“By articulating a vision of a more just world, going on the offensive, demanding more instead of accepting less, and aligning campaigns against the billionaires at the top, labor can inspire and organize a movement dedicated to redistributing wealth and power.”
In Connecticut of 2018 the vision above sounds utopian, especially to a union like CCSU-AAUP. After a two-year contract campaign, drastic cuts to our higher education budget, a vague plan for reorganization sprung on us without adequate consultation, numbers of frantic legislative alerts about bills to destroy collective bargaining, a SEBAC concessions agreement taking away raises, benefits, and pay (furlough days), and legislators of both parties demanding still more budget cuts – the hope that we can really make a change in the direction of reducing inequality and promoting equity seems very remote.
But this is a hope we must embrace. It is precisely now, when we have been attacked on so many fronts, that CCSU-AAUP has to work harder to become more active and effective. And there are even more problems on the horizon that we cannot ignore. The supposed “Students First” reorganization is still in progress. And it is almost certain that the Supreme Court will rule on Janus v. AFSCME in 2018 to make it illegal for AAUP to collect agency fees from bargaining unit members who have not become active members of the union. This will affect our financial stability and make it difficult to provide adequate services to our members. And on top of this the November 2018 election may see the Governor’s office and Legislature controlled by politicians who neither support adequate funding for public higher education, nor collective bargaining. Our hard-won Contract, benefits, and our entire university system will be in jeopardy.
What can we do about this? It is precisely now that all members of our bargaining unit – all our faculty, librarians, counsellors, and coaches — must embrace the fact that they are the union. The union is not the leadership, it is not the staff – it is the members. You must help make your union relevant to all aspects of your members lives, to supporting a workplace and community that is committed to fairness, inclusiveness, equality, and justice, and to working with all progressive forces in the state and nation to advance these goals.
So, please make a commitment to become the “union” this year. Come to Chapter meetings and bring a colleague. Come to our Executive Committee and Council meetings – all members are welcome at both (See the calendar for dates, times, places). Volunteer to be a department liaison or serve on the part-time advisory committee. Think of an event AAUP can sponsor or connections it can make. Feel free to contact us with any questions or ideas.