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Archiving the CUNY struggle

Friends, I am very excited to share with you all a compilation of Left Voice articles from the past seven years put together by one of our dear comrades at the GC, Olivia Wood. The articles below cover CUNY struggles over pay and working conditions, pandemic issues, abortion rights, and so much more. The collection also includes coverage of recent strikes at the New School, the University of California, and Temple University, as well as articles related to a broad range of labor and academic issues.

Preserving the memory of working-class struggle matters. Not to be that guy who always randomly brings up Walter Benjamin, but I cannot think of a better time “to seize hold of a memory as it flashes up at a moment of danger” than the present. We face a neoliberal austerity regime willing to starve its workers and students, CUNY undergrads at KCC are brutalized and threatened by campus cops, and decisions affecting all of our lives continue to be made behind closed doors in unjust and undemocratic ways, to name just a few of the dangers we face.

Below, you will find Olivia’s short introduction to the collection, a link to a google doc. containing the articles, and finally a submission form where everyone is invited to submit any documents you feel should be included in a people’s archive of the CUNY struggle.

Introduction (by Olivia Wood)

I came to CUNY in fall 2018, and wasn’t really involved in organizing until 2019. At this point, contract negotiations and the $7k or Strike movement were already both in full swing. My very first solo article for Left Voice, when I was just a guest author for the publication and not yet a member of the group, was about the John Jay PSC chapter passing its own $7k or Strike resolution.

As PSC-CUNY begins a new round of contract negotiations, I’ve been thinking a lot about this past struggle, and wondering how things are similar to and different from this same period (right before contract expiration) during that contract cycle. I began compiling this document primarily as a personal resource, to help me take a long-view of the past 5+ years of organizing and take stock of our current position. I also thought other Left Voice members might find it interesting or useful as a record of both our work in this area and our growth as a publication and organization. But then I realized that other folks at CUNY might also want a look-back at (recent) rank and file organizing as we prepare for this new round of struggle, especially folks who are newer or who weren’t very involved last time but would like to be more active in the union. In making this document, I realized there even were things that I was here for that I had totally forgotten about! Like CUNY’s plan to postpone our 2020 raises. So I also hope this will be helpful for anyone/everyone for whom pandemic-brain has clouded some of our memories (so, all of us, probably).
While I do hope this will be valuable in an institutional memory sort of way, I also hope it will be useful to members of the CUNY community in a super practical way, as we try to rebuild our organizing power after three years of chaos and varying levels of isolation. The higher education labor movement is also exploding more generally (about 15% of all new union jobs in 2022 were graduate workers, for instance — a ridiculous number), so I hope people will also find this helpful in learning about and learning from the struggles of our colleagues and comrades at other schools. I also hope that as more people get more involved in organizing, that some of those people will want to be guest contributors! James, Jason, and I (the three author names you’ll see most often in the document) simply can’t cover everything on our own, as Left Voice is all-volunteer and we all have jobs.
So, to my comrades here at the Graduate Center and at CUNY more broadly: please get in touch if you’d like to write about some aspect of our struggle at CUNY! We also do re-posts (with permission of author and original publication), if you have something published elsewhere that you’d like us to mirror. Me: jalawood@gmail.com, @bi_rhetorics on Twitter. Left Voice: contact@leftvoice.org, @left_voice on Twitter.
Left Voice Collection

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1WrDrs_hgtqUFRL37XpoGzUhY_7Jzwfg2aZ_vqFPKQzs/edit

Document Submission

If you have articles, video clips, photos, or any other materials you would like to share about the history of CUNY’s struggle, we invite you to submit them using the form below. Submissions will link to a public view-only google sheet where the data will be collected and shared. We also encourage you to share any relevant materials with the CUNY Digital History Archive .

Submit materials you wish to be included in our collection here:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSddJbdL377CRTyK4ZYC1cxz-FkfzXK-kgcMim2hXheApw7oPA/viewform?usp=sf_link

View submitted materials here:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1nEusGZrNHfROz1ywE27C1SkUVG9lT0_WLXA0zI8sjf8/edit?usp=sharing

Solidarity forever, y’all

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