Contingent Magazine: History Is For Everyone

by Marc Reyes  on November 16th,2021
As an editor for Contingent Magazine, I love receiving a great pitch and thinking, “I want this.” Or when the editorial team—Erin Bartram, Bill Black, and myself—greenlights a batch of pitches, and we get to tell folks they will be writing for us. Maybe most of all, I love paying our writers for their labor. Knowing the hard work it takes to produce one essay has reinforced that writing is a job and the effort must be compensated. It is especially important to pay our writers because they are all outside the tenure-track professoriate. They work as adjunct instructors, independent scholars, archivists, and museum and national park staff, often without funds for their research and writing. For those unfamiliar Contingent Magazine, it debuted in January 2019. It is a non-profit history magazine geared to everyone interested in history. Whether your work involves interpreting the past or you enjoy history, Contingent is for you. The magazine operates on three principles: (1) history is for everyone; (2) every way of doing history is worthwhile; (3) historians should be paid for their work. We don’t “pay” our writers in exposure; we pay them in money. Landlords and banks typically don’t care if your piece went viral or has been cited by other scholars. We believe that history publications should and must move to a payment model and compensate writers for their work. Lady Science, Hazine, and Insurrect! all pay their contributors. Even the American Historical Association announced that its print magazine, Perspectives on History, would start paying writers in fall 2021. The more publications that pay, the better for all historians, especially scholars in contingent positions. If you are a LAWCHA member and already read us, thank you for your support. If you haven’t checked out Contingent yet, we have articles of interest to historians of labor and the working class. In March 2021, we published Josh Carmony’s “Ground Operations,” which tells the story of a student coming to understand the precarious employment of his favorite professor. The student realizes that one under-enrolled course could mean the difference between his professor having income or not. The experience hits home for Carmony, a ground operations worker for a major airline who has seen low-paid airline contract workers with few or no benefits, or any opportunity to turn part-time work into more reliable, full-time work. Rebecca Brenner Graham’s feature, “No Refuge,” discusses how Frances Perkins pushed the U.S. Labor Department to craft a welcoming refugee policy in the 1930s. And in “An Interrupted Journey,” Ruth Almy examines South Asian migrants, particularly Punjabi Sikhs, who settled in Canada’s western coasts and became pivotal to the area’s sawmill industry. In addition to pieces like these, Contingent publishes research regarding unionization in the academy. Alex Parry’s “Organize or Perish” illuminates the graduate student union drive at Johns Hopkins University and its effort to secure financial resources and safer conditions in the COVID-19 pandemic. We look forward to publishing more articles by LAWCHA members who are not on the tenure track. Contingent also publishes book reviews, and we strive to publish reviews written by contingent scholars, who are reviewing works by contingent scholars. Scholars who don’t have the university resources of tenured faculty or the option to take book leave continue to produce incredible historical scholarship. They write manuscripts while juggling heavy teaching loads and student advising, along with their daily lives and households. If you have a pitch about labor or working-class history, please send it our way ([email protected]). As someone who checks the Contingent inbox every day, rest assured that we will give it serious consideration. Erin, Bill, and I are proud of Contingent and what it means to our readers and supporters. We believe in the possibilities for this publishing model—one that centers payment to writers for their work. After two and a half years, we have only scratched the surface. There is more we want to do, such as experimenting with forms of historical storytelling. Everything we have been able to do, and will continue to do, is because of our readers and donors. I encourage LAWCHA members to read Contingent and please become a donor. A recurring donation as little as $3/month unlocks all the bonus content we produce, but more importantly, keeps Contingent running and doing something we love: paying historians for their labor.


Marc Reyes is an editor for Contingent and the organization’s treasurer. He is also a History Ph.D. candidate at the University of Connecticut, where he studies 20th-century foreign relations, with a focus on the United States and India, development, and technology. A Fulbright-Nehru alum, Marc is finishing his dissertation, a political and cultural study of India’s atomic energy and nuclear weapons programs. Read more →

Learn more about the effect of the pandemic on contingent faculty

by Claire Goldstene  on March 3rd,2021
The LAWCHA Contingent Faculty Committee recommends these resources to learn more about the effect of the pandemic on contingent faculty: Read more →

Budget Activism: A Strategy To Address Contingency—and Tenure

by Aimee Loiselle  on February 8th,2021
For decades, austerity and financialization have impacted labor on public and private campuses.  When administrators and boards structure budgets to enforce top-down fiscal “discipline,” support the highest return on investment, and cultivate endowments, they push cuts into most academic departments and programs. Read more →

A New Deal For Higher Education–Campaign Kickoff February 10

by Aimee Loiselle  on February 1st,2021
The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the long-standing crisis in higher education. Declining state support, the increased use of contingent appointments, the loss of faculty voices on campus, and the erosion of tenure and shared governance are threatening the core mission of higher education in our society. Now is the time to stand up for a just, inclusive system of higher ed—one that can help transform our society.

OAH 2020 – Contingent Faculty Workshop, Reduced Registration Fee, and Travel Grants

by Eric Fure-Slocum  on November 6th,2019
Contingent faculty are encouraged to attend a workshop – “Non-Tenure Track Faculty on Teaching” – on April 2, 2020, 6-9pm, at the Organization of American Historians (OAH) conference in Washington, D.C. This workshop, sponsored by the OAH’s Committee on Part-Time, Adjunct and Contingent Faculty employment (CPACE), includes a keynote address by Herb Childress, author of The Adjunct Underclass (2019). Contingent faculty are eligible to apply for travel grants of $500 to attend the OAH conference (April 2-5, 2020). Travel grant applications are due December 2, 2019. A limited number of registration discounts ($10) also are available for the conference. Graduate students are eligible as well for travel grants. Registration for the OAH opens November 4, 2019.   Read more →

A Dirty Deal: Social Dirt and the Adjunct Predicament

by Claire Raymond  on June 11th,2018
Although I’ve taught at the same university continuously since 2007, I’m still considered “temporary” faculty: a kind of intellectual migrant, shifting every year to a different office left open by whichever tenure-track faculty member is on leave that year. Read more →

Supporting UK University Lecturers on Strike

by Eric Fure-Slocum  on March 12th,2018
Steven Parfitt, who spoke at LAWCHA’s Seattle conference, asks LAWCHA members to support the ongoing lecturers’ strike in the UK by contributing to the University and College Union’s “fighting fund.” As Steven notes, “I know that at my branch, and many other branches, this fund is being used particularly to help contingent faculty who want to strike but can’t afford to do so otherwise.” Read more →

Lecturers on Strike

by Eric Fure-Slocum  on February 26th,2018
University lecturers in the UK will walk off tomorrow in the largest-ever strike called in British higher education. Read more →

Building Job Security into Community College Faculty Work:  Experiences in British Columbia

by Frank Cosco  on November 6th,2017
In the Canadian province of British Columbia, aspects of how unionized faculty in community colleges have attempted to deal with faculty contingency since the late 1980s may provide lines of sight and discussion that are not yet part of the American experience. Read more →

Dave Jamieson, “The Ivy League Has An Unexpected Friend In Donald Trump”

by Ryan Poe  on October 31st,2017
Their graduate students are trying to unionize. The president may have already stopped them. Read more →

Contingency and The Runaway Academic Apprentice: How Craft Union History Can Inform Attempts to Reverse the Decline of Faculty Tenure

by Dan Jacoby  on October 30th,2017
The rise of contingent or precarious contracts within academic markets is the latest manifestation of the regulatory failures that bedevil delicately balanced apprenticeship institutions. Read more →

One Big Orange Union: Faculty-Staff Organizing in a Right to Work State

by Bob Hutton  on October 19th,2017
Unions exist in Tennessee, but they are hindered by the hostility of not just management but also by state government. Read more →

The Politics of Teaching

by Claire Goldstene  on October 10th,2017
Always, on the first day of class when I taught the introductory United States history survey, whether as a graduate student or later as visiting faculty at different universities, I asked the students why they thought they were required to take the course. Was this just the capricious whim of some remote dean determined to complicate their lives? Or was there, perhaps, a defensible reason behind it? Read more →

The ‘Golden Age’ is Over: Time to Fight for the Future

by Joe Berry  on October 2nd,2017
I am very glad to have been asked to contribute to this blog. The world of contingency, especially in the history and labor studies disciplines, has been my own personal world since 1980, with a very few breaks. I have been privileged to participate, almost continuously, in the labor movement and the part of the faculty labor movement that represented contingent faculty for better, or worse in some cases. In spite of being a historian by training and interested in labor history and teacher union history, I never really put my position as a contingent faculty into the “historical river of labor history” until I was asked in 1999 by a much younger colleague to contribute a general history chapter to a proposed book on graduate student and contingent organizing. Read more →

Online Registration Open for Higher Education Labor-Management Conference

by Ryan Poe  on September 18th,2017
The National Center is pleased to announce that online registration has begun for a higher education labor-management conference on December 1-2, 2017 at California State University, Long Beach. The conference will include labor-management panels on timely subjects relating to universities, colleges, and community colleges. Read more →

Terminated contingent faculty member at Barnard: updates and call

by Eric Fure-Slocum  on July 29th,2017
Members of the contingent faculty committee wrote recently to the president of Barnard College, both applauding the successful contract with the newly organized UAW Local 2110 (representing contingent faculty) and calling for the rehiring of contingent faculty activist Georgette Fleischer. Read more →

Organizing the Academy: Strategies and Structures

by William Herbert  on July 20th,2017
Legal history and labor law concepts are essential tools for analyzing structures of unionization and collective bargaining, and in developing effective strategies. Reductionism concerning labor law can lead to flawed analysis. This powerpoint presentation briefly reviews the history and concepts, and provides fresh data regarding new faculty and student employee unionization, and strikes (Powerpoint, 17-28). Read more →

Podcast with Jen Klein: Fighting for graduate student unions at Yale

by Jennifer Klein  on May 29th,2017
A group of Yale graduate students are protesting their labor conditions as teachers. They are demanding the administration recognize them as a union and negotiate their contract as full employees of the university. After all, graduate students teach many undergraduate classes. But the administration is stalling, waiting for Donald Trump to appoint an anti-union National Labor Relations Board that, they hope, will throw out the union’s right to exist. Read more →

Call for Proposals: 45th Annual Conference for the National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in Higher Education and the Professions

by Ryan Poe  on May 29th,2017
The National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in Higher Education and the Professions, Hunter College, City University of New York, invites scholars and practitioners from multiple disciplines to submit abstracts of proposed papers, panels, and interactive workshops for our 45th annual conference. Read more →

Solidarity Statement for Yale Graduate Students

by Jennifer Klein  on May 16th,2017
Yale continues to evade its legal responsibility to bargain with the legally certified union representing graduate teachers at Yale. Since April 25, the fast by graduate teachers and their occupation at Beinecke Plaza has continued as well. Read more →

Why Yale Graduate Students Are on a Hunger Strike, by Jennifer Klein, New York Times (May 9, 2017)

by Jennifer Klein  on May 16th,2017
Two weeks ago, Yale graduate student teachers began a hunger strike to pressure the school to negotiate with their union. Eight committed to fasting, planning only to stop if a doctor says their health is at risk of permanent damage. If a student has to stop fasting, another union member takes his or her spot. Four of the students have had nothing but water for 14 days. Read more →

New Panel Added to March 26-28, 2017 Higher Education Conference: Adjunct Faculty Unemployment Benefits Eligibility

by Eric Fure-Slocum  on March 10th,2017
We are pleased to announce the addition of a new panel to examine the issue of unemployment eligibility for adjunct faculty and the significance of the new guidance issued by the United States Department of Labor. The panel will include speakers Jason Myers, Chief Administrative Law Judge, New York State Unemployment Appeals Board, Nancy Cross, SEIU Local 1 Vice President, Louis P. DiLorenzo, Bond, Schoeneck & King, PLLC, and Maria Maisto, New Faculty Majority, Moderator. Read more →

The Winds of Changes Shift

by Eric Fure-Slocum  on February 18th,2017
LAWCHA member William Herbert, the Executive Director of the National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in Higher Education and the Professions at Hunter College, has just published an important article on collective bargaining in higher education. See “The Winds of Changes Shift: An Analysis of recent Growth in Bargaining Units and Representation Efforts in Higher Education,” which appears in the recent issue of the Journal of Collective Bargaining in the Academy. Read more →

Convert Lines or Convert People?: The Polarizing Debate Over How to Restore Faculty Tenure

by Trevor Griffey  on February 6th,2017
On January 12, 2017, faculty unions representing community and technical college faculty across Washington state got their allies in the Washington state legislature to introduce HB 1168, a law that would compel the state’s community and technical colleges to ensure that seventy percent of their faculty will be on the tenure track by 2023. Read more →

National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in Higher Education and the Professions: January, 2017

by Eric Fure-Slocum  on January 20th,2017
In this issue: Dr. Martin Luther King on the Purpose of Education, National Center’s 2017 Annual Conference registration, Interactive Training Workshops, Collective Bargaining and Unionization at Private Sector Institutions, and more! Read more →