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UC-AFT Statewide Officer Elections 2017-18 Candidate Statements

UC-AFT conducts annual elections for seats on the statewide Executive Board. The election will take place at the UC-AFT Council meeting on April 8, 2017 in Oakland. Per the UC-AFT bylaws, each campus local receives one vote plus one vote for each 50 union members.  Delegates to the Council from each local will determine how to cast their local's votes in accordance with local process.

Nominees

President- Bob Samuels, UCSB (incumbent)
President- Mia McIver, UCLA

Vice President for Grievance- Ben Harder, UCR (incumbent)

Vice President for Legislation- Axel E. Borg,  UCD (incumbent)
Vice President for Legislation- Raj Singh, UCR

Vice President for Organizing- Roxi Power, UCSC
Vice President for Organizing- Keith Danner, UCI

Secretary Treasurer- Miki Goral, UCLA (incumbent)

Candidate Statements

President--Bob Samuels (incumbent)
As President of UC-AFT, I will continue to work to help defend the rights and professional status of all members in Units 17 and 18. In the last several years, I have brought our issues to the national media, and we have now become a national voice for free public higher education.  I have also served as the President of the CFT council for universities, and I continue to work on our relationship with AFT.

It is important to point out that during my term in office, we have seen substantial improvement in the salaries and security of people in both units, and on the grievance and enforcement side, we have won several important cases, and we have also won important arbitration and Public Employment Relations Board cases.  I want to thank our staff and Ben Harder for their work in these areas.

I also want to thank Miki Goral and Axel Borg for their continued leadership in helping to protect the status of librarians.  Our recent negotiations over the Unit 17 contract finally resulted in an improved salary structure.  Miki has also been instrumental in our effort to improve the financial stability of UC-AFT.

Finally, I would like to continue to professionalize our union and work with our Executive Directors to help support and coordinate our staff. I look forward to increasing the activism of all members in our union.

President--Mia McIver
Sisters and Brothers,

When members across the state asked me to run for president, I accepted because I have a clear vision for our union’s future.  My reform agenda focuses on transparency, accountability, solidarity, and democratic participation. As we enter a phase of unprecedented political challenges, we must work together in unity to protect our rights, build our power, and defend public higher education at the UC. Serving as your president, I will set a new standard for inclusive governing, aggressive bargaining and contract enforcement, and fearless political advocacy.

I have a proven leadership record as President of the UCLA Local (our largest chapter) and as statewide Vice-President for Organizing. In those offices, I have:

  • Visited every UC campus to meet members and Local leaders;
  • Bargained the lecturer contract and supported librarian bargaining, winning raises and other gains;
  • Led board meetings, orientations, demonstrations, listening sessions, and social events;
  • Taught member workshops on how to recognize and exercise our rights;
  • Lobbied the UC Regents to protect academic freedom and local, state, and federal elected officials to support bargaining; 
  • Implemented a comprehensive organizing plan, including training lecturer and librarian organizers who are now conducting leadership development workshops across the state;
  • Launched and escalated a victorious campaign to demand that management release unfairly-withheld professional development funds;
  • Expanded our social media networks to broaden our member outreach and raise our national profile;
  • Increased our membership rates through the development of an online member enrollment form;
  • Obtained press coverage on our issues by cultivating relationships with higher ed reporters.

In a new role as statewide President, I will bring with me all the energy and optimism you know me for.  Plus, I’m committed to strengthening our partnerships with other UC unions and representing our interests to our parent unions, CFT and AFT.  I will foster a supportive working environment for our statewide Executive Board, staff directors, field reps, and Local leaders.  In executive matters, I have the courage and judgment to make tough decisions and the relationship-building skills to bring others into the conversations.

Rotating leadership is healthy for any organization, including our union.  But I ask for your support not merely because I offer a different way forward. A renewed focus on inclusivity, solidarity, and transparency is the best way to defend against imminent legal threats to our current constitution.  Only through mobilizing our members will we be able to repulse the Trump administration’s attempt to dismantle organized labor.  Now is the time to tap into our members’ sense of purpose.  A time not to retreat, but to push for more rights and more power. I am the only candidate with the activist vision to ensure the continued vitality of our union.

Thank you for the inspiring work you do to keep our union strong. I’ve been honored to serve you for the past several years, and I hope you will give me the opportunity to continue that service as your president.

 

V.P. for Organizing--Roxi Power
My work as Vice President for Organizing would evolve from my creative, energetic organizing for the UCSC local since 1999. I’ve served as President, State Representative, and multiple terms as Collective Representative helping to build a collaborative activist culture. New attacks on education and labor require new visions for organizing.

My priorities:

  • Democratize communication/collaboration between statewide and local leadership
  • Expand campus governance roles
  • Expand/train/revolve leadership, building on Mia and Bill’s great work
  • Support conferences like “Writing UC “ for librarians and lecturers in different disciplines
  • Turn information into action: collect fresh data/query locals/initiate campaigns           
  • Promote UC-AFT’s accomplishments/organize to prepare for potential loss of fair share 
  • “Adjunct Nation” movement: build national coalitions; expand existing coalitions
  • Expand media/social media presence; new outlets for new art/writing/slogans/videos

From block-walking to puppet-making, I've learned repeatedly that organizing works: people join communities that value voices beyond the officials'. Also, creative organizing energizes. At UCSC, our 300+ crowds that we bussed--with huge puppets, signs, and musical theater to off-campus bargaining sites—required organizing what the Situationists call an event. Not the kind where you sit in your seats and watch, but the kind that changes the situation.

The largest such event I helped organize was the 2002 UC-wide strike leading to Continuing appointments. It takes time to build the activist infrastructure crucial for success. For years, during strike preparation, I served on media and literature committees, crafting effective messages across multiple genres. In the 2014-16 campaign, I added social media, songs, and plays, motivating coalitions to organize across status and turn out in large numbers. When we brought “St. Precaria” to Berkeley, I glimpsed the power of activists across UC building a movement. UCOP saw our readiness too. They settled soon after.

Last summer, I organized, with Jon Keeperman, the first-ever UC-AFT conference of Writing lecturers: Writing UC: Uniting Faculty Across Best Practices, a culmination of research/surveying/networking across 9 campuses. We compared workload/salary/stability/curricula/professional development/governance then drafted action plans. We continue to share strategies. I created a comprehensive presentation for UCSB’s Oct. Writing conference, and revised with colleagues for national outreach at the Conference on College Composition and Communication. Going forward, I want to support librarians and lecturers in diverse disciplines to gather data on “best practices” to leverage change.

From program-based campaigns, we must expand to campus-based governance campaigns. My years serving on the Senate Committee on Educational Policy convince me that NSF members shape policies, though we have no vote. But we should, and be remunerated, like Senate faculty.  After settling a "Core course" workload grievance, I convened a joint Provost-Lecturer Core best practices committee: a “shared governance” enterprise that implemented a comprehensive survey of instructors' best practices that the Provosts consulted when redesigning Core.

Organizing works. Our professional lives are enabled by our union, and now is the time to protect and strengthen it. I am honored to work with you and hope to do some organizing together.

V.P. for Organizing--Keith Danner
Our organized resistance to Trump’s ferocious anti-union agenda will shape our ability to organize far into the future.  We establish now our capacity to fight for our members, our natural environment, and for other working people and oppressed groups.  In that context, our response to the judicial threat to public sector unions –  whether in the form of the Janus or Berman cases – needs three prongs:  1. A political response to oppose Trump’s appointee Neil Gorsuch 2. A political response to whichever case comes before the Supreme Court and 3. A focused drive to dramatically increase membership before the Janus/Berman decision is rendered.  The temptation is to work only on the third item here, based on the logic that Gorsuch and the end of fair share for public sector unions are inevitable.  Sadly, both are probable, but that does not mean that a political fight against them should not be waged. A labor victory is hardly ever assured, or known, before the fight is engaged.  You never know what powder keg you might spark, and even losing fights can have galvanizing effects on members. 

Of course, the need for those political fights in no way obviates the need for member recruitment.  In my own work this year in that regard, I’ve shifted from doing initial contact work myself, to thinking with other members of our local E-board about which members might do that work. I admit that this procedure – delegating to other members tasks that I had previously tried to undertake myself –has been borne of the desperation of simultaneously organizing against Trump while recognizing the need to continue other union work.  But that delegation and follow up is a better model, and the scale of the current attacks both enables and requires that we enlist new layers of activists from our membership. 

I’m currently renewing my reading in recent labor history, with a focus on right-to-work states, and the tactics that both private and public sector unions have used to survive – even flourish – in those situations.  If you’re interested in that kind of reading, and have suggestions for me, please let me know.  My current recommendations to others are Alexandra Bradbury at Labor Notes and the work of Jeffrey Keefe and others over at the Economic Policy Institute on right to work and public sector unions. 

It would be my great pleasure to serve as Statewide VP for Organizing. 

Keith Danner
Secretary
Irvine Local 2226

 

Vice President for Legislation--Axel E. Borg (incumbent)
I have served as Vice President for Legislation of the University Council of the American Federation of Teachers (UC‐AFT) for seven years. I have decided to run again for election in that same office. The last seven years have seen many changes in both the working conditions that we face in the University of California and the challenges that we face as union members. I look forward to continuing to serve librarians and lecturers across the University of California System.

In addition to serving as VP for Legislation I am also the Chief Negotiator for the librarian bargaining and the contract administrator. Since we signed the current contract I have been working with librarians so that they can understand their rights under that contract. I have also been working with librarians across the system as UC libraries undergo reorganization.

We are now entering into the beginning of successor bargaining where all articles of the MOU can be opened. As we move forward we will be deciding on which articles to open we will need to devise a strategy to be successful in bargaining those articles.

Because of our success in the recent PERB trial regarding who is in or out of the bargaining unit, we will be looking at all of the librarian series positions that are currently out of the unit. There will be a significant work ahead, but I am confident that we will make gains in the numbers of librarians that are represented by the union.

Over the course of the last year the number of grievances filed by librarians has increased. Much of this is due to both reorganization and to a concerted effort of library administration to de‐professionalize librarians. Also, there is a move to challenge the academic standing of librarians. Both of these issues are critical to our role as librarians in the UC system.

I have been working closely with Mia McIver in internal organizing with an intention to develop membership capacity of both librarians and lecturers. This capacity will empower our members and position both the librarian and lecturer bargaining to achieve better contracts for both groups. I believe strongly in unions and their role in self‐empowerment. Unions function best when members are involved, it is how I came to this position myself and I feel that by my standing for the rights of others, others will stand for me.

I believe that the promise of the University of California, as the leading public university in the world, has been betrayed by the current leadership, and our Union, UC‐AFT, has taken a leadership role in fighting to restore that promise of public higher education.

I continue to learn from our colleagues on Executive Board. Our Union is fortunate to have members who have stepped forward at both the campus and statewide level. Not only have they stepped forward they are a truly remarkable group and I look forward to continuing to work with and serve both the officers and members of UC‐AFT. I look forward to the opportunity to serve you. 

In solidarity,
Axel E. Borg

Vice President for Legislation--Raj K. Singh 
I am running for the privilege to serve as your Vice President of Legislation.  I have an unwavering commitment to support our union and the confidence and drive to move forward in order to get things done. I’ve been active with the union activities at the University of California Riverside and prior to that at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. My record of leadership as a union member and in support of union members include:

  • Member of the Professional Development Fund Council for Non Senate Faculty at the University of California Riverside;
  • Chair  of the Professional Development Fund Council for Non Senate Faculty at the University of California Riverside;
  • Elected Delegate from my Congressional District to Democratic National  Convention in Charlotte,  North Carolina, 2012;
  • Elected Delegate from my Congressional District to Democratic National  Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 2016;
  • UC-AFT Organizing Fellow, University of California Riverside.

Our union needs strong leadership to work with California legislators to provide more job security to lecturers and librarians. I held the office of Controller for the Riverside County Democratic Party from 2013 to 2016. My primary responsibility was to prepare controller reports in compliance with federal and state laws. I have been actively involved in the election campaigns of United States Senator Kamala Harris, California Assemblyman Jose Medina and other elected officials. This experience will help me to carry out my responsibility as a Vice President of Legislation.

I am concerned and committed to improving the working conditions for librarians and lecturers by enacting supportive legislation. As a Continuing Lecturer at the University of California Riverside, I have a firsthand knowledge of working conditions for both lecturers and librarians. In my role as a Vice President of Legislation, I will bring with me all the energy, passion and experience to collaborate with state legislators and CFT’s legislative team to enact legislation to improve working conditions for our lecturers and librarians. 

I work well with people and I will continue to foster a mutually supportive working environment for our leaders at the state and local levels. Our past accomplishments are being challenged by Trump administration. It is imperative for all of us work together and build a good working relationship with the other unions at UC on common legislative issues. We must strengthen our coalition work and stand together with a single purpose to protect our rights and to improve working conditions and defend public higher education at the University of California.

As an Organizing Fellow, I had the opportunity to work with Mia McIver and provided training to union members at the University of California Riverside in support of increasing membership of both librarians and lecturers.

I want to thank all of you for the work you do to support our students and to keep our union strong. It has been an honor for me to participate in union activities for the past several years, and I hope you will give me the opportunity to serve as a Vice President of Legislation.

 

Vice President for Grievances--Ben Harder (incumbent)
I have been honored to serve as Vice President for Grievances for the 2016-17 Academic Year, and I wish to serve again during 2017-18. I have spent much of the time this year learning about the particular conditions and quirks of the various campuses, and working to enforcing the new Lecturer contract language. I have also been learning about the Librarians’ issues, especially the fights we are having defending our Unit. Throughout, I have been giving advice and support to locals as they fight for the rights of Lecturers and Librarians.

As we increase our membership and activists, we will be able to enforce our contracts more effectively, so we can expect both increased grievances and different types of grievances. We should see file more grievances on behalf of people who used to be resigned to their contingent fates, but now see hope for a career at UC. We should also file more grievances for people who once tolerated sub-standard equipment and offices out of fear or detachment, but who now want to be fully integrated into the academic communities of our Universities. We will need to encourage and manage this increase in representational work.

We will also need to use the grievance process to foster negotiations. Not all employment problems can be counted as grievances, and not all grievances can become arbitration cases, and the Union cannot afford to grieve every case that could go to arbitration. However, all grievances initiate conversations, and empowered Lecturers and Librarians can accomplish very much by meeting with their Departments and supervisors to rectify problems. I have been trying to advise Locals about ways to effectively negotiate, as well as how to file more grievances.

My goal for next year is to increase member activism in contract enforcement and recruit more people on every campus who are prepared to advocate for themselves and their colleagues through conversations, negotiations, and grievances. I hope to be re-elected to the position of Vice President for Grievances so that I can continuing serving the Union to my fullest capacity.

Benjamin Harder
Local 1966, UC Riverside

 

Secretary Treasurer--Miki Goral (incumbent)

I am running for re-election as UC-AFT Secretary Treasurer. I have had the honor of serving UC-AFT in various capacities since 1983, when I first joined the Unit 17 (Librarians) bargaining team as the record-keeper, later becoming the Chief Negotiator.  I have led the Unit 17 negotiating teams from 1984 to 2007.

In 1984, I was elected Secretary of UC-AFT, an office I held until 1986, when I became Treasurer. In 1999, a re-structuring of the Council combined the duties of Secretary and Treasurer into one position, which I have held since then. During my tenure as a Council officer, I have worked with a number of officeholders and Executive Directors and can provide a context of continuity for the work of the organization.

The Secretary-Treasurer’s duties are set out in the By-Laws: namely to record and disseminate minutes of Council meetings and to be responsible for all monies received and paid out by UC-AFT.  I have developed and streamlined procedures to fulfill the duties of the job efficiently and accurately. I have striven to monitor the union’s finances and ensure that our funds are used wisely for the benefit of our members.

I believe that we need to streamline our internal organization to be more efficient and easier to manage. To that end, I propose to work on restructuring UC-AFT into a single local with campus chapters. This will eliminate administrative obligations that now must be fulfilled for nine separate entities and make it easier for all union members to participate in the work of the union.

While most of the union’s work is focused on representing our members and enforcing the contracts we have negotiated, we must not forget that UC-AFT is part of the larger union movement in the United States.  I serve as a vice-president of the California Federation of Teachers, representing the interests of UC-AFT and university academic employees, along with UC-AFT President Bob Samuels, in that body.

As the university moves to implement new methods of delivering education to students, the union must play a role to insure that the quality that makes the University of California so well-regarded is not compromised. Our president, Bob Samuels, has been instrumental in bringing to the fore issues surrounding the University’s real support of undergraduate education. It is the task of the Council to engage our members in this process and support our leaders as we work with the governor and legislature to hold the University to account. I look forward to being a part of this goal as an officer of UC-AFT.

Miki Goral