The Montreal Declaration

In North America, a significant proportion of work in higher education is performed by contingent faculty. This is the same phenomenon affecting employment in other sectors in health care, in communications, in business.


In the name of increased corporatization, scarce resources, competition between institutions and a flexible labor market, our working conditions have degenerated.


This is why, across North America, we have chose union and collective action. What was true for workers in the 19th century is true for contract faculty in the 21st century: we are stronger together!


We, contingent faculty from across North America meeting in Montreal this October 5, 2002, are committed to our movement's common struggle to end the exploitation generated by contingency.


We seek the recognition of our contribution to quality education and to improve our working conditions.


We pledge to continue the struggle, to help one another and to provide support and solidarity from Mexico to Rimouski, from Vancouver to Boston.


Issued at the COCAL V Conference in Montreal.

Histoire de COCAL

In December 1996, the first National Congress of Adjunct, Part-time, GTA, and Non-Tenure Track Faculty Conference was held in D.C. This conference ran concurrent with the Modern Language Association (MLA) conference in D.C. that year, at which the Graduate Student Caucus held a panel (moderated by Eric Marshall) on "Making the MLA More Proactive" in part-time faculty issues. Both the MLA panel and the National Congress conference were well-attended and very successful (attracting people from all over the country).

Vinny Tirelli revived his ADJ-L listserve which continued the discussions that developed during the Washington conference. In April 1998, Vinny Tirelli, Eric Marshall, and others organized the 2nd Annual National Congress conference at the CUNY Grad Center in NYC. The e-journal, Workplace was officially launched at the opening session. Cary Nelson & Stanley Aronowitz were keynote speakers.

The group renamed itself "The Coalition of Contingent Academic Labor (COCAL)," and a steering committee was formed. It was decided that the 3rd Annual conference would be held the following year in Boston in April 1999. This conference was hosted by activists from the University of Massachusetts, Boston (UMB) Part-time Faculty Committee of the Faculty-Staff Union (FSU), an affiliate of the National Education Association.

Building on earlier success from 1986, and with state budget surpluses emerging out of the recession of the early seventies, the Part-time Faculty Committee spurred FSU to vigorous support of part-time faculty issues. They achieved major gains in June 1998, including the reclassification of PT faculty teach two sections as salaried half-time employees with full medical, dental, and retirement benefits, and a floor of $4000.00/course. These successes inspired other faculty in the Boston area where there are 58 separate institutions of higher education. However, since most of these colleges had no union, part-time faculty from other colleges began to join with those at UMB, making the April 1999 conference a base for the Boston Project, now in its second year of demonstrating the success of regional coalition. Led by Gary Zabel and other part-time faculty activists, the Boston Project has worked closely with established organizations such as the American Association of University Professors, local affiliates of the National Education Association, the United Auto Workers Union, etc., and a variety of contingent labor support groups.

Faculty leaders of the California Part-time Faculty Association (CPFA), linking with their East coast colleagues through internet listservs and email, met for their Annual Plenary in June 2000 and decided that CPFA successes from building a statewide coalition would be furthered by expanded outreach. The meeting resolved to join the North American Alliance for Fair Employment (NAAFFE), and to host COCAL IV, the first West Coast National Conference on Contingent Academic Labor, in January 2001.