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UC-AFT Executive Board Candidate Statements 2010


UC-AFT holds elections for its systemwide executive board officers annually at our spring Council meeting.  Representatives from each campus local attending the Council meeting cast votes for their local.  The spring Council meeting will be held April 3, at the UCB Faculty Club.

All seats in this years election are uncontested.  There is, however, one change in the membership of the executive board.  In January 2010, Axel Borg was appointed to complete Ben Harder's term in the seat of Vice President for Legislation.  Axel is now running uncontested to continue as the V.P. of Legislation.

Below are the candidate statements for all executive board offices including: UC-AFT President, V.P. of Legislation,V.P. of Organizing, V.P. of Grievances, and Secretary/Treasurer.


UC-AFT President-- Bob Samuels

As President of UC-AFT, I will continue to work to help defend the rights and professional status of all members in Units17 and 18. In the last year, I have brought our issues to the national media, and I have helped to make us a central player in the UC union coalition.  I have also served at the President of the CFT council for universities, and I continue to work on our relationship with AFT.

While we now face tremendous threats to the jobs of our members, 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 recent cases, and we have also won important arbitration and Public Employment Relations Board cases.  I want to thank Alan Karras and Karen Sawislak for their work in these areas.

I also want to thank Miki Goral and Mike Rotkin for their continued leadership in helping to protect the status of librarians.  Our recent negotiations over the Unit 17 contract have not been easy, and we will continue to work on improving the organized strength of this unit. 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 Director to help support and coordinate our staff. I look forward to increasing the activism of all members in our union.


Vice President of Legislation--Axel Borg

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

I was recently appointed to fill out the term of Vice President for Legislation of the University Council of the American Federation of Teachers (UC-AFT) and I have decided to run for election in that same office. While I am new leader in UC-AFT, I have been the serving my Local (AFT 2023) at UC Davis as President for the last three years. I have also served as the alternate representative from UC Davis on the librarian bargaining team. I, working with my fellow librarians have built an active and effective Local and look forward to continuing to serve librarians and lecturers both at the campus and the statewide level.

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 seek to make others aware of our efforts and of the broken promise through legislative action.

I am both honored and humbled by the trust and confidence that President Bob Samuels has shown by appointing me as VP for Legislation. I will strive to my utmost to justify that trust and confidence and look forward to learning from and working with our 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 truly a remarkable group and I look forward to continuing to work with and serve both the officers and members of UC-AFT.

I support the reelection of the current Executive Board and while I look forward to the opportunity to serve you I regret that this opportunity came at the expense of Ben Harder. Ben has been very gracious and has been of immense help in getting into my new office.

In solidarity,

Axel Borg 


Vice President of Organizing--Mike Rotkin

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

I am pleased to be running for re-election as Vice President for Organizing of the University Council of the American Federation of Teachers (UC-AFT). I have belonged to the organization since its formation in the late 1980s. I served as Chief Negotiator for Unit 18 Lecturers for two decades until 2001 and briefly again a few years ago. I have been on every bargaining team for Unit 18 since the second contract to the present. I have served as President of the UCSC local (AFT 2199) since the late 1980s until the present and have handled the majority of UCSC Unit 18 grievances during that period. I have also served previously as the statewide Vice President for Grievances and Vice President for Legislation. Currently, I am serving as the Chief Negotiator for Unit 17 Librarians. I also had previous union experience in AFSCME (before there was an AFT at UC), and in the UAW in the 1960s when I worked in an automobile plant. I was the AFSCME delegate to the Santa Cruz County Central Labor Council for almost ten years and served on its Executive Board for most of that time.

Unions can only effectively represent the interests of their members when the members are well-organized and prepared to speak up and stand up for themselves. All too often; however, we blame the members when they appear apathetic or lacking in the commitment necessary to bring effective pressure against the employer in the bargaining process. But developing effective union membership involves a process of empowerment that does not happen automatically. While it is true that, ultimately, the members are responsible for the state of their own organization, the job of union leadership, and particularly the Vice President for Organizing, is to build rank and file power within the union. As leaders, we have to create the conditions that foster activism on the part of our members by demonstrating to the members that their active involvement is necessary for our success and that, if they are active, we can succeed in changing the conditions of work at UC and our compensation for it.

I have a great deal of interest in labor organizing and building effective labor organizations. My teaching job at UCSC in the Community Studies Department is focused on labor and community organizing and other activist concerns. I have been an effective labor and community organizer for all of my adult life. My experience includes creating successful neighborhood groups, having been elected six times to the Santa Cruz City Council, and currently serving my fifth term as Mayor of Santa Cruz. I believe that I have more than demonstrated my ability to serve the members of the UC-AFT in the capacity of Vice President for Organizing. Although I am quite busy in both my teaching job at UC and in my work as a Councilmember, I am extremely committed to Lecturer and Librarian rights at UC and worker rights at UC and in society in general. I typically spend about 15 hours a week on union business.

If re-elected to the position of VP for Organizing, I will do my utmost to provide our members with the leadership necessary to build a strong and effective union. Those who have worked with me know that my organizing style is energetic but inclusive. I understand that one cannot be effective in building an activist culture and participatory membership in a union with an overbearing or authoritarian style of leadership.

We are currently facing an extremely difficult period for union organizing. Our members on every campus are facing devastating cuts – both layoffs and reductions in time for lecturers and workload crises and budget cuts for librarians. While it is true that we were successful in winning significant wage increases for lecturers over the past three years (for which I take at least some credit), lecturers are now all at risk with respect to job security. We are in the process of working with our members and with other campus unions and students to fight back against these cuts and preserve essential educational resources in the undergraduate programs and student services.

UC librarian compensation remains more than 20% behind that of colleagues in comparable jobs in the CSU system and below that of many community college librarians. While we will probably not be able to successfully bargain for higher wages for at least a year to a year and a half, in the meantime, we must prioritize the political fight against library budget cuts that have such a devastating impact on not only our members but on students and faculty in terms of library services that they need.

If re-elected, I intend to step up my commitment and involvement in this work. We must resist the University’s tendency to gut essential educational services in favor of support for their profit centers, building bigger buildings, approving more and bigger bonuses for top executives, and other mistaken priorities. I intend to work closely with the rest of the Executive Board, our Executive Director Karen Sawislak, our Communications Director Bill Quirk, and our field reps in developing the kind of organizing and political strategy necessary for success in resisting UC President Yudof and the Regents in terms of where they would like to take UC.

I take a great deal of pleasure in working with my colleagues in the UC-AFT and helping to empower all of us to create an effective organization that can help us win the compensation, benefits, and working conditions that every worker deserves. I hope that you will support my re-election to the position of VP for Organizing. I also support the re-election of all of the incumbents running for re-election to the Executive Board of the UC-AFT. I believe they have been an effective, collaborative, and extremely hard-working group in representing the interests of all of our members. This includes recently appointed VP for Legislation Axel Borg.

In solidarity,

 Mike Rotkin 


Vice President of Grievances--Alan Karras

I am very pleased to run for re-election to serve as Vice-President for Grievances for UC-AFT. For those of you who know me, holding this office the last few years has served as an outlet for my general state of being aggrieved. It also given me many new reasons to be aggrieved.  The last few years have been tough ones for our members, given the current administration at UCOP and that at some of the campuses. But, along with Executive Director Karen Sawislak, our Union has stopped some fairly draconian actions, gotten people returned to work and, when that has not been possible (and the labor agreements violated), gotten remuneration for our affected members. The kind of work that the Vice President for Grievances does is never on happy subjects, but I have been pleased with what we have been able to accomplish for many of our members. At the same time, however, I have worked extremely hard to get positive outcomes for all of our members, through trying to clarify contract language with the University and arrive at shared understandings, which can prevent a lengthy grievance process. I have been very pleased to work with our generally excellent staff who, in turn,  has worked with our membership on the campuses to get them to understand and use their protections under the labor agreements whenever possible. When we can't secure a positive result on the campus, we have been very effective at using arbitration as a way to bring about reasonable resolutions. And we have educated our members about how best to use the MOUs' protections. 

As we head into the next year, with only an extension of the current MOUs and the likely continuation of a bad economic climate in the State, our organization needs to plan to continue enforce the not-insignificant protections in our MOU. I anticipate that the road ahead will be bumpy, but my goal as Vice-President for Grievances is to ensure that the bumpy road does not lead to the decimation of our unit or the elimination of badly needed teaching and librarian positions. If re-elected, I will redouble my efforts to insure that UC-AFT's contracts are strictly and timely enforced, and that our members are protected as best they can be. This is more than just enforcing the contracts, but it is using the contracts to educate not only our members but University administrations about what actions they can and cannot take in the current budgetary climate. All of this will only help to build our union as a force within the UC system. 


Secretary-Treasurer--Miki Goral 

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, when I passed the reins to UC-AFT Vice-President Mike Rotkin. I remain involved as Chief Negotiator Emeriti, providing context for the current bargaining.

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.

In light of the budgetary constraints facing the University of California, we need to be vigilant in monitoring the treatment of our unit members—to prevent exploitation and undue work assignments. Union members need to be apprised of their rights and given the support they need to ensure that they are not taken advantage of—I will work to be sure that this happens.

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, along with UC-AFT President Bob Samuels, in that body.

I look forward to continue representing our members and strengthening the organization of the union.

Miki Goral