Academic Labor Advocates Seek to Reinvigorate Labor Action: The Indianapolis Resolution

Editor’s Note: The Indianapolis Resolution is one of the products of the Labor Caucus of the Conference of College Composition and Communication – the nation’s largest professional organization of faculty teaching in the fields of composition, rhetoric, and writing studies. The Indianapolis Resolution seeks to update and expand a 1988 resolution, the Wyoming Resolution, which first sought to urge the organization to tackle the issue of exploitative working conditions by the majority of the nation’s writing teachers. Since 1988, labor conditions have arguably gotten much worse and affect an even greater number of writing teachers. We wanted to republish Amy’s post here, to add yet another voice of the struggle against contingent labor in higher education. We find this initiative all the more important given the significant concentration of adjunct faculty members teaching writing in American colleges and universities. You can find the original post and all of Amy’s writing on her blog

If you know me or my work, then you know that I am passionate about labor issues. I come from a labor-activist family; unions are what helped us to put food on the table. Today, I am an Academic Unicorn: a tenured assistant professor. I spent years as an adjunct, though, freeway flying and grateful that my husband’s health insurance covered me (and my asthma and high blood pressure). After making the leap to the tenure-track, and as I’ve written previously, the only way I can justify working in a field that systematically abuses the majority of its workers is to dedicate my service and scholarship to addressing the problem of labor in higher ed.

So, I’ve been privileged to work with the CCCC Labor Caucus {Conference on College Composition and Communication}. If you’re in Composition / Rhetoric / Writing studies, I hope you’ll consider joining us! (Email me if you’d like to join our listserv). I’ve served on the steering committee, spent two years as chair, and currently serve as secretary and web monkey.

It was in the Labor Caucus that the Indianapolis Resolution was born. That’s what I’d like to talk to you about today.

You can read some background here on how the Indy Resolution came to be collaboratively conceived and composed over the course of just over a year. Writers include writing center directors, WPAs, contingent faculty, tenure-track faculty, tenured faculty, and graduate assistants.

The authors and co-signers of this document are asking our professional organizations, institutions, and departments / programs in Composition, Rhetoric, Writing and English to work towards reducing the extent to which departments and the field writ large use and exploit contingency to solve problems that primarily benefit the more secure members of those units. Further, while we acknowledge that some instructors want the option of contingent positions, institutions should work towards a default state in which everyone who enters the profession is treated like a professional. To achieve those ends, we endorse reforms that may better ensure institutional compliance with fair labor practices; that incorporate labor study into graduate pedagogy and professional development; and that support research into the impact of labor practices on the teaching and learning of writing.

After collecting signatures, we hope to bring the Indy Resolution to the leadership of our professional organizations for potential endorsement. We also hope that, even if you and our professional leadership don’t agree with every provision, it will evoke productive dialogue.

You can read the Indianapolis Resolution here, and see the names of those who have currently signed it.

You can follow a link there to add your name, or go straight to this document.

While reminding you that this is not my Resolution – I am one of many authors who have put the document forward – I’d be pleased to field questions about the document in the comments of this post.

Thank you for your consideration of our ideas. I hope you’ll add your name, and add to the conversation.

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