not working

Good morning, friends,

When I was preparing for comprehensive exams, I read the book The Legacy of Christopher Columbus in the Americas by Elise Bartosik-Vélez. She asks how the name of a European conquerer came to symbolize independence and liberty across the Americas.

Just casually thinking about that book today because Columbia grad student workers are entering their second week on strike. So we’re dedicating this week’s issue to liberty and independence… I mean fair pay, ethical labor practices, and a safe and equitable work environment for all.

We also want to take this space to acknowledge the pain many of us are feeling over the murders in Atlanta and Boulder, over the gun violence which is the norm in this country, and the white supremacy, misogyny, and racism that feeds it. Sending love to everyone who is grieving and solidarity to everyone who is angry.

May this be a bad week for capitalism. And a good week for justice.

—Hannah for the VFC

This week in feelings

Take this week's feelings survey

There’s a glimmer of good feelings this week and we are here for that, friends.

I am feeling hopeful. But yes, tired.

I feel some renewed hope that I can do [the] work despite everything.

Even when you’re still so very, very tired.

'wind out of sails'

I just don't know how to get it all done right now

Special shoutout to everyone setting boundaries this week:

I am refusing to look at my email on weekends now.

and look at that rise in determination:

columbia grad students are on strike

The union is demanding:

  • Full recognition of the NLRB-certified bargaining unit

  • Real recourse for cases of harassment and discrimination

  • Healthcare improvements that create a sustainable work environment for all

  • Childcare to ensure our university is accessible to all

  • Compensation improvements that create a sustainable work environment for all

Want to support them? Give some money to their hardship fund.

Learn more:

I am planning to participate in this strike because, as a scientist, I am bound to draw my conclusions from what I observe. The administration has demonstrated time and again that it is agnostic about its legal mandate to engage in good faith bargaining. - Noah Rauschkolb for the Columbia Spectator

we can’t look the other way

There is zero excuse, at institutions where people are so well educated about the labor movement and the importance of social progress, for such disgusting and despicable labor practices to be allowed to fester. I receive correspondence from my college all the time referencing inclusion and social justice. Explain to me how crapping on your workforce is just? How is that inclusive? It’s exploitative and corporatist, and as students, we can’t look the other way. —Josh Carmony for Contingent Mag

New from the VFC

View the deck

Making Freelance Academic Work a Fairly Paid Venture

Emphasizing the immaterial benefits of freelance academic work, as tenured faculty and other more secure scholars frequently do, can implicitly (or explicitly) presume that graduate students and other early-career scholars aim to pursue the same professional path as the hirer -- that is, that of the tenured faculty member. Increased transparency and structure around freelance academic work can help render it not only a meaningful professional development opportunity but also a fairly paid venture. —Brian DeGrazia for Inside Higher Ed