EMU Lecturers Halt “Visits” as President Martin Shows Sincerity

Members of Eastern Michigan University’s Adjunct Lecturers’ Organizing Committee (ALOC) and Students for an Ethical and Participatory Education (SEPE) spoke to over 60 campus folks face-to-face in three days last week. Forty of those who were contacted committed to participate in the ALOC/SEPE coalition “office visit” days that were planned Thursday and Friday to get EMU President Sue Martin back to the negotiating table. This new strategy reflects the growing frustration that lecturers have been feeling as their righteous desire to expand EMUFT membership to all lecturers, full-timers and part-timers, have continued to be ignored by an intransigent administration.

But in a late-breaking development, ALOC leadership called a temporary halt to the visits after Michigan AFT President David Hecker’s noon-time phone call with President Martin on Wednesday. EMUFT is a chapter of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). David Hecker is one of the great union presidents of our time. He is rock solid behind the workers he represents but he can talk to leaders of the other side in a way that commands respect, not hostility.

To her credit, President Martin seemed to realize this. According to Hecker, “There was sincerity on President Martin’s part to resolve our differences and work on an agreement.”

This is major good news for the EMU community and President Martin deserves credit for her position, informal as it is at the moment. However, there is still no set date for substantive face-to-face talks and action on that front needs to happen this coming week.

ALOC’s goal is to settle the member definition issue and have an election before the end of this semester that includes all lecturers who teach a class in any given semester:  “one syllabus, one vote!”

According to Hecker, Martin indicated during their conversation that she wanted “to avoid any further disturbances.” On that I am pleased to report that lecturers are in agreement. After over twenty years of teaching at EMU I still believe that EMU is a first-class university, largely because of the commitment of the faculty at all levels, and because of their love of teaching and of EMU. Protesting is a drain on the energy that we want to devote to our students, who are the reason why we teach.

But if that is how the university forces us to use our energy by refusing to work with us to resolve this issue fairly and soon, that is how we will use it to make our position known.

Because  attacks on our dignity also are a drain on our energy, especially when they come from those high-paid administrators whose major contribution to campus life is to hire high-price lawyer friends with university funds to fight members of the university community.

Among lecturers, from full-timers to those who teach one class a year, there is no question that we share a community of interest. When the original struggle was waged, and which I led, to create a union for lecturers, it was meant to be for all lecturers. The compromise result was a union for full-time lecturers only, EMUFT. This current struggle is to realize the vision of the first generation of leaders.

It is a worthy goal, one President Martin should support if she really has the interests of her community in mind. Hopefully she will listen to the people who do the real work to run the community and support the lecturers. All of the other unions on campus do. So do the students.

ALOC is the group that is leading the effort to bring part-time lecturers into EMUFT, the collective bargaining unit that represents full-time contract lecturers. Full-timers won recognition as a local of the American Federation of Teachers in 2001. SEPE is an inspired group of students who have supported the lecturers because they know that lecturers teach the bulk of classes at EMU and so are the key figures in students’ education.

J Street to Explain Approach to Pro-Israel, Pro-Peace Activism

Calling Ann Arbor-area progressives. What can we do to advocate for peace in the Mideast? J Street has ideas. Come and hear them.

Title: Peace and Justice in Israel/Palestine: What Are Effective Strategies?
Date: March 25, 2010
Time: 7-8:30 p.m.
Location: Ann Arbor Christian Reformed Church, 1717 Broadway Street

Free and open to the public.

Description:  How can people in the faith communities in our area be most effective in advocating for peace and justice in Israel/Palestine?

Presentation will be given on three different strategies being pursued by various groups within the faith community in Ann Arbor.

  1. Building alliances with Israeli-Palestinian peace groups on the ground
  2. Supporting the J-Street “Pro-Israel, Pro-Peace” approach of seeking to change the direction of U.S. policy and to broaden the public and policy debate in the U.S. about the Middle East, and
  3. Promoting economic sanctions against Israel

Clare Kinberg will be presenting the “J Street approach” summarized by these words taken from recent J Street actions in response to Vice President Biden’s recent trip to the region:

Israel’s national anthem is HaTikva—“The Hope.”  It speaks of the 2,000-year dream of the Jewish people to be a free people again in their own land.  62 years ago, that dream became a reality.

Today, that dream is slipping through our hands—on our watch.  A minority of ideologues more interested in settlements than in securing a democratic, Jewish homeland are putting the future of Israel at grave and imminent risk.

We support the Obama administration in standing firm against provocative actions on any side intended to undermine efforts to achieve a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We believe such a resolution is essential to American interests and to Israel’s future as a democratic, Jewish homeland.

The administration is already under attack from those here in the U.S. who seek to maintain the status quo. Help us show the Obama administration that there is broad support for a tough but fair approach to ending the conflict.

Check icpj.net, emai gracek@icpj.net, or call (734) 663-1870 for more information.

Bring It Back, Take It Forward Conference Schedule: See You There

In my last post, I wrote about the upcoming activists’ conference at University of Michigan this coming weekend. Here’s the conference schedule, with times and locations.

A list of community and U-M sponsors is at the bottom.

Quick summary of times:

  • Friday: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Saturday: 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.
  • Sunday: open dialogue session beginning at 12 p.m.

Quick summary of locations:

  • Friday and Saturday: Rackham Building, 915 East Washington Street, Ann Arbor
  • Sunday: School of Social Work Building, 1080 S. University Ave. Ann Arbor

BRING IT BACK, TAKE IT FORWARD CONFERENCE SCHEDULE

FRIDAY, MARCH 12, 2010 

Session 1 – (10:00 AM -12:00 PM)

Rackham Amphitheater

Black Action Movement (BAM), Anti-racism and Pro-diversity Activism Panel featuring Joann Watson, Hank Bryant, and Ron Scott.

Session 2 – (1:00 PM to 3:00 PM)

Rackham Auditorium

Health Activism Panel featuring James C. Mitchiner and Carrie Rheingans

Session 3- (3:15 PM to 5:00 PM)

Rackham Auditorium

Immigrant Rights Panel featuring Arturo Rodriguez, Mohammad Abd,  Evelyn Galvan, and Laura Sanders with Moderator Adriana Lopez

Session 4 – (7:00 PM to 10:00 PM)

Rackham Auditorium

Labor and Economics Panel featuring Arturo Rodriguez, Dean Baker, and Yousef Rabhi with Moderator Rebekah Warren

Movement Panel: What is ‘IT’? featuring Bill Ayers, Rick Feldman, Laura Russello, Ron Scott, and Bob Zellner with Moderator Alan Haber

SATURDAY, MARCH 13, 2010

Session 5 – (9:00 AM – 10:30 AM)

Rackham Amphitheater

Environmental Panel featuring Parker Pennington IV and Bunyan Bryant

Session 6 – (9:00 AM – 11:00 AM)

Rackham Assembly Hall

Transgender, Bisexual, Lesbian, and Gay (TBLG) Panel featuring Caitlin Ehlers, Katie Strode, and Donna Wasserman with Moderators Jim Toy and Laura Wernick

Session 7 – (10:45 AM – 12:30 PM)

Rackham Amphitheater

Independent Media from the Underground Press to Today Panel featuring Mike Dover, Roshaun Harris, Ken Wachsberger, Harvey Wasserman, and John Woodford with Moderator Mary Morgan

Session 8 – (1:00 PM to 3:00 PM)

Rackham Auditorium

Feminist Panel featuring Jan BenDor, Kathy Fojtik Stroud, and Catherine McClary

Session 9- (3:15 PM to 5:00 PM)

Rackham Auditorium

Peace Panel in honor of Professor J. David Singer featuring Alan Haber, Odile Hugonot Haber, Judith Kullberg, Andy Lichterman, Richard Stahler-Sholk. and Paul Williamson

Session 10 – (5:00 PM to 6:00 PM)

Rackham Auditorium

Free Speech Session with Jonathan Rose

Session 11 – (6:00 PM to 7:30 PM)

Rackham Auditorium

Activist Panel featuring Chuck Ream, Nancy Romer, and Rosemary Sarri

Session 12 – (7:30 PM to 11:00 PM)

Young activists with Yusef Shakur, Invincible, Drag King Rebellion, and Riot Youth’s Gayrilla Theater

SUNDAY, MARCH 14, 2010

Session 11 – (12:00 PM)

Take It Forward Session featuring an open dialogue on the future.

 * * *

Community Sponsors: The Ann Arbor District Library, Gray Panthers of Washtenaw, Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice (ICPJ), National Writers Union-Southeast Michigan Chapter (NWU-SEM), Social Welfare Action Alliance (SWAA), Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)

University of Michigan Sponsors:, Anthropology Department, Center for AfroAmerican and African Studies, College of Architecture and Urban Planning, College of Literature Science and the Arts, Community Action and Social Change Undergraduate Minor (CASC), Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, Ginsberg Center,  History Department, Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies, Institute for Research on Women and Gender, Office of the Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, Program in American Culture, School of Social Work, Law School, and the TBLG Matters Initiative.

Progressive Activists to Celebrate, Educate in Ann Arbor

I hope to see friends and fellow activists at the upcoming activists’ conference March 12-14 at University of Michigan. The conference, called “Bring It Back, Take It Forward: A Celebration of 50 Years of Activism,” will bring together activists from the Vietnam era and today. It will be a time to look back to what we did then; and then look to the present and future to discuss how we can move forward together.

I’ll be speaking Saturday morning on a panel called “Independent Media from the Underground Press to Today.” I’ll be joined by John Woodford and Harvey Wasserman, two major figures from underground press history. John was a former editor of Muhammad Speaks, the newspaper of the Black Muslims; Harvey was an original member of Liberation News Service, the AP-UPI of the underground press. John and Harvey are both contributors to my upcoming Voices from the Underground: Insider Histories of the Vietnam Era Underground Press. Joining us will be Michael Dover, another veteran of the Vietnam era, and Roshaun Harris, a young media activist from the Detroit area.

 Admission is free.

Following is the official press release.

 * * *

Ann Arbor, MI – February 27, 2010 – Progressive activists including United Farmworkers’ President Arturo Rodriguez, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, Dean Baker and famed radical activist Bill Ayers will convene in Ann Arbor March 12-14 as part of a conference focused on  celebrating accomplishments and working on next steps in the struggle for social justice. The conference, entitled “Bring It Back, Take It Forward, A Celebration of 50 Years of Activism,” will be held in the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor’s Rackham Building on Friday and Saturday March 12 and 13 and at the School of Social Work Building on Sunday March 14.

Several panel presentations are scheduled, focusing on topics including the environment, health care, feminism, immigrant rights, the independent media from the underground press to today, Transgender, Bisexual, Lesbian and Gay (TBLG) issues as well as the progressive movement itself. Friday night March 12 highlights include a labor and economics panel featuring Rodriguez, Baker, and current University of Michigan student activist Yousef Rabhi and moderated by State Representative Rebekah Warren. “People interested in what is happening in the progressive movement now and also in learning the lessons of the past should definitely attend this conference,” says organizer Tim Colenback.

Additionally on Friday evening a panel will be held on the progressive movement, which includes veteran activists Ayers, Rick Feldman, Ron Scott. and Bob Zellner, along with Laura Russello, a current member of the Michigan Peaceworks board.  The original President of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), Alan Haber, will moderate. Longtime-activist Haber commented that “the ‘Bring It Back, Take It Forward’ conference is the first event in a new season of activism. Everyone interested in progressive change should attend.”

Saturday afternoon March 13 features two panels, one focused on feminist activism and the other on peace activism.  The feminist panel includes Jan BenDor, who was inducted into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame and was a Co-Founder of the Women’s Crisis Center; Kathleen Fojtik Stroud, the founder of SAFE House, the first publicly funded domestic violence shelter in the United States; and Catherine McClary, the current Washtenaw County Treasurer.

The peace panel will be dedicated to the late University of Michigan Political Science Professor J. David Singer.  The peace panel will include Alan Haber, Odile Hugonot Haber, Andy Lichterman. and Paul Williamson.  Additionally, Eastern Michigan University political science professors Judith Kullberg and Richard Stahler-Sholk will present as members of the peace panel.

Saturday night has a decidedly more “Take It Forward” flavor with presentations by young Detroit activist Yusef Shakur, Ann Arbor-based performance artists Riot Youth’s Gayrilla Theater, and Drag King Rebellion and spoken word artist Invincible. The Saturday night schedule also includes presentations from former Human Rights Party activist Nancy Romer, longtime advocate for criminal justice system reform Rosemary Sarri, and drug-law-reform advocate Chuck Ream.

Other panel and discussion topics at the conference include health care, immigrant rights, and environmental justice.

At noon on Sunday March 14 participants will meet at the University of Michigan School of Social Work to discuss what was learned and focus on what the future should entail. More information on the all-day event and the complete schedule are available at www.BringItBackTakeItForward.org.  Information is available by calling 734/717-5634 or by e-mailing CelebratingActivism@umich.edu.

This can’t-miss, once-in-a-lifetime event is co-sponsored by the Ann Arbor District Library, Gray Panthers of Washtenaw, Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice (ICPJ), National Writers Union-Southeast Michigan Chapter (NWU-SEM), Social Welfare Action Alliance (SWAA), Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), and several University of Michigan schools, colleges, programs, and departments. Please check the conference website for additional sponsors.