PhD Graduate Louise Birdsell Bauer on Graduate Students and Precarious Work

January 23, 2019 by Kathy Tang

PhD Graduate Louise Birdsell Bauer published an article in the Labour Studies Journal. The article shows how political identities adopted by U of T graduate students engaging in precarious work allowed them to form a "coalition of support" via the media, faculty, and undergraduate students. It demonstrates how political identities rooted within real economic conditions affect mobilization.

Louise Birdsell Bauer obtained her PhD in Sociology from the University of Toronto in 2018 and her research interests include contract academic work in universities, employment relations, and trends in unions and strikes in Canada and the US.

We have posted the citation and abstract of her article below. The full text is available online here.

Birdsell Bauer, Louise. 2017. "Professors-in-Training or Precarious Workers? Identity, Coalition Building, and Social Movement Unionism in the 2015 University of Toronto Graduate Employee Strike." Labor Studies Journal, 42(4):273-294.

In this article, I argue that graduate employees took on the political identity of precarious workers who face job insecurity and income insecurity, drawing attention to the casualization of work in the academic labor market in Canada, and the cost of undertaking graduate studies in Canadian universities. Their argument appealed to media, faculty, undergraduate students, and supportive media, which was key to building solidarity and public support for graduate employees’ struggle. Building on social movement unionism literature, I show how this identity moved the debate away from the bargaining table and into broader coalition building, suggesting a broader social movement unionism among academic workers.

Read the full article here.