Joe Berry currently teaches as a non-tenure track instructor at the University of Illinois in the Chicago Labor Education Program, teaching trade unionists.

He also teaches history part-time at Roosevelt University, and is on the Executive Committee of his union there, the Roosevelt Adjunct Faculty Association, (RAFO) IEA/NEA. Berry is the Chair of the Chicago Coalition of Contingent Academic Labor, a regional advocacy coalition. He is on the Coordinating Committee of the North American Alliance For Fair Employment, a group of organizations concerned with contingent and precarious employment. Berry lives in Chicago with his spouse, Helena Worthen, who is also his colleague in labor education and writing partner. They met at a union meeting in California when both were staffers and activists organizing community college part-time faculty in the 1980s.

Berry has worked as a contingent faculty person for over 20 years in CA, PA and IL. He also taught at the Labor Center of the University of Iowa. As a union staff organizer, Berry has worked in California for the California Federation of Teachers, AFT and in Illinois for the Illinois Education Association, NEA, both among contingent faculty. He has been active in organizing the last three North American Conferences on Contingent Academic Labor, and led the last one, COCAL VI, in Chicago in August, 2004. He has also served on the central Coordinating Committee for Campus Equity Week in 2001, 2003, and 2005.

The child of two teachers, Berry first learned organizing in the civil rights, student, and socialist movements of the 1960’s, and was a regional traveler (organizer) for Students for a Democratic Society in Iowa. After spending ten years teaching social studies, English and special education in the public schools in San Francisco, he taught history and labor studies in colleges in the San Francisco area, especially at the City College of San Francisco. His main academic work has been in labor history and labor studies, with an MA in history from San Francisco State University and a Ph.D. in labor studies from the Union Institute and University. This book is a revised version of his doctoral dissertation there.


  • Adjunct Labor Education Specialist and Program Developer: Chicago Labor Education Program, University of Illinois, 2005 to present.
    Teach Current Issues in Labor in National Labor College partnership program, and other labor education subjects. Develop new programs and coordinate outreach to labor movement.
  • Adjunct Faculty: Roosevelt University, 2000-present
    Courses: history of gender and labor, Civil War and Reconstruction, African-American history, and US history survey. Served as member of Academic Senate Committee on Faculty Issues.
  • Adjunct Instructor: Chicago Labor Education Program, University of Illinois, 2002-4
    Co-teach and help plan “Solidarity 101” series of programs for IBEW apprentices, including issues of diversity, labor history and organizing. Taught contract campaign research strategy to Teamsters local. Assisted in collective bargaining course. Taught communications in AFSCME summer institute.
  • Adjunct Instructor: Indiana University NW, Labor Studies, 2000-2004
    Course: labor history in Carpenters (UBCJA) and IBEW apprenticeship programs. Also mentored colleagues (co-taught) in teaching these classes.
  • Adjunct Faculty: DeVry University, 2003
    Course: general humanities/history course which focused upon twentieth century U.S.
  • Lecturer: Malcolm X College, Chicago City Colleges, 2000-2002
    Courses: early and recent US history surveys. Served as member of Chicago City Colleges Adjunct Faculty Professional Development Committee.
  • Lecturer: Harold Washington College, Chicago City Colleges, 2000
    Course: early US history survey.
  • Instructor: Community College of Philadelphia, 1999
    Courses: early and recent US history surveys.
  • Labor Educator: University of Iowa, Labor Center, 1994-1998
    Developed and presented full range of labor education topics, in non-credit, customized mode, to locals, local central bodies, State Federation, state councils and multi-state regions of unions. Subjects included steward education, collective bargaining, health and safety, organizing, strategic planning, internal organizing and member mobilization, effective committees, arbitration, labor history, nonstandard employment and contingent labor, labor law, economics, public sector issues (privatization, impasse, interest arbitration, program based budgeting, etc.), labor research techniques, labor communications, employer anti-union strategies, and others. Responded to research and consultation requests from unionists statewide, supervised grad assistants and support staff, and promoted program to union bodies throughout Iowa. Coordinated residential open entry education programs on organizing, community services, union women, privatization/outsourcing, collective bargaining, public sector issues, and health care and retiree issues, among others.
  • Lecturer: San Francisco State University, 1994
    Course: labor history, cross-listed as labor studies, history and economics. Member: California Faculty Association (SEIU Local 1983, AFL-CIO, CSEA, AAUP, CTA/NEA).
  • Instructor: City College of San Francisco, 1980 -1994
    Courses: introductory labor studies, steward training, leadership development, and history of the local labor movement. Spoke on labor topics at senior centers and schools. Did course development and outreach with local unions for customized training and recruitment. Previously taught all US history surveys and worked as teacher/researcher in Educational Opportunities Programs and Services (EOPS).
  • Instructor: George Meany Center for Labor Studies, (now National Labor College) Western Semester, 1992-3
    Course: Teaching techniques for labor education.
  • Instructor: Several San Francisco Bay Area Colleges, 1981-7
    Courses: labor studies, early and recent U.S. history, and African-American history. (New College of California, College of Alameda, Chabot College, Skyline College, Mission College)
  • Teacher: San Francisco Unified Schools, 1973 – 1980, Paraprofessional, 1970-73
    Courses: social studies, remedial reading and composition, English, and special education in various public junior and senior high schools. Included 4 years as part of a joint project sited at the University of California/San Francisco Medical Center, Adolescent Medicine Program.

Non-Teaching Work

  • Staff Organizer (short term), Illinois Education Association and Part-Time Faculty Association at Columbia College, IEA/NEA, 2000. Organized college part-time faculty, both in support of legislative proposals for bargaining rights and for unit expansion at Columbia College.
  • Researcher, Keystone Research Center, 1999-2000
    Co-developed report and presentation on use of contingent faculty in higher education in Pennsylvania and was co-researcher on study of Pennsylvania community colleges’ role in workforce development.
  • Staff Organizer, Health Professionals and Allied Employees/AFT, 1998-1999.
  • Internal organizer in newly certified unit of 300 nurses preparing for first contract negotiations. Duties included corporate research as well as direct member organizing.
  • Executive Secretary, San Mateo Community College Federation of Teachers, AFT Local 1493. 1988- 1994. Sole professional staff person for local union representing unit of 1100 full and part-time faculty in open shop. Delegate to San Mateo Central Labor Council.
  • Part-time Faculty Coordinator, Community College Council, California Federation of Teachers, AFT, 1990-1994. Built statewide committee representing 15,000 part- time faculty in 14 local units. Handled training, advocacy, government relations, communications, and bargaining and organizing advice and assistance to locals. Initiated, developed, and organized annual inter-organizational statewide part- time faculty conferences.
  • Task Force Delegate, AFT–California School Employees Association Paraprofessional Task Force, 1989-91. Represented CFT Community College Council and AFT.
  • Business Agent, SEIU Local 505, San Francisco, 1987
    Consulting (interim temporary) business agent for private sector dental industry unit with over twenty different contracts and employers spread over northern CA.
  • Industrial and service worker: Des Moines, Chicago, and San Francisco. 1960’s-1970’s. Production worker in printing and ice cream (IBT member) industries. Also worked in construction, recreation, clerical, postal, taxicab, food service, and health-care.


2005, Competitve Unionism in Workplace, a Journal for Academic Labor <>

Forthcoming, with Helena Worthen. “Our Working Conditions are our Students’ Learning Conditions”: Using CHAT to explain and interpret the threat of disciplinary action against a contingent instructor in an adult education program in Chicago, IL”. Forthcoming in Critical Perspectives on Activity: Explorations across Education, Work and Everyday Life. Edited by Newton Duarte, Mohamed ElHammoumi and Peter H. Sawchuck, Cambridge University Press.

2004, “University (Part-time) Faculty”, in Encyclopedia of the Midwest. Ohio State University, Institute for Collaborative Research and Public Humanities.

2004, A Labor-force Appropriate Strategy for Contingent Faculty, North American Alliance for Fair Employment

2004, Video review of Degrees of Shame: Part-time Faculty, Migrant Workers of the Information Age, and A Simple Matter of Justice: Contingent Faculty Organize, Barbara Wolf, producer, in Labor Studies Journal, Vol. 29, Number 2, Summer 2004.

2004, “Contingent Faculty In Chicago and Illinois” in Illinois Academe, Spring, 2004.

2003, with Helena Worthen. “A contract campaign and an electoral process: Designing educational support in the context of two interacting activity systems in a local labor union in Chicago”. Proceedings, Book II: Work and Lifelong Learning in Different Contexts. 3rd International Conference on Researching Work and Learning. July 25-27, 2003, Tampere, Finland. P. 264-273.

2003, “The New Majority Faculty: A Class Analysis for Organizing”, Works & Days 41/42, Spring/Fall 2003.

2003, “Campus Equity Week’s Offspring Takes a Few Steps: Contingent Faculty Organizing in Metro Chicago”, Working USA, Spring 2003.

2003, with Helena Worthen, combined review of Thinking Union: Activism and Education in Canada’s Labor Movement by D’Arcy Martin and Education for Changing Unions by Bev Burke, Jojo Geronimo, D’Arcy Martin, Barb Thomas, and Carol Wall, in Labor Studies Journal.

2003, In a Leftover Office in Chicago, chapter in Cogs in the Classroom Factory. Herman, Deborah and Schmid, Julie, eds. Praeger/Greenwood Publishing Group, Westport, CT.

2002, Combined review of The Knowledge Factory: Dismantling the Corporate University and Creating True Higher Learning by Stanley Aronowitz, and of The Politics of Faculty Unionism: The Experience of Three New England Universities by Gordon B. Arnold, in Labor Studies Journal.

2002, with Helena Worthen, “Bargaining for ‘quality’ in higher education: A case study from the City Colleges of Chicago”, Labor Studies Journal, Fall 2002.

2002, “Campus Equity Week: Contingent Faculty Make News” (expanded version), Workplace: A Journal of Academic Labor, 4.1.

2002, “Campus Equity Week: Contingent Higher Ed Faculty Make News”. In Sunrise: Journal of the Organizing Resource Group.

2001, “CEW and You: Why Tenure-Stream Faculty Should Support Campus Equity Week” in NEA Advocate

2001, “Organizing the New Majority Faculty: a report from the front”, conference session report in Perspectives on Work, Vol. 5, Number 1.

2000, “American Council on Education Annual Meeting, March 2000: Visiting the Royal Court of Higher Education or A Faculty Organizer in the Presidents’ Court”. In Sunrise: Journal of the Organizing Resource Group. November, 2000.

2000, “Chicago ’68 & Seattle ’99”, article in Voices from the WTO: an anthology of writings by the people who shut down the World Trade Organization in Seattle 1999. Evergreen State College, Olympia, WA.

1999, with Herzenberg, Steve; Worthen, Helena, and Wial, Howard. “Forward from Chaos: the Role of Pennsylvania Community Colleges in Workforce Development” in Report from the Keystone Research Center for the Heinz Foundation

1999, with Helena Worthen, Contingent Faculty in Public Higher Education in Pennsylvania, Spring 1999: Focus on the Community Colleges, Keystone Research Center, Harrisburg, PA.

1999, Review of Why Doctors Join Unions by Grace Budrys, in Labor Studies Journal, Vol. 23, No. 4.

1994-1998, Wrote, revised, edited and compiled various teaching materials and manuals for labor education. Subjects included Iowa public employee labor law, organizing, collective bargaining, women’s labor issues, labor history, health insurance, and others.

Pre-1995, many articles in the labor press, including especially publications of California Federation of Teachers and locals 1493 and 2121.

1988-1994, wrote a semi-monthly column, Part-timers Progress, for the California Federation of Teachers Community College Council newspaper, Perspective.

Annually compiled and annotated California statewide survey of community college faculty collective bargaining agreements’ provisions affecting part- time faculty.


PhD: Labor Studies. Dissertation: Contingent Faculty in Higher Education: An Organizing Strategy and Chicago Area Proposal, Union Institute and University, 2002.

Common Sense Economics, Train the Trainer, AFL-CIO Dept. of Education, 1998

Labor Law (Audit), University of Iowa Law School, 1998

New Staff School, Union Leadership Institute, AFT, George Meany Center, 1988

Summer Institute, Labor in the Schools, University of Wisconsin, Madison, School for Workers. Co-sponsored by International Brotherhood of Teamsters, 1987

City College of San Francisco, various courses, 1981-8

MA: History, Recent U.S.; Concentration in history of labor, immigrants, minority groups, and women. San Francisco State University, 1979

BA: History major, English minor, University of Iowa, 1971

University of San Francisco, attended 1970

Grinnell College, attended 1966-8


  • Labor Archives and Research Center of San Francisco State University, Associate citation, 1994
  • Alpha Gamma Sigma, honor society of City College of San Francisco, Teacher Appreciation Day “Favorite Teacher”, 1988
  • AFT Local 2121 Solidarity Award, 1987
  • California Federation of Teachers Golden Apple Award, 1987
  • Grinnell College Honor Scholarship, 1966


  • United Association for Labor Education, (Member: Organizing Task Force)
  • San Francisco Bay Area Labor History Workshop
  • Debs Foundation
  • National Organizers Alliance
  • John L. Lewis Commission
  • Roosevelt Adjunct Faculty Organization, IEA/NEA
  • Illinois Labor History Society
  • Industrial Relations Research Association and Chicago Chapter
  • Labor and Working Class History Association
  • Jobs with Justice
  • American Association of University Professors
  • Coalition of Contingent Academic Labor, Chicago Chapter (Chair)
  • Chicago Area Committee on Occupational Safety and Health
  • Historic Pullman Foundation
  • National Council for Higher Education, NEA
  • North American Alliance for Popular and Adult Education
  • Women and Labor History Project, Chicago
  • History Project Task Force, Illinois Education Association, NEA
  • Chicago Working Class Studies Center
  • North American Alliance For Fair Employment (Coordinating Committee member)
  • National Writers Union, UAW Local 1981 (Chicago chapter trustee)
  • Campaign for Better Health Care (Illinois)
  • Labor Research Study Group (Chicago)