Sunday, September 30, 2007

Get candidates (even presidential ones) on record about FACE during primary season

Most of the time when you talk to politicians about correcting a basic injustice they will complain about how much money it costs, how the opposition party or other interests will resist it, or how it will never be signed by your governor.

There is one time when politicians, particularly Democrats, are EAGER, to promise action to educators: when they are running against an opponent in the primaries. They can't afford to have a key constituency like us apathetic and despondent on election day.

In California's last governor's race, I got the democratic candidates for governor on the record supporting equal pay and ending discrimination against part time faculty

(unfortunately, the winner was running against Arnold Schwarzenegger, and unlike Arnold, he hadn't made dozens of action movies that could be played on continuous loop on cable before the election).

All it took to get that promise was showing up at a candidates forum on a Saturday afternoon, and writing a question on a little card. I wrote a follow up letter to the winner to get him to confirm his promise in writing, which he did.

If your state has a governor's race or a contested primary for your state legislator, go ask them. If the seat isn't contested or the likely winner isn't likely to support equal rights for part time faculty, ask them anyway. You can use it to remind other faculty members why they SHOULDN'T vote for that person.

Since this is a presidential election year, you have an opportunity to take this a level higher.

When you find out a presidential primary candidate will be in your area glad-handing, show up and ask them if they would sign a bill ending discrimination in pay and benefits against part time and contingent faculty.

The Democratic candidates are desperate to get labor support and will be unlikely to say no. John Edwards in particular has made being labor-friendly a centerpiece of his campaign.

If you can get it on tape or video, even with your phone camera, so you can post it online, even better.

Does this mean the candidate will push legislation or even sign a bill if elected president?

Who knows.

But if you get them on the record saying they will, you can use that to draw attention to the abuse of adjunct faculty and to show state legislators that they are behind the curve and better act fast if they don't want to end up looking like the Orville Faubus of the 21st Century.

Cross-posted at FACE Talk

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