February 16, 2018

Michael Russo | Movers & Shakers 2012 — Change Agents

Seeking Union

Michael Russo Movers & Shakers 2012


Associate Librarian/Instruction Coordinator
Louisiana State University Libraries, Baton Rouge

MLIS, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, 2000

LS United
LS United Facebook

Photo by Mark Martin

Michael Russo knows how his Louisiana State University (LSU) colleagues describe him: quiet; dedicated instructor; self-effacing. So Russo, an associate librarian and instruction coordinator for the LSU Libraries, realizes he was an unlikely choice to spearhead the controversial formation of a faculty labor union in 2011 and emerge as its primary—and always tenacious—­spokesperson.

“I keep telling people, I’m probably not the best person to be out in front of this effort,” Russo says. “But they won’t believe me. I think I became the front man by default. I’m doing it because someone had to do it.” Of course, he could always boast of one particular advantage: “I am tenured,” he jokes. Job security in the wake of faculty cutbacks and pay equity are among the issues the fledgling union, LSUnited, needs to tackle, Russo says.

LSUnited has some growing to do. About 110 of 1400 LSU faculty members signed up at first, and roughly 65 have started paying dues. “We have a small number of people who are very committed,” says Russo. More significant than dues at the moment, he points out, is that LSUnited is affiliated with the Louisiana Association of Educators and boasts the National Education Association as a parent organization.

Dominique G. Homberger, a zoology professor at LSU who served under Russo’s leadership on the original faculty committee that recommended the union’s formation, described him as “the proverbial reformer in sheep’s clothes, who manages and leads a movement while seemingly remaining in the ­background.”



  1. Lois Kuyper-Rushing says:

    MIke has done an incredible job leading LSU faculty in the struggle to unionize on the LSU campus. He has met enormous opposition, but he works tirelessly toward that goal. Congratulations, Mike, this is a well-deserved honor!

  2. Claire Advokat says:

    Congratulations Mike,

    This is a well-deserved honor, for many reasons. I wish you success and continued recognition for your service to LSU.

  3. Sigrid Kelsey says:

    Congratulations, Mike! Thank you for being a great colleague.

  4. Mike Russo has many talents, so I am not surprised about this one. He is bright, clever, downright funny and insightful. Now I can see that he is also a progressive leader with a gift for organization. How lucky I am that we published his first novel.

    Doris R. Wenzel, Mayhaven Publishing, Inc.

  5. Good luck to Mike and to the members of LSUnited (great name!). You have my support and the support of many academic librarian activists and unionists in North America. The work is long and hard but the goals are well worth it.