The United Campus Workers union has officially chartered a chapter on the campus at Ole Miss.
In a story reported by The Daily Mississippian and covered by Y’all Politics, this will be the local chapter of UCW. UCW is under the larger Communications Workers of American umbrella. UCW claims 1,800 members across 16 campuses in the state of Tennessee, where the union originated. It is also organized in Georgia, and this is its first entrance into Mississippi.
But this isn’t a traditional union in the sense that the union and management negotiate pay, benefits, hours, etc. There wasn’t a majority vote by a specified bargaining unit for this union to represent employees.
In addition to being a right-to-work state, public employees have no collective bargaining rights in the state of Mississippi. State employees are simply free to join voluntary unions and this is similar. UCW appears to be more of an association of like-minded faculty and staff.
In Tennessee, UCW’s work has largely been centered on social and economic justice issues, which includes lobbying the legislature for pay raises or expanded health insurance while fighting privatization of campus services and pension reform. Essentially, it is a left-of-center, grassroots organization.
Finding liberal professors at Ole Miss to join UCW shouldn’t be that difficult.
Two of the early proponents and members of the union are Jessica Wilkerson, assistant professor of Southern Studies and history, and James Thomas, assistant professor of sociology and anthropology.
Wilkerson was recently a guest speaker at a Students Against Social Injustice rally where protestors demanded the university remove the Confederate statue on campus and implement speech codes for students.
Thomas, as many will recall, recently received national attention when he tweeted that protestors should harass Republicans in public, including the time-worn traditions of sticking fingers in salads and redistributing appetizers.
UCW reports it has more than 50 members registered at Ole Miss.