The 2007 AFSCME strike at the University of Minnesota revealed the extent to which this university has been transformed from a land grant university into a for-profit corporation. While state employees received an across-the-board 3.5% pay increase, and the state legislature allocated a 3.25-3.5% increase for UofM workers, the Bruininks/Sullivan administration extended only a 2.25-2.5% pay increase to its AFSCME workers arguing that this was all the market could bear. The message was clear: The University of Minnesota is a public institution in name only. By every other standard this university operates as a private institution: doing research for private companies, attracting only students wealthy enough to pay for its services; it is run like a business and reduces its mission to the values of efficiency and profitability. In addition to calling attention to the present crisis of the University of Minnesota, the AFSCME strike also successfully exposed the degree to which an increasingly roguish Bruininks/Sullivan administration has become unaccountable to the demands and desires of the workers, students, faculty, legislature, and Minnesota community. Thereby, the strike has created a political opportunity for us to take back this university.
Building off the People’s Conference held during the first week of the strike, this conference presents a forum for examining the political possibilities made available through the strike. While a broad consensus exists that the university is rapidly become an anti-student, anti-worker, anti-intellectual, and anti-democratic institution, there is little discussion, much less programmatic consensus, concerning institutional alternatives and the steps necessary to achieve them. For all those who are currently “driven to retaliate,” this conference serves as a well needed chance to analyze, discuss and strategize ways to remake the University of Minnesota into an institution which is held in common by all people.
The conference will consist of two roundtable discussions introduced by several speakers with prepared remarks. After the presentations in each roundtable, the floor will be opened for discussion amongst all in attendance. In the first roundtable, presenters will reflect critically on the university’s recent trajectory and lay out their visions of an alternative future. The second roundtable will be focused on projects to realize these alternatives by building a university-wide campaign: speakers from the student, staff, and faculty collectives will present their recent and planned resistance work, followed by discussion about how to coordinate and expand these projects.
If you would like more info on the conference, please contact Eli Meyerhoff (email@example.com).
For info on the many projects to reassert the UofM's public mission, see: http://keepumnpublic.blogspot.com
Check out The Living Wage Avengers - UMN clerical, technical, and health care union activists!