COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on the world of higher education: forced campus re-openings have pushed many directly into harm’s way; colleges and universities have suffered massive budget shortfalls; some institutions have closed permanently; the academic job market has been blown up; etc. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, “the U.S. Labor Department has estimated that American academic institutions have shed a net total of at least 650,000 workers.”
This week, we talk to Aaron Major, Associate Professor of Sociology at the State University of New York (SUNY), Albany, and president of the Albany chapter of United University Professions, the nation’s largest higher education union. We discuss Aaron’s path to higher ed and the academic labor movement, how COVID-19 has revealed the ways in which our higher education system is broken, and why we must reinvest higher education as a public good and raise the floor for all campus workers.
Maximillian Alvarez is a writer and editor based in Baltimore and the host of Working People, “a podcast by, for, and about the working class today.” His work has been featured in venues like In These Times, The Nation, The Baffler, Current Affairs, and The New Republic.