rights are more firmly entrenched and union membership is greater. According to Zinn et al. (2005) the national rate of graduate student unionization in Canada is 41%. The highest rates of unionization are in British Columbia and Ontario, followed by Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan. Wickens links the differences primarily to discrepancies in funding sources; almost all Cana dian universities are publicly funded, and in the United States almost all collective bargaining on U.S. campuses tak es place in the public sector. The discrepancy between unionization rates in public and private universities skews the comparison for membe rship rates. Wikens claims this also accounts for the greater propensity for striking in Canada; increased unionization likely translates into increased labor militancy. This leads her to predict that as unionization spreads through the public sector, stri kes will likely increase regardless of the prohibitions against them in state laws. It is unclear as to whether or not she is including strikes geared towards gaining recognition or merely strikes by workers with acknowledged union representation. In the e nd though, Wickens links more frequent labor action to greater union success. In a comparative case study Isler (2007) examines two groups teaching assistants (TAs) and web designers previously viewed as unorganizable workers. Isler is curious as to why union organizers have been more successful in recent efforts to organize TAs than with the web designers. He identifies fou r factors contributing to workers orgnizability: organizers expectations, market structures, employers actions, and union sent iments. Islers theoretical model conceptualizes the last factor, union sentiments, as being dependent on the first three.
51 Isler adds another layer of complexity to this model though by introducing workplace identities. In his words: Individuals construct their workplace identities within a hotly contested social milieu, challenged by some groups (anti union management) and supported by others (union sympathizers). This discursive process challenges workers to foreground one of many, at times contradictory, identity markers while si multaneously downplaying others (p. 444) In other words, workers are organizable when enough of them frame their collective identities as exploited workers. In order to foster this collective identity organizers seek t o convince laborers that unionizing is a suitable option that is in their best interest. In order to achieve this organizing strategies focusing on sy mbolic framing become crucial. Just as Bousquet (2008) notes that maintaining and advancing legal victories and institutional gains require constant organizing and educational efforts, Ilsers work highlights the constant quality of identity tensions among graduate employees. These too must be continually managed. In their examination of the public discourse of graduate labor unions Rhoades and Rhoads (2003) observe GA unions publicly claiming that their tactics make use of disruptive protest and local, professional political apparatuses. Actions such as si t ins and protests are linked to 1930s industrial labor actions rather than the traditions of the 1960s student movements and anti war movements which mark the era that delivered graduate unionization. In general, graduate labor unions public discourse i s not used to tie themselves to other contemporary student movements either. It is used to link local chapters to national labor affiliates and other graduate locals. The sources of problems that GA unionization is claiming to address are typically u nivers ity administrations and often faculty. But local faculty unions are rarely framed as antagonistic to GA locals.
52 And lastly, the discourse on GA labor strategies emphasizes and encourages political action and engagement through professional organizations and local institutions. Discussion of Literature in Relation to this Project In general the literature on graduate labor unions is limited to localized case studies with few systematic at tempts to link these together. For the most part, the researchs focus ignores the actual work that unionists are doing. Furthermore, the relationship of graduate labor unions to institutions of higher learning is focused on to the exclusion of the relationships between organized labor and GA unions. Beyond the work of Rhoads and Rhoades (2005) none of the literature situates the knowledge created from the standpoint of the people involved in unionizing. But there work stops at collecting these unionists critiques. Here, I am examining how those critiques manifest th emselves in action or work. Sociologically, the scholarship in this area has concluded that graduate employee unionization should be thought of as a national social movement ( Dixon, Tope, & Van Dyke, 2008; Rhoades & Rhoads, 2003) because of organization into national networks. Isler (2007) sees the capacity to affiliate in this manner as a product GAs identities being constructed around the idea that they are employees which renders them an organizable population. This is not a given though. Isler sees continual identity tension between GAs as workers and GAs as apprentices, for each respective status carries with it different expectations and guarantees. Unionization stems from successfully reframing GA identities as exploited workers rather than unorganizable apprentices. So, the extent to which graduate students foreground one identity and downplay the other helps to explain their propensity for organizing.
53 Methodologically the empirical research on GA unionization tends to focus on localized phenomena employing case study methods ( Isler, 2007 ; Lee, Oseguera, Kim, Fann, Davis, & Rhoads, 2004; Rhoades & Rhoads, 2003; Rhoads & Rhoades, 2005) This aspect of these projects is relevant to my work in the technical sense. I have gather ed data and recorded it in similar fashion. I will approach this research from the standpoint of the organizers actually performing the work being scrutinized. In this respect Rhoades and Rhoads (2003) research on graduate union activists critique of tran sformations in academic economies is of particular relevance. Here one of the things I look at is graduate unionizations possibilities from the perspective the people trying to realize its potential. I n addition, this research attempts to also examine h ow these workers, who labor organizations have begun taking note of, understand how their union and other s like it fit into organized labor more broadly. Islers (2007) comparative study is useful for my purposes. Firstly it examines particular strateg ies and approaches to organizing that graduate employee unionists utilize. Furthermore, the author draws on years of previous experience as a GA active in his union to construct an account from a position within organized labor. Isler had held positions o f power within his organization prior to conducting his research, as I have. His work, therefore, offers a functional model of how engage various aspects gathering, deciphering, and documenting data. The project proposed here diverges from Islers when it comes to the researchs primary concerns. My project looks at the work that makes the union operate; Isler is more focused on union sentiments among employees and factors that influence them. Organizing work enters Islers project as an explanatory var iable that influences
54 employees sentiments. He stops at identifying what it is that organizers must achieve in order to render graduate workers organizable: get GAs to identify themselves as employees not students. This work examines what it is union ac tivists actually do in order to pull this off, how they negotiate this identity tension to the unions benefit.
55 CHAPTER 3 THEORETICAL SENSITIVITY Theories of Practice and Social Movements Framing This study continues the examination of the g raduate labor movement literature by reorienting it towards the work required by organizing efforts I consider how it might be expanded by introducing the contributions of t wo theoretical frameworks: theories of practice that recognize the relational foundations of social organization ( Giddens, 1979; 1984; Smith, 1990; 2005; Wrong, 1979) and the social movement framing perspective ( Benford & Snow, 2000; Snow & Benford, 1988; 1992 ) Utilizing methods associated with Charmazs (2006) grounded theory and Gubrium and Holsteins (1997) analytic bracketing these perspectives and related concepts provide the basis for the theoretical sensitivity used to understand the organizational work of graduate labor activists. Consistent with this view of grounded theory, the point is not to test a specific theory for validity. Instead the point is to use these orientations as guides while exploring organizational processes. Relational Roots of Po wer This research entails exploring how graduate union activists understand their efforts in relation to the institutional structures of which they are a part. As activists, graduate unionists are engaged in social transactions the goal of which is to aff ect some kind of desirable, often anticipated outcome. The ways they pursue this in any given situation is the result of some view of what is possible and likely responses from various parties involved in the milieu within which they work within. Perceptions of authority and power of this sort are organizing features of any social system. They simultaneously engender conformity to social expectations and enable particular types
56 of activism or resistance (Collins, 2000; Ewick & Silbey, 2003) This is not to portray activism or resistance, of any kind, as the given results of social conditions. Social movements and social activism still manifest themselves as they do because of particular people doing specific things at various points in time. Simply put, soci al conditions create particular avenues that activists can pursue, but because unique, creative human subjects are involved, there is no guarantee that these avenues are explored. And when they are explored it is done in distinct ways. Reciprocal notions of power such as these are rooted in theories of social practice. For example, Dorothy Smith (1990) conceptualizes power as the "mobilization of people's concerted activities" (p. 80) ; Wrong (1979) sees the marker of power as the ability to achieve fores een and intended effects in social interactions; and Giddens (1979; 1984) understands it as the recurring patterns of authority and domination achieved through activity and interaction. The buildup and solidifying of social relations across time and space is the production of social structure. In modern society texts and communicative technology play indispensible roles in manufacturing the specific social relations that define it (Smith, 1990; 2005) Participation on the part of subordinates is an essent ial aspect of each of these. Their responses are crucial because they indicate how resources and constraints are perceived and utilized and are therefore central to social practices, processes, and structures. In other words, power is not a possession. Nor is the exercise of power a oneway affair flowing from the powerful onto passive subordinates. In the words of Ewick and Silbey (2003) power exists as a probabilistic social relationship contingent on all parties (p. 1333) Because power relies on the response of subordinates it is
57 linked to prospects for resistance. This is what Patricia Hill Collins (2000) means when she says that there is a dialectical relationship between oppression and activism. Each is simultaneously ordering the other. Specific modes of activism only make sense under particular circumstances. This theoretical approach sees power at play in transactions that are not necessarily defined as conflict. As Wrong (1979) points out, social relations are defined by reciprocity of influence. Particular parties may be able to more effectively influence the manifestation of social relations, but this is never absolute. Oftenti mes their influence is hidden. It functions through institutional networks and cultural systems and becomes so commo nplace that the allocation of authority is seen as given, so alternative forms of social organization are hidden. Nobody appears to be making demands on others and subordinates do not recognize their personal experiences as the product of coercive forces operating trans locally. Put simply, power is not always contested. Scholars studying organizational inequalities (Acker, 2006; Britton, 2003; 1997) particularly within the sociology of gender, utiliz e relational notions of power. The basic idea is that organizational inequalities of all sorts are the products of interlocking practices reproduce them in spite of concerted efforts to eliminate them. Oftentimes the practices of concern, such as gender neutral criteria for hiring or evaluating employees, ar e the results of attempts at eliminating discriminatory practices. The problem with such criteria is that they ignore inequalities that exist within the social world that they are a part of. Joan Acker (2006) makes use of this conceptualization of power in her examination of inequality regimes, particularly when she discusses how change efforts
58 in the workplace, which unions are frequently a part of, contribute to their creation. Britton (1997; 2003) examines prisons and identifies how identical processes and procedures in mens and womens prisons result in harsher punishment for women. For example, because of gendered child rearing practices and patterns of custody, the children of incarcerated men typically reside with their mothers. The children of in carcerated women more often become wards of the state creating more formal barriers between mothers and children than incarcerated fathers and their children. Social Movement Framing Also relevant to this project is literature on social movements, particularly the work on collective action frames and framing processes. I will examine this body of literature for the purposes of spelling out some key aspects of it that are relevant to this project. This is not an attempt to exhaustively review the social mov ements framing literature. Research on social movements and collective action has, for three and a half decades, focused on frames and framing, to the point that scholars have come to consider them central dynamics in social movements that influence their success (Benford & Snow, 2000) Moreover, social movement scholars have come to consider framing and framing processes as central components for comprehending the nature of social movements. This trend stems from the publication of Erving Goffmans book (1974) on the topic. For this study, framing is used to theoretically and empirically tie together the work of graduate union activists and the macro level conditions in which they are situated. Here, I will assess the various conceptualizations of collective action frames and their hallmark traits. After that I will review the literature on framing processes and situational issues that impede and enable the m.
59 Collective Action Frames Collective action involves the creating and manipulating meanings and ideas. Framing is a process of meaning making which oftentimes involves struggle. Social movement actors are therefore engaged in meaning making and maintenance for constituents, antagonists, and bystanders (Benford & Snow, 2000, p. 613; Loader, 2008; Snow & Benford, 1988) They are not alone in this, however. They are entangled with other entities attempting to influence social relations such as the stat e (university administrators specifically) or media, in what Hall labels the politics of signification (1982) But until the middle of the 1980s those studying social movements in the main ignored, or viewed as irrelevant the work required for mobiliz ing ideas and meanings (Benford & Snow, 2000) Likewise, upon recognition and utilization of the framing perspective by social movement scholars, they proceeded to focus cognitive aspects of framing for the purposes of collective action with a blind eye t owards the significance of emotions in the framing processes (Schrock, Holden, & Reid, 2004) Social movement scholars utilize active, present tense language, framing which connotes an ongoing, dynamic process (Benford & Snow, 2000; Gamson, Fireman, & Ryt ina, 1982; Snow & Benford, 1988; Snow, Rochford, Worden, & Benford, 1986) Implicit in this language are the notions of agency and conflict. Framing involves active subjects involved in the construction and interpretation of frames. The fruits of these ac tions, with respect to social movements, are collective action frames. One of the primary functions of frames is to give meaning and organization to events and experiences. According to Goffman (1974) a frame is a schemata of interpretation that allows its users to locate, perceive, identify, and label a seemingly infinite number of concrete occurrences (p. 21) As a result, they organize and direct
60 behavior. As a specific type of interpretive lens, collective action frames areas their name states act ion oriented ideas and viewpoints. They simplify and condense occurrences in ways that are intended to marshal supporters, gain the support of spectators, and dismiss or demobilize adversaries of social movement organizations ( Benford & Snow, 2000; Snow & Benford, 1988) In other words, collective action frames simultaneously encourage and justify the actions of social movement organizations and actors. It is important to note, that frames must be differentiated from the psychological concept of schemas ( Benford & Snow 2000; Van Gorp, 2007) Schemas are more appropriately thought of as peoples expectations about the world and the people, objects, and events in it as opposed to configurations being negotiated in particular interactions. Schemas and fram es interact with each other in the course of human affairs, but they are distinct. It is this element of negotiating shared meaning that makes frames and framing processes distinctly sociological. Framing Tasks As previously mentioned, collective action f rames are action oriented. They are constructed through social movement supporters negotiation of a shared understanding of situation s they want to change. They are used to identify and define problems, distribute blame, offer alternative arrangements, a nd encourage others join in actions to affect change. Snow and Benford (1988) and Benford and Snow (2000) refer to these as the core tasks of collective action frames. They classify collective action frames into three groups according to which task it attends to: diagnostic frames (identify problems and attribute blame) prognostic frames (propose solutions) and motivational frames (articulate rationale for specific collective action).
61 Social movements advocating political or economic changes of various ty pes regularly rely on injustice frames as articulated by Gamson, Fireman, and Rytina (1982) and Gamson (1992) Injustice frames are seen as modes of interpretation that are generated and espoused by those who see the actions of powerful entities as being u nwarranted. Injustice frames according to Gamson et al. are necessary precursors to collective dissent. Multiple case studies examining the production and communication of injustice frames (Anheir, Neidhardt, & Vortkamp, 1998; Cable & Shriver, 1995; Cap ek, 1993; Carroll & Ratner, 1996) as well as processes of identifying and calling attention to specific victims (Benford & Hunt, 1992; Capek, 1993; Weed, 1997; White, 1999) have been conducted demonstrating their prevalence. But as Benford and Snow (2000) argue, using the example of religious, self help movements, there is little evidence to support Gamsons (1992) conclusion that all collective action frames are injustice frames. Diagnostic framing serves two functions. It identifies and defines problems and it allocates and focuses blame. Since social movements seeks to rectify or change some problem or troubling condition, it stands to reason that specific actions stem from identifying source(s) of causality, blame, and/or culpable agents (Benford & Snow, 2000, p. 616) We must recognize, however, that agreement with regards to the nature of existing problems does not necessarily guarantee consensus as to whom or what is to blame. Benfords (1993) work on the nuclear disarmament movement identifies di sputes over the most significant source of the nuclear threat as a contentious divisive point among various peace groups that lead to turmoil within the movement.
62 The second core task of collective action frames is prognostic framing. This task offers alt ernatives to the problematic condition, solutions, as well as strategies and plans for action to bring about the desired change. By i dentifying and defining specific problems and their causes constraints on the field of possible, appropriate solutions and avenues for pursuing them are created ( Benford & Snow, 2000; Gerhar ds & Rucht, 1992; Nepstad, 1997) Beyond the constraints stemming from diagnostic frames, prognostic framing is organized by the actions and behaviors of other entities such as opponents, other organizations, or media. As mentioned previously, central to prognostic framing is the articulation of solutions and the rationale behind them. Because framing is done within a multi organizational field a large part of diagnostic framing consists of counter framing, contesting or rebutting the explanations and resolutions offered by other organizations or individuals ( Benford & Snow, 2000 ; Evans, 1997) New media which allows more parties to weigh in on issues has complicated this in recent years. Although communicative technology has enabled activists and organizations to make contact with more and more people and groups, it has also allowed others to make contact with the same people. This increased communicative capability has led to a saturated the media environment used for mobilization and organizing efforts (Loader, 2008) Opposi tion to framing activity effect s movements framing in two ways T hey can put movement activists on the defensive, and they can force the further development and elaboration of existing prognoses than would be the case in the absence of antagonistic frames (Benford & Snow, 2000) This is illustrated in Zuo and Benfords (1 995) work on the 1989 democracy movement in China. Having anticipated that the
63 state would cast the movement as counterrevolutionary, democracy activists framed their proposed solutions in terms of traditional Chinese notions of community, sacrifice, and devotion. The third core task of collective action frames is motivational framing. This is where the rationale and incentive for engaging in collective, transformative action is provided and appropriate vocabularies of motive are constructed and utilized (Benford & Snow, 2000) As a result, issues concerning human agency become salient with regards to framing processes (Gamson 1995; Schrock, Holden, & Reid, 2004) This is highlighted in Benfords (1993) work on the nuclear disarmament movement. He identif ies four general vocabularies of motive constructed and utilized among those engaged with the movement in various ways to varying degrees: severity, urgency, efficacy, and propriety. Although the four vocabularies provide activists with convincing explanations and justifications for collective action that function to sustain adherents participation, when espoused in some ways, under various condition, they worked against each other. Activists focusing on urgency and severity were observed to undermine any sense of efficacy within the movement. This contradiction engendered the construction of propriety and duty vocabularies. It is for this motivational task that agents of social movement organizations most extensively appeal to emotions and invoke collec tive identities (Bernstein, 1997; Crawley & Broad, 2004; Schrock, Holden, & Reid, 2004; Wolkomir, 2001) Appeals to emotions and collective identities underscore what social movement scholars generally recognize: that material interest alone cannot account for peoples participation in collective action (Bernstein, 1997) Likewise, appeals to specific emotions or the
64 invoking of particular types of collective identities or emotions are dependant more on contextual factors like access to polity or the nature of opposition than on any core essence of particular types of social movements, such as those based on identity and social acceptance as opposed to rights or benefits based movements (Schrock, Holden, & Reid, 2004) Crawley and Broad (2004) examine the ways storytelling is used to these ends in LGBT social movements. Taylor (1996) demonstrates how postpartum self help groups draw upon negative emotions such depression, fear, or shame so as to transform them into anger that can be mobilized for collective action. As the previous example illustrates, social movements do not simply draw upon existing emotions. Indeed, social movements and social movement organizations often provide spaces where emotions can be transformed towards social change. Jasper (1998) identifies how events can trigger moral shocks and drive people to action. Jasper concludes that the televised Clarence Thomas hearings generated anger in women. Likewise, Regers (2004) examination of feminist consciousness raising demonstrates how or ganizational processes facilitate emotion work. Through the use of consciousness raising events, a chapter of the National Organization for Women creates free spaces where individual emotions are embraced and, guided by the organizations ideologies and goals, gradually transformed into collective action. Other research shows how emotions are triggered, manipulated and used strategically by movement activists and organizations. Whittiers (2001) study of the child sexual abuse movement reveals how emotional labor can be integral part of an organizations line of attack. Through actions such as telling rape stories momentum for change can be built.
65 Jasper (1998) distinguishes between two types of emotions relevant the study of social movements: shared and reciprocal. Shared emotions are common to movement participants, but they are not felt towards each other and are often rooted in emotional states experienced outside of the movement context, such as womens moral shock brought forth by the Clarence Thomas c onfirmation hearings. Reciprocal emotions are aimed at other participants and provide fertile ground for developing friendships, loyalty and solidarity within movements. Both shared and reciprocal emotions are dispersed through interaction and what Hochschild (1979) labels emotion work, the process by which the emotional expectations are met and challenge and feelings are dealt with. Implicit to the literature on collective action framing, and reflected in this document, is the assumption that the three core framing tasks are carried out in a linear fashion. As I mentioned in the discussion of prognostic framing, it stands to reason that solutions offered by social movement organizations or actors are linked to the specific definitions of problems and culpa ble parties. But one does not necessarily precede the other. Do definitions of problems lead to particular proposals to rectify them, or does the desire to carry out some kind of collective action such as a demonstration serve as the impetus to define a si tuation or condition as problematic? This question of order seems to be of particular relevance to the study of graduate labor unions because of the observation of continuous organizing strategies employed by the existing unions cited previously in C hapter 2 Continuous need for organizing means that organizing itself is an end, not merely a means. The means to that end will necessarily rely on some problem. Is that problem conjured by activists or do they simply respond to preexisting dilemmas?
66 Varying Aspects of Collective Action Frames Scholarship concerned with the variable features of collective action frames has identified four general lines upon which collective action frames differ: problem identification and direction/locus of attribution; flexibility and rigidity, inclusivity and exclusivity; interpretive scope and influence; and degree of resonance (Benford & Snow, 2000) The first, most apparent way in which collective action frames vary is along the lines of the problems being targeted for c hange and where credit for them belongs. Benfords (1997) critique of the framing perspective identifies a long list of different types of collective action frames existing research has made out, but according to Benford and Snow (2000) this has been of limited utility in terms of understanding the social movement framing dynamics by and large They see as more useful research such as Gerhards and Ruchts (1992) comparative work on West German mobilization campaigns in the 1980s and Tayl ors (1999) work on womens postpartum self help movements. Gerhards and Rucht conclude that as the number of problems addressed by a frame increases, so too does the mobilization capacity of that frame. This is contingent on the degree to which problems at hand are believably interrelated. Taylor (1999) examines how the redefinition of personal or collective identity fosters emotional mobilization. Contrary to many feminist critiques that blame this movement for fostering a cult of victimization, she attri bute s this movement with undermining institutions central to the maintenance of patriarchy. The next two major ways collective action frames vary are somewhat interrelated. The first deals with the number of topics and ideas they express and integrate while the third involves the number of movements and social movement organizations that utilize
67 these frames. According to Benford and Snow (2000) frames that make use of greater numbers of ideas and arguments are seen to be more inclusive and flexible whi le those that utilize fewer are seen as relatively exclusive and rigid. Logically, collective action frames that are more inclusive and flexible are more likely to move beyond movement specific uses and become master frames that influence and organize the orientation and actions multiple movements. Likewise, collective action frames vary with regards to their interpretive scopes and influence (Benford & Snow, 2000) I n most cases, movements make use of frames linked to specific groups or interrelated issues. These frames tend to be narrowly focused and movement specific. Some collective action frames, however, are utilized by multiple movements and social movement organizations. These ar e referred to as master frames. Master frames are quite broad in sco pe, functioning as a kind of master algorithm that colors and constrains the orientations and activities (Benford & Snow, 2000, p. 618; Snow & Benford, 1992) Few collective action frames have been recognized as being broad enough to qualify as master frames. Some examples include injustice frames (Gamson, Fireman, & Rytina, 1982) rights frames (Valocchi, 1996) return to democracy frames (Noonan, 1995) sexual terrorism frames (Jenness & Broad, 1994) cultural pluralism and choice frames (Davies, 1999) The more pervasive movement specific frames are often derived from master frames (Snow & Benford, 1992) Although it is necessary that frames be broad and flexible in order to become master frames, this is not sufficient. According to Gerhards and Rucht (199 2) as the range of problems addressed by collective action frames increases so does the range of
68 social groups that they can addressed. Likewise, the mobilization capacity of a frame increases in relation to the range of problems spoken to. Gerhards and R u cht add a caveat to these propositions by noting that they only hold true to the extent that the various problems contained within a frame are believably interrelated. Swart (1995) concludes that frames get adopted by two or more groups, and thus ascend to master frame status because they are culturally resonant to their particular historical setting. The final significant way in which collective action frames vary is based on resonance. Frames that are more resonant are more effective or compelling when it comes to mobilizing (Snow & Benford, 1988) Much of the work on resonance through the 1990s focuses on cognitive processes and links it to two sets of interrelated causes: credibility and salience (Benford & Snow, 2000) Credibility is seen as being r elated to three factors: frame consistency, empirical credibility, and the credibility of the frame articulators. Consistency refers to how well a social movement organizations actions, claims, and beliefs correspond with each other. Consistency, or inconsistency, can be observed in the relationships between organizations claims and beliefs as well as between their framings and proposed tactics. The working proposition is that as inconsistencies of either type become more apparent, the frames lose resonance. Zuo and Benfords (1995) study of the 1989 Chinese democracy movement sees its successful mobilization of ordinary Chinese nationals as stemming, at least in part, from the high consistency between the student activists public framing and their behav ior in Tiananmen Square relative to the inconsistency of state policies and assertions. Frames must also appear to be consistent with events taking place in the world. They must have empirical credibility (Benford & Snow, 2000; Snow & Benford, 1988)
69 Wh ether or not the diagnosis or prognosis articulated through collective action frames are valid or factually correct is somewhat irrelevant. According to Snow and Benford (1988) and Gamson (1992) what is important is that the examples can be read as verifi ca tion of diagnostic assertions. Zuo and Benfords (1995) work on the Chinese democracy movement helps to highlight this point as well. The political reforms pushed by the student activists in the late 1980s were similar to the changes instituted in the fo rmer Soviet Union. Using this historical example, the democracy advocates argued that similar changes were indeed possible within China. The final component of a collective action frames credibility is linked to the credibility of whoever is articulating the frame (Benford & Snow, 2000) It stands to reason claims will resonate more as the status, apparent capability of their articulators and/or the organizations increases in the eyes of the audience. Coy and Woehrle (1996) document the ways peace movement s engaged in counter framing during the first Persian Gulf War. A significant amount of their efforts were devoted to revealing their credentials in an attempt to validate their positions. In addition to credibility, the resonance of a collective action frame is dependent on salience. Salience is organized along three dimensions: centrality, experiential commensurability, and narrative fidelity (Benford & Snow, 2000; Snow & Benford, 1988) C entrality concerns how important the views, principles, and ideas associated with collective action frames are to those whose efforts the articulators seek to enlist. In theory, the chances of mobilizing individuals or groups increases as the values, ideas and beliefs of a movement become more central to their lives. Although there are few studies examining this, Benford and Snow (2000) argue that there are a few that
70 indirectly indicate its validity One example they cite is Sherkat and Ellisons (1997) i nspection of organized opposition to pornography amongst conservative Protestants. The second dynamic accounting for a collective action frames salience is experiential commensurability (Benford & Snow, 2000). In other words, frames are more effective a nd seem more relevant, when they more closely correspond to the daily, commonplace experiences of the targets of mobilization efforts (Zuo & Benford, 1995). Babbs (1996) historical study of greenbackism in the late 19th century American Labor Movement documents how an ideology that blatantly contradicted constituents' experiences (p. 1033) come to be disconfirmed in a manner similar discredited scientific theories. The final component of salience is narrative fidelity or cultural resonance, as some refer to it (Benford & Snow, 2000; Snow & Benford, 1988). Narrative fidelity refers to the extent to which the framing offered by social movements fit with the cultural n arratives targets of mobilization efforts already use. The more closely these fit, the greater the frames narrative fidelity, and the more salient the frame is. This suggestion has been demonstrated by multiple empirical investigations (Berbrier, 1998; Noonan, 1995; Zuo & Benford, 1995). In spite of the seemingly obvious link between emotional connections and a successful call to arms (Benford & Snow, 2000, p. 617; Goodwin, Jasper, & Polletta, 2001) not until recently has the work on frame resonance mov ed beyond limited examinations of cognitive processes and focused on the role emotions play in movements and failures. Schrock, Holden and Reid (2004) define emotional resonance as
71 The emotional harmony and/or disjuncture between collective action frames and the emotional lives of potential recruits the link between targeted recruits' emotional lives and the emotional messages encoded in SMO framing. (pp. 61 62) This shift marks recognition that emotional considerations and desires can be equally, if not more, influential than rational thought and the empirical incongruity of frames in determining the behavior of those targeted by mobilization attempts. Although not situated in the framing literature Wolkomirs (2001) research on gay and ex gay Christian support groups, documenting the ways in which they use emotional promises in order to prime potential participants, serves as a watershed piece in the turn away from cognitive processes Her analysis proposes that moving assurances to curtail indignity and embarrassment while emphasizing desired sentiment s motivated novices to embrace altering their own beliefs to fit with the support groups' framings rather than the group tailoring frames to the recruits. This suggests appeals that resonate with the e motional desires of potential recruits can overshadow cognitive tensions between targeted recruits' beliefs and movement frames. Moreover, Wolkomir's work suggests that in order to comprehend the construction of emotional resonance we must compare the emot ional needs of targeted recruits with the emotional promises contained in SMO framing. The more closely these align, the greater the emotional resonance of collective action frames. Framing Processes Because this research is primarily concerned with the work that graduate labor activists engage in, I will turn my attention toward the processes involved in developing, producing, and articulating collective action frames. I will follow this with a review of the
7 2 literature examining the ways in which frames ar e disseminated across movements, organizations, cultures, and time. Several studies have identified specific methods by which collective action frames are developed (Cable & Shriver, 1995; Capek, 1993; Gamson, 1992; Gamson, Fireman, & Rytina, 1982) but a ll in all, the body of work centers the core framing tasks previously discussed as well as entwined discursive, strategic and contested processes (Benford & Snow, 2000) Discursive Processes Discursive processes are talk and conversations the speech acts and written communications of movement members that occur primarily in the context of, or in relation to, movement activities (Benford & Snow, 2000, p. 623) Basically, two interconnected, discursive practices are significant in the production of collective action frames. These are frame articulation and frame amplification. Frame articulation entails bringing experiences and events into line so that they weave together a cohesive, compel ling narrative that engenders a new way of seeing or interpreting them. Frame amplification, on the other hand, requires emphasizing, highlighting, or generally drawing attention to certain events, issues, ideas, views or facts as being of greater importance than others. These amplified facets are useful as tools for splicing together assorted occurrences and concerns (Benford & Snow, 2000) The manner in which this takes place is contingent upon both the substance of what is being conveyed as well as the channels of communication being utilized (Loader, 2008; Van Gorp, 2007)
73 Strategic Processes Strategic processes, or frame alignment, are concerted, practical, and goal oriented (Benford & Snow, 2000; Snow, Rochford, Worden, & Benford, 1986) These are attempts on the part of social movement organizations to link their ideas and views to those of prospective activists, sympathizers, donors et cetera. They lead to purposespecific frames, such as those intended to turn out activists for a direct action or to recruit new members. Four elementary types of strategic processes have been identified; frame bridging, amplification, extension, and transformation. Bridging processes are those used to tie ideologically congruent but structurally unconnected frames regarding a particular issue or problem (Benford & Snow, 2000, p. 624) This occurs between organizations and individuals, other organizations, and populations of potential sympathizers who are not yet mobilized. Gerhards and Rucht (1992) document how We st German activists mobilizing against international lending agencies bridge their frames with those of multiple organizations. Roths (2003) work on the Coalition of Labor Union Women documents the organizations efforts at bridging labor and womens groups. Frame amplification processes are used to exalt, explain, animate, or reinforce extant values and ideas (Benford & Snow, 2000) It makes sense that movements would seek to tap into existing cultural narratives and value sets in order to maximize resonance, but as Loader (2008) points out, this process of amplifying existing values and ideas serves to construct new ones (a.k.a. frame transformation). Zuo and Benfords (1995) examination of the 1989 Chinese Democracy movement highlights the student activ ists successful amplification of traditional Chinese values in attempts to tap into broader potential support. The amplification of conventional values and ideas is a
74 useful tactic for marginalized groups and movements that seek benefits for populations d ifferent from those whose efforts and resources are required ( Benford & Snow, 2000; Berbrier, 1998) When social movement organizations are involved in portraying their interests and ideas as reaching outside of their primary areas of concern in order to address issues that may be of importance to potential supporters they are engaged in frame extension (Benford & Snow, 2000) Research on organized labor suggests this is a fruitful strategy, for as issues pertaining to race, sex, gender, and sexuality appear more prominently in unions agendas, the more likely people from marginalized groups are to participate in unionization ( Bairstow, 2007; Franzway, 2000; Heery, 2006; Kirton, 1999; Ostrande r, 1999; Roth, 2003; Ward, 2004) Other works on frame extension find that it can have a destabilizing effect (Babb, 1996) or lead to infighting (Benford R. D., Frame Disputes Within the Nuclear Disarmament Movement, 1993) The last strategic framing process is frame transformation whereby existing ideas, values and understandings are altered and new ones are formed (Benford & Snow, 2000) Not much work on this topic has been done by social movement scholars. One study by White (1999) documents the efforts of Black Feminist group to reweave cultural narrative concer ning rape within the African American community. Loader (2008) and Van Gorp (2007) demonstrate the utility of new media and communicative technology in the transformation process. Contested Processes There is a general consensus that all framing proces ses are contested. Movement activists, as previously mentioned, are engaged in the politics of signification (Hall, 1982) As Benford and Snow (2000) surmise, this means that
75 activists are not able to impose on their intended targets any version of re ality they would like (p. 625) They also identify three chief challenges to successful framing: counterframing by outsiders, intramovement frame disputes, and the dialectic between frames and actual events. The fact of social movements existence mea ns that there is disagreement as to how to understand some aspect of reality (Benford R. D., 1993) Therefore framing frequently is the site where social movements are challenged or resisted (Benford & Snow, 2000) Opponents of social movements often times do opposition by undermining or rebutting the interpretive framework movements offer. This is counterframing. Ryan (1991) calls these struggles over interpretive frameworks framing contests. Framing contests occur on cluttered fields. The arena of soci al movement framing is multior ganizations and institutional. Many of which aim their efforts and resources at affecting the same issues or conditions, at exerting control over the outcomes of shared social transactions. Benford and Snows (2000) assessmen t of the framing literature concludes that in spite of extensive documentation of specific framing contests, little is known about the factors that influence their outcomes beyond the tautological proposition that those that won out did so because their fr ames were more resonant. Contestation over frames takes place among and within movements and organizations. Haines (1996) work on organizations devoted to ending capit al punishment identifies disputes within organizations over prognostic framing. He concludes that these were a mixed bag that at times facilitated their cause but at others was an obstacle. Other research on different movements and organizations at various points in history has come to the same end: White (1999) on black feminist collect ivity,
76 Benford (1993) on the nuclear disarmament movement, and Clemens (1996) historical analysis of organized labor in the United States. Lastly, collective action frames are molded by their relationship to actual collective action events (Benford & Snow, 2000) In other words, frames legitimate and nurture the conditions for particular types of actions. Simultaneously, collective action molds the discourse, which limits future prospects for actions. The resulting actions in turn shape the discourses that underlie collective action frames et cetera. Ellington (1995) illustrates this in his look at riots over abolition in Cincinnati prior to the War Between the States. He concludes that discourse shapes events which have bearing on the ideas and values that are the basis for the discourse and frames. Frame Dissemination In order to understand the work that framing entails, it is necessary to look at the processes and means by which frames are disseminated and spread from movement to movement, organization to organization as well as how collective action frames and framing processes influence the dissemination of movement ideas and practices. Benford and Snow (2000) conclude that there are two scenarios in which framing becomes most salient in the diffusion processes of social movements: when only one party involved (transmitter or adapter) takes an active role or when the groups involved are seemingly so disconnected that their ties need to be consciously constructed. There are two strategic processes relevant to frame dissemination: selection or adaption and fitting or accommodating (Benford & Snow, 2000) Strategic selection includes any situations in which an adopter of a frame deliberately borrows from other movements, and modifies them as to be of use to their movement. This is illustrated by Jeness and Broads (1994) as well as Jenesss (1995) investigations into how gay and
77 lesbian movements adapted the sexual terrorism frame from the womens movement in order to disseminate their diagnosis of violence against gays and lesbians as a social problem. Strategic fittin g covers all scenarios in which the transmitter assumes the active role in intentionally tailors and alters objects or practices as to make the relevant to another movement or culture. Mayers (2009) look into bluegreen coalitions between labor and environmental groups documents the construction of a health frame that allowed activists to see these movements as allied and fosters more enduring cooperation. Traditionally these two movements have been viewed as antagonistic to one another. Context of Framing Processes Collective action frames are not static, reified entities (Benford & Snow, 2000, p. 628) Rather they are incessantly being crafted, challenged, altered, remade or traded. All of these manifest themselves in relation to the social, cultural and political contexts they are endemic to. Three contextual factors are seen as being particularly important to framing processes, though they are not exhaust ive. These are political opportunity structure, cultural opportunities and constraints, and the i ntended audience. The relationships between the structures of political opportunity, institutional structures, informal relations within these structure and social movement mobilization are a key concern within the framing literature (Benford & Snow, 200 0) A s well scholars have investigated the ways in which these structures inhibit and help collective action frames (Evans, 1997) Mooney and Hunts (1996) look into agrarian mobilization in the United States as a window into understanding the historical continuity of collective action frames. Their analysis of three master frames agrarian fundamentalism,
78 competitive capitalism, and producer ideologies demonstrates the variable nature of frame alignment. Agrarian fundamentalisms resonance, unlike the other two, remains relatively stable in spite of changing material conditions and diminishing political opportunities. Likewise, the frame stayed stable over several decades. Producer ideologies and the competitive capitalism frame lost resonance as economic and political conditions became harsher. This led to their reframing. The difference according to Mooney and Hunt is that the logic of agrarian fundamentalism and its devotional qualities that mediate the changing material conditions thereby maintain its re sonance among farmers. The cultural contexts that social movements operate within also create particular constraints and present opportunities for collective action frames and framing activities (Benford & Snow, 2000) Collective action frames are the products of cultural resources such as beliefs, ideologies, practices, narratives, and existing interpretive frameworks. Swindler (Swidler, 1986) refers to the collection of such resources as a tool kit from which people construct strategies of action (p. 273) Collective action frames as well as the interpretive framework through which frames are assessed are the products of these. Therefore, social movements are simultaneously producer of new meanings and consumers of existing ones. Empirical resear ch suggests that the concept of a recursive relationship between present culture and movement frames is valid (Berbrier, 1998; Davies, 1999; Nepstad, 1997) In her study of womens postpartum self help groups, Taylor (1999) builds upon research linking theories of gender to social movements as an explanatory factor in their functioning. Her work goes further demonstrating that this influence runs both ways.
79 Just as gender helps shape protest, social movements contribute to the construction of gender. All i n all these studies demonstrate that framing processes reproduce broader cultural trends. Moreover, the relationship between variable cultural resonance and frames is reciprocal. Each evenly influences the other. The last cultural factor that the framing literature focuses on is the targeted audience (Benford & Snow, 2000) The interaction between movement activists and the audience is an essential feature of the social movements. Oftentimes the targeted audience is diverse in terms of values, culture, i deas, material interests, identity and knowledge. Likewise with regards to the contributions individuals can make towards movement efforts. Audience concerns are commonplace factors shedding light on movements periodic attempts at frame modification. Both Ellingtons (1995) work on abolitionist riots and Evans (1997) research on the religious prochoice movement document how issues centering on the respective audiences provided impetuous for alterations in collective action frames. Similarly, Jasper and P oulsen (1995) lay bare the differing devices that are effective for conscripting friends as opposed to strangers into movements. They conclude that when appealing to strangers, moral shock is a necessary, fruitful device. When dealing within existing social networks, f amily, friends, and prior activism are more frequently cited as motivating factors. These projects point to a dynamic relationship between framing activity and the intended audience. The nuances of t his relationship, according to Benford and Snow (2000) warrants further examination. What follows in Chapter 4 is a discussion of the methods, methodology and analytic strategy used to examine the work associated with a graduate labor union and
80 how it gets done. Specifically, a grounded theory methodology ( Charmaz, 2006) utilizing experiential participant observation (Emerson, Fretz, & Shaw, 1995) active interviewing (Holstein & Gubrium, 1995) and analytic bracketing (Gubrium & Holstein, 1997) is adopted. Along with the theoretical perspectives mentioned above, this methodological approach is used to identify primary processes and themes associated with how graduate labor activists do and organize their work. This strategy examines the activists experiences, opinions, and concerns in the union with regards t o their work as they are co constructed in the interview process as well as through daily life as a graduate labor activist .
81 CHAPTER 4 RESEARCH METHODS Graduate Assistants United at the University of Florida The University of Florida chapter o f Graduate Assistants United (UF GAU) is the labor union that represents graduate assistants (GAs). GAs are graduate students who are also employed by the university in order to fund their studies. Through collective bargaining and contract enforcement UF GAU negotiates and protects the rights and benefits graduate assistants are entitled to as a result of their employment. UF GAU is a chapter of the United Faculty of Florida (UFF) which is the higher education labor in the state of Florida. The UFF website claims that the organization has chapters comprised of state university faculty, independent university faculty, college faculty (formerly junior college), and graduate assistants. The UFF, and therefore UF GAU, are affiliates of the Florida Education Ass ociation (FEA) the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). Currently, UF GAU represents 4,273 graduate assistants (GAs) who perform various types of work (University of Florida, 2009) Of those employees, 925 (21.64%) of them are members of UF GAU (UF GAU, 2009) Membership in UF GAU is voluntary, GAs are neither automatically enrolled in the union nor are dues compulsory. Still, all graduate employees at the university are covered by the collective bargaini ng agreement negotiated between UF GAU and the University of Floridas Board of Trustees (UFBOT). Memb ership dues are 1% of a GAs pay check, regardless of the total amount they make. In other words, not all graduate employees pay the same amount in membership dues.
82 As stated previously, all graduate assistants are covered by the contract negotiated between the UFBOT and UF GAU regardless of their membership status in their union. Membership does come with added guarantees. For example, even though all GAs are entitled to the grievance procedure articulated in the collective bargaining agreement, union members are assured of representation by somebody familiar with the details of their contract and processes for redressing violations. Furthermore, nonmembers who file grievances that are settled through arbitration can be held accountable for the costs whereas that is covered for members (UF GAU, 2008) Although GAs perform various types of work (e.g. research, teaching, grading, and clerical work) they ar e most typically utilized for instructional work. According to the U.S. Department of education (American Federation of Teachers, 2007) graduate assistants accounted for 49.3% of the university s instructional staff in the fall of 2007, the most recent year for which data is available. This marks a slight decline from the fall of 2003 when GAs comprised 52.1% of the instructional staff but it is a 38% increase over the 11.3% of instructional staff constituted by graduate employees in the fall of 1999. This increased dependence on GAs to do instructional work is consistent with national trends (Singh, Zinni, & Maclennan, 2006; Zinni, Singh, & MacLennan, 2005) According to the UF GAU constitution (UF GAU, 2003) the organization exists to pursue eight object ives: protecting rights and benefits GAs are entitled to; promote democratization of the University of Florida (UF); insuring accountability and responsibility for policies and actions taken by university administrators on behalf of the university, facult y and professional employees; achieving and safeguarding due process and academic freedom; combating all forms of discrimination; promoting academic
83 excellence in research, teaching and service; helping GAs realize their professional and human potential; a nd promoting economic security and humane working conditions at UF. The UF GAU constitution requires that the governance of UF GAU be carried out by the executive committee. This is comprised of all the elected officers: two copresidents, a treasurer, a g rievance officer, and a coordinator (previously referred to as a secretary prior to the fall of 2007) which are all elected by the general membership every two years. Further members of the executive committee consist of a chief steward and chairs of standing committees. Chapter bylaws give the power to appoint the Chief Steward and the Chairs of standing c ommittees to the co presidents. There are five standing committees: Bargaining Committee, Grievance Committee, Organizing Committee, Publications Committ ee, and International Issues Committee. UF GAU was originally formed in 1976 for the purposes of improving the working condition for GAs (Gubrium, 2001; UF GAU, 2009; Zinni, Singh, & MacLennan, 2005) Key events in the history of the organization include their formal recognition in 1980 and the first year GAs were covered by a contract negotiated by UF GAU in 1981. In the 2003 2004 school year when the Florida legislature challenged their existence, UF GAU conducted a successful card drive in which 50% plus one of the GAs had to sign a card stating that they wanted t o retain union representation. Four thousand GAs signed cards reaffirming that UF GAU represents them (Thompson, 2004; UF GAU, 2009) Key issues that UF GAU has fruitfully negotiated for inc lude tuition waivers (1986) the removal of the international student fee (2005) fully and subsidized healthcare (2006). Current issues include altering termination processes so that employees must
84 be informed of the reasons for their firing and waiving student activity fees (a.k.a. employment fees) (UF GAU, 2009) Study Design This study is designed to investigate graduate unionists understandings of their work. The study relies on ethnographic methods and an inductive logic that roots the knowledge produced in the empirical world in a manner similar to grounded theory (Charmaz K. 2006; Charmaz & Mitchell, 2001; Glaser & Strauss, 1967) Analysis of data at each point in the research is used to determine how to proceed in order to collect further data, w ho to talk to, what to ask about and what to watch for. Furthermore, data coding utilizes classifications schemes that emerge from that data rather than making use of predetermined categories. The primary focus is on the everyday work performed by organiz ers in the graduate labor movement and how the people doing this work understand its organization. Various ethnographic methods are employed: participant observation, group and oneon one interviews and the examination of texts. Furthermore, my own personal experiences of more than five years as a participant in the graduate labor movement inform this analysis throughout. Starting From the Standpoint of Union Organizers This study starts from the standpoint of higher education labor organizers wo rking with graduate assistants. Standpoint in this case is rooted in the ideas of Dorothy Smith (1990; 2005) It is utilized to create a starting point for examining the social world rather than attempting to capture a social system in its entirety f rom an objec tified perspective. Consequently, this research is designed to examine the work that labor organizers perform and its organization as they understand it. Their
85 experiences and work knowledge define the starting point; in the end this is a study of the soci al organization of their work. In accordance with Smiths (1990; 2005) ideas on the social world, the analysis to be conducted is an examination of how peoples activities come to be coordinated and organized as they are. Texts are seen to be of paramount importance in achieving particular forms of organization in contemporary society, for they can reproduce meaning across time and space, detac hed from local particularities. This quality is indispensable in terms of their usage in managing executive, admi nistrative, prof essional forms of organization. Consequently I pay particular attention to the use of texts in the course of doing union work. Th is research is conducted reflexively from inside the social organization of my world as an academic researc her as well as the social worlds I am examining. In other words, this project is a conscious collaboration among participants Interviews, participant observation, and documentary analyses are conducted in order to broaden the everyday understandings of my own reality as to encompass understanding others. This reflexive orientation requires that participants be viewed and treated as being well informed with regards to their work. They are utilized as capable practitioners within the co ntext of their every day worlds. Interviews are used so that participants can contribute these capabilities to the researchers understanding of the phenomenon at hand.
86 An Insiders Perspective Because of my involvement in UF GAU, as an officer, activist, and at times paid work er1, this research is necessarily an i nsiders account of union work. My involvement takes the form that Adler and Adler (1987) call s a complete membership role. This is when people study a group as natives. Specifically, I am what Reimer (1977 as cite d in Adler & Adler 1987) calls an opportunistic researcher; I am researching a group I am already a member of. The implications of being either an insider or outsider do not go unrecognized within the mainstream social science discourse, but these conver sations typically revolve around issues of inherent bias or ignorance to salient, takenfor granted knowledge. While there are recognized advantages to being either an outsider (participants more explicitly teach during the research process) or an insider (easily gain access to groups of interest) there is also consi deration of possible drawbacks. For example, insiders can more readily manipulate the confidence and trust participants place in them or fall victim to what Smith (2005) calls institutional capture. Institutional capture occurs when institutionalized discourses are taken as given and therefore go unrecognized, because of the researchers and parti cipants familiarity with them. Outsiders run the risk of depicting their contributors experienc es as abnormal, exotic, or alien. In order to account for institutional capture, I use reflexive memo writing and overtly seek ways to challenge em erging interpretations of data. Although I am an insider I still use 1 This is in the form of a release time worker. Technically release time appointments are through academic units (sociology in my case). So although work is being done for UF GAU and union officers dictate and evaluate the work done, the union is not really the employer.
87 collaborative methods, primarily active interviewing, for the purpose of not rendering peoples experiences foreign to them. Feminist researchers have added another dimension to be considered in this debate: the possible exploitation that an observers position creates ( Naples, 2003; Reinharz, 1992) The most relevant manners in which I have exploited my particular position as an insider to UF GAU has been through the stock of background knowledge bro ught with me into the research. This helps focus my observations and is a useful tool for facil itating narrative activation during interviews. My history of holding several positions within the organization has allowed me to conduct more focused observations from the outset and increases my available resources for activating narrative production in interviews. For the purposes of full disclosure, I must state that my connections to UF GAU are extensive and precede this research project. At the time this research was originally proposed, I was in my third year as a copresident in the organization. I had already served as the grievance officer, a senator to the states higher education assembly of local chapters, and had been on bargaining committee during the three previous contract negotiations with the universitys Board of Trustees. When the form al data collection began in August of 2009, I held no formal position within UF GAU other than my seat on the bargaining committee. In the latter stages of data collection I assumed the position of treasurer for a couple of months until a permanent replacement could step in. Several times throughout the course of this research, I did release time with the union. This means that rather than doing the typical work required for my graduate
88 assistantship (e.g. teaching a class) through the sociology department I was released to work for UF GAU. Research Methods Participant Observations My research began with participant observations of union work during public meetings, and public events conducted by the chapter of Graduate Assistants United at the Universit y of Florida. I conducted 1 63 hours of fieldwork. I assumed the role of an active participant in each context. I made my intentions as a researcher known to members of UF GAU prior to meetings and any events in which I participated in the planning and prod uction. During initial observations I paid particular attention to decision making processes, the use of texts, as well as communications between union actors and graduate employees. Field notes and reflexive memos were composed after observations in order to document my understanding of data and how they relate to other data as they were produced. Developing field notes in the wake of observation rather than in the moment, as they are being experienced, is a technique that Emerson, Fretz, and Shaw (1995) refer to as an experiential approach to documenting fieldwork. This stands in co ntrast to a participating to write approach in which researchers begin writing and constructing field notes while still in the field. Benefits of the experiential style ar e that it prevents notes and writing from interfering with a natural experience or altering others behaviors. The participating to write approach to field notes keeps the researchers intentions in the fore front of the experience for both participants and scholar, and it allows for documentation of occurrences, and the researchers understandings of what is important, as they occur. While both approaches are valid, my decision to utilize the
89 experiential approach is based on personal preference and skill; I do not take good notes during observations and I tend to have good recall. The primary purposes for conducting observations initially were to identify participants for group interviews and relevant procedures and practices to explore in those same in terviews. However observations continued throughout the course of the project in order to augment interview and documentary data. Interviews The second phase of the proposed research was to conduct in depth, group interviews with union organizers. On the basis of these group interviews I selected some individuals for oneonone interview s. The interview process was openended and utilized an active interviewing approach (Holstein & Gubrium, 1995) My goal was to interview several organizers who are invol ved in UF GAU in varying ways: officers, paid staff, departmental representatives and informal volunteers. Audio recordings and transcriptions have been created. The substance of the interviews will focus on the particip ants organizational knowledge. Two main strategies have been employed: Exploring respondents knowledge of organizational processes in which they are involved. Specifically I am interested in participants every day, practical knowledge, of how things work. Organizational documents are treated as significant components of organizational processes. Interviews explore how documents factor into the regular organization of their work. Participants were recruited through personal contacts within UF GAU. Recruitm ent of participants was done at meetings and public events. Interviews were conducted with organizers involved with the union in various ways, and from various backgrounds, but there has been no attempt at developing a randomized sample.
90 The interviewing proces s began, with group interviews. The purpose of these was to familiarize the participants with the research concerns and to identify people for later, more in depth, oneon one interviews, though not all participants in individual interviews partic ip ated in the group interviews. The crux of the research is the everyday work performed by union organizers, so I initially directed my focus to paperwork procedures and communication with graduate workers paying particular attention to the role documents pl ay in coordinating union work. The interviews directed me to look at the relationships between UF GAU and other organizations. The most fruitful aspect of the group interviews was listening to the stories that got told. The ways stories led to others talking and were used to augment some of the factual statements made led to my focus on discursive aspects of union work and how narrative serves as a mechanism for socializing people into the union. Group interviews, according to Bloor et al. (2001) offer a means for studying norms, group language, group meanings, and meaning making processes that are not readily accessible through observational methods. Because group interviews are guided, they offer an economical approach to examining particular topics rarely discussed in ordinary setti ngs where observations often occur. Conducting group interviews in the early stages of a project served to generate contextual data (e.g. illustrative stories or instructive anecdotes) on particular topics. Because the group interviews were conducted after observations began I also used them to challenge my initial interpretations of observational data and to allow participant collaboration on data analysis. At times this created ever so slight tension if there was disagre ement about what observations mean or how to proceed with inquiry.
91 But it also created an opportunity to observe meaning making and interpretive practice as it happened. For example, stories of direct action seemed at first to portray the union as an oppositional force to the universitys administration and trends towards corporatization. But in one group interview, a story of occupying an administrative building got told in a way that portrayed the union as a coalescing force on campus, an entity that ser ved to moderate some of the more extreme forces. This reinterpretation disappointed and genuinely disenchanted a couple of participants, but also provided a framework through which to view efforts and strategies for expanding contract protections. I con ducted two se mi structured group interviews. Each group interview included distinct groups o f unionists. The first group was comprised of long term organizers ( 2 consecutive years of involvement with UF GAU) who have also formally held positions within t he chapter such as elective office, committee chair, or departmental representative. There were four participants in this interview. The second group was made up of unionists who consistently attend GAU activities and events yet have never held formal posi tion within the union, regardless of how long they have been active. This type of involvement was determined on t he basis of observational data. One notable aspect missing from these def initions is membership status. The reason behind this decision is that often people who are not members or who are not eligible to become members such as graduate students on fellowships take part in union activity at all levels, including as elected officers. A single, one hour group interview was conducted with participants from each grouping. The purposes for organizi ng the groups in this way is to prevent the people in
92 positions of authority within UF GAU from dominating or stifling conversations try to create some similarity in experiences with regards to what has happened during t heir tenure as organizers, and allow for more in depth questioning with more experienced organizers in regards to specific institutionalized, organizational practices and events that those in other groups will not necessarily have knowledge o f. While the group interviews with each of the first two groups yielded good data that was built on, the group interview with those who never held office did not produce as much. Because of this many of the same topics were covered in individual interviews with participants from this group. Questions for the group interviews, in all cases, pertained to how people came to be involved with UF GAU (e.g. how did they hear about the union, why did they become a member); work that must be done in order to partic ipate (e.g. arrange childcare in order to attend meetings) ; what they specifically do when they are doing union work (e.g. hand out fliers); where they do union work; how they learned to do the particular work they do; who they deal with in the course of d oing union work; and any obstacles or challenges they see that must be encountered in the course of doing that work. We made it a point to explore the significance of texts and documentation, the work that goes into creating documents (e.g. contract propos als, event fliers or mass emails) and how they are used and become relevant in the course of organizational work. In the interview s with more experienced organizers I asked them to describe how they do the work of getting membership forms signed by new me mbers; the process of introducing them into conversations with graduate workers, organizationally communicating with graduate employees both members and nonmembers, and
93 deciding as to when the union should or should not take action. I also asked participants about how they go about doing t he work of pursuing grievances. I have not recorded the names of specific employees or departme nts involved in any grievances. Additionally I have asked union organizers how they see their work varying based on the type of graduate student who is being organized (e.g. international students, men or women, stud ents within particular majors). In a manner similar to grounded theory ( Charmaz, 2006; Charmaz & Mitchell, 2001; Glaser & Strauss, 1967) I have not brought any predetermined classification system into the research to fit data into it. The purpose of the group interviews was to clarify, elaborate, and explore patterns of work identified through observation and personal experience and to observe aspects of group culture not necessarily accessible through observations of meetings and public events (Bloor, Frankland, Robson, & Kate, 2001) On the basis of group interviews and observations I identified nine pe ople for oneonone interviews. These interviews focused on the standard practices relevant to their involvement in the organization (e.g. grievance representatives filling out grievance forms or treasurers preparing an assets report for an executive council meeting). The most fruitful aspects of the interviews dealt with communication between union activists and graduate employees. Specifically I asked about organizers experiences trying to get others involved in union activity and to tell stories of actual and possible (feared) acti ons and repression. The participants in these interviews offer accounts that either develop and expand upon emerging findi ngs in data or in some cases, challenge them. Selecting interview
94 participants in this way resembles the theoretical sampling employ ed by grounded theorists (Charmaz K., 2006) It is necessary to note that the initial research design called for theoretical sampling, yet because of the small number of activists, many from only two academic departments, and limited number of events, I was restricted in my ability to find people of phenomena that could challenge my findings. I had to make use of the resources and opportunities available to me. The approach that I employed utilized asking participants to talk from various perspectives, to w ear multiple hats (Holstein & Gubrium, 1995) So although my sample is small, through the use of active interviewing (to be discussed in more depth later in this chapter ) I was able to stay closer to the original design and the methods of grounded theory t han would have been possible with other, more rigid, validity based interviewing techniques. This strategy also created an avenue and trigger for participants to construct comparisons or analyses. All interviews lasted from one to two hours. Interviews w ere recorded (audio not visual). Participants in individual interviews were given the option not to be recorded, but all declined For the purposes of group interviews, those not wishing to be recorded would have been excluded, but this was not necessary. Transcriptions of recorded interviews have been made. Furthermore, I have produced reflexive memos in order to document impressions and interpretations of data and the collection process (e.g. group dynamics of an interview), as well as the reasoning behind research decisions made based on that data over the course of the project. One primary concern that I have been mindful of throughout the research process and appears throughout the analysis, is my particular influence on the data collected,
95 the ways my interviewing practices or relationship to UF GAU ha d an impact on the responses given or alter the dynamic of the interviews How can I challenge ideas I have brought with me to the research from my own experiences or patterns that I see emerging from the data? Reflexive memos and field notes have been constructed through audio recordings (me talking to a recording device, not me recording others) and type. Active Interviewing A large part of this research is based on interview data. As mentioned previously, the approach to interviewing for both group and oneon one interviews is based on Holstein and Gubriums (1995) ideas pert aining to the active interview. This framework does not conceptualize interviews as the neutral, unbiased tools their practitioners once thought they could be if only done properl y. Rather, the interview is a setting in which all participants are actively construc ting a unique social situation. Treating the interview setting as such denies the traditional idea of the interview as a pipeline for transmitting knowledge and allows us to view the interview as the productive site of reportable knowledge itself (Holstein & Gubrium, 1995, p. 3) All parties involved, the interviewers and the participants are actively engaged in meaning making work and the construction of knowledge that emerges from the interview setting. Rather than worrying about being objective, unbiased, and distant, active interviewers instead aim to exploit the interview setting, using it as an active construction in order to more completely understand the narrat ive drama of participants everyday experience. Participants are not viewed or treated as passive vessels of knowledge. Instead they are understood to be researchers in their own right, consulting repertoires of experience and orientations, linking fragme nts into patterns, and offering
96 theoretically coherent descriptions, accounts, and explorations (Holstein & Gubrium, 1995, p. 29) Participants are the narrators or storytellers of their complex experiences. They utilize different stocks of knowledge dep ending on which experience or position is activated and the context in which it is triggered. Inquiring about a participants past does not necessarily invoke an objective discussion of the participants past experiences divorced from the present context; rather, the past is intimately link ed with the present. To put it differently the participant and the interviewer are mutually involved in activating different aspects of the participants stock of knowledge. When I encouraged organizers in this research to discuss their thoughts about UF GAU prior to becoming actively involved in the organization, they drew upon past thoughts as an organizer and narrated past experiences and sentiments through their present standpoint. When speaking with organizers about work they have not yet done or is not completed, they anticipated a vision of the future thr ough their present standpoints. The active interviewing approach sheds light on how the participants future or history is a futurein the making or a history in th e making; it is constructed in relation to that participants present standpoint (Holstein & Gubrium, 1995) Whether discussing visions of a future or recalling the past, the active approach allows us to see that these are just as much versions of the pres ent as they are memories or foresights. Within active interviews both the interviewer and the respondents are viewed as being actively involved in the construction of knowledge. Accordingly, it is important to remember that the interviewer does far more than ask questions; he activates narrative production (Holstein & Gubrium, 1995, p. 39) It is the interviewers mission to guide and channel the steer narr atives to the research at hand. Active interviewers are
97 encouraged to make use of background knowledge making their interviews more productive and enabling various perspectives to be integrated into the interviewing process. This makes clear the importance of combining ethnography with interviewing. F urthermore it makes it necessary for interviewers to draw upon prior interviews with other participants. This crossover should be exploited and used to the advantage of both the interviewer and participant so that they can collaboratively link lived experience to more abstract issues and questions (Holstein & Gubrium, 1995) Active interviewing sheds light on the ways multivocality shapes the interview process as well as the ensuing knowledge that emerges (Holstein & Gubrium, 1995) Multivocality within the active interviews allows new and rich linkages of horizons of meaning to emerge. Such new meanings would not have surfaced in more structured settings that neglect to take advantage of these connected interpretations and constructions. Texts A significant feature of our society is the influence of docu mentary forms of organization on the events at the local level (Smith, 1990; 2005) One example relevant to this research is how a contract crafted in one setting influences peoples work in other settings across time. This recursive power is rooted in the contracts textually mediated quality. Consequently, it is important to pay particular attention to texts in the course of conducting research on the organization of work. According to Dorothy Smith (1990; 2005) one distinctive aspect of our contemporary social order is the utilization of texts capacity to take shape and maintain a distinct type of expression independent of any particular local circumstance. This characteristic of texts allows for shared meanings to occur simultaneously in multiple
98 local settings separated by space and time. Organizational texts coordinate and regulate, spatially and temporally, distinct actions in various organizational locales. For this project, the theoretical orientation directs observation and analysis towards the te xtually mediated processes relevant to union work. The goal of this research is to create an account of organization and how it works, not in evaluation and assessment in the typical sense. As a result, my approach to this project underscores the importanc e of documents and texts within specialized organizations. Throughout the research process as I conducted observations and interviews, I examined relevant institutional texts. Examples of texts that became relevant throughout the course of this project w ere public statements, membership forms, training materials, posters, fliers, event announce ments, contracts, or web posts. The relevance of any particular text was determined based on analyses of observational and interview data as well as personal experi ence. I have examined texts identified as relevant to doing union work in order to see how they speak the specific tasks organizers do. T his project begins from a perspective I have occupied prior to beginning the research, my personal experience was the first data that I obtained. Because of this, personal documents, particularly journals and meeting notes are incorporated into and in many ways guide the analysis. As data was gathered and ideas began to take form I also created texts in the form of memos. To some extent these are analytic memos in the sense that data gathered via other means is managed and framed. And, certainly Charmazs ideas about grounded theory that this work draws on emphasizes the simultaneity of gathering, analyzing, and docume nting data. But the primary purpose of
99 these particular memos is to serve as data in the form of elicited texts (Charmaz K., 2006) that is itself coded and analyzed along with interview transcripts and field notes. Analysis As previously noted, this research utilizes practices and methods associated with grounded theory as put forward by Charmaz (2006) Preliminary analysis focused primarily on my personal journals and memos I created to explore themes, events, and topics that emerged as relevant eith er within the journals, memory or personal experience. I began with incidenceby incidence coding in order to identify pr operties of emerging concepts. Using this approach requires comparing specific occurrences recorded in data with each other. Through this processes of comparison ideas are able to congeal and serve as fodder for comparisons with data gathered subsequently. This stage of the research also served to sensitize me as a researcher to processes and practices that I would pay attention to upon entering the field consciously in a research capacity and while conducting the initial interviews. The topics covered in interviews discussed above, were derived from this level of analysis. The decision to approach the research this way came from a conc ern for managing the ideas and understandings of union work that I brought with me from the start. Part of grounded theorys utility is that it is a means for combating to the phenomenon believing is seeing In the original articulation of grounded theory, Glaser and Strauss (1967) urge people to approach topics that they are unfamiliar with, as blank slates, so that they can truly start the process of discovery in the empirical world. Although this formulation is drawing on ideal type that could never trul y be achieved, it is a concern that I found most pressing given my stated history. Old personal journals offered a data source that could help me root my analysis in my initial observations and reactions and to, as much as possible,
100 start in the empirical world and thereby stay true to the inductive methodology I embrace. The next step of the research involved focused coding (Charmaz K. 2006) around the processes of promoting the unio n and contesting definitions. Focused coding involves identifying the most significant codes from the previous initial coding. In this case the two codes mentioned were the most frequently recurring ones. Axial coding was then used to examine the issues when, where, why, who, how, and to with what consequence relating to promoting the union and contesting definitions. The purpose of axial coding is to relate categories and subcategories bringing the data that was fractured and parsed during initial coding processes back together as unified, coherent whole (Charmaz K. 2006) The research processes did not proceed in a linear fashion right out of my initial data as this account may suggest. As Charmaz (2006) cautions, there was an aha! Now I understand experience (p. 59) in one of my first couple of interviews that sent m e back to examining my experiences and looking for data. Dusty a departmental rep, who eventually took on appointed position within the union as a committee chair identifies the union as moderating student activism. Once I heard that I instantly remembered a radio interview I gave. I talk ed about ending my tenure as union president more pragmatically inclined as an activist than when I started. Dustys interview allowed me to go back to a line of reasoning I had not considered relevant beforehand. This back and forth process speaks to the strength of a grounded theory approach. It consciously recognizes the active role the researcher plays in connecting the data. Through the analytic process, new threads and lines of inquiry are established,
101 and scholars able to back track and reconsider ideas already developed. This type of backtracking and comparison in light of new ideas and data which serves to check preconceived ideas, suc h as those I tried to avoid and minimize. The discursive nature of much of the work involved in organizing GAs that became evident through the incident by incident coding led me to examine patterns of common communications such as stories telling. Using analytic bracketing (Gubrium & Holstein, 1997) I look at the whats and hows of storytelling as simultaneously reflecting and creating the organization of union work as well as drawing upon and speaking to the often contradicting identities (e.g. professi onals as opposed to activists). These stories also help to construct those competing identities. Specifically, I examine a stock story used in the organizing process that is a versatile tool labor activists use to communicate with graduate employees. I loo k compare the aspects of the stor ys plot that is highlighted in relation to the audiences i t is being told to and the settings they are told in. In the presentation of this research, I communicate this stor y that is being studied. Thi s is a stor y that I have told as a union activists in the course of organizing. Telling the stor y under consideration is itself a form of analysis (Ewick & Silbey, 1995) It requires me to emphasize some events and characters while downplaying others and to provide a logic connecting multiple discreet occurrences. Narrativity is as much a part of the production of scholarly knowledge as it is the object of study. Because of my affiliation with UF GAU in conjunction with my knowledge of the analysis that the stor y is used for lends itself to recreating the phenomenon I am studying. The conditions under which the story is told (to get a degree) and the audience they are being communicated
102 to (dissertation committee) are all relevant. In order to account for this I devote effort s to reflexively examining this work as it relates to this context. Benefits, Risks, and Usage The most prominent risk faced by participants is that their union/political activities and views could become known. This carries with it the further risk of a ny workplace backlash for participants who work in environments less sympathetic to organized labor in the event participants previously conceale d union activities are exposed. In order to protect participants identities, pseudonyms have been used. In or der to minimize the potential for identifying particular people by the positions that they currently hold or formerly held within UF GAU, participants involved in particular instances examined are referred to in the following write up of this research by t heir actual involvement and not in reference to their specific position within UF GAU. In other words, I make reference to what they did in specific instances not the positions they occupy within the organization. The exception is when the occurrences were public. In order to protect those observed but do not participate in interviews (e.g. a new employee approached by an organizer at an orientation) I have not record any names of those not participating interviews. Where possible, specific departments wit hin the university are not be mentioned by name (e.g. rather than discussing a grievance in the physics department I talk about a grievance in one of the lab sciences). This research makes possible a better understanding of organized labor and higher education in a t ime of transformation for each. Because graduate students are increasingly bearing the burden of labor in universities and are also one of the few segments of organized labor that is expanding, this research offers insight into two key institutions in the public sphere, the academy and the union, as they intersect in new,
103 changing ways. Ideally this research will serve as a guide to unionists that will makes patterns of work visible and identifies possible targets of intervention in order to better achieve their goals; this research has been made available to UF GAU as well as individual participants. That being said, this project potentially could serve as a tool for disrupting union work as well. The research participants have been given an opportunity to reflect on aspects of their w ork which are not typically explored at workshops or training sessions. Access to the final research product has been made available to them in the hopes that it will allow participants to better understand how they perform this aspect of their work in rel ation to their peers and how it is mediated by the institution al structures they work within. Raw interview data (transcripts) have been made available only to participants involved in generating it. O nly the interviewee was given the option to see the transcript of her/his own interview. Data from group interviews will not be made available to participants in order to prevent disclosure of others statements by participants. The purposes for disseminating the research in this manner are to make known how l abor organizers make sense out their work and offer a tool to aid in organizational efforts. Specifically, this research can help GA labor organizers to make sense out of aspects of their work that often go unexamined and therefore unaltered when problemat ic.
104 CHAPTER 5 THE DISCOURSE ON ORGANIZING In developing and carrying out this research I have consciously included myself and my personal experiences. I have drawn upon my experiences as a union organizer, elected officer, graduate student/employee, as well as my personal relationships with the participants to establish rapport during interviews and while conducting field work. I did things such refer to common experiences and people we know (e.g. Do you remember when Millhouse?). I also used known episodes in the participants personal histories to generate reflection on answers given or to push them to discuss topics from a different perspective and actively compare and contrast observances. This is partially a practice adopted in recogniti on of my presence in the research process and in adherence to the active interviewing approach laid out by Holstein and Gubrium (1995) but it is also an untheorized, ordinary responsiveness (Griffith & Smith, 2005, p. 31) I talked about union organizing with people I know. As will be shown, UF GAU activists rely on a discourse on organizing that is created within the union, through conversation and texts, to produce a sense of purpose, frame their interests, as well as to define and justify their actions. I t is utilized and serves to establish the discursive framework union organizing occurs in. In this C hapter 5, I will outline the properties of t he discourse on organizing and document how graduate labor activists make use of it in doing and constructi ng an understanding of their work. What is the purpose of organizing? What does it mean to be organized? How is it achieved? I will conclude with critical reflections on how this discourse has contributed to the shaping of this project.
105 Unionizing Equals O rganizing Organizing can and should be an integral part of the union and all it does bargaining, grievances, pressure campaigns, legisl ative action, recruitment, etc. (United Faculty of Florida, 2003, p. 3) As noted earlier, graduate unions engage in incessant organizing campaigns and often have to repeat previous battles because there is such a high turnover rate each year (Bousquet, 2008) T he above quote indicates the need to organize serves as a guiding principle in all union activity. For graduate unions, the concern is most pressing because of the unique structure of graduate employment which leads to high turnover rates. Because we lose one quarter of our unit each year, GAU is i n a constant crisis to organize. (UF GAU) As the use of the term crisis suggests, organizing is always recognized as the top priority, and is the object of continual focus (Kirchner, 2006, p. 1) By incorporati ng members into t he other tasks of the union, bargaining and enforcing a contract, these are geared towards enhancing organization. All participation is participation in organizing efforts. All work is organizing work. Some is explicitly organizing such as visiting offices for the purpose of asking GAs to commit to taking part in an action or to serve as a departmental representative. Some work is less directly related to organizing such as bargaining a contract. But even this gets appropriated for the purp oses of organizing. Indeed, conducting this research has served as a resource for individual participants to reflect on and reconsider often overlooked aspects of the work they do in order to enhance their prowess as organizer s. (At least that is what I offered when I recruited them for interviews.)
106 Organizing as the Means and End Activists understandings of organizing as the axis upon which all of unionizing coalesces is revealed in their ideas as to why graduate unions are important, the role they play in the contemporary academy, the potential they hold, and how to ensure that the organization is able to perform its functions. The discourse on organizing utilizes as circular logic that constructs this phenomenon simultaneously as the method and goal o f unionizing. In a pamphlet used to train and motivate new organizers, a vision of what UF GAU can become through effective organizing is laid out UF GAU can be: A majority organization Rooted into the department, in touc h with what GAs across campus want Capable of bargaining strong a strong local contract Able to resolve grievances before any official paperwork is needed I nfluential in our community A story that local and statewide media want to cover Effective with local and statewide officials Able to promote a statewide legislative action program Perceived by GAs as something they want to join A real force that can get things done. (United Faculty of Florida, 2003, p. 11) The stated vision follows the logic that organizing begets organizing. If the union effectively organizes it will be more pervasive which will afford it more power which will enhance its ability to organize. This same logic and a remarkably similar vision are articulated in conversation about or ganizing. Nedda: I think our ideal organizing model would be a well, a comprehensive steward structure and if we had that, what would we do with that? Gosh, we can do so much with that First of all we could increase our members. Of course we face the di fficulty of living in a so called right to work state where everybody in the bargaining union gets the benefits of the contract but they dont have to, theyre not required to pay the dues or join the union. Because of that we have about fourteen percent membership in
107 our union when we have an increased membership; we have more leverage at the bargaining table, so were more likely to get the same things that were asking for. So also, there would be a greater solidarity, greater union amity surrounding, specific issues that we have that kind of organizational structure which can work outside of the bargaining or the strictly negotiating aspect of what we do and so would have a better force in the media I think. I think the Gainesville Sun the local news paper, is pretty good at talking to us when issues arise, but they dont accept our authority. The media outlets around here tend to really privilege the administrations voice rather than ours and I think if we had if we had more members who would look l ess like a French outfit and more like a n int egr al part of the university structure. Couched in these statements about the benefits of organization is a paradox of organizing and organization. The power of organization lies in its capacity for the union t o not have to act. Organization is a sort of preventative measure. When it is in place, grievances dont have to be filed because problems can be solved or never come up, benefits are secured with more ease, messaging consumes fewer resources and is afforded more credibility because media legitimates it, and recruiting workers requires less effort because they want to join. In the absence of organization the union has less capability to push its agenda and enforce its contract; therefore it is forced to do so more often, into more opposition, which requires more people involved. It is harder to get people involved because the media coverage and general view of the union as a worthwhile undertaking missing. The Organizing Model The graduate labor movement b y and large, and UF GAU, purposely uses organizing as a means of distinguishing themselves within both organized labor generally and academic unions more specifically. Within the labor movement they draw a distinction between organizing model unionism and service model unionism. While it is recognized that this distinction is overly simplistic, it is utilized to by graduate labor
108 activists when discussing how their union is structured and operates. It also serves as a guidepost for activists as they do union work. Graduate unionists see themselves as taking sides in an intramovement dispute as to the best ways to run a union. Recently in the labor movement a division has been staked out between competing models of running a union: the service model union and the organizing model union. (Kirchner, 2006, p. 1) As the previous quote demonstrates, the organizing model that they ascribe to is posited against the service model, by the far the most widely used model of union organizing past and present (Kirchne r, 2006, p. 1) The distinction between the two models is seen in their differing purposes and structures. Service model unionism is centralized and directed by staffed professionals. Members pay dues to the organization and should it become necessary lat er to file a grievance, they receive this service this is the extent of member involvement in the union. Worker participation in decision making and agenda setting is minimal. They are expected to merely pay dues and let representatives know of any probl ems. The analogies for the service model abound. It is an insurance policy that workers pay into and then draw upon when a problem arises, attorneys on retainer that save you when you get in trouble, or my personal favorite, a car wash. The service m odel is a union for workers (Kirchner, 2006, p. 1; UF GAU) On the other hand, graduate labor activists see unionizing as a participatory, democratic movement. The organizing model, a union of workers, sees the union as being run by member volunteers (Kirchner, 2006, p. 1) Members still pay dues, but they are brought into the decision making processes. Union activities such contract negotiations, grievances, or political actions are valued as much as opportunities to
109 incorporate more people as they are for settling disputes and securing benefits. Collective action is valued over litigation. Communication with members and participatory democracy are valued over efficient rectification of problems. Crone: I like to emphasize that were a democratic organization, that we are a group where their voice will be heard. But we also make the university democratic. The union, like it or not, the union is the only way we have to express our views on our job. It is our only way of participating in our employment. The contract will be broken. In instances like this every union has at its disposal two broad options for pursuing a solution: filing a grievance and collective action. While grievances can be effective solutions in thems elves, they can also lead the union into long and drawn out legal proceedings. The organizing model union often uses grievances as a tool for inspiring collective action. By filling grievances and having them denied at early stages by the boss, coworkers l earn that they need to stick together if t hey want to achieve their goals (Kirchner, 2006, pp. 1 2) GAU could certainly use more money, more resources, and more paid staff to help our cause. But we have learned over the past years that material resources are no match for hundreds of volunteer s. (UF GAU) Collective action serves as an opportunity for organizing and an avenue for democratic participation, but is also a means of demonstrating organization to others The vision that both Nedda and the published pamphlet on organizing articulate in the previous section of this chapter of what UF GAU can be if organized properly assumes that organization is visible to GAs, administrators, faculty, and media providers. The organizing models focus on democracy and participation generates syntax, vocabulary, categories in the writing of texts and the production of talk that focus on individual ownership and responsibility as the building blocks of collective action. These are used as lenses through which speech an d text are interpreted. They render participation appropriate and in fact vital on issues and cast organized graduate labor as the only effective means of involving yourself in the academic enterprise.
110 Your Union, Your Voice! J oin Graduate Assistants Unit ed! If you dont help the union could be gone tomorrow. At the very least we will lose our contract gains Take responsibility for your own future, the future of the union, the future of UF. Become a member (UF GAU) As a participatory endeavor organizing unionism is rooted in democratic principles and requires communication between workers and the union. Because of this emphasis placed on establishing and maintaining structure, particularly constituency (usually departmental) representatives that act as go betweens connecting the union and the workers it represents. Building a corps of active departmental representatives is the best way to strengthen GAs voices and negotiating power. An active Rep structure br ings democracy to our workplace. (United Faculty of Florida, 2003) Echoing the circular logic discussed previously, the organizing models focus on participation is an effort to create both the conditions under which organizing is most effective, namely democracy as well as a community of interests with political power (UF GAU) an entit y that can influence democratic system s. Creating those conditions for democracy requires establishing structures for communication that are tools used to exploit democratic conditions. Democratic participation cr eates the conditions for democracy which enhances opportuniti es for democratic participation. Embracing the organizing model is viewed as a matter of necessity, but it is also politically useful. First of all, its emphasis on collective action and participation plays into the hands of the largest group. As mentioned previously, there are so many gr aduate employees. This is why scholars such as Bousquet (2008) claim graduate labor unions can be a transformative force in academia. On the University of Florida Campus there are more than 4,000 graduate workers, making them the largest group of employees on campus. The organizing model allows GAs to utilize these numbers as an asset.
111 Whereas with a service model this vast number of GAs would simply mean a greater number of people to serve, thereby stressing the supply. Organizing is a process through whi ch more and more people are encouraged to become involved. (United Faculty of Florida, 2003, p. 3) What is more, in spite of the overt value placed on democracy over efficiency, the organizing model, if achieved, is seen to offer a more instrumentally rati onal means for rectifying grievances because it is done informally, before any official paperwork is needed (United Faculty of Florida, 2003, p. 11) Though graduate unions have historically embraced the tenets of the organizing model (Bousquet, 200 8) UF GAU focuses on the decision made by the state legislature in 2003 that disbanded all of the chapters and forced them to get recertified (UF GAU) Through differing tactics at recertification, graduate labor activists distinguish themselves as an orga nizing entity. GAU learned the value of grassroots organizing when the state legislature threatened its existence in 2003. Choosing to avoid an easy legal route in the courts, we had thousands of conversations (UF GAU) This was a watershed moment that r eoriented all higher education unions in the state towards organizing (We are an Organizing union. Tom Auxter, President of the United Faculty of Florida, UFF Senate meeting Sept. 16, 2006) and it positioned UF GAU as a sort of body of experts on organiz ing that others rely on when issues arise thereby justifying their existence both among higher education unions and on campus. B ilbo: Do the faculty benefit from having unionized GAs ? Yes because were much more effective than they are at opposing bad policy even for the faculty than they are. When we had that stupid budget the state legislature was going to cut higher education. They had no ability to work on it; we were or ganizing their events for them. Deeb: Why do you think we organize for them?
112 Bilbo: Because we just have to. We are better at it. We have to keep our numbers up. They dont have to do that. Faculty dont leave every four years. That was a big part of it. Deeb: W hat about the faculty, are there anyways that we sort of aid them or assist them, anyways they benefit by having us on campus, doing whatever it is we do? GJ: I feel like we were of help to them to w hen the five year plan happened It was important for them to have us as unionized graduate students to sort of help organize around those issues proposals in the five year plan. We were using those as organizing issues for ourselves too, but if we are out there raising graduate students awareness about these, we are raising the awareness among graduate students of the issues that faculty are facing too. And I think its important for them that graduate students be aware of what they are doing and how they operate. But, I think it was important for them to have us as unionized graduate students to sort of help organize around those issues as well because not only we can reuse them, we were using that is as an organizing issue for ourselves too, but if we are out there raising graduate students awareness about this issue, we are raising the awareness among graduate students of the issues that faculty are facing too. And I think its important for them that graduate students be aware of what they are doing and how they operate or, that sort of thing, yeah. The organi zing model serves as a mechanism union activists use to draw differences between UF GAU and other groups on campus, both student and faculty and therefore make themselves valuable. Distinction and likewise utility is essentially achieved through a speci alization and expertise in organizing. Lafer (2003) sees this expertise in organizing as a valuable example for others to emulate, which is why he sees graduate labor unions as potentially transformative forces in academia. But what this suggests is that r ather than serving as a model for others to imitate, other groups outsource their organizing to GAU. Moreover, the organizing model is a tool used to frame graduate labor as marginalized within the labor movement that does not generally include workers wit h such high turnover rates and therefore relies too heavily on the
113 service model. It also serves as a prognostic tool, for the answer to all problems is collective action and organizing. Thus far I have focused on what the discourse on organizing suggests to be the purpose of organizing: create opportunities to organize, frame graduate unionization as a necessary and desirable, distinguish the union from other organizations, diminish the need for formal union action, and create more democracy in the academ y thus enhancing the unions influence. Now I will turn my attention to what the discourse renders recognizable as organizing and organization. Organizing as Communication and Collaboration According to UF GAU activists, o ne of the valuable, unique capacities they have as an organization is the ability to communicate directly with graduate assistants. In order to effectively enforce the negotiated contract and represent the bargaining unit, the university administration is contractually obligated to provide the union with contact information for all 4,000 plus graduate assistants each semester 17.7 Report to UFF GAU. The University shall provide a report containing the following information to UFF GAU no later than the third week of the semester, if practicable: employee name, class title/code, hiring/academic department, pay rate, employee FTE, email address, and campus mail address. This report is in addition to the reports provided by the University pursuant to Sections 12.3 and 23.7. The spring semester report will include whether or not each GA is having union dues deducted from their pay (UFBOT & UF GAU, 2009) Nedda: T he number one thing we need is the union list on time every semester. We are supposed to according to our semester we are supposed to get a list of all of our union members with email addresses and other information like level of pay FTE whether they are teaching or research assistant. That, the thing that we have to have every semester on time and we are supposed to get it by the third week of classes every semester T hat doesnt always happen. So we have to be persist ent about getting that on time.
114 Perhaps t he most recognized advantage is that individual email addresses are provided making it poss ible for activists to communicate directly with GAs without having to go through departmental, college, or university list serves that require administrative approval in order to pass through a filter. This direct access decreases the time between sending messages and when they are received. Moreover there is a worry that content that might be filtered out if messages are monitored by list serve administrators Nedda : (on the reasons a particularly effective action was possible) The reason something like that happened demonstrates a more settled value of the union and that is that we have the ability to immediately organize because we have the communication network to do that. Id also been at a university, a graduate assistant at a university that didnt have a union and there was no way for graduate assistants to communicate with one another outside a moderated list serve, a list serve thats moderated by the administration itself. So just the ability to communicate to all graduates assistants through email because we get an email list from the university as part of our, as part of our contract makes the union valuable. We have the ability to communicate and we would not have that if we didnt have a union and that is, its a simple thing but its so valuable because we can address issues immediately where that we could not if we didnt have this built in communication network, that wed take time to build that communication network. Communication through new technology such as email is an acknowledged asset that GAU posses, but labor activists see this as being of limited utility when it comes to organizing for collective action. Faceto face conversations are viewed as the best way to organize others because they are more pe rsonal and can be tailored to specific situations rather than trying to address the concerns of thousands of employees working in varying contexts with one message ( Ehrenberg R. G., Klaff, Kezsbom, & Nagowski, 2004; UF GAU ) Face to face conversations betw een union leadership and graduate workers usually happen in one of two contexts, office visits, or at a union function such as a demonstration or a party. These are used to promote the other. Whenever there is
115 a union function, officers do office visits to inform people and ask for commitments. At the functions, attendants are asked to sign in and provide their office location so as to make it easier to locate GA offices when it is time to do office visits. Again this reflects a circular logic of using one conversation to create the conditions for the other to happen. All in all, this establishes multiple channels for GAU to pursue when trying to communicate with graduate workers. Over time a stock of information has accumulated that enables GAU to communicate with graduate employees quickly either through new technology or in person. The collective ethos is not limited to mobilizing individuals, it also happens at the group level. The ability to communicate directly with so many graduate students across all colleges and departments through multiple channels is used as a resource that GAU offers in exchange for collaboration with other groups. In exchange for their services as organizers, UF GAU is given access to events and groups that serve as vehicles for participation. These are needed in order for the organizing model to exist. Ballot initiatives and letter writing campaigns to legislators provide opportunities for the union to be active and influential outside of its official capacity to bargain and enforce a contract. What is more, because they are focusing on issues that others are already organizing around labor activists are assisted in identifying and defining issues that graduate workers care about. In exchange for their ability to organize UF GAU r eceives reasons to organize. In the spring semester of 2010, student government parties attempting to defeat a ballot referendum on an additional fee charged to students each semester for renovating the student union. For several years prior GAU had uns uccessfully
116 bargained for the elimination of fees being charged graduate employees. The negotiations never developed because the administration deemed the fees as something that is charged to students; therefore the union had no grounds to force bargaining on the issue. Given that GAU had already voiced opposition to any student fees being charged GAs who are also employees, organizations opposed to the fee lobbied GAU to help with their efforts. In an interview with GJ who was at the front of GAUs participation, he expressed why he believes that the unions involvement made a difference in defeating the measure. Deeb: Is there anything that we can actually do, some particular task that GAU can do, but those other groups on campus dont have? GJ: We clearly had a better infrastructure for organizing. I mean, we communicate better, I think, than some of these other organizations do. I mean we had our own network of students to draw upon. Prior to the ballot referendum the universitys Board of Trustees cons idered adopting the fee, a measure that had to be halted prior to allowing a vote by the student body. Ne dda: W e learned about the possibility of the fee being imposed twenty four hours before the meeting took place and so we only had twenty four hours to organize people and get people out to this event and we were actually surprisingly successful in getting people out to the event. We had seventy, about seventy people show up. T hats the best turn out Ive seen since Ive been here for any, any kind of activity that we try to organize on such short notice. Being able to coattail onto other groups events and issues also serves as a means of enhancing the base of people UF GAU can turn to when they need to mobilize to advance their own issues such as securing more contract protections. In an organizers training in March of 2007, I responded to a comment made by one of the
117 new trainees about GAUs lack of visibility on campus and the need for more events and actions. Deeb: There is a paradox to this, we need to have these things scheduled so that we can plug people right into them, give them something specific, discreet that they can actually go do sooner than later, but we cannot schedule those if we do not have people committed ahead of time. Bad turnout is worse than not doing the action at all because we look unorganized. (Paraphrased) The two components of a strategy for maintaining continuity are 1) having regular and ongoing recruitment activities and 2) having clearly defined roles for people to st ep into (Kirchner, 2006, p. 5) There is a pervasive assumption that it is easiest to activate people who have already been active in other ways. Having other groups active around issues that affect graduate employees helps organizers address this, even if they are not specifically labor related issues. It provides ways to plug people in, to get them active in some way, so that they are easier to activate when union issues arise. There is another way this type of collaboration is of value to UF GAU. When the union needs to mobilize collective action, activists essentially call in favors. Leaders of groups and organizations that GAU assists in turn disseminate information on union events, encourage their members to take part in union actions, and issue stat ements in support of the unions position. They fill the role of de facto union stewards. In this way, when the union takes up an issue, there are networks of involved students already in place to draw upon, and the cooperation of multiple groups gives the appearance of widespread support that is used to demonstrate organization. Bilbo: How is collaboration useful? When we have a common goal they do have people and they are active, some groups more than others. Like we have the Graduate Student Council t hey will pass our resolution but they wont send that many people to the trustees meeting. SDS will come out for the meeting yelling and holding signs
118 An essential component to organizing and organization, as constructed through the unions discourse is m aintaining connections among vested parties that they can mutually draw upon in pursuit of their own agendas. In other words, organizing is the construction of symbiotic relationships. As mentioned previously, other groups often outsource their organizing tasks to the union. The union interact s with other groups in this way, in sourcing their organizing as a means of strengthening ties between them thereby allowing the union to stay active by exploiting the other organizations issues and accessing their members. Nedda: We dont have enough bodies and enough time to do all of these things that we would ideally be doing. With respect to graduate students council, one of the things were considering is sponsoring one of their social s, they have a weekly social and we would pay for the food and then you know get time to talk to graduate students about the union. The capacity to communicate with students goes beyond reaching merely graduate assistants. As a result of the teaching that many graduate assistants do, this access extends to large numbers undergraduate students as well. Deeb: Do you think GAUs efforts campaigning against the feel were meaningful, that they made a difference? GJ: I think so. I do. Because I think even though we were primarily targeting graduate students, the message got to under grads too. I talked with my students about that before the class and after class not during class time because would break the election rules or whatever The examples given all demonstrate another aspect of the unions ability to communicate, they are listened to. As a result, graduate unionists are good messengers. Part of this resonance is rooted in the unique standpoint many graduate workers hold within the university. They are recognized as authorities by the students they teach, yet they are also afforded all of the benefits of being students.
119 GJ: I think also the simple fact that we are graduate student organization. I think grad students, being pe rce iv ed, graduate students are sort of seen as being the most serious students at university. And so if we are a grad student organization, I mean even, I think even if they dont understand what G A U exact ly i s, a labor union, they understand and respect that these are graduate students The union discours e defines organizing as establishing networks of communication among activists that can be utilized when union needs arise. Additionally, when need arises and collective action is necessary, the primary purpose is organizing more than rectification of the matter at hand. Maintaining these requires collaboration with other groups on projects and causes. UF GAU is able to leverage their unique ability to communicate, through less fettered channels and sta nding as credible messengers, to strengthen ties to oth er groups on campus, thereby expanding the stock of resources they have for executing effective collective action. UF GAUs use of organizing to strengthen ties with both faculty and student groups are continuation of the movements roots in both organized labor and student activism. Structure as Personal Presence Organizing is the solidifying of relationships among workers, citizens, and supporters to create a community of interests with political power. (UF GAU) Department Representative (sometimes ref erred to as Reps, Activists, Stewards, or Organizers) provide the link between union leadership and supporters. (United Faculty of Florida, 2003, p. 5) A mailing or mass email is not very effective tools for building union membership and activism when compared to faceto face contact (United Faculty of Florida, 2003, p. 5) As previously mentioned, the unions discourse on organizing emphasizes the maintenance of mutually beneficial relationships with other entities on campus. Organizing is a dis cursive tool used to justify union involvement and resources on
120 issues that are not necessarily labor related. The purpose of this is to take advantage of pre identified issues that are of importance to graduate employees. Through regular collaboration wit h other groups UF GAU is able to gain access to active graduate employees that are already organizing themselves around other issues and concerns. In exchange for the unions cooperation, leaders of the collaborating groups assist UF GAU with mobilization efforts and with vocal support for their agenda. It is the last point, on voicing support or asking something of their members that is seen as most valuable because it promotes unionization through existing r elationships among colleagues. This is revealing as to how the unions discourse on organizing defines structure. Essentially, structure is what enables organizing to happen as it does. The structure of electronic communication gives UF GAU the ability to communicate through email in a certain way t hat is of value. But the ideal structure for union organizing is seen as a personal presence within multiple constituency groups, who have varying interests. Although unionists value connections with political groups on campus, the primary location for co nnecting with GAs is seen as their academic departments. The experts have found in study after study that having a strong Department Representative structure that uses faceto face organizing is the strongest indicator of success It personalizes the organization, giving it a human face. It serves to identify key issues among GAs to understand (and eventually act upon) what bothers or motivates supporter and members as well as advers aries (United Faculty of Florida, 2003, p. 5) The reasoning for this is because divisions between academic disciplines, along work, cultural, political, and economic lines, mediate the concerns of graduate employees. Understanding them is essential with regards to promoting unionization and demonstrating the utility of GAU The best way to account for these differences is
121 through departmental representatives who are intimately familiar with the labor practices that effect specific GAs. Given that graduate appointments are done through departments, it is at the department level that grievances (opportunities to organize) frequently arise and are addressed. It is also where issues to be bargained are identified. In the absence of connections with graduate workers at the departmental level, organizing is seen as an uphill battl e. Ne dda: Right, okay yeah I would, my dream organizing scenario with first, I think Id, I must, the most important level of our structure is the steward level and I think ideally if we were perfectly organized we would have an active, very active ste ward in every single department to, for communicating and mobilizing people in their departments regularly to get people out. F or whatever reasons some people dont get those emails, they dont know about the union and so thats one of our first hurdles i s simply getting all of our bargaining unit or making all of our bargaining unit, you know, aware that we even exist. And we could improve that with a better steward structure and stewards are also important because they, they are more familiar to their, the colleagues in their departments I ts much easier to get people to get people to sign up for the union or to come out to union functions if theyre asked to do so by someone they know and someone they share an interest to towards, when I go to the phy sics department, try to recruit members Im less effective because they dont know me but also I dont understand their employment situation because Im not part of that department. So I think our ideal organizing model would be a well, a comprehensive steward structure. A nd if we had that, what would we do with that? Gosh, we can do so much. As the two previous quotes specify, organizing is seen as most effective when it is personalized. Department representatives are understood to offer a constant union presence in the work environment that graduate employees inhabit. This renders officers or organizers who come by to recruit or promote events and actions they are more readily received. Even with electronic correspondences, office representatives are as ked to forward union emails to their own department in an attempt to avoid having workers receive information from a faceless organization. Asking somebody to forward
122 emails is also is an easy way to incorporate supporters at the departmental level, while asking for a minimal time commitment. Dusty: Id hate to say it but its kind of minimal I mean, Im sure everyone judges their own level of participation I make sure that people on the department know that I could be their point of contact with the union if they have any issues. I dont have time to go and take time out of my craz y busy schedule and actually do as much as I would like to. So basically my involvement has been kind of at the periphery But d epartmental representatives are also important in making office visits by organizers possible because they can tell union leaders where to find graduate employees. Likewise, they can help their colleagues to locate the union. Nedda: One of the things I was struck by when organizing union at Florida State, was that graduate students offices were well labeled a nd that is not the case at UF. It is very difficult to find graduate students at UF because their offices are not labeled as graduate student offic es. Deeb: As far as doing office visits, either there or here, what kind of preparations do you have to do in order to be able to do office visits. GJ: The most trivial figuring out where the offices are I n my experience they are not generally well mar ked S ometimes they are, sometimes they are not, but generally not. And also being able to determine what department is where. I think what departments we target too. I think most of the office visits work that I had done, office visits related to trying to organize in the first place, was at Florida State and so the strategy that we took was, okay, what department is going to be the most receptive, these are the ones that we need to target because we just need to get them to out and vote. When I have don e offices here, what were doing, were doing them for election. And we weren't really thinking about in terms of who is going to be receptive. We went out to places what we would knew we would fin d grad students we can talk to. Deeb: As an administrator if you wanted the bust the union in general, how did you go about it ? GJ: Well, Id moved their office around what two times in two years or something like that or move them once inI dont even remember the No rma n Hall office, I never went Move the off ice, make it difficult for us to get the Internet in the new office and finally put us in yet another off ice as they are now doing now.
123 When locating offices is hard, in the absence of a personal presence, organizers try to contact departmental groups. But this presents its own problems that are hard to rectify minus a personal presence within the organization. Nedda: We should do a lot more with that especially in terms of forming relationships with individual organizations within departments. One of the, one of the things that we try to do every year, is we try to organize pizza parties through the departmental organizations for graduate students and we do that as much as we can but there are of course limits to how much we can do that. First of all its hard to get contact information for many of these organizations. You think it would be easier but it is actually kind of difficult to find contact information, and then if the leaders of the organizations that arent sympathetic to the union, then they ar e reluctant to establish ties or organize an event. What is more, departmental meetings tend to include all graduate students, even those who are not employees and are therefore not covered by the unions contract. This means that resources have to be spent. This is also the case when GAU collaborates with political groups to organize around causes. But in those cases the act of collaborating is a net gain because it provides opportunity for participation, and by doing the organizing that is exchanged for access to the political groups members, GAU activists increase their capacity organize. When collaborating with departmental, academic or professional groups, resources such as money for food or to fund an event are exchanged, so it is an expenditure of resources. Nedda: With respect to graduate students council, one of the things were considering is sponsoring one of their social, they have a weekly social and we would pay for the food and then you know get time to talk to graduate students about, about the, about the union but one of the problems with dealing with other organizations is that new organizations dont just represent graduate assistants. So when we offered you know pay for pizza for our department, its hard to disinvite right, the, the gra duate students who arent graduate assistants. So we embark you know putting union resources towards you know graduate students who arent members or cant be members or not represented by the union and thats the case with graduate students council as well but thats one of the you know just one of the sacrifices we make.
124 The basic notion that mass communication through email or broadcast is not a very effective means of organizing implicitly reflects the existing literature on social movements. Both Ev ans (1997) and Loader (2008) argue that relying on electronic communication to organize is less effective because of its ubiquity. The idea that faceto face organizing is most effective when it occurs between people with established ties and a shared experience and interests is nothing particularly new either. Likewise, it does n o t take doctoral research to figure out that those relationships are found within the academy among individuals who share academic departments. But for the union this creates yet another simple way to plug people into their work in ways that requires minima l commitment or organizational knowledge. Dusty : Id hate to say it but its kind of minimal I mean, Im sure everyone judges their own level of participation I make sure that people on the department know that I could be their point of contact with the union if they have any issues. Additionally, and more importantly, this focus on having people present within a department is revealing as to the cultural factors that are seen to enable successful organization, primarily an embrace of unionization. Cons istent with the rest of the discourse, organization is seen to lead to organization. Sammy: Certain disciplines it becomes cool to be in the union. I mean English thats definitely the case right? Everyone and their mamas in the union in English. Y ou k now it is almost like a requirement. I am sure there are a few people who arent opposed to the union and arent in it just to be different right, but of course a lot of the English folks are like wholly Marxists. So that sort of helps that culture ther e I think it just depends on whether or not its a norm for people in that department T here is definitely, you know, a social peer pressure and I dont mean a negative you know like if a lot of people are in the union then more people join in a department Deeb: Going back to when you first started how did, how did you first come across GAU how did you know, know there to be a part of?
125 Sammy: There was a fair amount of vocal presences in school of art and history. Bo Dog was really involved at the time a nd pretty vocal about some of our history. A lot of folks joined up quickly. It was just sort of a cultural thing I guess. Not like the way you sort of presume English with a bunch of activist. But almost all of the, at least all the folks in my year it seemed like all of them joined so I dont know its sort of. Deeb: The little bit of organizing I had done over there; Ive actually found it to be at slow going. Where I thought we were coming in with great stuff like, we just got you a raise this morning, and nobody cared. Sammy: Yeah I mean a lot of the folks that I knew also just the people that I was around socially were basically joined up immediately I dont know if that has continued into the folks who are in first and second years. Actually I think there is a bit of a disconnect. GJ: I n certain departments people know what we do and usually they have commitment to join or are at least interested. Some departments you go, when you talk to people, they dont have any idea what GAU is. Discussio n UF GAU s discourse constructs unionization as organizing. It is based on a circular logic that offers organizing as the method and goal of the graduate labor movement. It simultaneously elevates participatory democracy over efficiency, but also suggests that with participation efficiency is realized. In addition, the unions discourse on organizing uses rhetoric that emphasizes individual responsibility and ownership in order to motivate participation in collective action which is the universal prognosis for problems that arise. Organizing is also used as a tool that frames UF GAU as a necessary and useful entity on campus and as a principle which orders union work. Organizing is defined as communication and collaboration, among groups and individuals. Com munication is seen as most effective, and collaboration, most likely when it is within the confines of personal relationships. As a result of this discourse, the work of organizing is geared towards establishing and maintaining mutually beneficial relationships. It often involves UF GAU trading their
126 ability to organize for access to other groups members and causes. This benefits UF GAU because it assists them in identifying issues that have traction with their constituency and provides regular opportunit ies for participation that are necessary for achieving organizing unionism. Although organizing is put forward as the universal solution, the realization of the vision that is articulated is simultaneously cast as a long shot because of the high turnover r ates (crisis) associated with graduate labor. The discourse on organizing offers organizing, both in a practice and philosophy, as the graduate labor movements contributions to organized labor aca demic labor and student activism Among the more unexpec ted observations is the UF GAU activists present ation of themselves as experts on organizing is a way that constitutes a specialization that other entities in campus politics and the broader labor movement lack. The manner in which other groups outsource their organizing to the union is indicative of broader trends of specialization within the corporatized academy and in the world of organizations more generally (Meyer, 2002) As mentioned in Chapter 1, contemporary institutions are forms of social organiz ation that simplify and generalize across multiple specific settings. Part of this simplification is rooted in specialization and the division of labor (Ritzer, 1993) Organized, academic labor in this case is demonstrating the characteristics of the corp orate academy which it is a part of. This leads me to question the capacity of graduate unions to function as counter force to the academic capitalism as Lafer (2003) and Bousquet ( 2008) suspect they can. Here however, UF GAUs use of their specialty align s themselves as a sort of arbitrator of issues and relevant groups with regards to campus politics. This might be somewhat overstated, for all of the groups they work with
127 are preexisting and some are far better resourced and firmly entrenched in the inst itutional structure (e.g. the faculty union and student government) but they certainly appropriate their communicative capabilities to extend their influence into areas of student activism that are not directly related to their obligations to bargain and enforce a contract. The Discourse on Organizing in this Project Because I have come at this research from a position within UF GAU (as a native) I was already utilizing this discourse prior to recognizing it. Looking back at my initial proposal for this project it is apparent that the way I cast organizing work as any work somebody consciously and deliberately does for the union which is right in line with the proposition that unionizing is organizing. It is consistent with the values manifest in the organizing model. As a result I ended up attending events and having discussions that dealt with issues I had not anticipated. For example I ended up conducting field research at a demonstration for a student who had been shot because it was organiz ed by a group that UF GAU has collaborated with on many issues. My presence was initially an expression of solidarity, but as I was listening to speakers I began to piece together the connections between what I was doing and how it has helped us organize i n the past. Of course I immediately took out my notebook and began writing because I realized I was in the field. Within the individual interviews, the personal responsibility and ownership stressed through the discourse on organizing seemed to trigger guilt in the participants who were less involved in UF GAU. It was expressed through couching their statements on their contributions in expressions such as Id hate to say it, or its not as much as it should be.
128 Sammy: C lasses not the ones we are teaching but the ones we are taking and so it made it very difficult to go to. Like the social not the social, not the social but like happy hour lots of meetings were schedules when I had class and there was just no way I could go so I couldnt get, I could never go to a stewards meeting. This guilt seemed directly related to my involvement. To an extent, these participants came across as trying to justify their participation to me, to let me know why it was valuable. It was almost as if they thought I was asking them to take on some responsibility. In these justifications, they demonstrated an internalization of the discourse. For the most part, they were telling me how they helped contributed to the union by communicating with their colleagues. Dusty : I d like to go other events I tell people about them I keep abreast of any major bargaining things that are going on so that I can pass any news on. Sammy: I couldnt do a lot. I did do s ort of an informal posting. Although the discourse appeared to be internalized, there was somewhat of a disconnection between union leadership and departmental stewards with respect to the fact that they did not seem to know that organizers viewed what they were doing as vital. Given the importance that is put on having somebody doing what these people were doing, communicating its organizational value to GAs better might help at getting more people to organize within their own departments this way. In interviews with more involved officers and leaders, this was not the case. In these interviews our familiarity became a bit of an obstacle, especi ally in those that took place after I began to see this discourse emerge. The difficulty was getting participants to be explicit enough for me to have data to work with. There was a suspicion that I already knew what they were talking about and I was trying to get them to give a particular answer. What I wanted was for them to be overt about what they meant.
129 Deeb: Exactly what do mean when you say i t could be used for organizing? Deeb: Yes, I do know how they typically respond to us, at least I think I know what you mean, but I need to hear how you articulate it. In both cases I found that the best approach was to reiterate the research model: It is not validity based research; You are the expert not me; Im not going to be checking records or asking others to see if your version is accurate. I found myself doing much more teaching of research methods and constructivist epistemologies than I had expected. I suppose this mak es sense given that the research design is intended to result in a collaborative effort. Participants need to know what they are up to in order to consciously and reflexively take part in either collaborative research or collective action
130 CHA PTER 6 FRAMING CONTESTS AND COUNTERFRAMING Generally scholars agree that social movement framing processes are contested processes. They are social transactions that antagonistic groups engage in. Movement activists are engaged in the politics of signifi cation (Hall, 1982) In other words activists do not simply impose their views and orientations on their intended targets directly, without resistance. Scholars tend to point to three primary impediments to successful framing: counterframing by outsider s, intra movement frame disputes, and the dialectic between frames and actual events (Benford & Snow, 2000) The existence of social movements indicates that there are divergent understandings concerning some aspect of reality (Benford R. D., 1993) Because of this basic premise or necessary condition, social movements and social movement organizations are frequently challenged or resisted in their framing efforts (Benford & Snow, 2000) Counterframing, undermining and refuting the interpretive framew orks offered by movements and activists is a common yet crucial aspect of doing opposition. Research on framing contests within movements reveals them to be a mixed bag. Counterframing can, and often does, take aim at any of the core frames: diagnostic, p rognostic, or motivational. Ryan (1991) calls these struggles over interpretive frameworks framing contests. Framing contests occur on cluttered fields where multiple organizations, institutions, and individuals devote their efforts and resources towar ds affecting the same issues, towards ensuring favorable outcomes of common social transactions. Frequently these are seen as healthy and advancing movement causes, but at times they present hurdles that impede goals (Benford, 1993; Clemens, 1996; Haines, 1996;
131 White, 1999) Benford and Snows (2000) review of the framing literature identifies a shortcoming in the scholarship on framing contests. Although extensive documentation of specific contests exists, there is little known regarding the factors determining how these contests are resolved. Lastly, collective action frames are not constructed in vacuums. They molded by their relationship to actual collective action events (Benford & Snow, 2000) To say it differently, frames legitimate and nurture the conditions for particular types of actions. Simultaneously, collective action molds the discourse, which limits future prospects for acti vism The resulting actions in turn shape the discourses that underlie collective action frames et cetera. Ellington ( 1995) illustrates this in his look at riots over abolition in Cincinnati prior to the War Between the States. He concludes that discourse shapes events which have bearing on the ideas and values that are the basis for the discourse and frames. The fact that framing contests occur tells us that the frames being contested vary in some way. Scholars tend to focus on the interpretive scopes collective action frames and the influence they wield as relevant lines along which differ from one another (Benford & Sn ow, 2000) Social movement activists utilize frames that logically correspond to particular interest groups or interconnected concerns. The tendency is for these to be narrowly focused and movement specific. In some cases though, multiple movements and organizations make use of the same collective action frames, master frames. Master frames are quite broad in scope, functioning as a kind of master algorithm that colors and constrains the orientations and activities of those involved in social movements (Benford & Snow, 2000, p. 618; Snow & Benford, 1992) Few
132 collective action frames are recognized as wideranging enough and versatile enough to make for useful master frames. Some examples include injustice frames (Gamson, Fireman, & Rytina, 1982) rights frames (Valocchi, 1996) return to democracy frames (Noonan, 1995) sexual terrorism frames (Jenness & Broad, 1994) cultural pluralism and choice frames (Davies, 1999) The more pervasive movement specific frames are often derived from master frames (Snow & Benford, 1992) In order for frames to ascend to level of master frames it is necessary that they be broad and flexible. The broader and more flexible they are, the more groups and movements there are that can adopt them (Gerhards & Rucht, 1992) Likewis e, their mobilization capacity grows as the range of problems they speak to expands. Swart (1995) points to cultural resonance within a particular historical setting as an additional consideration for understanding why it is that frames get adopted by two or more groups, and thus become master frames. Gerhards and Richt add a caveat to these propositions by noting that they only hold true to the extent that the various problems contained within a frame are believably interrelated. Here I will examine the collective action frames relevant to organizing graduate employees. What are they? How are they cultivated? I will look at these through the lens of frame contests in order to see how they relate to the framing effor ts of antagonistic entities I will initially discuss what I see as the closest thing to a master frame (scarcity) linking all of the relevant organizations and institutions, namely UF GAU, university administrators and the Florida legislature. Although by virtue of calling it a master frame I am indicating that it is not limited to UF GAU, my principle concern is for how the GAU activists employ it. I draw primarily from public discourse, given that I
133 did not interview any administrators or lawmakers After that I will examine the most prevalent framing contest between GAU and university administrators (employee/student) It is important to note that the analysis that ensues is not meant to be an exhaustive catalogue or discussion of every frame that is used by graduate labor activists. The hig h premium organizers place on faceto face communication discussed in Chapter 5 is, at least in part, due to the desire to modify framing strategies in an attempt to appeal to specific interests and experiences which is a response to the diverse nature of the workforce under consideration. Nor is it my goal to assess the validity of claims made by any party in the dissemination of their frames. As a union activist it can be assumed that my interests lie with UF GAU, and my characterization of arguments made by competing entities is intended to reflect how unionists understand the arguments being made. Here my primary aim is to identify and describe key frames that emerge through common, everyday interactions, texts, and discussions. Scarcity : A Master Frame (or close to it) It is understood that labor unions and management represent differing interests and that the relationship and interactions between them will be organized around the m But the nature of labor relations at a state university means tha t the political climate and doings of the state government are additi onal mediating factors Most importantly, it adds a third party to the relationship. All three of these entities put a scarcity frame to use, specifically with regards to money. This sca rcity frame constitutes the closest thing to a master frame to be used by all three of the relevant institutionalized entities. I say that this is the closest thing to a master frame because the definition articulated in the framing literaturea master
134 fra me is one that multiple movements and organizations does not necessarily match up to the entities here (Benford & Snow, 2000, p. 618; Snow & Benford, 1992) I do not know that a state government or university administration would qualify as social movement s or social movement organizations, nor is collective action necessarily a goal of their s. But that is somewhat irrelevant here. All three bodies engage in the politics of signification and seek to garner support or sympathy for their efforts (Hall, 1982) All three engage in framing. The scarcity frame that is common to all three entities is manifest in distinct ways in relation to the intended audiences. Though in each case it is utilized for diagnostic purposes, to identify and define problems. For UF GAU the scarcity frame is used mostly at a biographical level, focusing attention on specific peoples situations or a group level, drawing attention to GAs as a whole as to highlight the hardships of life as a graduate assistant drawing attention to a m aterial reality in order to engender sympathy for union initiatives. By far the GAU activists cite money (i.e. income and liabilities such as fees) and health insurance as the most effective scarce commodities to organize around. They resonate. Nedda: We talk about how poor we were paid. I think that kind of overrides these more ideological questions T here are a few GAs out there who dont think fees should be waved because they see themselves as students first which is re ally, really interesting and I think its more of an ideological thing B ut for most graduate assistants its not ideological, its just practical T hey cant afford to fees and thats what determines their position on this particular issue. G.J.: I mean GAs would not quite be as fiscally disadvantage if we didnt have to pay fees every semester. One whole paycheck for me is one whole paycheck back to university one semester, right. So, thats one of the things when Im taking to people when I see that if I needed to get that involved, by saying some kind of anger or ire, or righteous indignation, thats what I concentrate on. Id say look, ther e is this much more money that you have to pay back It is not cool.
135 Lee: A little bit I mean mainly what people want to know about is their pay. It seems like across the board like what Im I paying and how my pay is affected. At the core level what people care about is do I have to pay more money? How can we stop when we have to pay more money? You know and that seems to come across Peop le like that the union for example is against fee increases. Union activists disseminate the scarcity frame through speech and written communications that primarily occur in the context of, or in relation to, movement activities (Benford & Snow, 2000) Ne d da and G.J.s quotes above came out of a discussion on how organizers talk directly to graduate employees in faceto face conversations. But activists use the same tactic when making their case to the Universitys Board of Trustees (UFBOT) who they bargain with for contractual benefits and protections. Comments made at the board meetings are examples of speech acts that are intended to strategically appropriate scarcity in order to reinforce union positions. Redacted : (Remarks on the financial Audit to the UFBOT 3/17/2009)1: Right now, graduate assistants bear much of the burden for the bargain prices at which UF offers its degrees. Right now there are about a thousand graduate assistants who live below the federal poverty line, graduate assistants who teach classes at UF who live below the federal poverty line. That is unconscionable and a stain on the reputation of UF. Deeb: (3/17/2009 comments to UFBOT) As graduate employees we constitute half of the instructional staff; we do the most undesirable l abor required by research. Typic ally what graduate assistants have to do is take out loans but our health insurance reduces the amount we can borrow You have graduate workers, employees, teaching the under 1 This quote as well as others made in public to the board of trustees is not credited to any individual in order to comply with my research protocol which requires protecting the anonymity of participants. I have not connected to a pseudon ym because of the possibility that it could be linked to statements made in confidential interviews. Another option would be to use different pseudonyms for public comments than for closed ones, but this would give a false impression that more people parti cipated in the research than did. In other cases in this document where public comments can be linked to participants identities, I have chosen to err on the side of protecting the confidentiality of participants. Because of the small number of union orga nizers involved in UFGA, this requires me to remove any names or positions within UF GAU that can be linked to them.
136 graduates at this university, who have to sacri fice their health insurance to make their ends meet each semester. Thats completely unacceptable. On a biographical level, the scarcity frame points to those moments in daily life when needs must be prioritized and often sacrificed. It is not an uncommon approach to discussing the plight of the poor. But graduate labor organizers scarcity frame is also couched in injustice. In all of the references to GAs lacking necessary material resources union organizers condemn it on the basis of the work they do, particularly teaching. As the previous statements demonstrate, it is not a general lament of the injustice of material deprivation; it is contextualized by references to the nature of work graduate employees do and the sacrifices they make in order to do it. Redacted : (Remarks on the financial Audit to the UFBOT 3/17/2009) Because I met with many of the students in a department facing termination yesterday to discuss their concerns Im going to tell you how these budget cuts are going to affect them. Many of these students gave up promising careers and nice incomes to come to UF. Some have gone into considerable debt. One international student has moved to the U.S. and invested all of her savings in this degree. So imagine making these kinds of sacrifices only to find out you cant finish because your program has been terminated. Even if arrangements are made to enable the current graduate students to finish their degrees, their ability to get jobs is severely hampered. At other meetings of the board of tr ustees, individual GAs offered testimony as to the financial hardships they encounter as a result of university policies. Testimonies in this particular venue are directed more to reporters and onlookers than to board members (a.k.a. decision makers) because they are heard after all other agenda items have been covered and choices already made. The fee would cost students $20 per semester plus $3 per credit hour. Redacted a graduate assistant the fine arts, said she makes a little more than $600 a month and continual fee increases are a financial burden. People like me suffer even from $1.50 per credit hour being added to their fees, she said
137 Graduate assistants argue that they bear the responsibility of teaching many of UF's undergraduates, yet haven't received an across the board raise in three years. The Graduate Assistants United union organized the protest, with many of its members in attendance wearing "No new fees" buttons. Redacted who said she currently pays the equivalent of a month's salary on fees each semester, said graduate assistants can have heavy debt when leaving the university. I ask you not to have people like me mortgage my future to help make the mission of the University of Florida possible, she said. ( Crabbe, 2009) On these comments made to the board of trustees, the GA who delivered them said in an interview: Redacted : Well I guess the speech to the board of trustees where I sort of used my rhetorical flourish to deliver pretty quick and impacting and speech that made the board of trustees members feel guilty; it was sort of funny. Its like one of those moments where you know we are supposed to have a chance to comment But they voted on the fees before they heard the comment. And they sort of Deeb: Thats why you talk about why those meetings were structured? Redacted : Yeah its sort of funny you know its one of those funny moments of where you have already voted on what I am trying to co mment on. UF GAU makes use of written texts also. As mentioned, activists often turn to reporters for assistance in delivering union messages. One local paper, The Fine Print ran an article detailing the work life and economic realities of a teaching assistant (me) in 2009. While Deebs pay has stayed the same, gas and food prices have spiked, housing costs have risen, and Deeb and his wife Shannon had a baby In addition to struggling with rising living costs on the same salary hes been makin g for the past three years, Deebs graduate assistant position doesnt help with education costs as much as it initially seemed it would. Since Deeb and other assistants are considered both students and employees, the university covers tuition costs but not student fees In some cases people are paying back their entire semester stipend in fees because those peo ple are paid very, very little (Fiser, 2009, p. 5)
138 In contrast to UF GAU the university administration employs a scarcity frame to contextualize their management practices as necessary in light of the states political economy. The practices at hand are typically controversial and center on responses to budget cuts. Like the scarcity frame that UF GAU utilizes, administrators disseminate this frame via media outlets and public events. In a 2009 Associated press story from The University of Florida announced $42.2 million in cuts to its budget Friday for the upcoming fiscal year. The proposed budget includes the elimination of about 150 staff and faculty positions. In addition, nine faculty members and 49 staff members will be laid off. Our goal has been to develop a budget that preserves our core educational and research missions while positioning the university to withstand the economic realities facing this state and the nation, President Bernie Machen said in a letter to faculty, staff and students. ( New UF Budget, 2009) While the above policies were being announced and put into place onetime, federal money came in to the university coffers. Arguments as to how to spend the money ensued among various interest groups. Many asserted that the money should be used to stave off the effects of budget cuts, to prevent the layoffs and program terminations mentioned above. Administrators couched the defense of their policy choices in a scarcity frame. UF Chief Financial Officer Matt Fajack said some universities made the wrong bet that the economy would recover by the time the stimulus money ran out. We weren't willing to face that cliff, so we used it just to bridge, he said UF President Bernie Machen said It seemed right to me, and I certainly feel like we're in better shape than some of my colleagues at other universities that spent the money on recurring operational costs that are gasping for air right now. (Cra bbe, 2010)
139 The utilization of the scarcity frames on the part of each the university administration and UF GAU does not go unchallenged. When union activists present their case in terms of individual deprivation it is responded to as u navoidable given the budgetary conditions. What is more, considering the circumstances, scarcity at the university level, health insurance and less than a living wage should be seen as generous. UF's Board of Trustees listened to impassioned pleas from U F's graduate assistant and faculty unions about low stipends and possible layoffs. The three speakers said many of UF's graduate assistants are not paid a living wage, though the university claims to want to shift to graduate education and research. They also claimed that UF could prevent layoffs by tapping hundreds of millions of dollars in unrestricted funds UF Trustee Danny Ponce, however, expressed some concern with giving graduate assistants bigger stipends. He said he's sympathetic to their plight but said some of the students don't seem appreciative of UF's recent creation of a health care plan for graduate students, which cost UF about $6 million. It seems like it's a little unappreciated by certain members of that group, he said after the meeti ng. You got to wonder, god, if you do that, you know, if you do more will it be appreciated? Kitchen said he thinks graduate assistants shouldn't have to feel appreciative. That was not something that was given to us that we should be appreciative for, that is something we had to force on them, he said. Furthermore, he said he thinks UF is morally obligated to provide health care for its employees. Ponce said he disagrees. Some people will look at it as a moral obligation, but that moral obligation st ill cost this university $6 million, he said. (Stewart, 2009 p. 5 ) This passage illustrates the administrative response to GAU activists use of a scarcity frame on a biographical and group level. The response is to the group as a
140 whole ignoring the anec dotal accounts put forward. Moreover it turns a blind eye to and the reality of being on the bottom of the pay hierarchy that is articulated in my statements at the March 17, 2009 Board of Trustees meeting. Not all GAs can access the benefits such as healt hcare that administrators point to in attempts to validate their practices. So part of the process of refuting or countering the scarcity frame is to ignore parts of it. The same passage above is a useful window into the approach union activists take in co untering the scarcity frame that administrators offer. Rather than ignoring parts of their opponents frame that are inconsistent with the union line, GAU activists assert an alternative diagnosis or premise from which to proceed. Their argument is essenti ally that UF has cash on hand as well money that is being spent on other, new, more expensive projects that should be allocated to, at least in part, to lifting GA stipends to accommodate for their increased living expenses and to enable all graduate workers to make use of the health insurance that is available to them. The claim is that the administrative claims to scarcity are merely a cover to redirect money in unpopular ways. When your school is experiencing serious downsizing because of a lack of fun ding and when the president is given an award of that magnitude [ $285,000 salary bonus ] for his performance something is fundamentally wrong, especially when Graduate Assistants United, the grad assistant labor union, is denied a $400 bonus for each assist ant to cope with financial stress and the rising cost of living. The total bonuses for grad assistants would equal less than the annual pay salary of a fulltime faculty member. UF has $926 million in unrestricted funds, and Machens sitting in the no.6 spo t on the list of highest paid public university officials in the country They claim that the grad assistants $6million a year healthcare plan, which GAU pushed for and recently gained, is ample compensation. Providing healthcare for ones employees is a moral obligation, not a perk
141 UF is currently in the process of hiring new faculty while dismissing others and generally neglecting the grad assistants (Lain, 2009, p. 8 ) You got a choice of what to spend it on (Stewart, 2009, p. 5 ) In each case, the parties espouse these frames at public events when the intended audience can be reached, especially when media outlets are covering them. These are seen as time when other, third party types, can assist in disseminating frames and ideas. Having non union ent ities put forth the same reasoning and interpretive framework that UF GAU finds beneficial helps them resonate. As a result, there is considerable effort on the part of union activists to getting covered by the local and campus press. Two passages cited above, each from different local/campus newspapers use the phrase moral obligation in reference to GA health insurance. This is no accident. In the first article the phrase is contained in a quote credited to me in response to a trustees comments on GAs not being grateful enough. The second one is not a direct quote; it is the wording used by the editorialist. This is a direct result of union activists delivering story ideas and commentaries on campus issues to the attention of the newspapers staff. In a nother instance, I delivered a report compiled by examining the state of Florida auditor generals numbers on UFs financial state to local newspapers. The report credits the university with millions of dollars in unrestricted assets that could be used to stem the severity of the budget cuts discussed above. As a result the newspaper ran an editorial that echoed the exact sentiments union activists had been struggling to communicate to their members. Over the past couple of weeks, we have dedicated copious editorial real estate to defending President Bernie Machen's proposed $47 million budget
142 cuts as a necessary response to the Florida Legislature's abysmal failure to fully fund the state's university system. It now appears that we have been duped. A recent ly released report commissioned by the United Faculty of Florida suggests UF has plenty of cash on hand to prevent (or at least postpone) faculty and staff layoffs, as well as degree program termination or enrollment freezes. According to the report, UF had an astounding $131 million of unspent, unrestricted funds at the conclusion of the 2007 fiscal year. Furthermore, the report indicates that UF's reserve funding has not dropped below $81 million in the past five years, beginning with the 2003 fiscal year These unrestricted funds are legally available for use toward operating costs, such as faculty and staff salaries, and other expenses. The administration's reasoning for failing to use its pecuniary surplus in these areas is at best disappointing and at worst a disingenuous and duplicitous power play What's more, the administration has mounted the hollow and nebulous defense that the $45 million reserve is the minimum amount requisite to maintain the best business practices. We're sorry; we must not have gotten the memo that say s running UF like a business that is, turning what amounts to a profit every year for the past five years is the best way to promote an environment conducive to higher education. (I ndependent Florida Alligator Editorial Board, 2 008) Each side uses more direct communication also. One passage above from an Associated Press article contains a quote that first appeared in a letter sent to students and employees at the university via email. Our goal has been to develop a budget that preserves our core educational and research missions while positioning the university to withstand the economic realities facing this state and the nation, President Bernie Machen said in a letter to faculty, staff and students. (Associated Press, 2009) Likewise, GAU communicated via email sending around the financial report mentioned above that credits the university with millions of dollars in unrestricted assets.
143 The $900 million figure a UF GAU activist cited, which has also been cited by John Biro, president of the United Faculty of Florida, UF's faculty union, is from a recent audit by Florida's Auditor General. (Stewart, 2009) Although they use these direct channels to speak with their intended audiences media outlets are still utilized for the pur poses of both reaching a wider audience and because, for unionists, having a third, disinterested party reinforce or disseminate their interpretive frames is seen to reinforce their resonance. For the union and local papers there seems to be a mutually ben eficial relationship. In the case of the story on the financial report above UF GAU as the bargaining agent for thousands of university employees has access to data and information that can be difficult for reporters at small, local/campus papers to procur e. Moreover, because of their position within the university, access to information and working relationships with administrators, GAU activists (especially officers) are seen as credible sources. This affords validity the stories unionists point reporters to. As a result, their ideas are given a prominent place in the public discourse on university governance, particularly in the outlets that the unions target audiences utilize. The last group of interest that also uses the scarcity frame is the state government in Florida, namely the legislators. The politicians who use this frame combine biographical and macro level scarcity to justify dwindling investments in areas such as higher education. Now is not the moment to increase the tax burden on the peopl e of Fl orida, said Rep. David Rivera, R Miami. Now is the time to do what every business, every family, every individual has to do when their income diminishes. They live within their means. (Deslatte & Hafenbrack, 2009) Like the university trustees who sympathize with the needs of graduate workers, but cannot find money to devote to their needs, the state legislatures are supportive of
144 spending on higher education, hypothetically. They claim the circumstances do not permit it. The 2010 legislative sess ion promises to be full of buzzwords and electionseason hype much of it centered around the mantra that elevating Florida's economy beyond orange groves and theme parks will take a committed investment in Florida's community colleges and universities. Un iversities are not merely centers for learning; they're economic engines, Senate President Jeff Atwater recently told reporters. But science labs, professor salaries and research programs don't come cheap. And the 2010 session, as with recent years, will be marked by a budget gap of as much as $3 billionand consternation over how best to bridge it. So even if lawmakers want to invest more in higher education, they might not have the option. In fact, the very senators and representatives talking about univ ersities as an ``investment'' warn that higher education will face the same cost cutting as other state agencies and programs. I wish I could say it's off the table for any reductions,'' Atwater said. But I don't know that I can realistically do that ( Colavecchio, 2010) In all three cases scarcity frame is set against the backdrop of a harsh economic climate. It stands to reason that the economic circumstances at hand contribute to the perceived capacity of the frame on the part of those using it Each version alludes to choices that have to be made when faced with limited resources. The unions use, that is of most interest here is on the biographical and group levels and focuses on everyday needs and having to prioritize them. In framing contests wit h university administrators, they counter claims to university wide scarcity by pointing to other projects and asserting that resources are unavailable for GAs because they are being used for more dubious purposes. University administrators couch their rebuttal of union arguments in claim s of sympathy for GAs financial plight and that there is already sufficient investment in graduate labor
145 considering the diminishing state investment in higher education. These contests frequently occur at public event s and through local media. Union officers use their organizational capacity to accumulate data on the university to influence the local and student press by exchanging guarded information for coverage. Thus far I have focused on framing contests that invol ve manipulating and disseminating various versions of the same scarcity frame. Here I will turn my attention to the contests between UF G A U and university administrators that involve promoting and disseminating fundamentally different frames. Whereas the s carcity frame is used by various groups to address differing issues to divergent audiences, in this next part I will examine contests that entail framing the same phenomena differently in attempts to sway the same audience. I will focus on the struggle between UF GAU and the university administration that surrounds fees GAs are charged each semester. Employees or Students: Interorganizational Framing Contests In his article examining the organizability of workers, Isler (2007) focuses on workplace identi ties. He concludes that workers are able to be organized into labor unions when critical masses identify themselves as exploited workers. In this situation, union organizers must convince their audience that unionization is a suitable course (prognosis) considering their particular circumstances. A high premium is placed on organizing strategies that focus on symbolic framing, framing objects ( e.g. persons, things, events, practices) so that they are recognized in a distinct way. This is achieved, at least in part, through conventionally regulated practices of language such as labeling (Smith, 2005) and emphasizing particular objects as opposed to others. Disseminating the (exploitative) employment frame relies on highlighting issues such as pay that are most readily identified with GAs statuses as workers. The discursive work that fostering
146 this frame among GAs requires can be seen in the prior discussion on healthcare regarding the scarcity frame. To reiterate key quotes: Redacted : (Remarks on the financial Audit to the UFBOT 3/17/2009): Right now, graduate assistants bear much of the burden for the bargain prices at which UF offers its degrees. Right now there are about a thousand graduate assistants who live below the federal poverty line, graduat e assistants who teach classes at UF who live below the federal poverty line. That is unconscionable and a stain on the reputation of UF. Deeb: (3/17/2009 comments to UFBOT) As graduate employees we constitute half of the instructional staff; we do the m ost undesirable labor required by research. Typic ally what graduate assistants have to do is take out loans but our health insurance reduces the amount we can borrow You have graduate workers, employees, teaching the under graduates at this university, who have to sacrifice their health insurance to make their ends meet each semester. Thats completely unacceptable. To be clear, exploitation is linked to the actual w ork that GAs do. It is not an issue of practices or arrangements being abjectly unjust. Rather they are seen as an unacceptable tradeoff considering the contributions graduate laborers make towards realizing the universitys mission. The same phenomena that are seen as unjust when involving employees may be justified for students who are not on the payroll. By using opportunities for public comments at meeting of UFs board of trustees to link the valuable work that graduate employees do to economic hardshi p that is manifest as limited cash on hand, diminished access to their entitled benefits and increased debt, the activists who spoke made reference to all three of the legs that the exploited employee frame stands on: pay, benefits and work (teaching and r esearch). In the case of UF GAU, organizers claim that opponents, mainly university administrators, counter their efforts to foster this identity by asserting an alternative: student. Disputes or framing contests between the two entities often play out in public discourse generally directed at graduate assistants. As a result I rely heavily on media
147 outlets for the data that this analysis is based on. This is not to say however, that these competing frameworks are not observable through private interacti ons between the universitys representatives and GAU activists such bargaining2 or pursuing grievances. At the universitys orientation for new teaching assistants in August 2007, these two opposing frames were offered to the audience. From my journal: I s poke to the new GAs again today. I think it went better than last year. At least more people joined after I spoke than did last year. Gerhardt gave me the perfect opening by telling everybody that GAU is one of many student organizations on campus when he introduced me. I got to tell everybody that we are in fact the only graduate workers organization around. After that I got a bit feistier than last year and mentioned that we had yet to settle a contract that could immediately affect their paychecks. No other student group has any influence over that. The truth is that only a few of their paychecks would be effected, the ones below the proposed new minimum stipend. The competing employer and student frameworks that are observed here are also consistent wi th the labor law literature (Lafer, 2003) and is at the center of legal disputes surrounding graduate labor unions (Brown University v. NLRB, 2004; New York University and NLRB, 2000) This argument is not lost on empirical researchers who view graduate unions in light of trends in both organized labor and student activism either (Rhoades & Rhoads, 2003) In this section I will examine the ways union activists and their opponents discuss GAs status through spoken and written texts in order to promote com peting agendas. I will conclude this segment by examining factors union organizers see as influencing this employment frames resonance. It may be more fitting to label the student framework mentioned above as the norm, given my goal of documenting how union activists see their work. The view of all 2 It is crucial to note that bargaining is technically public event, but it is rarely done with an outside audience watching.
148 the participants in this study is that most GAs see themselves as students more so than university employees. Unionists see themselves as bearing the burden of displacing that student frame with a worker frame, more specifically, an exploited worker frame. Participants in this study are in line with Ilsers (2007) observations on the constant quality of identity tensions among graduate employees. Nedda: The first thing I tell people, what we do is legally binding. The administration has to abide by what we agree upon and that is not the case of any other student organization on campus and were not a student organization. First of all were an employee organization and not a student one Thats a distinction that is absolutely essential but also a hard one for some people to accept. Some graduate students, I d say a lot of graduate students, do not see themselves as employees first. They see themselves as student s first and employment is a bene fit of the ir student status. W e see it as the other way around and thats the way the university clearly sees it too, they take advantage of us as employees, they appreciate us not because were students but because were employees. Oftentimes the opposing views and frameworks unionists and administrative agents use are evident in their language used to address particular issues. This is best illustrated by the fee issue mentioned at the start of this section and eluded to in the previous one, fees. Continu ing from the quote just prior to this paragraph: Nedda: O ur current campaign on the fees we have tuition waved but we want to get rid of these L ike we pay about right now five hundred dollars a semester in fees. Teaching assistants and research assistan ts who enroll in nine credit hours are paying about five hundred dollars in fees right now. Which, for someone like me, thats an eighth of my stipend and so its in a huge financial burden for graduate assistants and our number one issue right now is get ting fees waved. So I talk to people about that particular issue and its a really concrete thing that people can get behind because everybody is affected by it. Each individual enrolled for credit hours each semester is charged several hundred dollars in fees on top of the tuition they pay. By labeling phenomena such as fees charged in particular ways, both union activists and administrators attempt to keep either the employee or student identity at forefront of GAs assessment of their
149 experience at UF. Through speech and written texts, union organizers use language to highlight issues that they believe are most readily linked to employment in the eyes of graduate assistants: pay and benefits. According to the University of Floridas financial services w ebpage (2010) students tuition fees are assessed based on residency, first enrolled term of the current degree, and course level. University administrators frame these as fees charged to students as evidenced by their labeling them tuition fees as well as the fact that everybody who registers for courses is responsible for paying fees on them. The union line is that they are employment based because GAs must be registered for courses in order to work. It is considered a special condition of employment covered by their contract. 2.1 Letter of Appointment. The University shall make appointments on standard letters of appointment, signed by a representative of the University designated by the president or representative and the appointee. The letter of appoi ntment shall be sent to the appointee within ten (10) days after the conditions necessary for the appointment have been met. No salary shall be paid in the absence of a signed letter of appointment properly on file with the University Board of Trustees. The employing department shall ensure that the signed letter of appointment is properly on file. The letter shall contain the following elements as a minimum: (a) Date; (b) Professional Classification System title and job code, if any; (c) Employment unit (e .g., department, college, institute, area, center, etc.); (d) Length of appointment; (e) Special conditions of employment including a description of their duties; (f) Name of supervisor; (g) A statement that the employees signature shall not be deemed a w aiver of the right to process a grievance with respect to the appointment in compliance with Article 11, Grievance Procedure;
150 (h) A statement that the appointment is subject to the Constitution and laws of the State of Florida and the United States, the rules of the Board of Governors and the UFBOT, and this Agreement, with the web address where the Agreement may be accessed; (i) Percent of fulltime effort (FTE) assigned; and (j) Salary rate and bi weekly stipend. (From a letter of appointment detailing the duties and responsibilities of both the GA and the appointing department as specified by the collective bargaining agreement): This offer assumes you w ill enroll as a fulltime student. Tuition for the specified credits for this term will be paid, and the student is responsible for the fees associated with each credit. (UFBOT & UF GAU, 2009) In contrast, the pamphlet on the same fees that GAU prints and hands out: Every semester, most GAs pay hundreds of dollars in student fees. These fees can soak up over 20% of a GAs stipend. We work for the university and they compensate us with a stipend and tuition waiver, but the administration makes up financial shortages by increasing studen t fees. Fees are becoming more of a burden for GAs. GAs are literally paying to work. In this light, the fees appear to be a kind of backdoor tuition and a tax on our work. Fees are not student fees. They are EMPLOYMENT fees! (UF GAU, 2010) Although the student frame is understood to be GAs default frame, if you will, organizers see money issues as significant enough to trump it. What is more, graduate labor organizers see financial concerns serv ing as a passkey that allows them to overcome ideological opposition to organized labor and connect with graduate workers. Lee: I think a lot of that resistance to organized labor among GAs has to do with the perception of what unions are and what they can do and the stigma, I mean p eople like that the union for example is against fee increase because people dont want to see more of the paycheck taken. It seems like across the board like what Im I paying and how is my pay affected and in terms of like the little bit of pizza meetings I have gone to. Fee Fi ghting When I was a member of GAUs bargaining team between 2006 and 2009 we negotiated three contracts. In each round of negotiations we argued over the issue of
151 fees. Notes documenting the discussions that took place during bargaining sessions are unavailable, but according to my memory the arguments always hinged whether or not they related to student or employment status. The negotiations on the issue never went much further than that. No matter what was proposed, a fee waiver, capping fees at current levels, incremental deductions from GAs paychecks, or a fee deferment the response was that the fees are charged to people who are students and that they fall outside the bounds of a contract governing employment. The argument could not be forced beyond t hat via contractual or legal mechanism because neither side took a stance that fees constitute mandatory subject of bargaining3 under Florida law which would allow a resolution to be imposed by a neutral party (Saltzman, 2001) An array of options, such as those mentioned, was proposed by the graduate labor union each of the four years I participated in negotiations, but the response was that a contract was not an appropriate place to address the fees under consideration. As a result we argued over whether or not the fees associated with the tuition were synonymous with tuition because graduate assistants are required to register in order to go to work. If tuition is considered an employment issue, addressed in a labor contract, our stance was that fees sho uld be too. The university hasnt been able to justify why tuition is waived but fees arent GAU believes employment fees should be waived just as tuition is (UF GAU, 2010) 3 Employers are required to negotiate mandatory subjects of bargaining with unions upon request and if a matter is deemed mandatory by the courts a resolution can be imposed. They are not required to negotiate on permissive subjects of bargaining and are forbidden to negotiating on prohibited subjects of bargaining (Saltzman, 2001)
152 The only year any headway was made on the part of UF GAU was 2007 when the fees due date was pushed back from the start of the semester (usually second or third week) to the end of the semester. This went into effect in 2008. In 2008, we won deferment of employment fees! So GAs will no longer have to pay a $100 late fee if they dont pay their employment fees within the first two weeks of the semester, before their first paycheck (UF GAU, 2010) In 2007 the bargaining sessions between UF GAU and the Board of Trustees representatives could not be resolved over the summer as they t ypically are so that at the start of the new school year GAs and the universitys governing body can vote to accept or reject the contract crafted by their representatives. I had assumed the position of lead negotiator in July of 2007 because Bilbo who fil led that position had to be away doing research when no agreement could be reached. At this point in time each side had agreed on an entire contract save the issue of fees. The disagreement over how to see fees caused the sessions to stretch into the start of the new school year (2007 2008) when graduate assistants arrived on campus, some returning, others for the start of their graduate education. As I mentioned previously, I used my opportunity as copresident to speak with the incoming GAs about the uns ettled contract negotiations. I bragged about benefits that had been secured, but I also told them of the inability to agree on fees. I informed them that, as it stood, they owed the university nearly $500, and if they did not pay it during the first two w eeks of classes, before they g et paid for working as TA s a $100 late fee would be tacked on. True to the organizing model and its universal prognosis organizing I told them that their help could get those fees waved and save them half a thousand dollars It was certainly the most antagonistic presentation I gave during any of the four new teaching assistant orientations I spoke at.
153 When I was finished the dean conducting the orientation, the MC quickly approached the podium I was speaking from, thanked me, and began introducing the next speaker. This was the only year I was not allowed to field any questions from the audience. As I was told by Nedda, who was handing out union literature in the lobby while I was speaking, nearly a dozen people came out for the purpose signing a GAU membership form immediately following my comments. Although the relevant audience for my statements, in my mind, was the g roup of new teaching assistants and any potential union activists among them, the person who had made haste to get me off the stage was also a member of the universitys bargaining team. When Bilbo and I arrived to the next bargaining session about a week and a half later (Bilbo was back in town by this point so we shared the duties of lead negotiator) the meeting started off with a statement from the universitys representative that they were determined to settle the contract on that day. To demonstrate th eir sincerity, they offered a clause in the agreement that would allow GAU a special consultation with the board of trustees over the issue of fees. Clause 12.4 reads: The UBOT and UFF GAU agree to special consultation relating to the issues of fees and fee payroll deduction. (UFBOT & UF GAU, 2009, p. 22) When Bilbo and I deliberated on whether or not to settle the contract with merely a special consultation on fees we were divided. At this point the only two people present for GAU were the two of us, me and Bilbo. The others who had been contributing over the summer had classes and other engagements since the school year had started, so they were not there I wanted to settle the deal because there were many provisions in other parts of the contract that I saw as vital to lock in and because it w as progress to get fees mentioned in a contract at all My reasoning was that it is easier to modify a
154 contractual provision than to create one. Bilbo originally opposed this on the grounds that we had agreed previously as a bargaining team that we would not agree to anything without a reduction in the financial burden created by the fees. The special consultation did not provide that. At the end of our discussion, Bilbo agreed with me that just getting language on fe es in an employment contract would go a long way towards helping us reframe them as an issue pertaining to the terms of employment and therefore help us organize more support for our side. I do not know whether or not my presentation at the new TA orienta tion or the number of members we signed up after it had any bearing on the universitys offer to consult with the graduate union on the issue of fees. But the new TA orientation that semester did mark a watershed moment when GAU began using fees as the central issue to organize around. The special consultation that the new contract guaranteed served as an organizing event and provided an outlet to plug new members and activists into immediately so that they could contribute in a tangible way. Taking advant age of the special consultation requires submitting a list of agenda items to be discussed. Clause 24.1 reads: The party requesting consultation shall submit a written list of agenda items in advance of the meeting if it wishes to discuss specific issues. (UFBOT & UF GAU, 2009, p. 39) Bilbo had the idea to make the submission of agenda items an opportunity to demonstrate GA support for the unions stance that these are an unjust burden. By using this event as an opportunity to demonstrate, GAU activists cr eated two opportunities for sympathetic GAs to participate in discreet tasks that are of service to the union: the actual demonstration as well as promoting the demonstration. As discussed in Chapter 5 perceptions that union work requires excessive time
155 commitments and specialized knowledge are frequently cited as deterrents to union activism. As a result, specific, easily defined tasks are seen as easiest things to get new people without any union or organizing experience to commit to. Preparing for this demonstration required coordinating and communicating across many departments in order to get the word out as to why to demonstrate (what the problem is and what can be gained) as well as the logistics of where people need to be and when to be there. In t his case UF GAU utilized its capacity to communicate with GAs in mass via email sending out regular reminders between the end of August when the agreement between the union and university bargaining teams was reached and October 31st when the formal reques t for a special consultation on fees was submitted. In each correspondence there was a link sent to a survey for GAs on the fees. It asked questions about the burden they impose. Survey results : *62% of GAs did not know they would have to pay employment f ees before they came to UF *69% GAs had to delay their rent, utilities, or other bills to pay employment fees *800 GAs, or less than a fifth of all GAs took the survey, yet 300 of those have paid a $100 late fee at least once. Thats at least $30,000 th at UF has unfairly taken back from GAs stipends. But if you consider the fact that many of those GAs have paid the late fees more than once (some pay them every semester) and that there are hundreds more GAs who didnt take the survey, that number reaches well above $100,000 for GAs who are currently enrolled. Clearly employment fees are a huge financial burden on GAs. So far the university does not want to help its most exploited instructors and researchers. UF should truly waive tuition waiving employment fees as well. What type of organization bleeds its poor est employees? (UF GAU, 2010) Based on this feedback, the executive body voted to request a special consultation to discuss having the fees deducted from their paychecks incrementally over the course
156 of the semester rather than having them come due at the start before GAs have been paid and when they have to buy books for their classes. Graduate students must pay before receiving their first paycheck.GAU wants UF's administration to make the fees payroll deductible or slowly taken from their paychecks over the course of a semester, by next fall. The group eventually hopes to have the fees waived for graduate students, which already happens at institutions such as the U niversity of Michigan, he added. (Culclaser, 2007) T he feedback used was generated through UF GAUs ability to communicate with GAs electronically in an uninhibited way But massive emails sent from the union as a body are understood to be an inferior mode of communication when the goal is to engender collective action, as I mentioned in Chapt er 5 So GAU activists coordinated with preexisting groups to promote their efforts through face to face interactions. The union officers and members of the stewards council sent notification through their departmental list serves and discussed the demons tration and the burden of fees with their colleagues so that the messages would come from a local voice. The purpose of having a person located within the department send the messages rather than coming straight from the unions executive committee is seen to increase both the likelihood that emails get read by GAs and to help the messages resonate. But these only reached GAs in departments with a consistent, active union presence which, as mentioned earlier, and is consistent with the previous research, i s concentrated in the humanities, social sciences, and to a lesser extent the fine arts (Bousquet, 2008; Rhoads & Rhoades, 2005; Singh, Zinni, & Maclennan, 2006; Zinni, Singh, & MacLennan, 2005) In order to speak to as many graduate assistants as possibl e UF GAU organizers reached out to other organizations to ask if a GAU representative could speak at their next meetings. Meetings of preexisting groups allows fewer organizers to address more
157 people when they were congregated for meeting compared to maki ng visits to individuals in their offices (that are hard to find) and interrupting them while they are working which was the approach that GAU activists typically took to coordinat e collective actions prior to this demonstration. The deal was that in return for a spot on the groups agenda allow ing a union representative to talk about the fees why GAU is voicing opposition to them, to pass out literature and to answer any questions people may have, the union would provide food for the organizations meeti ng. Because the food served is typically pizza, these are referred to as pizza meetings among the union activists. Nedda: We, one of the, one of the things that we tr ied to do is we try to organize pizza meetings through the departmental organizations i nclude graduate assistants and we do that as much as we can but there are of course limits to how much we can do that We try in fact to organize events with the international students organizations. W e would pay for the food and then you know get time to talk to graduate students about the union I ts hard to get contact information for many of these organizations. You think it would be easier but it is actually kind of difficult to find contact information. And then some of these, the leaders of the or ganizations arent always sympathetic to the union. As Neddas quote suggests, getting on the schedule for these meetings can pose a problem. At the time this was happening, Bilbo served as the head of CLASC which is the organization that handles money an d oversight of all of the student organization in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the universitys largest college. Using the list of the list of organizations that are registered with CLASC so that they can use university facilities of receive university money Bilbo identified graduate student based organizations. Another activist, Rochelle who worked in the international center helped to locate contact information for international, cultural groups (i.e. Volunteers for International Student Aff airs and the Indian Graduate Student Association).
158 Nedda: We try in fact to organize events with the international students organization; we have had success with that over the years W e need to do that We need to pick that up again. On the advice of a nother activist Maya, who is also an international student, UF GAU hosted an international coffee house where they paid for the coffee that is served at a regular gathering of international students (who are primarily graduate students according to Maya). During the gathering which is much like a cocktail party with people just standing and talking. It was nothing too structured; there was no agenda and no chance to formally speak to the crowd as a whole, so GAU organizers circulated and handed out literature on fees and the upcoming demonstration and answering questions while others stood at the entrance and exit doing the same. Another measure taken included going from office to office in each department and putting the same literature organizers passed out at the meetings into graduate workers mailboxes. In Chapter 5, I examine the importance of locating GA offices and how they can be hidden. I must note that the departmental offices where the mailrooms are typically located are not the same as the individual offices or labs that GAs actually do their work in. Departmental offices and mailrooms are very easily located on the internet, and filling mailboxes with literature is another one of those discreet tasks requiring no special skill or knowledge that is easy to get volunteers to do. Simon, the GAU organizing chair at the time, had the foresight to ask new members who signed up during the new TA orientation at the start of the fall semester to indicate whether or not they were interested in helping or becoming active in GAU. This merely required adding a column to the sheet at the unions table for people to mark if they wanted to receive information and updates on ways to participate and contribute to their union. The people who said yes were indivi dually sent emails by
159 Simon asking them to help stuff mailboxes. Visiting departmental offices and filling GAs mailboxes began in early September when the fees for the fall 2007 semester came due and continued until the demonstration occurred nearly two m onths later. Several departments mailboxes were filled more than once. The literature that was stuffed into mailboxes was an invite to Spook Tigert Hall (Culclaser, 2007) on the afternoon of October 31, 2007, Halloween, in order to protect graduate wor kers from frightening employment fees, which also included a request for an RSVP, and a solicitation for GAs to take the survey mentioned previously (UF GAU, 2007) I do not recall exactly how it was decided that the demonstration would be on Halloween, but there was a consensus that the demonstration should utilize the timing and make it a themed event. The invitations also urged people to attend in costume, and that a prize (a gift certificate) would be given to the person with the best one. The point behind encouraging the costumes was to get attention, to be seen. Bilbo : (paraphrased on why one particular activist should be given m ore responsibility in planning) We a re trying to create a spectacle. The reason you hold demonstrations is to get attention, so the aesthetics are important S he knows how to get attention. Shes been part of these things on a larger scale. On Halloween 2007: Protesters decided to spook Tigert Hall for Halloween. Graduate Assistants United, a graduatestudent labor union that represents about 4,200 paid teaching and research assistants at UF protested student fees levied against teaching assistants they spend about, 400 to 500 each semester in fees, including lab fees, a fee to use the Student Health Care Center, the Activity & Service Fee and Transportation Access Fee graduate students must pay before receiving their first paycheck. GAU wants UF's administration to make the fees payroll deductibl e or slowly taken from their paychecks over the course of a semester, by next fall. The group eventually hopes to have the fees waived for graduate students, which already happens at institutions such as the University of Michigan. (Culclaser, 2007)
160 When demonstrators arrived, they were handed Halloween treats that included literature summarizing the survey results mentioned previously as well as pens and frisbees with END GRADUATE EMPLOYMENT FEES NOW! printed on them. And of course there was candy. Sim on the organizing chair and Bilbo, the lead negotiator, thanked the people in attendance and reiterated the information contained in the literature being passed around. Prior to speaking to the crowd two GAs in attendance had told Bilbo and myself that they work in the dean of the graduate schools office and had been asked to come and report back on what was happening. In fact, they were on the clock as we spoke. So after floating the idea by the other officers present we had a quorum we decided that I sho uld call the deans office (this is the same dean who facilitated the new TA orientation and whisked me off stage) and invite him to attend. I was only able to get his secretary on the telephone, but she assured me he was too busy or else he would love to be there with us. Lastly the winner of the costume contest was announced. It went to a GA who came with her baby. They were dressed as the Madonna and Child. Making the request merely required delivering a form to the administrative office where the demonstration took place. The entire event only lasted about thirty minutes and culminated with the GAU copresidents (I was one of them) walking into the building and handing it to an office assistant who was waiting for us just inside the front doors to the building. We had wanted everyone there at the end to walk in together and deliver the request, but security guards from inside who came out to observe what we were doing had told us that they would not allow the about 50 protesters still present to enter together (Culclaser, 2007)
161 T he demonstration in front of the administrative building functioned as a glorified version of the aforementioned pizza meetings. A crowd was assembled so that union activists could talk to GAs about the issues they fac e pa rticularly the employment fees, while handing out literature. The differences in this gathering and the meetings with individual groups lie in the literature that was handed out and the fact that it occurred in public. The literature disseminated ahead of time was directed at the immediate recipients with purpose of maximizing turnout on Halloween whereas that handed out at the demonstration was intended to be passed along by the GAs in attendance. As I remember it, this is why pens and Frisbees were created. They are more durable and can be shared and seen when they are put to use, even if it is not in the course of explicit or conscious organizing efforts. In each case the literature attempts to frame the fees as an unjust tax on employees. The primary method for constructing and publicizing this frame is repetition. This is best illustrated by a singlepage handbill that uses the exact phrase employment fees nine times (UF GAU, 2010) Indeed the phrase is prominently displayed on each piece of literature that the GAU activists handed out in relation to this event. The second key difference is the fact that this event, unlike the meetings with preexisting groups, took place in the public eye and was geared to grab attention and be seen by more than just the people in attendance, namely other GAs and administrators. As the quotes from newspapers above indicate, local press showed up to cover it. The press was not called until a critical mass of people responded to the invitations for the gathering saying they would be there. Just as the pens and frisbees
162 were intended to enabl e the union to coopt the work of GAs who use them in other capacities in order to broadcast GAUs stance on fees, their attendance at the demonstration served to attract the media. This aired the message more widely and quicker than would have been possible by word of mouth or direct communication between union activists and GAs. Because the press wrote about it, the fees demonstration enabled GAU activists and organizers to speak to more than the people who were present. In the end, the GAU executive c ommittee met with representatives of the university board of trustees (the same representative who argued the administrations position during bargaining sessions) for a special consultation of fees. This meeting that occurred after the demonstration and a fter the local press wrote about it. When the meeting began the administration changed direction on fees and proposed that their due date be pushed back to towards the end of each semester rather than having them come due in the first two weeks. The execut ive committee did not even deliberate before agreeing to the deferment. The events that played out surrounding fees offers insight into the frames that each side uses to define graduate employees status within the university as well as the work that goes into ensuring that relevant actors make use of them when assessing practices and expectations pertaining to graduate labor and compensation. GAU organizers use the issues of fees as a passkey to transcend ideological opposition to organized labor. Lee: I think a lot of that resistance to organized labor among GAs has to do with the perception of what unions are and what they can do and the stigma, I mean p eople like that the union for example is against fee increase because people dont want to see more of the paycheck taken.
163 It seems like across the board like what Im I paying and how is my pay affected and in terms of like the little bit of pizza meetings I have gone to. In order to assert their frames each side in this contest uses written texts ( e .g. web pages, handbills) that label the fees in particular ways: tuition fees or employment fees. Journalistic reporting on the topic also does this. In order to get media coverage of this sort, union activists created a spectacle that in turn was represe nted in texts created by independent entities thereby disseminating their frames to a broader audience. The effectiveness of efforts to reframe fees as an employment issues is mediated by the type of work that specific GAs perform and by the academic departments that graduate workers a part of. Although research assistants and teaching assistants employment is covered by the same contract and are subject to the same fees this is not the case for all graduate labor unions (Rhoades & Rhoads, 2003) GAU act ivists see it as easier to instill an employment frame in those GAs involved teaching as opposed to those who are paid for doing research. This is because they see it as a clearer separation and distinction between their employments for pay their scholarship in pursuit of a degree. Ned da: Teaching assistants its much easier to discern the difference between their employment and their own research because we have hours that are devoted to actually teaching classes and planning for classes and then we dev ote other time to our research. So it is really only appealing to, to teaching assistant s In spite of this recognition, no unique efforts or alternate tactics are used in attempts to reframe research assistants labor as paid employment. Moreover, the issue of fees applies to only some GAs due to the fact that some do not pay them out of pocket
164 Some departments pay GA employment fees. Ironically these GAs tend to be among the highest paid. (UF GAU, 2010) Discussion Getting fees mentioned in the collective bargaining agreement between UF GAU and the University of Floridas Board of Trustees was a watershed moment that demonstrates the influence texts such as the collective bargaining agreement have on shaping political opportunity for labor organizing and framing administrative practices. Where attempts to alter the way fees are collected were t o no avail in prior years, the special consultation negotiated provided union organizers an event that interested graduate workers could take part in, an avenue for opposing fees and asserting their material interests. Galvanizing support for action on thi s class based issue requires union activists to appeal to, and promote an employment frame among GAs. Union opposition to fees appeals to GAs financial scarcity and foregrounds exploited employee status. The organizing model assumes that the people being organized are workers. Mentioning fees in the contract discursively links them to employment and, in the eyes of GAU activists, provides the unions preferred interpretive framework with an increased ability to resonate with GAs. The result is presumed to b e that as workers G A s will identify and define practices as problematic that would be acceptable were they to view them through the lens of students. Although, linking fees to employment does not equally increase the resonance of the employment frame ac ross the board because it is easier to separate teaching assignments from academic work done to attain degrees than research appointments are.
165 On the other side of the debate, administrators insist on classifying GAs as students for the purposes of fees. This student based identity is used to frame the fees charged as an acceptable practice that applies to all students. This altered diagnosis stemming from the student frame, is assumed by the participants in this study to reduce the resonance of the unions prognoses: unionization and collective action. Framing fees as a student based responsibility however is not done for the purposes of engendering collective action. It is used as discursive tool to entrench a view among GAs that the fees are for student s at the university and therefore they should expect to pay them It is used to counter union efforts to recast GAs as employees who have rights as workers that are not congruent with those of students. As I mentioned at the start of this chapter there is a consensus among scholars that social movement framing processes are typically contested (Benford & Snow, 2000) This takes place among competing movements and organizations. Framing struggles can be over any of the three core framing tasks: diagnosis, prognosis or motivation. The observed counter framing among UF GAU, the university administration and (less frequently) the state legislature tends to hinge on the first two core tasks. The issue of fees abovementioned and the efforts that go into organizing GAs around them is used because it is seen to transcend political or ideological concerns that produce opposition to unionizing. It is agreed upon that graduate laborers care about their money; they want to keep it. Union activists see issues of money and financial burdens such as fees as effectively galvanizing GAs and encouraging them to unionize because graduate workers most readily see themselves as employees when these are at the forefront and visible. What is more, fees and other financial concerns
166 resonat e with GAs because they correspond to the scarcity frame that not only the graduate labor union but also the university administration and the state legislature utilize. As a discursive tactic framing unionization in relation to eco nomic or financial hardship is set against the backdrop of a struggling economy and increasing costs of living. The tactics used to address the issue of fees, namely public protest and rhetorically indicting administrators for charging them to the universitys poor est employees (UF GAU, 2010) can be characterized as disruptive protest politics (Rhoades & Rhoads, 2003, p. 170) These types of approaches are readily associated with the sort of student, political activism the graduate labor movement emerged from in the 1960s (Rhoades & Rhoads, 2003; Singh, Zinni, & Maclennan, 2006) .
167 CHAPTER 7 STORYTELLING AND ORGANIZING When there are new people present a t the beginning of UF GAU meetings for officers, to plan events, or for trainings for bargaining or enforcing a contract and organizing other GAs, it is customary to begin with introductions. Everybody there is asked to give their names, academic departments, and how they came to be involved in the union As one of the co presidents of UF GAU for three years, I regularly attended these types of meetings to both thank and encourage new participants and to help whoever was conducting t he meeting. One thing I often did wa s tell the story of how I came to be in UF GAU The account is of a demonstration that took place my first semester as a graduate student when many employees on campus were not getting paid. I was not employed by the university at that point, but I showed up in support of my fr iends and colleagues who had a stake in the action Moreover I was already ideologically sympathetic towards organized labor. The story I would t ell has now become a mainstay in GAU lore. It gets told in many ways and in many venues by all sorts of people working on behalf of the union, including people who were not there but are familiar with the tale. It is a story that makes use of several collective action frames and by highlighting and downplaying different aspects it can be modified to suit many audie nces, even some with clashing concerns. It also deals with the issue activists claim resonates most universally with employees, their pay. In this chapter, I will examine storytelling within UF GAU. Using analytic bracketing (Gubrium & Holstein, 1997) I w ill examine both the content of this common stor y told (what) and how it is tailored to specific audiences and the contexts of its telling This
168 specific story is not only the one I tell to new activists, it is also a story that organizers regularly steer back to in communications with graduate workers. It also incorporates all the elements of movement narratives: origin, victory and defeat. According to Polletta (1998) specific types of narratives are typically displayed by particular types of social movements : fledging movements, ongoing movements, and institutionalized movements. In the case o f UF GAU the story of collective action is malleable enough to be fitted for the varied, often contradictory, concerns of th e diverse workforce that they represent. Because of this feature, the one story is frequently utilized as a tool in the organizing process. But before I turn to an examination of the specific story that GAU activists use I will situate it in relation the existing literature on social movement framing and narrative. Narrative and Framing Framing scholars have focused on narrative as devices that express, solidify, and exemplify collective action frames (Benford, 1993; Fine, 1995; Polletta, 1998) Although narrative is a crucial aspect of understanding framing, it i s not synonymous with framing. The most significant distinctions are rooted in differing ways that these devices engage audiences, standards for acceptance, and how they represent reality. These d isparities stem from narratives reliance on plot and perspective as well as its need to make for an interesting story in the face of a limited number of plot lines. Poletta (1998) argues that plot provides the logic that gives the events building up to the tales conclusion their meanings and significance. It is both heuristic and normative drawing on lived experience as well as ideal types. It connects and organizes discrete, disjointed occurrences as continuous episodes in an emergent storyline (Polki nghorne, 1988) that illustrates some moral (White, 1980) Plot functions to provide
169 sequential relationships and evaluations of specific occurrences. This accounts for narratives role in representing and determining reality in relation to a developing whole rather than focusing on the component parts that empirical, logic based approaches characteristic of scientific ways of knowing; narrative allows us to see the forest not the trees. This is achieved by pivoting away from specif ic occurrences and events or data towards the connections among them that are specific to the stor y s setting. In other words, narratives locate events and actions within an unfolding story line This goes for specific instance s that actually occur as well as those that are merely considered. There is another important distinction between frames and narrative that is linked to plot according to Poletta (1998) Narrative theorist s call attention to the dimensions of collective identities rooted in time and sequence (Gergen & Gergen, 1997) whereas framing scholars see collective identities as emerging through discourses on similarity and difference (Benford & Hunt, 1992; Hunt & Bedford, 1994; Klandesman, 1992) Through telling stories of developing into a group, individual, or any t ype of entity, the nature of the entity itself is established. Narrative is utilized to strengthen existing bonds, but it is also useful for creating the conditions necessary for forming a coherent, cohesive collective. Whether or not humans naturally or inevitably use narrative to make sense out of the world is the subject of debate, but there is considerable consensus around the proposition that we more frequently utilize narrative in the face of atypical, unknown occurrences (Polletta, 1998). Narrative s provide stability during disrupting times. Storytelling is a way to draw connections between and impute meaning to events and occurrences that may otherwise seem aimless and disjointed. By definition social
170 movements are disrupting. They cast the given as problematic and assert agency in attempts to rearrange structure. They are efforts aimed at influencing the outcomes of social transactions. This commotion can be either the result of social movements or can create opportunities for them. Narrative can package disruption in a familiar, manageable form thereby providing group and individual stability during changing times. Narratives have no inherent political or epistemological consequences. This is because they are necessarily produced and interpret ed contextually, under specific conditions. Because of this, their political utility is also situational. There is a dialectic relationship between the content and the context of the narratives through which they mutually influence each other. Occasions ac hieve institutional significance at least in part through the stories that can and cannot be told as well as by how they can be told (Ewick & Silbey, 1995) What is more, social movement narratives vary thematically depending on the state of the movement: stories of origin are told in fledgling social movements, tales of defeat in ongoing movements, and accounts of victory in institutional political movements (Polletta, 19 98) Because of the unique dynamics of organizing graduate employees the graduate labor movement is always experiencing all three of these. High turnover results in the need to incessantly organize less local chapters fade. Because of the organizing model unionization is conceptualized as an ongoing process not a discreet campaign. And the nature of UF GAU in particular as the representative of state employees means it is necessarily part of an institutional movement. Before I move on it is important to note that the nature of narrative, according to Ewick and Silbey (1995) means that telling stories is a political act. Storytelling is a not a
171 new political tactic. It is used opportunistically, to lead the audience toward a predetermined end a technique to persuade the people to favor an agenda or ideology. For example Crawley and Broad (2004) examine the ways life stories are told during panel discussions with college classes and organizations as an attempt to undo stereotypes surrounding LGBT people. Ad ditionally narratives must be temporally ordered because they always entail selectively appropriating events and characters and connecting them together and to some overarching structure, often within the context of ongoing struggle or conflict. Polletta ( 1998) points to popular lore surrounding the Montgomery bus boycott as an example. The story told typically begins with Rosa Parks, merely a tired seamstress, refusing to move to the back of the bus. It leaves out her history of activism through her positi on as secretary in the Alabama NAACP. This selective omission gives the act a veneer of spontaneity that might be questioned if her prior actions are included. With this in mind it is important to recognize that the upcoming recounting of the story under consideration is itself a form of analysis stemming from me as the storyteller. I must appropriate events, introduce characters and tie them together in a way that expresses my data and analysis in a conscious and communicable form for the purposes of cont ributing to an existing body of scholarly literature and meeting the requirements for a doctoral dissertation. In essence, narrativity is as much a part of the production of scholarly knowledge as it is the object of study. Because of this coupled with the reflexive orientation that I ascribe to, I will conclude this chapter on storytelling by analyzing the production of narrative in this project.
172 Paychecks, Computers, and Hurricanes In 2004 the University of Florida switched to a new contractor to handle producing physical checks for all of its employees. At the start of the fall semester in 2004, there was a computer glitch that caused paychecks not go out. Initially the approach was to tell employees they would have to fix the glitch and the money would be on their next paychecks. Before th e problem could be rectified, a hurricane hit Gainesville leaving many GAs without power. With rent and student fees coming due, food and water supplies diminished, and a second hurricane head ed for town, the next paychecks were also delayed, leaving thousands of UF employees without enough money to make ends meet. Once again the official line given to employees was that nothing could be done, and everything would be rectified on the next paycheck. Unsatisfied GAU o rganized a sit in at one the main administrative building on campus. Nedda: What happened is the university switched its payroll system to People Soft and there was a computer glitch that prevented graduates assistants from being paid for at least a mont h And the university was refusing to cut emergency checks so graduate assistants were not able to were able to pay their bills, in fact they werent even able to pay their fees but the university was requiring them to pay and so what the union did is immediately organized an effort to you know make the university cut emergency checks for graduates assistants. And they did that by going in the building and actually taking it over. Then the university started cutting checks immediately; it was immediately effective. There were employees other than graduate assistants present such as custodial and maintenance staff. Many of the regular university employees were talking of unruliness if they did not get paid. Because the graduate workers union had organized the demonstration, and because they had a history of working with GAU officials, administ rators used the graduate unions executive committee as a point of contact to try and rectify the situation. It is also necessary to mention that other groups of
173 employees had no recognized representatives to talk with because their union had been busted s everal years prior. Based on the conversations that took place, it was arranged that emergency checks would be cut on the spot for the people present. Hundreds of people left with paychecks in hand. T o the sit in orchestrators, t he surest sign of victory came on the heels of this event. In a move that union activists see as validating their involvement on this issue, university administrators, namely the dean of the graduate school, worked visibly in conjunction with GAU to make sure that every graduate assistant got paid in a quick manner. This included going officeto office with union representatives and asking workers if they had been paid yet. They also asked graduate workers for personal stories about hardships such as unpaid bills and fees that GAs had endured as a result of the delay. The administrators offered help with some of the problems, such as late fines on student fees or rent in graduate student housing which were commonplace. This story of victory is the one that I tell to new activists or participants at UF GAU meetings when I introduce myself The original reason I began telling it is because it was simply easier and felt less awkward to tell (and from my experience easier to listen to) than a resuscitation of the facts that I knew of G AU from when I was an undergraduate student at UF and that I joined when I was appointed as a graduate assistant because I am a support er of organized labor. Perhaps this is because the story of occupying a building contains all of the elements of a narrat ive that Polletta (1998) identifies. It engages audiences with plot that ties together the discreet events chronicled in the narrative such as hurricanes, computer glitches and the demonstration. It is presented from a perspective that varies depending on the
174 audience. With regards to the storytelling process, which is crucial to narratives effectiveness, attempts to make the story interesting influence the storys presentation and work that goes into it. What is more as I saw it, the story of occupying an administrative building is more easily comprehended and imaginable for new activists who may not be sure about what they are getting involved in than a nebulous, disjointed statement of personal facts and ideological leanings. Over time as I told and retold my account of that action and observed reactions to them I began to consciously modify my story specifically for those meetings when new activists were present I highlighted the fact that it was one of those rare occasions when movement organizing i s turned into immediate, tangible results. I credit that outcome to the fact that so many people took part, and that it was inspiring to see what was possible. The intent of adding that part to my version of the story was to both assert what can be achieved through collective action, that the new peoples contributions were important, but also as a cautionary note to new people that this is not the norm. Most victories are secured more slowly. I discovered the versatility of this story during the fall semes ter of 2007 when I was talking with a group of GAs from a department in the life sciences where there was no union presence, not a single member. This is a group of graduate employees that are paid very well relative to their peers in other disciplines, particularly those in the humanities and social sciences where union involvement is most common. The range of wages among GAs in varying departments is wide, ranging from $8,200/year for half time employment1 to greater than $35,000/year for half time employ ment. 1 The workers getting paid at this rate are typically only employed at one third time rather than half time, so they do not actually make $8,200.
175 After the meetings moderator introduced me, I thanked the audience for having me and then, as I customarily do, I asked people what they knew about GAU. Many of the graduate assistants present were not familiar with the organization at all; others knew the name only. Almost nobody in a group of roughly two dozen knew much about GAU or what the organization does. When I told them that UF GAU is their labor union that negotiates their pay and benefits as well as represents them in work related grieva nces, I got what can only be called a cold response. The general sentiment was that they were very happy with their work conditions and because of their pay level, 1% union dues amount to a good bit of money. Additionally, they expressed concern that unionizing is an antagonism to their supervisors who, because most of them are employed as research assistants in the same labs that they study in, their supervisors are typically their dissertation chairs too. They did not want to create unneeded tensions. In an attempt to manage the discussion without getting into an ideological debate as to whether or not unions are antagonistic towards management, I tried downplaying any hostility between organized GAs and faculty by mentioning the support we give to and receive from the facultys union and turned the focus towards relationships with administrators. I figured that even if they make good money, missing a paycheck or two will make things tight for a while. So I told them of the computer glitch that prevented o ur money from coming through. By this point, from the conversation and the general tone of the meeting, I was well aware that this group was more concerned with issues of professional development and service than with political activism. It made sense; the group was student based not
176 employee based. There were members who were not employed by the university because they were on fellowship or funded via some other source. So I told the story in a way that highlighted two aspects, the first being the administ rations use of GAU as a point of contact for communicating with graduate assistants as well as other university staff who had gathered to voice their outrage. I told them that our relationships with administrators put the union in a position to act as a go between and allowed us to get everybody on the same page in order to solve the problem and prevent unruly demonstrations that were being discussed by some of the people there. I left out the parts about the union leadership organizing the demonstration and rousing the crowd. I used this story to demonstrate that as representatives of such a body of employees as large as graduate assistants, means that the union is a necessary component of shared governance a buzz word on campus at the time. Just as student government allows students to participate and voice their concerns on academic and student related issues, GAU is the channel through which graduate employees participate as workers and share in governing the university, a needed component of the universitys organizational and managerial system. Whether or not this approach was a success that day is relative. Nobody signed a membership form, but we did establish a departmental steward who would serve as a liaison and pass along messages to help keep GAs informed of union issues and to direct people to the union officers if a work issue were to arise. As an activist I personally was pleased with the results given the lack of GAUs presence in the department. In the long run, as others started telling this same story of the sitin more and more, it has become a standard chapter in GAU lore, not just part of my personal story.
177 It is a folktale or myth of sorts2. It is told by many people in meetings and during organizing conversations as wel l as in organizational literature. Most recently it has been depicted in comic book form. Here I will turn my attention to the comic book. My analysis will focus on the narrative technique and content of the text as well as the event for which it was creat ed and distributed, the new teaching assistants orientation in 2010. Orientation: Managing Conflicting Frames Each year one of the copresidents addresses all of the new teaching assistants on campus about professionalism in the classroom. This is a crucial time for graduate organizing for several reasons. The first reason being that graduate labor unions lose a quarter of their membership each year (UF GAU) so they start off each school year in a hole that only new employees are able to fill. Additionally, because the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), one of GAUs national affiliates, offers local chapters a $30 rebate per new member signed up during the first several weeks of the school year which GAU uses to fund almost all of their organizing and bargaining efforts for the rest of the year3. As a result of these pressures, the beginning of the year orientation is the primary focus of each years organizing efforts. It provides both a venue for identifying 2 It is neces sary to point out that there is considerable scholarly debate regarding the proper definition of folktale and myth. Kirk, (1973) uses the term myth in reference to stories with an underlying purpose that goes beyond simple storytelling while he uses the term folktale to label stories reflecting typical social situations and play on common fears and desires. In this view two categor ies are distinct, but there is considerable overlap. For the purposes of this text I will use the terms synonymously because the story at hand contains elements of each definition. 3 Because national affiliates such as the AFT charge a flat rate fee for m embership the 1% dues that the statewide affiliate UFF collects are not enough to cover graduate employees. In other words, GAs make so little that 1% of their salary does not cover their financial obligation. This difference is made up by UFF who subsidiz es graduate chapters. But in order to fund daily operations, organizers must sign up between 150 and 200 new members during the opening weeks of the school year. This arrangement also suggest that there is a material basis for the circular logic utilized in the unions discourse discussed previously: organizing is necessary to make organizing possible.
178 and speaking with the largest gathering of potential members and it successful organizing during the orientation underwrites the rest of the years work. Nedda: The biggest hurdle we encounter is actually finding people to talk to, our best organizing opportunity is during orientation at the b eginning of the, of each school year, in the fall of each school year T housands of graduate students, literally thousands of graduate assistants come to orientations so we have immediate access to them when they first arrive on campus. The problem with t hat is perhaps youre a research assistant and less likely to attend that, than a teaching assistant, so whatever you get very good access to teaching assistants at the beginning of the year W e see very, very few research assistants and so one of our bi ggest hurdles is actually getting this time with research assistants so that we can even tell them about the union and ask them to join. A nd so there are probably, I say at least theres a thousand graduate assistants no more than that, probably 2000, pr obably half of, of the bargaining unit that we never, we never get to talk to. This approach to paying for union activity is not available to most AFT chapters because they do not bring in enough new employees each year to make much money, even if all of them join during the allotted time period. Because nearly 800 new GAs arrive on campus each fall, UF GAU have sort of gamed the incentive system. At the same time other classes of employees do not have a necessity to generate revenue this way because thei r membership dues are greater (1% of larger salaries) and they do not lose as many members each year. I gave this presentation each year from 2006 through 2009. In the years I did this, I found it to be hard waters to navigate. As the speaker, I was expec ted to present the professional side of the professional/activist coincontradictory identities among GAs that GAU attempts to organize under one banner. After all, the presentation is on professionalism. But because the audience was made up of teaching as sistants who are concentrated in the social sciences and humanities (the hard sciences more often utilize graduate workers as research assistants) the GAs most inclined to activism were
179 in the crowd. If the presentation is geared towards activists, there i s a chance that the organizers of the orientation will not invite GAU back the next year. Not being invited back would not only bar organizers access to this congregation of potential members, but being invited to speak on professionalism to new GAs is one of the talking points activists use when trying to employ a professional frame. This responsibility allows organizers to depict GAU as a needed apparatus for professional socialization in academia. Losing that would compound the ramifications of not being welcomed to the new teaching assistants orientation. Recently during the 2010 orientation GAU altered and took a two pronged approach to the orientation in an attempt to appeal to those GAs oriented towards political activism. Straddling this line inv olved the telling of the unions occupation of an administrative building. Prior to the start of the orientation, union organizers stand in t he lobby handing out literature and talking with new employees about their union. For the first time at this gather ing they handed out a comic book that details the reasons a union is important for graduate assistants. Mordechai : (officers meeting May 2010) Think about it, theyll be going into that orientation thats long and boring. Theyll have a pile of paperwork to look through. If we can slip a comic book in there, itll be far more entertaining and interesting than anything else they have. Theyll probably actually read it The entire narrative of the comic book is structured around a comparison of li fe as a graduate worker at the University of Florida with and without GAU. With no union Ted the Troubled T.A. is overwhelmed by the demands of graduate employment because he lacks the resources necessary to manage the daily realities that pursuing higher education while simultaneously working for a living. When bills come due, Ted needs help because his paycheck has stagnated while living expenses have risen; he
180 cannot afford food or rent. In the face of these obstacles Ted is left with no choice but to cu t back on his already meager expenses. To make good on his increasing student fees and other climbing expenses he moves into a low quality dwelling without sufficient space and regularly borrows money from friends, but when he gets hospitalized, the bill e xceeds anything he can muster. The final kick in the stomach is when he returns to work he is fired because he has missed too many days. He has no guarantees of job security. It ends with an aerial shot of Ted jobless and standing alone amid vast, empty campus. The sources of Teds woes are the university administration and state legislature who are unfamiliar with the actualities of life as GA. With the protections of organized labor, the Fairly Fabulous Fred is able to live a modest, but comfortable lif e. Rather than regularly needing to borrow money in order to have a social life Fred is occasionally able to pick up the bill when he goes out to eat with friends. Because of the benefits and protections secured by his union he is assured that he will hav e a job waiting for him when he returns from being hospitalized for several days, and the bill that he is left with is an affordable one because of his fully subsidized insurance which is guaranteed by the contract negotiated between UF GAU and the univers itys board of trustees. When the state and administration impose an unjust fee on international students, it is successfully opposed because UF GAU utilizes their organizing capacity in conjunction with others efforts to defeat it, demonstrating an ability influence university policy beyond their traditional role as bargaining agents for GAs. The story of Fred concludes with depictions of actual victories that the union has secured over time. These accounts are put forward as evidence to the moral of Freds
181 story: unionizing is necessary. The culmination of these victories is the recounting of the occupation of an administrative building. The final pages are filled with pictures of sign carrying graduate assistants storming the administrative building as a mass and leaving with their paychecks while shouting We got paid. The captions read: GAU staged a sit in of Tigert Hall shutting down the administrative building until thousands of checks were individually signed by hand. (UF GAU, 2010) This depiction, as opposed to the one I offered to the graduate workers in one of the life sciences department mentioned previously makes use of an activist frame. At the forefront of the story is GAUs sole involvement in organizing the demonstration. The signs being held by the demonstrators present credit the event to the union. Missing from this version of events is any notion that negotiations or cooperation between administrators and GAU officials took place. Where I emphasized that management utilized the union t o communicate with workers in a mutual attempt to smoothly rectify an unforeseen problem the comic book distributed at the orientation, credits the s uccessful procurement of pay to militant, disruptive, collective action. The story, as told in the comic book, draws on an aesthetic of activism, an image that is marked by massive crowds, fed up, and demanding justice. There is a stark contrast between the pictures of Ted the Trouble T.A. who is depicted alone as he receives bad news and is crushed by cold, impersonal, unsympathetic university bureaucracy and state legislature and the Fairly Fabulous Fred who is backed up by hoards of peers and sympathizers as he pushes back against the wrongs done to him by powerful entities. It is a sensationalized image o f collective action that is used to strike an emotional chord with graduate workers who tend towards activism and appeal to a participatory ethos expressed and fostered through the discourse on organizing.
182 Dusty : (on her attraction to UF GAU) I had t his romantic idea of the union but, but in the, when you got on to the political activism it got kind of tedious You know, I wanted to be doing the walkout, I wanted to be in a strik e. I dont know, it seemed cool, if that makes sense. I guess I love the the potential, the potential violence in the air you know, the, whenever like there was, there was a word around that people acting in mass against authority, that was so cool to me, its like I dont know what, what about it was just cool but like but l ike it was just, thats why I was like, for the unions in school but Im going to go in this left, left this radical way first. Plus I didnt have any opportunities to really join the union like where I was. I was working really low wages jobs like retail and sales and crap like that. So I just had these romantic visions of what the union was. Within the context of organized labor, the event that usually offers a chance to create this scene is a strike, but because in Florida, GAs are considered state employees, they are forbidden from striking. It is this aesthetic that opponents of graduate unionization (and unionization in academia more generally) also refer to in arguing that organized labor has no place on university campuses; it disrupts and restrict s academic pursuits (to be discussed more in depth in the C hapter 8 ). The two pronged approach to the 2010 orientation seemed to pay off. At a happy hour that UF GAU hosted and invited the new teaching assistants to, I sat with the current copresident who delivered the presentation on professionalism. Several people made mention of the comic book, all remarks were positive which is hardly unexpected. It is telling however that their comments were typically tacked onto the end of a statement or question they brought to him about his presentation, indicating that it contained important information that could not be communicated directly in a presentation on professionalism. The comic books narrative provides context for the statements he made from podium .4 By discussing the union both vocally and through 4 Because restrictions on my research protocol approved by the Institutional Review Board that assessed this project I am unable to report any direct quotes from GAs observed at public events or group meetings
183 written texts, organizers were able to present a thorough, more nuanced and complete account of what GAU is and does, even the seemingly contradictory aspects. As a result 105 out of roughly 800 new Graduate Assistants joined the union during the presemester orientation period. Making the Comic Book The comic book originated with one officer, Mordechai, who knew a former GA from the University of Florida who was both sympathetic towards GAU and was wor king as a comic book artist. Mordechai: I don't remember exac tly how I came up with the idea. I was thinking about a few things: explaining the basic elements of what a union does to people who were completely ignorant about it and/or had negative associations with the word "union" itself; giving people a story instead of bullet points that they'd enjoy during a long orientation; spending money on something other tha n pizza parties for organizing. Mordechais reasoning corresponds with Neddas previous s tatement about the unions biggest hurdle being informing people of GAUs existence and what they do, but this comment also expresses a tacit response to concerns over handbills and mass (e)mailings. The problem is that the limited space for text does not allow the authors to provide background for what is happening, so people who are unfamiliar with unions generally, or UF GAUs ongoing efforts specifically, cannot always follow what is going on when presented through these channels of mass communication. This was illustrated when Bilbo urged publication and dissemination of a quote offered up by the universitys bargaining agent during a round of negotiations over fees in the summer of 2008. When the conversation turned to the number of credit hours who did not sign consent forms. Additionally, no pseudonym has been attached to the copresident who presented because it could link him to other quotes and data presented.
184 GA s are required to register for, and therefore pay fees on, in order to work (oftentimes these constitute an excess of hours required for their degree) the universitys representative said something along the lines of graduate employees register for classe s because maybe their parents tell them to.5 It was agreed upon by the GAU bargaining team that the quote was dismissive, inflammatory and patronizing, but it required too much back story to be effective as a bullet point in organizing literature. The comic book is, to some extent, an effort to contextualize specific interactions, events, and social transactions that UF GAU activists are involved in. All of the planning and designing of the comic book occurred after my fieldwork had begun and my time as an officer had expired. I was no longer involved in formal decision making, and all in all I took a far more detached approach to my fieldwork than I had expected to at the outset so my involvement in the process, even as merely an activist was minimal. I was asked if my research (this work ) had yielded anything that should be included in the document during its conceptual stages. My sole suggestion was that this story about occupying Tigert Hall when not being paid would be good because several of my participants had mentioned how they frequently tell it to GAs or heard it told when they were being organized into the union. What is more, it is an interesting story, which is why I tell it when formally introducing myself to new activists at GAU meetings o r trainings. When I offered this I was told that it was already going to be a highlighted instance. Just how that would be done had yet to be decided. When Mordechai presented it to the executive committee in May 2010, the idea for a comic book was met with two persistent concerns: the cost and worries that if 5 This quote is from my interview with Bilbo, not field notes or observational data, although I was present for the encounter and remember it the same way.
185 poorly done it would be boring. Ultimately, the former was linked to the latter; if it was good as an organizing tool, money was not really an object, for GAU is able to keep ample cash on hand giv en the amount of money they can generate through the new GA orientation at the start of each school year, the event the book was to be used for. If successful the comic book could be reprinted in the future for minimal costs. Lee: (officers meeting May 2010) This could end up being a really boring book if it just lists GAUs accomplishments with pictures to go al ong with it. What will be in it ? How many frames do w e get? Who is going to write it? In the summer of 2010 because there were no contract negotiations going on between UF GAU and the universitys board of trustees, so planni ng for orientation in the fall was the focus of union efforts. Over the course of the next several weeks the GAU executive committee discussed ideas through emails settli ng on a set of topics to be presentedlow wages, healthcare, unjust fees and workloads and some specific events, such as occupying the administrative building, were settled on. The executive committee decided to outsource the narrative end of the comic bo ok (e.g. introducing characters and linking the topics together in a way that articulates the need for unionizing) to the artist. The idea behind this was that he could make it more interesting than any of the officers could, and it also was a way of sett ling disputes among the executive committee regarding format and style. It was the artist who decided to do a comparison of life for GAs with and without a union, and I have not gotten access to interview him to discuss his creative process. The comic boo k artist used institutional documents from the GAU web page, organizing literature and officers personal stories to illustrate the issues. One persons actual fight to get medical expenses covered was used as the basis for part of the plot. But even thoug h the task forming a narrative around GAUs talking points was outsourced, ideas
186 were sent to the executive committee. They offered feedback and ultimately approved the text. Although the design aspect of the comic book was farmed out, there was little dis agreement among the officers or between them and the artist that the occupying the building would be the climax of the book. Discussion As a story, the GAU folktale recounting the sit in at Tigert Hall makes use of most of many collective action frames relevant to graduate union work, and it is a tool that can be used to tend to all three of the core framing tasks: diagnosis, prognosis, and motivation (Benford & Snow, 2000) The problem that is diagnosed is that GAs live on the verge economic disaster. Depending on the situation and audience, the culprits can be pin pointed as specific administrators who do not shoot straight with them about what can be done to rectify the problem or as a faceless system in which administrators and GAs both are entangled and rely on each other to make work for everyone. As always the solution is collective action. The motivation offered is the thread that links all graduate workers together: money. Because this story centers on paychecks, the fundamental aspect of employment based on the service test ( Gartland, 2002; Singh, Zinni, & Maclennan, 2006) it asserts that GAU is an authoritative voice and an ally of graduate workers on employment based issues. Although there is no consensus as to whether the service test or the primary purpose test is to be applied in determining GAs employment status by the courts, in the absence of a paycheck and financial obligations coming due, the self identification of graduate assistants as employees appears to be come more salient and organizers see these moments as ideal political opportunities across the spectrum of GAs.
187 Deeb: You were saying self interest is why people join. What type of self interest, were you saying they join or wont join because they either make a lot of money and1% dues are too expensive or not enough money and they cant afford to pay anything ? Is it just money ? GJ: I think the answer is yes I think thats what comes down to a lot of times I have taught with some people who are in the departments where the stipends are not that much and they are waiting to not join because they need that extra money and they actually really, r eally do need that extra money. The event that is depicted in this narrative is used as a magnified moment an "episode of heightened importance the moment stands out; it is metaphorically rich, unusually elaborate and often echoes" (Hochschild, 1994, p. 4) In this case the magnified moment present s a window into the structure of political opportunity with regar ds to graduate labor. Organizers offer the story as a n illustration of both the looming threats to GAs financial wellbeing as well as organizing paying off. One of the elements of narrative that Poletta (1998) credits with its prevalence in social movemen ts is plot. P lot suppl ies the reason that gives the actions lea ding up to the story s conclusion their meanings and significance. It draws upon both lived experience and ideal types and its political utility is always situational because it is created and interpreted contextually, under specific conditions. Here we can see that this story can be tailored to fit the diverse contexts that graduate organizing occur within and can provide an avenue for appealing to and appropriating contradictory identities. B y selectively highlighting or neglecting particular parts of the story organizers can use this tale in a way that addresses the concerns of both activists and professionals. By telling the story in a comic book form at the teaching assistants orientation, as opposed to mentioning it as a union accomplishment in the presentation the copresident gave, organizers were able to thread a needle and simultaneously rouse a
188 population of potential activists while not violating the professional tenor of the assemb ly. Because of this, the orientation itself becomes a versatile event used to promote the unions credentials as both a professional and activist organization. Prior to the comic books publication only oral versions of Tigert Halls occupation had been distributed by UF GAU. I left the field to turn my attentions and efforts towards writing and analyzing the data I had collected shortly after the fall 2010 semester begana decision that all field researchers must make at some point so I have not been able to include data examining how the story and its telling has been effected or taken shape in the wake of the its printing. Smith (1990; 2005) notes that it is written texts ability to recreate meaning across time and space which makes them important mecha nisms of social organization, for coordinating action. It remains to be seen whether or not creating a print version will codify the story in a one particular form thereby regimenting the way it is told, limiting GAU activists ability to use it in various settings and potentially damaging its versatility as an organizing resource. The data here indicates that this stock story I have told to new activists when they arrived for meetings, that all the participants made reference to and has been put into com ic book form in order to disseminate it at the beginning of the year orientation (GAUs most important organizing event) is a crucial tool that makes use of several prominent collective action frames. It illustrates attempts by each side to define GAs as e ither students or employees and offer explanations as to why change on campus happens. The story of occupying an administrative building is a narrative that makes for a multi purpose tool. It can be formed and fashioned to appeal to either activists or pro fessionals. It can paint a picture of GAU as either a militant opposition to
189 administrative shenanigans with the ability to hold them accountable or as a group of collected pragmatists who make the smooth governance of the university possible. Telling of the action at Tigert Hall makes use of a magnified moment (Hochschild, 1994) to bring relevant collective action frames into high relief. Firstly the tale highlights pay which is, again, the single aspect of being a graduate assistant that is most clearly and obviously linked to employment. It is used to promote an employeecentered identity among GAs. Additionally it makes clear that the problems graduate workers face stem from powerful entities whose actions have ramifications in GAs daily lives and the reby answering the question as to when GAs should see themselves as activists. The story of direct action foregrounds moments when this identity elevated in importance. The remedy or prognosis for the problems presented through the account is collective action; it always is. As a guide for collective action the story encourages persistence because the other side is not completely honest: emergency checks can be made out. The motivation is rooted in money matters. And regardless of which entity is cast as culpable for GAs hardships administrators or the state/university bureaucracy it is left in place at the end of the story signaling that it is a specter continuing to haunt their graduate studi es. Polletta (1998) argues that social movements utilize specific types of narratives depending on the state of their existence: fledgling movements, ongoing movements, and institutionalized movements. Recognized graduate labor unions such as UF GAU initially appear to render this theory problematic because they simultaneously exist in all three states. The unique structure of graduate labor means that GA unions must replenish their ranks each year. Without new members the union will necessarily fizzle
190 out because workers move on; they are not in permanent careers. In order to renew their membership organizers must focus on incoming employees who have not yet encountered any work related problems. This story functions to provide a context that justifies the unions existence, and it alerts new employees as to what to expect. In such movements Polletta proposes that stories telling of actions origin emerge, oftentimes occluding the organizational roots of action and protest. This is because fledgling movements exist in a state of uncertainty and confusion and outside influence can diminish a movements ability to resonate with their desired audience, particularly those who are not already involved in or sympathetic to movements. In such cases narrative gives form to an unfamiliar situation. The story of the sit in is malleable enough to link the origins of action in different places. The comic book certainly highlights the influence of organized labor while the version I told in the life sciences department presents a more spontaneous event. Pollettas (1998) assertions on when narrative is most effective suggests GAUs status as an expert body on organizing and graduate employment would negate storytellings utility. As she says: Insofar as activists are seen as experts, storytelling probably conflicts with what is expected of experts, namely well evidenced and clearly specified arguments (p. 429) But again, GAUs uniqueness requires that stories be told in order to establish union activists as experts on GA issues. High turnover means the union is always dependant on new people unfamiliar with the labor relations at the university. As documented earlier, they do not always know that they are employees much less that they have a union whose representatives should activists should be regarded as experts on issues concerning that employment. By reverting to narrative,
191 activists present the union as the expert body so that the well evidenced arguments will resonate. In this way the duality of narrative and ev idencebased arguments and policy proposals is somewhat erased and the two can be seen as enabling each other. Although this folktale concludes with GAU as the victors, it details setbacks and defeats along the way. These instances of defeat make clear that there are no guarantees when it comes to effecting change minus peoples involvement; help is not coming from above. Collective action is the needed remedy. In this way the story of the sit in reflects the institutionalized nature of graduate unions as well as their ongoing nature. As state employees, GAU is recognized by law as responsible for representing graduate workers, the largest body of state employees in higher education, so they are a part of the institutional structure of work life on campus. The university wide orientation for new teaching assistants, and departmental orientations, before the start of the fall semester each year are critical venues for telling these stories. Each provides easy access to GAs who are potential members whereby organizers can have faceto face conversations and distribute literature such as the aforementioned comic book. The focus on the start of the school year results from the high turnover rates and the funding. Replacing members and raising enough money for the years organizing efforts requires signing up a couple hundred new people each year. Although members are always sought, the emphasis on the orientations draws attention to the temporally mediated work that goes into organizing and, likewise, suggests further research on graduate unions. Reflections on Storytelling in this Project T he reflexive nature of the subject matter covered hereI am telling stories about storytelling makes writing this chapter among the most difficult aspects of this
192 project As is the case with any study of social processes, I am taking part in what I am studying. Executing this analysis has required tying together somewhat disjointed occurrences under an overarching structure. In this case the context of labor struggles and framing efforts in academia serve as the link connecting the incidents together in a way that explains how and why they happened as they did. The narrative produced here has required negotiating tensions between recounting a familiar story in the form union organizers, me included, present it and attempt ing to accurately represent events as they happened. The temptation is to merely chronicle events as the data and proceed to analyze them. But the point here is to look at the how they are told and transmitt ed, under certain conditions. The basic observation, that this common story gets tailored to specific audiences is relevant and interesting, but when I sat to write I had to admit that the analysis was quite thin. By bringing in analytic bracketing (Gub rium & Holstein, 1997) I was able to steer my analysis towards the situation in which this story is told. The beginning of the year orientations became obvious almost immediately as the most relevant and telling circumstances because of the pure volume of organizing that takes place at that time. In other words, the parts of the story are related through the setting in which they are told. This contextual element of narrative is overlooked in the work of Polletta (1998) Ewick and Silbey (1995) and Polkinghorne (1988) Yet here I have observed setting as the mediating factor that determines how texts both written and spokenare used, why they take the form they do, and more generally why the local organizing events occur as they do.
193 Just as the same events are tied together in varying manners for organizing purposes, here I have organized them and told of them in a way that is arranged for the purposes of academic research. I have tried to tell the story of the sit in in a way that highlights the parts cont ain ing the graduate unions preferred collective action frames and how those get manipulated for the purposes of mobilizing graduate workers. I would not imagine that any of the research participants would read the version of the sit in recounted here, for the purposes of this analysis and recognize it as being a very useful organizing tool. In a related sense actors are another key element of narrative. The story being told involves specific people who do specific things, but because the group at hand is so small and my research protocol as approved by the institutional review board requires me to take care to preserve the secrecy of participants identities referencing people became a challenge. In one spot I had to deliberately refrain from attaching a pseudonym to one of the copresidents because to do so would make identifying him in other parts of this text possible. (I did a similar thing in C hapter 6 o n frame contest.) This is a problem that the focus group data presents also. Because those are not confidential (because other participants were present) I have had to take measure to prevent linking statements made in those focus groups to statements from the confidential oneon one interviews. I had two options, not attach a name at all or use more than one name to refer to the same participants at different points in the research. I opted for the prior for a couple of reasons. First, to use multiple na mes would give a false impression as to the number of activists and organizers who are working in UF GAU. This seemed undesirable
194 because one the key features here is that the work of maintaining the graduate union is done by a small band of people. Second, as a reader, I like being able to get a feel for the individuals that are contributing. If I fragment these characters I find that I am less able to convey a sense of the group dynamics at play. Even though that is not necessarily the focus of the research, it is important for understanding how and why work is done as it is. In the end the most frustrating part about dealing with these hurdles was that my participants did not care about preserving their identity. In fact when I gave them the opportuni ty to create their own pseudonyms, they wanted me to just use their real names and attach them to anothers statements and actions. I did not do this. This odd situation made talking about my research while conducting fieldwork a bit cumbersome. As I menti oned in the research design, there is no element of secrecy involved in my methods. Everybody knew I was doing research. At times conversations during meetings, or happy hours particularly, involved participants bringing up topics we discussed in intervie ws with others present. Even though the participants were alluding to their interviews and asking me questions about my take on what was happening (i.e. This sort of like when we were talking about_____ in our interview.) I could not recognize or refer t o their interviews in my response. It was a case of you know who I am talking about, you know I know it, yet I cannot be direct. It reminded me of an incident several years ago when statements made in public congressional testimonies pertaining to the War on Terror were classified after the fact. Even though newspapers had already reported on them, one Senator in a cable interview could not talk about the testimony when asked about what had been written.
195 CHAPTER 8 ON GRADUATE UNIONS AND CORPORAT IZATION As previously mentioned, the limited research on graduate unions casts them as a potential source, if not the best source, of resistance to the less desirable trends associated within academic capitalism (Bousquet 2008; Lafer 2003; Rhoads & Rhoades 2005). It is probably not a coincidence that the limited empirical research available notes that the vast majority of graduate workers who are eager to add to their already busy schedules and take on the labor intensive work of union organizing ar e from the humanities and social sciences (Rhoads & Rhoades 2005). These disciplines rely most heavily on graduate labor to fulfill their teaching missions. This reliance on graduates is a result of the diminishing number of faculty positions in the face o f increased demand from undergraduates and reduced shares of institutional funding that is siphoned off towards programs that attract more outside money and can potentially yield marketable research (Bousquet, 2008; Rhoads & Rhoades, 2005) The concentrat ion of unionists in particular fields highlights the differing fates and functions of academic disciplines. Rhoads and Rhoades (2005) point out that t he social sciences and humanities purpose is partially to critique and draw attention to relevant social institutions, practices, and politics particularly their problematic aspects C orporatization, according to Rhoads and Rhoades creates its own challenges They are rooted contradictions woven into the fabric of academic capitalism As a logical consequence, Rhoads and Rhoades conclude that the presence of GA labor unions in academia are simultaneously indicati ve of corporatization and the best hope for undermining and resisting its consequences.
196 Bousquet (2008) agrees with Rhoads and Rhoades ( 2005) Because of their size g raduate labor unions in conjunction with adjunct instructor unions offer the best chance of turning the tide of corporatization; there is strength in numbers, so the increasing reliance on these groups of workers affords them an incredible amount of collective influence. This is coupled with the fact that he sees graduate labor as the sole source of energy, movement, critique and theory available. Bousquet dismisses any hopes that tenurestream faculty unions will impede corpor atization because they are in fact beneficiaries of sharply tiered labor forces What is more, the all too often cooperate with management in creating and maintaining them. Lafer (2003) agrees with Bousquet (2008) and Rhoads and Rhoades (2005) that the graduate labor movement offer s the best potential resistance to corporatization. But Lafer sees this as being rooted in the power of example. Graduate labor unions, in his eyes, can spark organizing drives among faculty, other employees, and progressively prone students. Additionally, they offer a working model for organizing1. Organized labor alone, according to Lafer, is the best form of opposition to corporatization because it offers the necessary organizational capacity and resources This is increased by recent efforts on the part of national labor unions to expand their presence on university campuses via graduate labor (Dixon, Tope, & Van Dyke, 2008) Although no spike in faculty organizing efforts has been observed, Lafer argues tha t recent practices including salary freezes, transfers of intellectual property rights, limits on academic 1 As discussed previously in C hapter 5 in relation to the discourse on organizing, UF GAU serves more as an organizing entity that that other groups coopt for their own purposes rather than as a model that others emulate.
197 freedom and the erosion of tenure protections have created an environment in which unionizing is a more seductive prospect. Based on this data, grad uate labor activists generally share the critique s of corporate universities that appear in the literature. They want no part of it but they do not see themselves as the counter force that can turn back the trends of academic capitalism. Their views on unionization fall closest in line with Joan Ackers (2006) notion of an inequality regime. The basic idea is that organizational relations of all sorts are the products of interlocking practices that reproduce them in spite of concerted change efforts. In fact, the change efforts contribute to the institutional organization they consciously seek to alter. In other words, resistance is constitutive of that which it is resisting. Specifically graduate labor organizers talk about the union contributing to corpor atization in five ways: creating an image inconsistent with notions of higher education, reallocating responsibilities of ensuring fair compensation, moderating disruptive policies and politics, and by entrenching labor practices characteristic of the corp orate academy. Although they do not see graduate unionization as a counter force, they do see it as a necessary means for ensuring GAs well being and influencing campus politics within the corporatized regime. In this chapter, I will explore the ways in which graduate labor movement activists understand their efforts as contributing to corporatization. In cases where the contributions to corporatization are known at the time, rather than being revealed through retrospective reflection or this research process, I examine the processes and rationales that facilitate them. I conclude with a discussion of the political and theoretical implications of these observations in relation to common management practices, union
198 strategy, concerns for future labor relati ons in higher education and methodological considerations this topic raised. Contributions to Corporatization Although they share the criticisms and general rejection of corporatization that Rhoads and Rhoades (2005) document, the union activists interviewed for this project do not see their work as holding the same capacity for stemming the tides of businesslike practices. As Rhoads and Rhoades point out, the indictments offered tend to echo the academic discipl in es that that the organizers hail from, overwhelmingly the social sciences and humanities with one participant from the fine arts. They utilize the same disciplinary perspectives when they are asked to evaluate the potential for graduate unions. Through critical reflection they see some unstated r amifications of their work that end up contributing to the trends of corporatization. One crucial element is that the presence of labor unions helps create an image that more closely corresponds to common conceptualizations of a factory than to a community of scholars. GJ: R eally if you bottle down to it, the union does sort of obliquely contribute to corporatization in the university if you get back to sort of the model of how unions originally worked when I think about how do unions began, they began in factories where we have workers that are being not paid enough or being, or having to work in dangerous conditions because corporate employers are concerned about their bottom lines, right. So, now you have corporate universities who are concerned about their bottom lines. And so, us having to organize those workers, I think sort of obliquely contributes to the administrations own perceived idea that university is a corporate thing. For better or wors e I dont think that members of G A U think about it that way. I mean I dont think that they think of the university as a corporation and us as corporate worker s or factory workers or whatever I ts sort of a self perpetuating cycle where if we unionized and administration can act more li ke a corporation. Id like to think thats not actually how its playing out.
199 Collective bargaining rights and union representation also relieve administrators of their responsibilities to compensate fairly and places the burden on the unions shoulders. Nedda: T he fact that our contract requires letters of appointments, those letters stipulate the, not only you know the obligation of the department to the graduate assistants but the responsibility of the graduate worker and what they have to do to fulfi ll the end of the bargains and so that kind of contact protects the interests of both parties T he letters of appointments also legally protect the faculty from individual mitigation and sets clear standards that everyone could follow, and it also means th at because the union is negotiating on behalf of all graduate assistants the department has less of a responsibility to try to improve the pay in there and like improve the conditions of their individual graduates assistants L ike for example when I was at the university Oklahoma where we didnt have a union, we actually, in my department, we actually got a thousand dollar raise one year because our faculty fought really hard for it so thats one way that, one, one responsibility that is removed from the shoulders of the individual faculty departments I guess. Because graduate unions are almost universally opposed by university management (Ehrenberg, Klaff, Kezsbom, & Nagowski, 2004) they are able to save money on pay and benefits for graduate employees while deflecting criticism for it towards the graduate union. Although Article 23.5 of the negotiated contract clearly states that Nothing Contained herein shall prevent the units from providing salary increases beyond the increases specified above (U FBOT & UF GAU, 2009) Over the span of time covered by this research (2005 2010) union organizers had to publicly counter claims by two different provosts about the union contract prohibiting raises beyond what is guaranteed in their agreement. Neddas quote above also expresses a tacit recognition of previous researchs findin g s. C ollective bargaining is linked to improved relationships between faculty members and student sbecause it results in well defined work expectations and a recognized, formal procedure for redressing
200 grievances as well as the quality of graduate scholarship (Julius & Gumport, 2002; Lee, Oseguera, Kim, Fann, Davis, & Rhoads, 2004) Others talk about t he unions presence as beneficial to undergraduate education also. The benefits are linked to the restrictions placed on administrators. The union is seen as a moderating influence that does not turn back academic capitalism, but it does keep it manageable so that it does not expand too rapidly. The union is sort of like the restrictor plates on racecars that keep them from flying off the track. Bilbo: Yes, I think it makes us more appealing place I think we make the conditions better and they attract better graduate students because of it. I think the education will look better probably. For all they complain about it, its probably better that we dont teach gigantic classes probably makes it better for the undergraduates. Y ou know at Florida State t heir solution is simply to like double the size of classes GAs taught. They cant do that here and the result is smaller classes. All the research I know of says smaller classes are better. Its good because and it works well with the administration in ot her ways. For example they talked to Nedda and asked people to show up for the ombudsman search. Its for them to kind of get feedback before they really shoot themselves in the foot. If they propose something and we say no, thats crazy and insane sometimes they back off from that If there was no Union they wouldnt do something like that and it might just blow up in their faces and they wont be ready for that. Were sort of like the canary in the coal mine for them in some ways. Thats what happened at USF when they proposed changing graduate enrolment from 9 to 12 hours and people flipped out. They have a union, but its a ghost chapter, so there was nobody to talk about that before it happened. This conceptualization is of the union as a tool for managing what Herman and Chomsky (1988) call flack or negative backlash and outrage. Herman and Chomsky use the term in reference to the publics reaction to the content of mass media. As part of the filtering system they articulate, enforcer s are employ ed to predict where flack will come from in order to minimize it. In this case, Bilbo describes UF GAU as the enforcer. They know the general mood of various constituencies and the administration turn to them to calculate what they can get away with. Wher e other groups turn to UF GAU for
201 assistance organizing in order to influence administrative policy, administrators use GAU as a channel for understanding students interests and concerns for the purpose of advancing their agenda. The role of graduate un ions described by Bilbo is a phenomenon that can be seen within organized labor more broadly since the passage of the NLRA. Unions have been incorporated into the system, so they are no longer true counter forces; they are coalescing forces. Ultimately, unions have a vested stake in the companys success (Adams & Brock, 1986) Bilbo: Any union, in the end is going to want the company to be successful Because if the company is unsuccessful there will also be cuts T hat means there wont be more benefits. In that sense by definition every union does that. Beyond serving as a moderating force on the corporate regime, activists also see their union moderating the most radically inclined graduate students, thereby alleviating some tensions. As mentioned part of what unions provide are institutionalized (contro lled) processes for enacting change. Because the consequences for acting outside of those channels can result in a loss of contractual rights, actions and tactics that might otherwise be employed such as strikes are off of the table. Dusty: There was a word that said, it said solidarity and I never had h e a r d the word solidarity before but like I really like the word, it like feels really cool to me. So I went and looked it up and looked at more history and I was like, my God, all the radical politics that I love came out of the labor movement, thats what I want to do. But I started even more to the left than that though. When I first started really trying to get people organized I was trying to get people organized for the IMF protest that was going to be going on. I just felt like it could be something really exciting where youre questioning authority, like thats what I loved about it and, and a lot of those people there were like, they were also involved in a labor movement. Deeb: One of the things it seems you are talking about is the grad u nion counterbalancing that kind of resistance or political action
202 Dusty: Yeah. I personally noticed this effect when I was sitting for an interview in May of 2008. I was being interviewed for a show called Controv ersy that a local radio station produced and broadcast. The focus was on local political issues. I was asked to participate because GAU contract negations were taking place amid statewide budget cuts and proposed reallocations of institutional revenues, a nd I was the copresident and member of the bargaining team at the time. After covering several policy related topics such as our bargaining agenda the interviewer asked me about my personal experiences, how union work had changed me. My response took me a bit by surprise as I had not given the question much thought. I told him that I had become far more pragmatic. Where I wanted to pick a fight when I first got involved in GAU, I now wanted to strike a deal that could actually benefit employees. The chang e of perspective, I told him, was a result of being put on the spot to be responsible for the cost of continuing a fight that probably cannot be won. I used the example of the previous years negotiations that resulted in a contract with no fee waiver for GAs as we had pushed for. I t did involve a modest increase t o people on the universitys minimum stipend ($7,600/9 months) though, so the greatest cost of holding out for the fee waiver would be paid by those whose pay stayed stagnant. I didnt feel comfor table holding out at their expense. When bargaining sessions began we were collectively steadfast in our resolve to refuse anything that did not include a fee waiver. But the realty presented to us created too much pressure to hold that position. In C hapt er 7 I recount a story on a particular action GAU took when workers were not being paid. The error was a result of contracting out payroll. (Outsourcing is a crucial part of the corporate model.) When backlash came as a result the union served
203 as a buffer between angry workers and helpless administrators. Union officer s served as point s of contact during a demonstration that quickly rectified the issue. Because of their presence, the issue was handled in an orderly fashion. Other groups of nonunionized employees were harder to negotiate with because of their lack of organization. In the face of stalled progress the unorganized employees became restless and unruly. The administrators enlisted GAU officers to serve as mediators while checks were made out. What this demonstrates is that the structure of the union serves to shield administrators from the most reactionary responses to the unforeseen glitches in the corporatization process. Organized labor, as representative of workers affords credibility to administrative actions when they endorse or sympathize with them. As a result administrators took GAU representatives with them when they went officeto office to explain the error and make sure all the employees not present during the demonstrati on all got paid. In this case the union both tempered the ways workers protested not getting paid by providing a formalized structure for administrators to work with and altered the administrative practice of waiting to fix the problem before paying their employees. As a result the social transactions between workers and administrators were contained and rendered less volatile. In spite of these perceived effects and ramifications the fact that these organizers do not abandon their union indicates that they see it as a net plus or that the more militant opposition would not affect any grater change. This could be a result of the sobering effects of being close to power. After all it is clich that the dramatic rhetoric
204 utilized by insurgent political campai gns does not match the policies they pursue once in a position of influence. The last way in which graduate union organizers see their work as enabling corporatization is through wage disparities. According to Bousquet (2008) one feature of the corporate academy is a sharply tiered wage structure. The fact that tenurestream faculty benefit from this on top of other institutional hierarchies is what leads him to write off faculty unions as a source of change; it stands to reas on they would support such arrangements. This is an issue UF GAU has taken on. Activists recognize their role, yet cannot escape it. The GA unions contributions to this stratification are a bit less Machiavellian though. From my journal following the General Membership Meeting March 2009: We discussed wage inequality tonight. We proposed various ways to close the wage gap. The idea that got the most traction was an across the board, whole dollar raise as opposed to a percentage because that gives the wea lthiest the lions share of the benefits. Typically those are not the people that are most active in the union. In the end the negotiations mentioned above resulted in a percentage raise. The whole dollar raise, or even onetime bonus, was a nonstarter, and when push came to shove a raise is a raise. Given the low wages at the bottom of the ladder, the staggering cost of living increases since the last time graduate employees had received a pay increase, and the fact that it is politically useful to get credit for bolstering peoples salaries, negotiators could not reject the offer when the alternative was the status quo2. 2 It is important to note that in the state of Florida, the university board of trustees is the legislative body that imposes a contract if an agreement cannot be reached with the labor unions on campus (The 2010 Florida Statutes: XXXI 447.403, 2010; The 2010 Florida Stautes: XXXI 447.203, 2010)
205 Even if the investment of resources was skewed towards the haves GAU could take credit for getting GAs raises. To be fair, in the absence of organized labor, there would be nothing to push administrators to invest at all in the disciplines deemed irrelevant when policy is driven by bottom line concerns. In that case the expenditures on behalf of the university would likely be more skewed t owards the profitable disciplines. But this further highlights how graduate unions can serve to moderate and legitimate administrative practices along the path of corporatization. Having labor unions defending (and owning) pay structures as they do in order to get political credit is helpful to administrators even though more extreme measures could be taken unilaterally. This phenomenon, as well as the previous story about the minimum stipend increase, is also relevant because it pushes those of us looki ng at universities through a lens of corporatization to recognize that this is not an either or proposition; the corporate model is an ideal type that is never fully realized in reality. Much the same way that Ritzers (2004) ideas on McDonaldization are not fully embodied by McDonalds restaurants, corporate universities demonstrate some practices that are not in line with corporatization. The unions efforts to direct institutional resources, particularly money, towards the departments that do not immediat ely bolster the bottom line are definitely counter to the corporate model. What is more, it does not help the overarching economic project if it is allowed to be fully realized. Bousquet (2008) points out, the corporate sponsors that more and more univers ity endeavors rely on, and who are the primary beneficiaries of the current trends, are reliant on universities appearing to operate using the classical model of the university. It
206 is that perceived institutional nature that gives the research they produce the desirable veneer of dispassionate, disinterested science rather than the fruits of corporate research and development. So the unions success in directing investment towards the humanities and fine arts helps the upkeep of that image of a classical university that is the guardian of culture. This also makes the academy a more desirable affiliate of private investors. Another aspect of the corporatized university is an increasing reliance on nontenure track faculty to do fulfill the institutions teaching mission. Because graduate unions, like unions generally, seek to protect employment opportunities for their constituencies they bind universities to this practice. In the long run, as Bousquet (2008) observes, this depletes the opportunities for future employment because it simultaneously increases the number of graduate workers brought in while reducing the opportunities for faculty. This conflict was highlighted during an encounter I had in September of 2008 with a member of the University of Floridas faculty union at the statewide senate meeting3. The professor at hand approached me to ask me to convince my fellow copresident at the time to change his vote on a resolution to give faculty preference on summer teaching assignments. My partner had abstained from the vote when he could have swayed it. I replied that had I been there I would have felt obliged to oppose it, not abstain, because GAs need the money in the summer. He agreed that it was better that I did not get to vote, but the exchange get s to the heart of this issue. 3 This is based on my memory of the conversation. I did not write anything down when this happened.
207 The nature of graduate employment is that it is short lived. It stands to reason that the concerns of their representatives reflect this. The labor related tensions created between faculty and G A s, however, can potentially be a wedge used by administrators to weaken solidarity between faculty and graduate workers. Just as administrators were observed using the issue of raises to push GAs away from GAU, it can be used to pit unions against each other. In the spring of 2009, the university president used his commitment to graduate education, and expanded funding opportunities, as the premise for firing faculty in two colleges thereby pitting each respective bodys representatives against each other. Given the faculty unions use of graduate labor for their political activism (as discussed in Chapter 5) this could take away from each groups ability to i nfluence campus politics and policy. Neddas view of the matter is that the union could be far more useful to the administrations agenda, even elements of corporatization if they would work more cooperatively with GAU rather than insisting on taking an antagonistic approach. She sees GAU as an untapped resource that administrators could use to advance their positions. Nedda: They dont use us as much as they could. A lot of what we want would help them, stuff like making office locations available and c ontractually protecting our fee deferment. They fought us on release time proposals that would save them money. If they would listen to us and work with us they could be more successful. We know what graduate students need They dont have to agree with us, we dont agree with them, but our bargaining unit listens to us when we talk about what theyre up to bec ause we are familiar with them. Thus far, I have discussed these contributions to corporatization as unspoken, hidden elements of union work, and none of the participants in this study appeared to
208 have thought about or discussed their works utility for businesslike pursuits. But there is a tactical recognition of this in contract negotiations. July 2008 bargaining notes (summarized): We proposed making letters of offer for graduate funding employment contractually binding. As it is now, they are not considered employees until they sign their contracts which are renewed semester to semester. This means the offer extended to them in order to lure them here is not binding. If they are offered four years of funding but are cut off after two, there is no grievance process to pursue. There are legal options but the graduates would have to get attorneys and go thought he court system. We thought this would work because it is in their interest to institutionalize procedures for settling conflicts, but they did not go for it. The same type approach was used in healthcare negotiations in 2006. There is a general consensus amongst participants that fully subsidi zed healthcare for GAs was achieved because the administration calculated that it would benefit them in the long run. The reason this is important is because they also consciously recognize that administrators are using a corporate model of governance. By logical extension, if that is their aim, and the unions goal s often coincide with it, the union is pushing towards corporatization also. Discussion In no way should these observations be taken to mean that graduate union organizers see their work or unionization as futile or undesirable. What is more corporatization takes place in the absence of unions, so this should not elicit proposals to defeat it by elimination graduate workers bargaining rights. Universally the activists interviewed expressed a view of graduate unions as valuable and necessary with regards to protecting GAs and salvaging the academic and educational value of the university experience.
209 Additionally we must keep in mind that the specific findings, such as entrenching wage inequality, from a single study case cannot be generalized across the board. There are union contracts, such as the one for the Graduate Teaching and Fellows Federation (GTFF) at the University of Oregon that mandate a flatter, uniform pay structure. These part iculars do however highlight the relational foundations of institutional structures as Ackers (2006) concept of the inequality regime hinges on, and how they are, or could be, appropriated to serve administrative interests. They should also compel activis ts towards critical reflection and suggest avenues for tactical adjustments within the graduate labor movement. Given this and other research demonstrating that the cost of organized graduate labor to universities is minimal (Ehrenberg, Klaff, Kezsbom, & N agowski, 2004) the near universal opposition to unionization by administrators is puzzling, even from a management perspective. It suggests hostility is more of an ideological reflex than a calculated stance ; bias is trumping reason. Previously I discu ssed the disputes that occur between union activists that center on the debate between professionalism and activism Should the union seek tangible benefits or and pursue grievance based issues or engage in broader ideological struggles? Those GAs who view themselves as activists are more inclined towards ideological fights while those who view themselves as professional are understood to prefer pragmatic attempts at securing benefits and rights. The data presented here indicates that unionization serves as a means for corralling more ideologically motivated and diss id ent GAs towards the former. But it works on all parties. Just like unionists are nudged into the tactical mainstream of political activism, administrators are also
210 prevented from going full speed ahead with regards to restructuring the university. All in all this goes back to the notion that powers foundations are relational and exist in the ability to influence social transactions. These statements reveal that graduate labor activists see thei r ability to secure desired outcomes are not on par with the other players on this field, but they are not passive vessels being acted upon either. Theoretically this data suggest that one method powerful entities use to appropriate social structure to pr omote the outcomes they desire from social transactions is by getting others vested in that outcome. This is illustrated in the way unionists support policies they do not find to be ideal (e.g. increased wage inequality) yet see benefit in taking ownership of. Basically it is the old idea that the best strategy to secure one s position is to get opponents inside shooting out rather than outside shooting in. It is the same logic behind massive corporate mergers that eliminate competition i n key markets. This adds an additional layer of complexity to debates as to the roots and nature of hegemony uncontested domination. Paul Colomy (2001) offers a fairly standard read of it in his canonic summation of conflict theory: when structures of domination and ineq uality are seen as universally beneficial they will remain intact. Essentially they are not challenged because the submissive groups are ideologically in line with their own dominant group. Derek Sayer (1994) counters this, it is cynicism, not ideologic al incorporation, that makes this system work (p. 374) It is not because the dominated agree with their domination, they just see no way around it, so play along and make the most of it. Cynicism is fostered by encounters with vast, nameless, faceless bu reaucracies that
211 regiment the actualities of work and thereby limit the field possible. It is the same reason customers so rarely make special requests at McDonalds restaurants. Options are limited and people comply with them regardless of their personal preferences. In this case complicity is achieved through a necessity to address immediate, short term needs that leads to a capitulation to the current arrangements (wage inequality and corporatization) on the part of unionists. Of course this is there i s no indication in the data that suggests this is the result of conscious action and strategy, not in this case at least. Perhaps if I had interviewed administrators or their bargaining agents I could determine that here. Indeed, the original goal that thi s research derived from was an explication of social relations in the vein of institutional ethnography which requires working from a particular standpoint in this case graduate labor activists but then working back to it from an oppositional perspective t hat shares intersubjective territory administrators (Smith, 1990; 2005) Of all of the subjects covered in interviews, this one was the most unsettling. It was not new; in fact the theoretical sensitivity that informs this project foregrounds these concerns. Still, hearing such consistent statements and stories from other people who are organizing and working on the same projects conjured a sort of disenchantment. On a personal level I felt like unionization was about as meaningful as voting. It sure matter s whether or not we do it, but it is a very small effect that can be had on the fundamentals of how our political system works T hat is why i t is easy to write it off. Given that union activism is far more labor intensive than something like voting, and the fact that the people actually doing the work see that it has minimal capacity influence the system it is a part of, my hopes for the future of the graduate labor movement
212 dwindled a bit. As a result I afforded Derek Sayers (1994) argument about cynicism being the driving force behind hegemony a little more credence. One of the concerns that arose from this topic for me as a researcher was whether or not my interview participants were being straight forward with me. If they could see unionizing in this light, were their statements about the unions utility sincere or just answers that they knew were expected. Ultimately, through reflexive memo writing and journaling about the interview experiences and dynamics of the encounters, I was able to see that t hese comments and insights were brought forth by my interviewing style as much as any insincerity on the part of the participants. The discussions of how the union aids corporatization w ere the result me asking them to w ear different hats, to situate thems elves within the processes under examination differently than they would if not prompted to. As political activists they genuinely seem to sympathize with GAs as exploited workers, often because they live it themselves. But given that we are in an academi c context that favors dispassionate, dethatched analyses they are able to employ this convention to understand themselves and their work. Even Rhoads and Rhoades (2005) made note of the fact that their participants demonstrated an academic tenor when disc ussing corporatization. Because of the use of active interviewing (Holstein & Gubrium, 1995) I can make use of these seemingly contradictory perspectives without concerns of validity of sincerity. Whether or not these organizers genuinely believe that the union is responsible for, or complicit in, transforming the academia to resemble business institutions this is the logic that they make use of to do the work that perpetuates GAU. Methodologically my use of active
213 interviewing and concern for the ac tual ities of work more than the preexisting views of organizers had allowed me to navigate this issue in a way that would not be possible using a more regimented method As a union activist myself these discussions with colleagues has compelled me to rethink my views towards the administrators that I have had so many disputes and disagreements with. As a political actor it is often convenient to vilify opponents, particularly public figures who are recognizable (e.g. university presidents, provosts, or trustee s) for decisions that push the academy in the direction of the corporate university. But given the fact that even opposition to the trends in the face of immediate concerns can actually facilitate them I must not be quick to judgment. It is not outside the realm of likely that administrators who deal with organized labor groups on campu s have thought along the lines of utilizing the unions for their advantage any more that these activists ha d previously pondered how they have contributed. There is certainly a need for more research into the dialogic of corporatization, as well as inquiry into the organization of administrative work in contemporary universities that situates these decisions and practices within broader networks of social relations. What translocal forces operate to organize the local actualities of union and management interactions? To carry out the project of explicating ruling relations of graduate labor or academia more broadly, one w ould have to build on this project by working back to the unionists perspective from another standpoint such as that of administrators.
214 CHAPTER 9 CONCLUSIONS AND REFLECTIONS This research draws attention to the restricted yet dynamic facets of graduate labor organizing. Beginning from the perspective of graduate union activists i t examines the ways in which their work is organized and takes shape within the contexts of graduat e education at a public university where GAs are recognized as state employees. C hapters 5 8 draw on interview data, participant observations and organizational texts that underscore the discursive nature of union work and the institutional intersection of higher education and organized labor where this work is situated and in process. UF GAU activists draw upon a specialized discourse and a unique capacity to communicate in order to cast their organization as a necessary, instrumental part of the universit y and to distinguish themselves within the labor union movement and university politics. Put differently UF GAU activists discursively carve out a niche for themselves i n the political arena they are a part of. Over the last couple of decades there has been a surge in graduate unionization. In 1990 there were five graduate labor unions in the United States. By 2006, there were more than forty such unions recognized as bargaining agent s with more than forty thousand members (DeCew, 2003; Singh, Zinni, & Maclennan, 2006; Wickens, 2008) This growth has been accompanied by an uptick in interest on the part of labor union activists who attempt to mobilize GAs as well as scholars examining organized labor, labor law, social movements and higher education ( Dix on, Tope, & Van Dyke, 2008 ; Lee, Oseguera, Kim, Fann, Davis, & Rhoads, 2004; Zi nni, Singh, & MacLennan, 2005) This heightened awareness has produced new debates and concerns regarding the
215 nature of work required for a graduate degree, its role in the univ ersity enterprise and its relationship to corporatization. As both graduate unionization and corporatization of universities have become more and more pervasive so have the hopes that the former can turn back the latter (Bousquet, 2008; Lafer, 2003; Rhoa ds & Rhoades, 2005) Additionally the bulk of academic literature tends to focus on campaigns playing out at private universities, and has grown in reaction to the oscillating decisions regarding New York University and Brown Universitys graduate workers (Euben, 2004; Singh, Zinni, & Mac lennan, 2006; Wickens, 2008) even though graduate labor unions are most prevalent in public universities (Ehrenberg, Klaff, Kezsbom, & Nagowski, 2004) As mentioned in C hapter 2 there is no consensus as to how graduate labor is viewed (as employment or education) in the courts and organizing campaigns in private and public universities are governed by differing sets of laws ( Bousquet, 2008; Singh, Zinni, & Maclennan, 2006) Lastly, with the exception of Rhoads and Rhoades (2005) work documenting their cri tiques of academic capitalism, none of the existing research begins with the unionists themselves. This project constitutes an attempt to address some of these issues by examining UF GAU activists work, how and why they do it as they do, and what the per ceived ramifications are. In this final chapter I will discuss how this project and the conclusions reached through it contribute to the existing scholarship it draws on and suggest avenues for future research as well as thoughts on organizing. Throughout this discussion I will offer some reflections on the research process, the work that it entailed, how said work came to be organized as it did, and the consequences in terms of the
216 knowledge produced. I will conclude by pointing in the direction of this s pecific projects next step. Contributions and Future Research One of the difficult, time consuming aspects of my inductive approach to this project is that I did not know which body of literature my observations and analyses are adding to from the outset. My interest in the topic was originally rooted in my history with UF GAU and an interest in the organization itself more than by a particular sociological concern that observing graduate labor activism could answer. The collection of literature on gradu ate unions is small and concentrated in the area of labor law T he work of sociologists on the topic is nearly nonexistent. The available research offers two basic conclusions: graduate labor unionization should be regarded a national social movement because of the ways local chapters organize into networks (Rhoades & Rhoads, 2003; Dixon, Tope, & Van Dyke, 2008) and that it succeeds when graduate workers view themselves more as employees than students (Isler, 2007) To some extent this lack of literature was a liberating because there were so many unexplored paths. What is more, it allowed me stay closer to the ideal of inductive based research that starts with observation and specific data without predetermined notions as to how the data should be understood. But on the other hand, it meant that I had to figure out where my research would fit into my disciplines literature, given that the reality if this project is that it has be en done for the purposed of a doctoral dissertation in sociology. Drawing on m y years of experience worki ng as a graduate union activist, Islers (2007) point about identifying as employees as opposed to students instantly rang true. As covered in C hapter 6 I had made it a point to remind or inform GAs that they are state employees during the course of organizing work many times (e.g. the new TA
217 orientations, during office visits or while addressing a departmental group). Indeed this push along with the universitys promotion of a student based identity constitutes the most significant framing dispute between UF GA U and the UF administration. My concern with work sprung from Islers research which logically, in my mind, begged the question as to what union organizers do in order to promote this view. As I began exploring the literature on social movements, which I was previously unfamiliar with, as a result of the work Rhoades and Rhoads (2003) and Dixon, Tope and Van Dyke (2008) have put out the scholarshi p on collective action frames and framing processes provided a conceptual link between my concerns for work and the existing body of sociological knowledge on graduate unionization as well as an avenue for empirical examination. One of the notable aspects of Isllers (2007) work is that it points to the interpretive framework, that set of ideas workers use to make sense out of their predicament, which renders them organizable as a labor union, not the material reality of their work or location in the class structure. This may partially answer the mystery Ehrenberg, Klaff, Kezbom, and Nagowski (2004) claim graduate unionization presents to labor scholars. Why do workers with no long term ties to their employer unionize? It is an issue of interpreting their w ork more than the actualities of employment The issue used as the key illustration of the tension between the employment and student frames in Chapter 6, fees, suggests that the resonance of those frames have, at least in part, a material basis. But material conditions are not sufficient in and of themselves to provoke unionizing. Through the use of language and labels in speech and texts, graduate unionists create and capitalize on conditions favorable to labor
218 organizing. Although the student frame is understood to be most readily utilized by GAs, when money is considered and union activists stress financial scarcity graduate workers recognize and foreground their employment status. It makes sense that the graduate students who undertake unionization m ost frequently are from disciplines most stressed by restricted public finances and reliance on outside funding for scholastic pursuits (Rhoads & Rhoades, 2005) The decision to focus on the framing aspect of social movements directed my attention away fr om issues of resource allocation and political opportunity. Further research in each of these areas is needed. The data collected for this project offers some initial insight into how resources are utilizedto create and distribute texts, to gain access to desired audiences and there is even some documentation of the decision making processes that lead to the specific uses. But without more directed field work and interviewing, for the purposes of investigating this subject, there is not much of a deeper an alysis that I can offer here. The drafting process has resulted in eliminating some of what appears in earlier editions. One of the issues that union activists deal with on a regular basis is healthcare. GAU activists regularly talk about healthcare, which is popular, because their con tract provides for it. They want to claim credit. Originally C hapter 7 contained an analysis of the story about the negotiations and activism that ended with GAs getting fully subsidized health insurance. But as it was developed it became clear that the st ory itself was important and that it contains occurrences that can be used to understand political opportunity as well as how to capitalize on a win. However, telling the story is not anything that should be understood as an organizing measure. This is an area that I
219 think would make for the most interesting continuation of this research, and I would have liked to connect this to framing. From my memory it seemed like a victory created an opportunity to push an employment frame. Beyond my memory though, I w as short on available data given that it happened four years ago, I have no textual documentation of the events other than the final contract, and as a result of the high turnover associated with graduate education and unionization, none of the other signi ficant actors were available. Although the goal of the inductive methodology I ascribe to is to begin knowledge production with empirical rather than theoretical concerns or conceptualizations, this is an ideal (Glaser & Strauss, 1967; Charmaz, 2006) I d id not enter the field as the figurative blank slate. As I already mentioned, I began the formal research processes with several years of prior involvement in UF GAU. But beyond that I also have a history as an academic, a specific background in sociology that has exposed me to theoretical paradigms, concepts, and research practices M y education has been concentrated in the sociology of gender as well as the sociology of knowledge and culture. From each area of concentration I have taken a view of power as being derived from social relationships and their structures which mediate social practice and coordinate peoples concerted actions (Acker, 2006; Bourdieu, 1984; Collins, 2000; Giddens, 1984; Smith, 1990; 2005; Wrong, 1979) The same organization that produces power simultaneously produces avenues for resistance or activism (Collins, 2000; Ewick & Silbey, 2003) Because social movements necessarily constitute activism in an attempt to alter some aspect of social relationships or social organization defi ned as problematic, observing them can provide a window into
220 the nature of institutionalized practices and organizational structure. They signal the exploitation of structure to disturb ongoing expectations and as such social movements are premised upon the apprehension of power, injustice, and structural opportunity (Ewick & Silbey, 2003, p. 1331) What is more, in contemporary society institutions such as higher education or organized labor, are forms of social organization that simplify and general ize across multiple specific settings. So although it is tempting to view qualitative research that examines individual cases as being of limited relevance, the reality of social life is that the local is formed and influenced by broader, translocal relati ons that generalize across specific settings. Perhaps the most pertinent observation with regards to this theoretical orientation is to be found in C hapter 8 ( On Graduate Unions and Resistance). In that section I document ways in which graduate labor act ivists see their work latently contributing to corporatization of universities, which the participants here and in the Rhoads and Rhoades study (2005) universally view as a bad thing. These findings challenge the literature on graduate unions that has been produced within the academic literature across disciplines which sees them as a potential force that can turn back trends towards corporatization (Bousquet, 2008; Lafer, 2003; Rhoads & Rhoades, 2005) The primary folly that plagues these works is a conceptualization of dominance and resistance, oppression and activism, based on a duality separating the two. As their arguments go, corporatization stems from the powerful (funding agencies and administrators) onto the powerless. Graduate unions for one reason or another can potentially redistribute power and create a new dominant group.
221 The particular sociological perspective I bring to the table recasts corporatization as the product of int erlocking practices that create social relations. Change efforts such as graduate unions as well as other social movements and organizations (e.g. faculty labor unions and student political groups such as Students for a Democratic Society) are understood to be among the entities whose actions contribute to the overarching t rends that define academia, as opposed to outside pressure or the logical byproduct of corporate style management practices. All parties are engaged in efforts to reorient themselves towards volatile, specialized environments a trend characteristic of cont emporary organizations beyond the worlds of higher education and labor unions (Meyer, 2002; Ritzer, 1993) By doing the necessary work to enable UF GAU to function in its capacity to bargain/enforce a contract and replenish the corps of activists and members that turnover frequently, union activists create and utilize networks of communication that rely on both new, digital technology and faceto face interaction. Access to these cultivated networks make UF GAU a desirable ally for other groups and ent ities involved in political organizing and advocating. As a result the graduate labor union has acquired a specialized function as an organizing apparatus. All of this culminates in UF GAU sustaining itself by further contributing to specialization and di fferentiation that mark corporatized universities. This lends yet more empirical support to the notion put forward by theorists of practice that resistance is constitutive of that which it is resisting. This observation is in fact the first contribution to academic literature that this research has a chance t o make. As of the writing of these reflections, a version of C hapter 8 has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Collective Bargaining in
222 the Academy What this means is that a sociological perspective offers a new lens through which to view graduate labor unionizing. That this basic input would constitute a meaningful contribution to academic literature and discussions speaks to the general dearth of work on the phenomenon and the advantages of studying an unexamined subject. This model of unionization, as a contributing factor to corporatization of the academy, has political ramifications and raises some basic questions for both the proponents of graduate unionization and detractors. For the supporters, one has to inquire as to the point. Here as well as in the Rhoads and Rhoades (2005) study, graduate union organizers see corporatization as a negative trend, and they link many of the problems they encounter to it. What is more, all of th e participants in this study explicitly said that they do not think graduate unions can topple the corporate regime and that it does in fact contribute to and assist efforts in that that direction. Plus, a common bargaining strategy union representatives use rests on the assumption that their goals will do just that (see C hapter 8 ). So why invest so much time into managing problems stemming from something that unionizing is perpetuating? I do not have much to add beyond what I have already written that is r ooted in empirical data, but I will offer some thoughts on this question in a bit. For critics of graduate unionization, chiefly administrators, faculty and law makers according to this and prior research, it is important to ask about the point of opposi tion. As I left the field for purposes of research (I stayed involved in UF GAU) and my permission to do research expired the gubernatorial and legislative elections in Florida were heating up. The results of those elections are a legislative and executive branch of
223 state government that governs graduate unionizing in Floridas public universities that are openly against public sector unions. There is an expectation that more restrictive laws will be passed. Whether or not this will result in protracted eff orts to disband the unions for graduate employees such as those seen in 2002 when union activists had to recertify UF GAU by getting more than 50% of all GAs to sign a card in support remains to be seen (Thompson, 2004) But regardless, organizers have beg un strategizing in order to counter any changes to the law that are expected. As I asked in C hapter 8 why invest so strongly in eliminating or stifling the graduate unions? I have documented how they can offer political cover for cost cutting measures to administrators. And contrary to faculty unions, graduate employee unions do not cost schools any more money; resisting them and losing does (Ehrenberg, Klaff, Kezsbom, & Nagowski, 2004) So it does not make much financial sense. In terms of academic conce rns, the research is clear that the effects on work relationships are a net positive in the eyes of graduate workers/students and faculty (Hewitt, 2000; Julius & Gumport, 2002; Lee, Oseguera, Kim, Fann, Davis, & Rhoads, 2004; Wickens, 2008) Although I offer that the near universal opposition to unionization from university management seems to be an ideological reflex in light of this and existing scholarship, I would like to offer some thoughts on the consistency of administrative oppositio ns tactical benefits. T hese could be linked to broader campus and student based politics not necessarily to graduate labor in and of itself. This is also where lies the biggest potential of graduate unions, leading back to the point of activists work under these particular circumstances. Why Unionize? In C hapter 5 I examine how UF GAU establishes and appropriates mutually beneficial relationships with other student and interest groups on campus and in the
224 local community. On the surface these seem like unequal relationships. Essentially UF GAU is trading the ability to communicate in mass for the opportunity to communicate on a more direct, intimate level. This results in UF GAU offer ing their credibility, material resources and communication capacity in exchange for a chance to talk with graduate students, many of which are not employees. Additionally, the issues that UF GAU oftentimes cooperates with other groups on are beyond the scope of what the union has the right/duty to negotiate, though they are not necessarily forbidden from addressing them in a collective bargaining agreement. Working in conjunction with other groups allows the graduate union to regularly have actions and events, happenings that create opportunities for faceto face organizing c onversations and function as outlets for plugging new people into so that they can start participating before their motivation wears off. The immediate result is that UF GAU ends up appropriating student political issues for their own gain, but they also extend their influence and offer unionization as a tool for addressing a broader spectrum of problems arising from life at the university, even some locally/departmentally unique ones. But it also serves to bridge people and groups with seemingly isolated problems enabling a more extensive, severe diagnosis and calling for more drastic prognoses. All of this alters framing processes which are interconnected. There is reason to expect that expanding the range of problems addressed will lead to a greater di versity of people who turn towards unionization, just as addressing and embracing issues of racial inequality and womens marginalization in society more broadly is associated with more diverse unions (Franzway, 2000; Heery, 2006; McBride, 2001) In additi on, it more firmly entrenches UF GAU as an essential, integrated part of
225 the universitys organizational landscape. As the discourse on organizing affirms participatory processes are the goal. As UF GAU expands its scope and works with more and more organizations that benefit from an unequal deal in the short term they are increasing the number of entities engaged in the campus political arena. Democratic organizations require democracy, so this increased participation creates a context that is generally more beneficial to the graduate union than one with fewer participants. It is important at this point to remember that the graduate union movement sprung from the student protests of the 1960s (Draper, 1965; Lipset, 1965) On the flip side, expansion of the unions scope of action also creates an even more multi organizational field that they are operating within, which will decrease the immediate value of their organizational aptitude for mass communication (Evans, 1997; Loader, 2008) thereby exacerbating the need to organize and ally with other groups. In the end this sort dynamic puts UF GAU in a position to act a sort of arbitrator for student political activism. And it lends to answering the dilemma of studying graduate unionism presented by Rhoads and Rhoades (2005) Which camp does it belong to, organized labor or student activism ? Of course it is neither entirely, and it fits both to some extent. This also has implications with regards to the employee/student frame dispute that occurs between union graduate labor organizers and university administrators (see C hapter 6 ). The reason, in part, that UF GAU pushes the employment frame is that it distinguishes the union from other student groups. It is also the aspect that affords the union the right to unrestricted emailing access to GAs is seen, by union activists, to endow representatives of UF GAUs with an elevated degree of credibility and expertise
226 in the eyes their intended audience. In a way, by dissociating themselves from s tudent activism and politics, UF GA U organizers can wield more influence over them. In terms the original issue of whats the point of organizing? this may indicate a manner in which organized graduate labor can, in effect impede corporatization that Bousquet (2008) Lafer (2003) and Rhoads and Rhoades (2005) did not account for: by bringing more voices to the table and expanding the universe of issues that administrators must bargain over rather than imposing a policy. It also suggests that any possible change will be slow and nonlinear. So, although graduate unionization may not offer any dramatic resistance it does offer a possible view of where the university enterprise is headed beyond corporatization, after those trends have been exacerbated, while simultaneously forging a path to that system of relations and governance. Before I switch gears and address administrative opposition to graduate unionization, I want to briefly address the way I am situating this analysis and utiliz ing it in this research My initial choice to look at this as a window into organized labor was rooted in both my experience as a part of UF GAU that gave me a preexisting knowledge of organizing rhetoric and the fact that this project, in its infant stages, examined gender within organized labor, so my academic background rendered that field more readily accessible. Moreover, by couching this in terms of work and labor, I was able to establish a degree committee qualified to read and evaluate the project because I had worked wit h several of the members previously, and the topics fit the areas of concentration in my department more closely. Based on these observations though, and given my desire to stay on the path of induction, future research I could
227 pursue would begin by situat ing and analyzing the data used for this research in relation to the literature on student activism. Why Oppose Unionization? The literature on corporatization is fairly consistent in terms of pointing to the 1990s as the time when these trends which began decades earlier hit a critical mass and redefined the academy (Noble, 2001; Steck, 2003) It is also in this decade that graduate unionization exploded after a period stagnation ( Ehrenberg R. G., Klaff, Kezsbom, & Nagowski, 2004; Lafer, 2003; Saltzman, 2000; Singh, Zinni, & MacLennan, 2006; Zinni, Singh, & MacLennan, 2005) During this period of growth and resurgence, graduate unions have been met with vigorous opposition from administrators in nearly every case (Ehrenberg R. G., Klaff, Kezsbom, & Nagows ki, 2004) The logic behind this opposition is puzzling in light of the existing research that suggests that regardless of administrative priorities, the economic bottom line or academic excellence, the net effects of graduate unionization are positive. Th ey dont appear to cost the university more money. In fact, prolonged opposition that ends in union recognition costs more than entrenched, established unions which do not cost significantly more than nonunionized graduate labor (Ehrenberg R. G., Klaff, K ezsbom, & Nagowski, 2004)1. In terms of academic and workplace relationships between faculty and graduate employees the research is fairly conclusive, they improve (Hewitt, 2000; Julius & Gumport, 2002; Lee, Oseguera, Kim, Fann, Davis, & Rhoads, 2004; Wick ens, 2008) As I mentioned in C hapter 8 the consistent opposition appears to be dictated by ideological antagonisms. To be fair it could also be that administrative decision makers 1 Once more I have to point out that the data used to reach this conclusion is limited, but it is the best available.
228 are unaware of the research or are privy to more data that discredits what is publicly available. In thinking about administrative opposition as I have come across accounts of it in literature as well as in the field as a researcher and activist I have logically drawn on the knowledge I acquired as a union insider, and although this is not the crux of my work I have tried placing myself in the role of an administrator just as I asked interview participants to answer questions wearing different hats (Holstein & Gubrium, 1995) At the start of this project, before engaging the existing research or talking with participants, before my understanding had been expanded to see just how relevant the union is to campus politics beyond graduate employment, I assumed that financial concerns and basic penny pinching in light of state budg et cuts could explain the hostility. But as I began to see how far reaching UF GAUs influence is and how diverse the issues they affect are (something that I had not fully grasped as an officer and activists) a line of reasoning emerged that is more cons istent with the accounts of activists presented here. Resistance to graduate unionization began as part of the student revolts of the 1960s. UF GAU activists are in line with the history of graduate labor movement when they use the union apparatus to assi st student activism and promote student interests. It stands to reason that administrative opposition to graduate unionization is also opposition to other issues that are not necessarily related to the terms and conditions of graduate employment. One of the hidden functions of the graduate unionizing when activists act as organizing specialist s, as I have argued, is that union actors become arbitrators of student politics. If UF GAU activists have an increased ability to
229 communicate, and their words are mor e likely to resonate, as the participants here are convinced they do, it makes sense that administrators would seek to limit the unions influence. This may explain several instances of administrative acquiescence to policies or positions that UF GAU advoc ates that are done outside the bounds of collective bargaining. Examples: the deferment of employment/student fees for graduate workers only that UF GAU negotiated with the administration is still not protected by a contractual agreement; in 2010, after a year of stalemate over pay increases, impasse procedures to settle a contract were averted when UF G A U agreed to no raise, yet afterwards the administration gave all GAs a three percent raise which was more than had been argued over. In these cases as well as others, desired policies were put into place, but they were presented as a gift from the administrators not the fruits of collective action. In short, it appears that the reluctance to embrace graduate unions as the University of Wisconsin Madisons president did in 1969 (Cavell, 2000; Ehrenberg R. G., Klaff, Kezsbom, & Nagowski, 2002; 2004; Saltzman, 2000; Singh, Zinni, & Maclennan, 2006; Zinn i, Singh, & MacLennan, 2005) is a grasp to maintain decision making authority which explains why it persists. Its not about specific policy. This is right in line with the ethos of corporatization which favors efficiency where the discourse on organizing promotes process and participation. Democracy is not known for being streamlined. Again, I must point out that deliberate, focused research that is designed to address this question is needed in order to formulate a more definitive explanation for administ rative opposition to graduate unions.
230 My Next Step In this chapter I have focused on what this work offers to sociological and labor literature. I have also suggested some lines of research that could be pursued from the conclusions reached. Here I would like to outline what I see as the next step in this project as it was conceptualized originally, before it became truncate d for the purposes of a doctoral dissertation. In C hapter 4 when I articulated the research methods utilized for this study I basica lly laid out a plan to gather data for the first stage of Dorothy Smith calls institutional ethnography (Smith, 2005) I analyzed and coded this data e specially in the initial stages using the techniques associated with Charmazs grounded theory (2006) th ough some of the elements like theoretical sampling that I have already discussed were not always possible. The goal of institutional ethnography is to ex plicate or map social relations, the coordination of peoples concerted activity as opposed to generating new theory. It views local actualities as being structured by translocal forces. Her ideas and ontology of the social world are, in part, why I have conceptualized work as I have and why I situate the knowledge from the perspective of graduate labor a ctivists. The first step of institutional ethnography is to work out from one standpoint and then work back to it from other positions that the original is coordinated with. So for this research, the next step would be to study the topics covered from a perspective of administrators, nonunionized GAs or various other student activists. Essentially this would entail doubling the data collection already done which would be an enormous task. What is more it will require accessing populations such as those j ust mentioned that I do not have as ready access to like I do graduate labor activists and who I would
231 need to establish rapport with even if they were willing to participate. I will need to learn histories organizational practices I am not familiar with. I conceivably could go from a trusted insider to an outsider who group members are suspicious of. To be blunt the practical end of the project gets more complex going forward. There are a couple areas, however, where this outsider status could help me wit h the research as it expands to these other various standpoints which would have practical research implications and could reform the type of knowledge presented here. One of the aspects of conducting this research I had not expected to emerge from the outset was the way in which I conducted myself while conducting the research. I began formally collecting data through participant observation in August of 2009. At this time the school year was beginning and it was the first one in three years that I had not been one of the copresidents, first in four years that I had not been an elected officer at all. Because the new TA orientation was approaching fast and the new officers needed to plan their organizing efforts, I felt it best that I not offer too much unsolicited advice that could be taken as inappropriate. I wanted to let them do the jobs they had been elected to do. By staying out of the way I inadvertently slipped into more of a dethatched observer mode than I had originally planned. As an inexperienced participant among other student activists or administrators (that one might be impossible to study as a participant observer for someone i n my position) who lack everyday knowledge, my participation and commentary could conceivably stimulate discussion, debate, explanation as to why I am of f base rather than functioning as an authority that I worried would stifle others participation.
232 Lastly, as an outsider I suspect that I would have more success being able to go beyond naturalist description of graduate union activists understandings of their work and pulling off the goal of an ethnomethodological analysis. This would require drawing attention to the ways in which they render events recognizable as organizing events, or the ways they do their st atus of employee or student. As it turns out here, moving beyond the naturalist description felt hard throughout the process. In large part I found that it is because of my initial research questions and the interviews stemming from it, the data produced lent itself more easily to that type of analysis. I have already discussed the challenges interviewing people with whom I have this type of relationships with. It makes sense that those interview s, on the same subjects, but conducted by somebody else, woul d yield different data. (Of course an outsider may not know to ask some of the questions I asked.) This basic premise of a constructivist epistemology is why I would want to challenge the seemingly naturalistic research here. Neither research approach is m ore valid than the other, but naturalist approaches to research are aimed at creating objective data and reaching conclusions that are indisputable (Hammersley & Atkinson, 2005) The idea behind bringing in a different perspective would be to challenge thi s notion and perhaps establish new areas and lines of questioning to pursue. Key Conclusions As with most research, this project raises at least as many questions for future scholarship as it answers. I have tried to outline a broad agenda for carrying this work forward beyond the limits of my degree requirements. Here I will briefly sum up the key conclusions that I have taken from the research as it is thus far the basis for which are contained in Chapters 1 8
233 Graduate labor organizing requires activ ists to engage in work that is largely discursive in nature. They construct and employ a discourse on organizing that favors participatory processes over efficiency and functions to carve out a niche or a specialty within academic politics as well as organized labor. Their specialization in organizing distinguishes GAU and renders them as valuable partners in campus labor, as well as political, disputes. Through allying with various interest and movement groups on issue, UF GAU takes advantage of preexisting activist networks and uses their issues and actions as opportunities to participate and organize. As a result UF GAU is able to exert influence over issues beyond their right/obligation to negotiate and enforce a contract. Th es e trends are characteristic of broader patterns both in academia and organizations in the main, towards specialization and interdependence (Meyer, 2002). Through an examination of how graduate labor activists utilize the discourse on organizing in the course doing union work, we can see that they creat e and maintain group, as well as personal relationships in order to produce the conditions that are most favorable to their framing and organizing efforts Some of the observed work processes, such as storytelling draw attention to the idiosyncratic dynamics of labor organizing in this context the diversity of the workforce, competing and contradictory cultural factors and identities high turnover and that graduate unions can be seen as simultaneously existing in multiple stages of social movements. Additionally, unionists use stories to cast themselves as experts in order to help their more logical, reasoned arguments resonate with their intended audiences. Several scholars (Bousquet 2008; Lafer 2003; Rhoads & Rhoades 2005) have id entified graduate unions as the entities most capable o f offer ing resistance to
234 corporatization of higher education. This work contests those ideas. G raduate labor activists see themselves as averse, yet vested participants in the corporatizing process. T h ey do not see their work as pointless, but contrary to Bousquet, Lafer and Rhoads and Rhoades they do not see the same hope and potential for resistance to corporatization in their movement that do. I conclude this analysis with thoughts and reflections on this research and attempt to tie together seemingly puzzling union and administrative practices. If corporatization is a problem as unionists claim, w hy do GA organizers invest so much in it ? Likewise, given the available research documenting its economic and academic utility, why is there nearly across the board adm i ni st rat i ve oppos ition to graduate unionization? The se appear to be linked through concerns over broader university democracy. Both sides seem to see the GA uni ons as mobilizing and exerting influence beyond merely labor issues. While increasing participation on the part of other groups, the range of issues placed on the bargaining table expands. This is good for the union, but it places more restrictions on management options. As a result, the opposition makes a bit more sense, from managements perspective. I ndividual case studies such as this are frequently seen as being of limited utility or relevance, and critics of this approach will likely view this resear ch through that lens. But, in the same way that this research has been organized by the traditions, conventions, and standards of academia, sociology and qualitative inquiry, the work that graduate union activists do, such as storytelling or counterframing are mediated by translocal forces that permeate institutional life in general. By illuminating activists rich descriptions and interpretations of their own experiences and social relations this
235 research offers both theoretical and empirical insights int o the present state of and future possibilities for the graduate labor movement and the broader university enterprise
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2 50 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Deeb Kitchen has earned all of his degrees from the University of Florida. He received his B.A in December of 2001. He also earned his M.A. in sociology from UF in 2006. He earned his Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Florida in spring of 2011.