Rhetorically reimagining undergraduate labor organizing: Prospects, problems and possibilities



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The question of undergraduate labor organizing has been debated since the 2016 Columbia decision which now includes undergraduates. Scholars view rhetoric and composition analysis centered on students as writers and scholars, but this project shows that the field is not getting the full picture of student labor movements. I reignite labor rhetorics as a field by studying the rhetorical choices of private university undergraduate labor organizing through an examination of National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) case files in four-year schools such as Grinnell College, University of Chicago and George Washington University to prove the labor of the mind is not unique from labor of the body. An examination of undergraduate labor movements at private institutions as they sought union representation through the lens of legal rhetorics, labor studies and black feminist thought reveals the way persons pursuing undergraduate degrees are discussed precludes our understanding of them as employees and prevents us from acknowledging their labor, even if done at the academy. I will be examining intersectional labor organizing in the legal field based on black centered community work juxtaposed against white centered union labor rhetorics revealing the previously misunderstood connection between the two, this is significant because it challenges class, race and gender constructions of US history that render invisible the influential labor organizing of those who are deemed both student and employee by the NLRB. This work is not a solitary ivory tower debate; rather, it situates academics in a labor-based economic environment, removing both romance and focusing on the actual realities at hand: working conditions, which are in essence living conditions.



Labor, Rhetoric, Feminist, Intersectional, Academic