During my first semester of doctoral study, our faculty union went on strike. The administration successfully negotiated with the other unions (service employees, non-tenure-track faculty, and graduate assistants) at the last minute (3 a.m. on the day that strikes were slated to begin). As a result, I not only taught my classes and completed my assignments, but also stood and sat and paced in solidarity with my striking faculty. This poetic autoethnography seeks to account for a variety of labor-based, union moments in my own life and how they informed—even if for a split, ephemeral moment—my processing of fellow union members/colleagues defiling and attacking “scabs,” presumably without question or reflexivity. My intent is to trouble assumptions about the “good” of labor by pointing to ways in which we, laboring bodies, are capable of reifying—even if unknowingly—the systems of oppression we seek to challenge.
On Strike! A Poetic Autoethnography of Labor
Benny LeMaster is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Communication Studies at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. The author would like to thank Meggie Mapes, Lindsay Greer, Chris Collins, Mercilee Jenkins, Nora Klein, and Lisa LeMaster for their feedback and support throughout the writing process. Parts of this poetic autoethnography were presented at the 6th International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry. A later iteration of the piece was presented at the 2013 Western States Communication Association Annual Convention. Special thanks to Stacy Holman Jones for her critical feedback, to the anonymous reviewers, whose words helped bring this poem to life, and to Sohinee Roy for her continued guidance. Correspondence to: Benny LeMaster, Department of Communication Studies, Communications Building 2002, Mailcode 6605, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL 62901, USA. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Benny LeMaster; On Strike! A Poetic Autoethnography of Labor. Departures in Critical Qualitative Research 1 June 2015; 4 (2): 83–95. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/dcqr.2015.4.2.83
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