A Warm Welcome to New Organizers

By Edward J. Graham

The AAUP is pleased to welcome new staff members Jamie Owen Daniel, Dawn Tefft, and Emily McCann to its Department of Organizing.

Jamie Owen Daniel, the new director of organizing, has worked in higher education and in labor and community organizing since 1982. She completed a doctorate in English at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee in 1995 and taught at the University of Illinois at Chicago until 2004. Her scholarship focused on twentieth-century British and European writing 
and cultural theory, as well as on writing by traditionally minority constituencies and questions relating to the public sphere. She worked as an organizer and contract negotiator for a local union representing seven public university campuses in Illinois for a decade before coming to the AAUP in June.

Daniel realizes that we are facing great and unprecedented challenges in the higher education workplace, but she also strongly believes that these challenges present great opportunities.

“Rampant and often irrational restructuring; the bloat in administrative positions and funding at the expense of faculty and students; the increased precarization of our working conditions—all of these indicate that the time is now for concerted activity and push-back by all those doing the work of teaching and scholarship,” Daniel said. “And this kind of self-organization is possible whether or not members have the option of winning a collective bargaining agreement.”

Dawn Tefft will join Kira Schuman as a lead organizer in the Midwest. Before joining the AAUP staff in June, Tefft worked for the American Federation of Teachers, most recently as lead organizer on UIC United Faculty’s first contract campaign at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She first began organizing as an activist in a graduate assistants union at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. Since earning her PhD in English, she has helped faculty, academic staff, and graduate assistants at many campuses. Her experience includes building membership, planning actions, and instituting informal bargaining methods after the introduction of legislation limiting union rights in Wisconsin.

Emily McCann will be based in DC. Originally from northern Alabama, she received her BA in English from Auburn University and recently defended her dissertation at the University of Florida. While at UF, she taught freshman composition, technical writing, and lower- and upper-division British literature courses. She began organizing with her local, University of Florida Graduate Assistants United, in 2011 during Florida governor Rick Scott’s attempt to decertify public employee unions.

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