Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The wages of casualization, part 2

For anyone who hasn't seen it yet, Slate's L. V. Anderson went to Pittsburgh and learned more about the life and death of Margaret Mary Vojtko.

As some of us speculated in the comments to my post about the original Post-Gazette op-ed, there does indeed turn out to be more to Vojtko's story than made it into that editorial; Vojtko actually had dozens of people who tried to help her, and many of her problems weren't directly related to her employment conditions. But if Duquesne isn't the cartoon villain some readers wished to see, Anderson doesn't back away from holding them and higher education accountable for the end results of academic casualization. It's a thoughtful, compassionate, and balanced piece of journalism, and well worth reading in full.

Vojtko's story wouldn't have gotten covered if Duquesne hadn't appeared uniquely coldhearted and evil, but I never assumed that it was (though as a Catholic, I remain outraged at the institution's claim that labor unions violate its religious identity); I don't think most academics did. The fact that Duquesne isn't an outlier is the real scandal.


Bardiac said...

In some ways, the article you linked has an even more tragic story, but one without a cartoonish villain.

Flavia said...


I completely agree. We can vanquish a cartoon villain and feel good about ourselves. But the ordinary tragedies of business-as-usual are a lot more numerous and a lot harder to solve.

Susan said...

Thank you for posting this. I'm glad to know the full story, which is -- as Bardiac notices -- is even sadder.

Historiann said...

Flavia--I am such a jerk! I didn't find your post linking to the same thing I commented on a few days ago until just last night. I am so sorry--and I'll amend the post to include a link to your post, here!

I'm sorry. You were too gracious in your comments at my place.

Flavia said...


??? I don't own this story! My toes definitely did not feel stepped upon--nor was I saying anything half so interesting in this post as you did in yours. So seriously: no apology needed.