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Executive Board Special Election 2022 Candidate Statements


UC-AFT is conducting a special election to fill the vacant offices on our Council Executive Board. Vice President for Legislation and Vice President for Grievances are currently vacant. The Duties of Officers are described in Article VI of the UC-AFT Constitution. Terms will begin immediately and run through the June 30, 2023.

The election will be conducted online April 11-17. All UC-AFT members will be receive a ballot via email from ElectionBuddy Elections <>.

Candidate forum video recordings are available here: March 30 and April 8 Passcode: R1L+n%2+

Written candidate statements are posted below in alphabetical order.

Vice President for Grievances: Ben Harder
Vice President for Grievances: Iris Ruiz

Vice President for Legislation: Joel Day
Vice President for Legislation: Trevor Griffey

VP of Grievances
Ben Harder, UCR

Lately I’ve been thinking about the similarities between the role of VP of Grievances at UC-AFT and the position of Professor of Defense against the Dark Arts at Hogwarts. Both jobs require one to fight that which is “unfixed, mutating, indestructible”, e.g. The University of California or the Dark Arts. Also, both positions have a higher than normal turnover rate.

I cannot promise to slow the turnover. Instead, I will focus on finishing this term and providing experienced transitional leadership.

Specifically, I have three central goals for Unit 18. First, we need to clearly, consistently, and assertively enforce our new contract provisions. The workload grievances are a great start on this issue, and we also need to monitor our employers’ implementations of the new procedures for rehiring the Pre-Continuing to make sure they fit our interpretation of our contract gains.

My second and third goals follow closely from the first: we need to widely expand the number of Lecturers, Librarians, and Teachers who feel comfortable advocating for others through the grievance processes, and train them well; and we need to survey actual conditions of our represented employees, specifically focusing on Pre-Continuing Lecturer turnover.

Speaking of gathering data, the onset of Librarian successor negotiations is approaching, and I hope to help Librarians gather, organize and analyze grievance data and unaddressed problems with an eye to their initial contract proposals on September 15, 2023.

If I can leave my post on June 30, 2023 having helped Lecturers assure appropriate procedures for Pre-Continuing Lecturer rehiring across the campuses, having advised Librarians as they develop improved contract language, and having fostered the continuing growth of member advocates, I will feel my substitute role has been successful.

VP for Grievances
Iris Ruiz, UCM

It is with great pleasure and enthusiasm that I submit this candidate statement for the Vice President of Grievances for UCAFT, a union that I have been a member of since 2010. I’m excited that Mia McIver has endorsed my candidacy, and if elected for this position, I vow to commit to the duties of the position with as much advocacy, knowledge, and tenacity as she has demonstrated as the current UCAFT president: one that has afforded so many improvements and securities for Unit 18 lecturers in our new contract.

To give a glimpse into my background and qualifications for the position of VP Grievances, I have been with the University of California since 2003: first as a graduate student and now as a unit 18 lecturer. As a graduate student representative, I advocated for and won a permanent position of VP Diversity on the Graduate Student Association. Further, as the graduate student intern, I advocated for and won parental leave rights, which was interestingly an issue taken up by the UC graduate student union at the time. As a UC lecturer, I have served as a grievance steward for UC Merced, and I spent one semester training and shadowing our campus union representative for the purpose of undertaking grievance steward work. In that semester, I was very committed to bring attention to issues surrounding fair rehiring rights and the reappointment process. In this role, I was involved with multiple grievances and advised on others. During that period, I addressed office space issues on campus, fought a workload grievance with the writing program, and defended individual members against violations of our contract.

With the new contract, I see the UC system as being at a crossroads with issues like these that can challenge ideas of academic freedom and the rights of non-senate faculty. I also identify as a woman of color, and I serve on our campus Equity, Diversity, and Inclusive advisory board that reports to the Vice Chancellor Chief Diversity Officer. I’m no stranger to advocacy work, and I have a background in legal writing, so I possess the skills needed to interpret our new contract comprehensively and with tenacity.

VP for Legislation
Joel Day, UCSD

Thank you for considering me for the VP of Legislation position. I am a lecturer in international studies and public policy at UCSD’s School of Global Policy and Strategy. In addition to serving on the legislative and CAT teams at UCSD, I have previously been a member of the Massachusetts Teachers Association as a professor in the UMass system. I have developed deep relationships with the labor movement and legislators. Outside of academia, I have served the City of San Diego as the city’s Covid-19 lead, where I worked with REOs and labor organizations to increase benefits and provide safe working conditions, while consulting with school districts, counties, and the state to coordinate public health priorities. My experience also includes serving as a policy advisor for presidential, sentatorial, and congressional candidates across the US. As a candidate for San Diego City Council, I have gained valuable experience advocating with diverse constituencies and elected officials, fundraising, securing support and endorsements from allies, and producing policy platforms to create systemic change. I am asking for your support for this VP role because I would like to use my experience and network to benefit our membership and advance our membership’s policy priorities.

My goal in this position is to help UC-AFT step into a powerful leadership role in statewide labor. We can provide our voice as educators to advance the position of our labor siblings and build the sort of solidarity that benefited our membership during recent negotiations. This means increasing our working relationships with other UC union organizations, with the broader labor federation, and with UC Regents and CA elected officials. To accomplish this, I hope to increase our endorsement agenda and political activity, create a stronger program to lobby and brief elected officials, and foster opportunities for our membership to testify in Sacramento for legislation on which our members may be subject matter experts or impacts our members. A UCSD VP in this position may prove valuable, as the new state-wide labor federation leader, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, hails from San Diego.

Thank you for your active membership in our union. Together we can create a better, stable quality of life for our members.

Joel Day

VP for Legislation
Trevor Griffey, UCI

I want to serve as UC-AFT’s Vice President of Legislation in order to expand our union’s organizing to support all non-tenure track faculty in California, and to address the root causes of the under-funding of California’s schools and their instructional and research missions. This organizing is already underway, with the California Federation of Teachers (CFT) and Higher Education Labor United (HELU) leading the way.

The CFT, our parent union, is currently organizing part-time lecturers statewide to end the deplorable teaching conditions in our state’s community colleges, where about 40,000 part-time faculty mostly earn poverty wages and are ineligible for health benefits (I will never forget the fact that one of my faculty office mates at Long Beach City College was homeless). The CFT has launched its campaign by mobilizing part-time faculty across bargaining units to lobby the state legislature to provide all part-time community college faculty with health benefits. As VP of Legislation, I would like to work with CFT to help develop ways for UC-AFT members, some of whom teach in our community colleges, to support this campaign. I also believe that we should support AB 1752, which would require pay equity between full-time and part-time community college faculty. Both campaigns can serve as precedents to extend similar protections to CSU and UC faculty and staff.

Ultimately, addressing the root causes of the pressures that UC non-senate faculty and librarians face means trying to develop a different model for funding public higher education. Our current model depends on ever-increasing student tuition, ever-increasing faculty and staff workloads, ever-increasing replacement of professional jobs with temp gigs, and mass layoffs and semi-coerced retirements during recessions. Developing a new model requires organizing our members to support CFT and other California labor unions as we push to repeal Proposition 13, develop a more progressive tax system, reduce spending on the carceral state, and increase spending for California’s public colleges and universities.

To achieve this vision requires national policy reform and not just state policy reform. Unlike state governments, the federal government can deficit spend. This means that federal government spending can increase federal funding for public colleges and universities during recessions, when demand for job training is highest, to both offset state budget cuts and hire more workers to support increased numbers of students. This is the vision that is emerging out of a new network of labor unions in higher education called HELU, which UC-AFT has supported. As VP, I’d like to further support HELU and provide opportunities for UC-AFT members to become national leaders in supporting legislation like the College for All Act.

I've been active in faculty labor organizing since I moved to Southern California in 2015. I was an active member and staff for the California Faculty Association at CSU Long Beach from 2015-16. I became active in UC-AFT when I started teaching at UCLA in 2017. I served as a statewide Unit 18 Contract Action Team Coordinator from February through May, 2021. I joined the UCI Chapter eboard in Summer, 2020, and I have served as its Unit 18 Co-Chair since Summer, 2021. I’m also co-author with UC-AFT President Mia McIver of the article “New Deal for College Teachers and Teaching”, published by the AAUP magazine in Spring, 2021.