Report Out from Event - Addressing Hidden Labor: Recognize, Retain, and Reward Women, LGBTQ, and People of Color at PSU

May 10, 2019 / Jennifer Kerns

On Wednesday April 17th, PSU-AAUP hosted an event titled “Addressing Hidden Labor: Recognize, Retain, and Reward Women, LGBTQ, and People of Color at PSU.” The event was coordinated by PSU-AAUP Caucus members (representing women, LGBTQ, and people of color), and included a panel conversation by two fellow union leaders who have used the strength of their union to address these issues. PSU-AAUP hosted the event in an effort to build awareness about the issues of hidden labor, and to identify possible avenues of action. About 40 PSU-AAUP members attended.

The two speakers were Yvonne A. Braun, Ph.D, previously on the University of Oregon’s AAUP chapter (United Academics) Bargaining Team and Kevin Wehr, Ph.D., Secretary and Chair of Bargaining with the statewide California Faculty Association AAUP chapter.

Yvonne first shared an overview of invisible labor and emotional labor. She emphasized that service work and advising are not equal, since faculty and academic professionals that are People of Color, women, and LGBTQ are often doing much more work. Yvonne noted that the additional labor takes both extra time and emotional toll, intersects with other forms of precarity, and can have cumulative, long-term material ramifications on issues like salary and retirement.  The disproportionate burden can even be exacerbated by University’s efforts of diversity, equity and inclusion.

Yvonne then shared some highlights from two areas of work at University of Oregon AAUP’s chapter United Academics, which she described as a “work in progress.” First, U of O AAUP has won family leave that recognizes and values diverse families, destigmatizes family-work balance, and challenges gender norms. Second, the union secured additional requirements to promotion and tenure guidelines, including a longer reflection on service (including supporting students from underrepresented backgrounds) and on contributions to diversity, equity and inclusion. The idea of adding language to promotion & tenure guidelines was to value the work and set expectations that all faculty engage in it. Yvonne went on to share that here have been some important trade-offs from these union advances, and more work remains to be done.

Kevin described the California Faculty Association’s work on the “cultural tax” (drawing on the scholarship of Cecil Canton) as substantiating unpaid labor and distributing resources differently. CFA achieved language in its last contract and a pot of over $1.3 million in assigned time or release time to compensate faculty for mentoring and advising underserved, 1st generation, or underrepresented populations. A second area of action for the union has been in implementing workshops on unconscious bias and interrupting racism workshops. The Union established a requirement that chairs of search departments attend implicit bias training workshops. Kevin also mentioned other possible actions for the union, sharing an example that faculty at a university in Ontario won an arbitration over bias in student evaluations.

After the presentations, attendees shared a lot of comments and questions. Yvonne and Kevin were clear that there have been trade-offs and lessons learned that represent incremental change.

The topics and ideas discussed clearly resonated with PSU-AAUP members. This event is part of our build-up to collective bargaining, which is scheduled to begin in June. One step will be to make the issue of invisible labor more visible. The Collective Bargaining team and Executive Council are also reflecting on the issues raised.

The event organizers and members of PSU-AAUP Caucus members (representing women, LGBTQ, and people of color) are considering the following as potential bargainable actions at PSU: requiring search committees to take implicit bias training, and requiring a longer reflection on service (including supporting students from underrepresented backgrounds) and on contributions to diversity, equity and inclusion in promotion and tenure guidelines.


To get involved: Take the member survey on bargaining priorities, forthcoming from the Collective Bargaining team, and identify invisible labor as something that should be addressed in bargaining.



  • Social Sciences Feminist Network Research Interest Group. (2017). The Burden of Invisible Work in Academia: Social Inequalities and Time Use in Five University Departments. Humboldt Journal of Social Relations, 39, 228-245
  • Canton, C.  2013.  The “cultural taxation” of faculty of color in the Academy. California  Faculty Magazine. Available at:

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