Election Guide: UAW 2865 Biennial Election (2019)

Our Local will be holding the upcoming Biennial Election on May 1-2, 2019 to vote for campus Joint Council positions. The following campuses that will be holding elections are as follows:

UC Berkeley, UC Irvine, UC Riverside, UC San Diego



DETAILS ON UPCOMING ELECTIONS

UC Berkeley will hold a contested election for Unit Chair, Recording Secretary and 16 Head Steward positions. UC Irvine will hold a contested election for Recording Secretary. UC Riverside will hold a contested election for 3 Head Stewards. UC Santa Diego will hold a contested election for 11 Head Stewards. The candidates for these respective elections are listed below:

UC Berkeley:

Unit Chair
Hannah Ehrlinspiel
Spencer Adams

Recording Secretary
Garrett Shishido Strain
Mick Song

Head Steward
Teri Oehmke
Sam Kohn
Hero Ashman
Tara Phillips
Zachary Angulo
Joseph Stahl
Yueran Zhang
Ali Marzolf
Nathan Kenshur
Valerie McGraw
Diana Ruiz
Mary Mussman
Yvonne Lin
Wilson Horner
Layne B. Frechette
Holly Gildea
Isaac Marck
Alex Mabanta
Wendy Wang
Dominick Lawton
Alexa Nicolas

UC Irvine:

Recording Secretary
Charlie Gunn
Jose Saramago

UC Riverside:

Head Steward
Eric Johns
Noah Teller
Brianna McGee
Somchate Wasantwisut

UC Santa Diego

Head Steward
Anna Mai
Heather Paulson
Kevin Allen Schwenkler
Luis Diaz
K-Dan Lee
Gabriel Ascui
Haley McInnis
Eleanor Castracane
Juan Carlos Ybarra
Muhammad Zayed
Cora Coleman
Sven Brüggemann

Polling times, locations, sample ballots, and candidate statements will be posted on our website, uaw2865.org, as soon as possible.



POLLING LOCATIONS

Times are the same for both Wednesday 5/1 and Thursday 5/2 – 10:00am to 6:00pm

Berkeley
Wednesday, May 1: Sather Gate
Thursday, May 2: Evans Hall

Irvine
Wednesday, May 1: Ring Road, outside SST
Thursday, May 2: Ring Road, outside FRH

Riverside
Wednesday, May 1: Bell Tower
Thursday, May 2: Bytes Eatery

San Diego
Wednesday, May 1: Triton Statue
Thursday, May 2: AP&M



CANCELLED ELECTIONS

Please note that the Joint Council elections on certain campuses, as well as the election for Statewide Executive Board, have been cancelled, due to uncontested positions. The campuses with cancelled Joint Council elections are:

UC Davis
UCLA
UC Merced
UC Santa Barbara
UC Santa Cruz

Additionally, we are pleased to announce that the Officers below were elected by acclamation following the close of nominations:

Executive Board:
President: Kavitha Iyengar
Northern Vice President: Thomas Hintze
Southern Vice President: Alli Carlisle
Recording Secretary: Marissa Ochsner
Financial Secretary: Alec Uebersohn
Sergeant-at-Arms: Griffin Johnson
Trustees: Kevin Kadowaki, Alex H. Bush, Andrew Yamakawa Elrod
Guide: Gwen Chodur

UC Davis Joint Council:
Unit Chair: Deb Young
Head Stewards: Elizabeth Campbell, Connor P. Jackson, Corey Rodda, Nusrat Molla, Mina Rezaei, David Gier, Morganne Blais-McPherson, Courtney Pollard

UC Irvine Joint Council:
Unit Chair: Jeremiah Scott Lawson
Head Stewards: Natalie Barman, Louise McCune, Siavash Zare, Zayda Sorrell Medina

UCLA Joint Council:
Unit Chair: Yunyi Li
Recording Secretary: Michael Stenovec
Head Stewards: Ethan Hill, Matevž Frajnkovič, Michael Z. Dean, Tony Pahl, Kailah Lee McGee, Ian Heimbuch, Wan Yeung, Lydia Roberts, Brea Hogan, Isabel Durón, Sarah Beth Harrell

UC Merced Joint Council:
Unit Chair: Anh Diep
Recording Secretary: Tafadzwa Joseph Dube

UC Riverside Joint Council
Unit Chair: Daniel Collister
Recording Secretary: Alice Regina Lapoint

UC San Diego Joint Council:
Unit Chair: John Sarracino
Recording Secretary: Celine Khoury

UC Santa Barbara Joint Council:
Unit Chair: Stephanie Arguera
Recording Secretary: Sheila Kulkarni
Head Stewards: Gary Lytle, Neil Johnson, Dylan Kupsh, Sam Salour, Leila Stegemoeller

UC Santa Cruz Joint Council:
Unit Chair: Veronica Hamilton
Recording Secretary: Marcelo Mendez
Head Stewards: Tony Boardman, Sarah Mason, Jack Davies, Yulia Gilichinskaya, Kylie Kenner


CANDIDATE STATEMENTS

UC Berkeley Unit Chair:

Hannah Ehrlinspiel

Bio: Hannah is a 6th-year PhD student in the English Department. She has been a UC-Berkeley Head Steward since April 2018, the UC-Berkeley Unit Chair since October 2018, and a delegate to the Alameda Labor Council since November 2018.

Statement: I am running for the position of UC-Berkeley Unit Chair on the Organizing for Student-Worker Power (OSWP) slate because the livelihoods of unionized public educators are under attack. Neoliberal austerity measures, the forces of privatization, and the wealthy elite are working to dismantle the power of unions and to put public education up for auction. But, as the teachers’ strike wave has shown, workers are standing up and fighting back.

OSWP has the strategic vision, political program, and organizing chops necessary to make our union a key force in this fight. Our long-term goals are ambitious: we will win a fully-funded, tuition-free UC for All. To get there, we need on-the-ground, one-to-one organizing to build a supermajority membership with high member participation and meaningful democratic engagement among members.

As Unit Chair, I believe in just this sort of organizing. By having deep organizing conversations with hundreds of workers across the state, I have built relationships with and helped coordinate strike support for AFSCME, UPTE, and OEA; organized statewide escalation strategies around UCPath; led trainings on phone-banking, canvassing, and organizing conversations; instituted voting and debate at monthly membership meetings; and helped bring our union to majority membership for the first time in seven years.

This coming year, I advocate that we organize around the following priorities:

  • Build a strong, high-participation membership. After bringing our union back to majority membership over the last two years, our team of elected and rank-and-file leaders will spend the next two getting to supermajority membership.
  • Enforce our contract. We have formed contract enforcement committees across the state, and we will continue to ensure that our hard-won rights have meaning in workers’ daily lives.
  • Unionize GSRs/RAs. We must end the two-tiered workplace and build toward industrial unionism by winning GSRs and RAs rights and protections as workers.
  • Expand our union’s political program. By engaging in strategic campaigns – co-authoring a bill on wage theft in the CA legislature; fighting for rent control and affordable housing; pressuring representatives about workplace protections – we can make transformative gains on the issues affecting all workers.
  • Fight for collective liberation. We reject anti-solidaristic attempts to divide us along the lines of race, gender, nationality, religion, or sexual orientation, and we will strengthen our Equity Committee, International Students Committee, and more in order to end both economic and social oppression.

Our union represents over 18,000 workers. When united, we can leverage our collective power against the UC’s power-of-profit in order to force concessions from the boss, fight for the soul of public education, and win a UC that works for the many, not the few.

Spencer Adams

I am running for Unit Chair on the Living Wage Now! Slate because I believe that the current wages paid to graduate students make our work unsustainable. The current contract failed to respond to the conditions we live, work and teach in. A 3% wage increase that does not keep pace with inflation and zero relief for the rising cost of housing for student-workers is unacceptable. The current leadership’s disinvestment in democratic unionism and member power were instrumental in this defeat. We need new leadership to renegotiate the contract, organize for a strike, and win a living wage. And we need you with us. Vote for the candidates from Living Wage Now.

Our vision for the union includes building rank-and-file leadership to form a truly democratic union that fights for the interests of student-workers. We will also work to organize against the current austerity measures and privatization of UC. By working in solidarity with the other UC employee unions–we know that we can win fair contracts for all workers on our campus and throughout the state!

My own experiences helping to organize town halls within my department and across several other departments during the contract campaign demonstrated to me the sense of urgency among graduate students that so many of us hoped to build off of moving into this school year. Countless times, our fellow workers have named their urgent priorities: Living wages, to make our work sustainable. Housing relief, so we can afford to stay here. A campus without violence, discrimination, sexism or racism. These aren’t optional, they’re urgent. Winning demands like these is why we have a union.

I worry that the more union leadership cedes a willingness to fight with and through that urgency now, the more difficult our fights going forward will become. As Walter Benjamin so elegantly stated, “The true picture of the past flits by. The past can be seized only as an image which flashes up at the instant when it can be recognized and is never seen again.” I want to make sure we don’t lose sight of the power our union has had, in fierce struggles, to improve our material conditions, and the urgency that so many of us felt in the lead up to and throughout this past contract campaign, as well as the energy we’ve witnessed building in the last year around other UC employee unions and around teachers’ unions across the country. As unit chair, I would work to mobilize the energy we’ve built up in our fight for better living and working conditions. 

Vote for the candidates from Living Wage Now! When we fight, we win!

 

UC Berkeley Recording Secretary:

Garrett Shishido Strain

My name is Garrett Shishido Strain and I’m a 3rd-year Ph.D. Student in the Sociology Department. I’m running for Berkeley’s Recording Secretary on the Organizing for Student-Worker Power (OSWP) slate. Student-workers face many challenges inside and outside the classroom: ballooning class sizes, skyrocketing rent, a culture of harassment and discrimination, attacks on immigrant and international students, and much more. To force the UC administration and those in power to make changes on these issues, our union must build power. As Berkeley Recording Secretary, I will prioritize: 1) building our union to supermajority membership with union stewards in every department across campus, 2) unionizing GSRs/RAs, and 3) expanding our union’s political program.

I bring to the leadership of our union over a decade of experience in the labor movement as a rank-and-file member, staff organizer, elected union officer, and bargaining team member. As a member and elected officer in UAW 2865 over the past two years, I helped form a campus-wide Organizing Committee that brought Berkeley up to majority union membership for the first time in seven years and revived our dormant departmental steward network. As a member of our union’s Bargaining Team in 2018, I played a leading role in helping win our union’s strongest-ever language against harassment and discrimination, a 12% wage increase and a new remission of campus fees, and expanded union orientations so that all new student-workers know how to enforce their benefits and rights in our union contract.

I believe our union must be an organization of all members acting collectively to force those in power to give us what we want, rather than a small group of activists or a third-party organization where union officers deliver for members. I propose three priorities to make this vision of our union a reality.

First, build our union to supermajority membership with union stewards in every department across campus. Membership is the primary source of our union’s power; it’s also the cornerstone of union democracy because only members have a voice in our union. Supermajority participation and dynamic shop-floor leadership are the key ingredients our union needs to secure the victories we so far have been unable to win. Second, unionize Graduate Student Researchers and Research Assistants. We must extend the rights that GSIs, readers, and tutors have won – and more! – to our colleagues who work as researchers. Third, expand our union’s political program. Working people are under unprecedented attack. In order to tackle many of the issues student-workers face – from a housing insecurity to xenophobic immigration policies – our union must play a more active role in local, state, and national politics. I will work with members and leaders across the state to build a comprehensive political program that defends public education and advances economic, racial, and gender justice.

Mick Song

I am running for Recording Secretary on the Living Wage Now! Slate because I believe that the current wages paid to graduate students make our work unsustainable. The current contract failed to respond to the conditions we live, work and teach in. A 3% wage increase that does not keep pace with inflation and zero relief for the rising cost of housing for student-workers is unacceptable. The current leadership’s disinvestment in democratic unionism and member power were instrumental in this defeat. We need new leadership to renegotiate the contract, organize for a strike, and win a living wage. And we need you with us. Vote for the candidates from Living Wage Now. 

Our vision for the union includes building rank-and-file leadership to form a truly democratic union that fights for the interests of student-workers. We will also work to organize against the current austerity measures and privatization of UC. By working in solidarity with the other UC employee unions–we know that we can win fair contracts for all workers on our campus and throughout the state! 

My experiences as co-founder of the Organizing Committee, head-steward of the Berkeley unit, Trustee of the Executive Board of UAW 2865, informal advisor to the Columbia Student Workers Union and on the picket line, help inform our vision for the union. One experience I have not had, fortunately, is conceding a concessionary contract as co-chair of the Bargaining Team. The members of our slate and many of you fought against undemocratic and cowardly maneuvers by the bargaining team this summer and we need you now to keep that fight going! Vote Living Wage Now!

 

UC Berkeley Head Stewards:

Teri Oehmke

Bio: Teri is a 4th year PhD student in Environmental Engineering at UC Berkeley. She has been involved with the Student-Workers Union since early this semester and is excited to get more involved with the newly-formed Equity Committee.

Statement: I am running for position as a Head Steward at UC Berkeley on the Organizing for Student-Worker Power (OSWP) slate. For most of my time at Berkeley, I have been trying to determine what it is that I want to devote my time to. I have had an interest in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives for many years now, but had not found a way in which I felt I could contribute to these projects. Earlier this semester, I learned about the creation of the Equity Committee and its goal to span across departments, colleges, and campuses. I believe that the most efficient way for us to change the campus climate is to work together, and learn from what others have done before us. By establishing a strong Student-Workers Union with concrete goals on what needs to be changed and a plan for how to change it, we can make our working environment a welcoming and productive place for students of all backgrounds. As Head Steward, I would work as part of the Equity Committee to coordinate efforts across UC Berkeley to change the climate felt by marginalized communities and strengthen the plan for how our Student-Workers Union can support these communities.

 

Sam Kohn

I am a 6th-year physics grad student, I’ve been organizing with our union for 2 years, and I am running for Head Steward on the Organizing for Student-Worker Power (OSWP) slate. I take pride in my teaching and in my research work. I know many other GSIs, readers, tutors, and GSRs do as well. We all deserve to be paid a living wage; we deserve class sizes small enough that we can remember our students’ names and research advisors who spend time actually advising us; and we deserve a stable set of workplace rights whether we are teaching or doing research. The only way we will win new rights—and enforce the rights we already have—is to teach workers about our union, learn what the biggest issues are, and take collective action around the universal demands of student workers across the UC. Through our campus Organizing Committee, I have talked to hundreds of workers all over campus to help build our power, and I have seen many challenges that workers face, from low pay to long or irregular work hours, large class sizes, and sexual harassment on the job. Just as frustrating is that workers see their contract protection disappear when they transition from teaching to research work. We all know someone who’s struggling with their teaching or research job because of a crummy supervisor or arbitrary UC policy. These workers deserve union leaders who will put in the time to solve these problems and rally colleagues to their side. That’s why now is the time to vote for candidates on the OSWP slate, who are doing the work to identify and solve these workplace problems and build our union’s membership and collective power. As a Head Steward, I will work for union policies that promote these goals, and I will work to expand student-worker power by helping unionize my fellow GSRs. I would be honored to have your vote.

 

Hero Ashman

Bio: Hero is a first year PhD student in the Sociology Department at UC Berkeley. She has been a union steward and member of Berkeley’s Organizing Committee since January 2019. She is also a member of the newly-created Equity Committee.

Statement:
I am running for the position of Head Steward on the Organizing for Student-Worker Power (OSWP) slate. As a union steward and active member of the Organizing Committee, I have worked this year to strengthen the rank-and-file base of our union by helping to build out a steward structure within departments. Conveying to workers the importance of unionization is critical to building a supermajority membership, as is listening to the myriad problems faced by student-workers across campus. As a Head Steward, I will continue work to sign-up and organize student-workers so that we can respond in full force to attacks on public education and workers-rights. I will also work as a member of the Equity Committee to make sure our union is responsive to issues such as health care access and discriminatory workplace environments that face marginalized workers. I share OSWP’s vision of a union built on worker solidarity and collective liberation, which for me means organizing to connect workers both to their union and to each other.

Tara Phillips

Bio: Tara has been a PhD student and union member since August 2014, an active rank-and-file organizer since January 2017, and a Head Steward since April 2018.

Statement: I’m running for re-election on the Living Wage Now! slate, because to fight back against attacks on workers and public universities, we need a mass, militant, democratic union that fights for wages and dignity. I believe lesson we can take from the nationwide teachers’ strike wave, in West Virginia, Oakland, and L.A., is what when public sector educators organize together we can win!

Since becoming an active member I’ve worked to organize bargaining town halls and increase active membership, especially in the Arts and Humanities. I’ve also signed up new members in the humanities and STEM departments, educated new workers about our union, and engaged in actions including rallies, walk-outs and strikes to support the interests of workers across UC. What I’ve learned is that workers are passionate about the mission of the public university and they are ready to fight militant campaigns to make UC accessible and sustainable for all.

Our fellow workers have made known their most urgent priorities: Living wages, housing relief, and a campus free of violence, discrimination, sexism and racism. Winning demands like these is why we have a union. We can’t win victories without a large, active membership. But we also can’t grow our membership unless we have something to fight for. I will work with my fellow organizers and workers to build a mass, militant, democratic union.

Last summer, as our contract with UC came up for expiration, I and the other Living Wage Now! candidates trusted our membership to go on strike and win. We saw what public educators have successfully done around the country and knew it would work for us too. But 8 people on our bargaining team decided to settle a contract that included zero relief for housing and a small raise usually offered to non-unionized workers. But what was worse is that they up the contract up for vote in mid-August, when most UC grad students weren’t even on campus! This was a demoralizing mistake that caused workers to feel powerless and betrayed, which helps explain why membership has actually dropped since the contract was settled – from 58% at Berkeley and 52% statewide last September, to 54% at Berkeley and just 49% statewide now.

While we may be under contract now, many other campus unions are not, from AFSCME staff to AFT librarians. Their fight for a truly public UC is ours too. As a Head Steward, I will work for us to build a joint struggle with our fellow workers in these unions. If UC’s technicians can win the 5.5% pay raise that their union, UPTE, is currently demanding, then we as student workers will be in a far stronger position when we face our own next contract campaign

Vote for the candidates from Living Wage Now! When we fight, we win!

 

Zachary Angulo

Bio: Zach is a rising second-year law student at UC Berkeley. Before joining the J.D. ’21 Class, he co-founded Northwestern University Graduate Workers (NUGW) with his doctoral student colleagues in Evanston, IL. There, he organized for guaranteed five-year graduate funding and lower continuation fees for Doctor of Musical Arts students. He also founded NUGW’s Research Committee to provide strategic guidance for its Organizing Committee. As a member of UAW Local 2865, he serves as Campus Chair of Contract Enforcement, Sector Captain for Berkeley’s professional schools, and Leader of the Berkeley Law and Organizing Collective.

Statement: I am running for Head Steward at UC Berkeley on the Organizing for Student-Worker Power (OSWP) slate. My experience fighting for a union contract has taught me the great value of actually having one. The diverse roles I have served in the graduate worker movement uniquely position me to see how moving parts in a union can fit together. Drawing from this experience and perspective, I want to cultivate a culture of organizing in our union. To accomplish this, we require dependable procedures, a trained and active membership, and an efficient flow of information throughout our Union and beyond.

This is my platform:

1. Build and preserve our institutional memory.

  • Develop archival procedures and training modules for UAW Local 2865 committees, consolidate listservs and Google groups into an accessible index, curate a list of institutional partners and community supporters, and build an alum network for our union.

2. Foster a pro-labor culture across our bargaining unit.

  • Promote workers’ artistic engagement in our Local; foster a democratic dialogue among our membership through monthly membership meetings, walkthroughs, and section visits; build coalitions with campus student groups to work on common causes; celebrate holidays that honor the contributions of civil rights activists, labor organizers, exploited peoples, and workers at large in our departments, our campuses, and our state-wide union; coordinate campus-level outreach committees to plan regular social events for labs, departments, and interdisciplinary clusters; and promote organizing opportunities across a wide and diverse scope of involvement, so that every UC student can contribute their strengths to our union.

3. Enforce our contract.

  • Grow our contract enforcement teams across our campuses, develop a handbook with cases and guiding texts for grievance handlers, define state-wide standard operative procedures for grievance handlers, design a standing enforcement report for monthly membership and JC meetings, and create a “hotline” of grievance handlers familiar with enforcing particular articles or solving particular procedural puzzles

4. Join the graduate worker movement at large.

  • Encourage our union to build strategic coalitions with other graduate worker campaigns and unions, participate in Coalition of Graduate Employee Unions (CGEU) conferences and regional graduate worker gatherings, and maintain solidarity with our International and all unions organizing graduate workers.

 

Joseph Stahl

Bio: I’m a third year PhD candidate in the mathematics department, and I’m running for Head Steward on the Organizing for Student-Worker Power (OSWP) slate. I’ve been a member of our union since coming to Berkeley, and have been organizing since the last contract negotiation. I’m currently a co-chair on the organizing committee at Berkeley.

Statement: An active membership is the backbone of any strong union. The recent surge in teacher strikes across the country and their impressive wins are an inspiration and model for our own efforts for safe and equitable working conditions. The teacher unions in these strikes had incredible amounts of participation: in some cases, the support for the strikes was at nearly 90%. A divided, inactive membership cannot win – the teachers in West Virginia, Los Angeles, and Oakland knew this, and we know this too. What we won in the last round of contract negotiations is a massive improvement on many fronts, and it was only possible because of the coalition we’ve built. Nonetheless, we deserve more and can win more by increasing our membership and realizing our united power.

I’m running on the OSWP slate because if we want a just workplace, we must build to supermajority membership. The word “union” itself explains where our true power lies. Building a powerful membership is not antithetical to having uncompromising politics and unconditional support for social justice movements and worker rights; in fact, it’s necessary if we want to make real changes. We must help our fellow workers recognize that we deserve more and can demand more. If I am elected to the position of Head Steward, I will continue to organize and activate workers at Berkeley as I’ve been doing the past year. I will fight for union policies that guarantee more protections against sexual harassment and discrimination, more LGBTQ+ rights and protections, and the end of police brutality and police presence on campus. I will also bring marginalized voices to the table, so they are heard and represented. If we give workers the opportunity to participate and encourage them to do so, we will have a stronger union and will achieve much more.

The task of increasing membership and participation in our union is a large one, as are our broader goals of realizing equity, justice, and liberation from the systemic injustices we face as workers and in our lives. But in my time organizing with our union, I’ve seen it happen. Behind every frustrated worker is an ally; we just need to talk to them and help them realize that the problems we face as workers can be fixed if we come together and use our true power to demand what we deserve.

 

Yueran Zhang

I’m a PhD student in the Sociology department and an international student from China. I’m running for Head Steward on the Organizing for Student-Worker Power (OSWP) slate. I have been organizing with our union since I came to Berkeley last August. Before attending Berkeley, I was a PhD student at Harvard and part of the successful campaign to unionize student workers there. Through these experiences, I developed a commitment to building a militant, diverse and broad-based union which does not merely “represent” the interests of workers of all backgrounds, but gives student workers who are historically marginalized at our university and workplace the confidence to participate and organize themselves.

Since last fall, I have helped found and coordinate our union’s statewide international student committee. Compared to their domestic counterparts, international student workers face a set of unique challenges ranging from the burden of the NRST to various visa restrictions, from employment caps to workplace discrimination. I believe these challenges could be most effectively addressed not by our union fighting “on behalf of” international student workers, but by the greatest possible number of international workers taking initiatives and forging solidarity through our union. As Head Steward, I will build on this effort to bring more and more international student workers into organizing and develop member-driven projects to identify and fight for the changes we want. This is the only way to make our union one which each and every of us international students could truly identify as our union.

 

Ali Marzolf

Bio: Ali is a first year public policy student at The Goldman School. Prior to entering graduate school Ali worked for Hennepin County in Minneapolis, Minnesota. While at the county, Ali was heavily involved with her AFSCME L34. She was involved in several internal organizing campaigns, worked on an anti-discrimination campaign, and was a member of the Executive Board in a Member-at-Large position for a year and a half. Her policy interests include social safety net programs, labor policy and workers’ rights, and affordable housing.

Candidate statement: I am incredibly honored and excited to be running for Head Steward at UC – Berkeley on the Organizing for Student Worker Power (OSWP) slate. I am running on the OSWP slate because my values as an organizer align with the principles of the others running alongside me. In my previous workplace I saw the power that we have as workers when advocate for ourselves via union organizing. As a GSI I have seen the ways in which the university is run like a business. Even though we are the folks who make the UCs run, we often are met with pushback when we ask to be treated with respect. As a union, we can build a sense of community and strength in knowing that we look out for one another. I fundamentally believe that your dignity is all of our dignity, and that the university will listen when we all speak together. I plan to build the strength of our union through internal organizing (boosting membership numbers and building a sense of community) among our peers. Often I feel that it is difficult to conceptualize what exactly a union is. My core belief is that a union is only as strong as its members. Of course, leadership is important, but it is my goal as head steward to increase our members ownership over what is our union, rather than the union.

 

Nathan Kenshur

Statement: I am a second-year undergraduate math tutor at the Student Learning Center at UC Berkeley and a co-captain for the tutoring sector at Berkeley. I am running to be a Berkeley Head Steward on the Organizing Student-Worker Power slate because I believe that our union’s strength comes completely from its membership. Our union needs to massively expand both membership and participation among student-workers. We face serious threats: a national government deeply hostile to organized labor and higher education, a state government unwilling to increase funding to the necessary levels for our university system, a university administration resistant to any assertion of labor rights. We can only confront these threats as a united group of student-workers. To do this, we need to make our union a space which protects and hears all student-workers. Undergraduate workers specifically are less involved in our union, and are thus less involved in the democratic processes. Undergraduate workers are also more prone to exploitation due to having less information about the rights afforded to them by our union.

My highest priority as a Head Steward will be to expand membership and participation among low-density sectors, particularly the tutoring and STEM sectors. I believe I am uniquely positioned to organize in these sectors due to being a tutor studying math. I will organize other undergraduate student-workers to be more aware and involved in all aspects of our union’s democratic process and resistance to exploitation by the university administration. Through connecting with undergraduate workers, I have learned about multiple violations of our contract by having students tutor for units instead of for pay. I have and am continuing to file grievances requiring the university to pay all student-workers for the work they perform, and I will continue and expand upon this work as a Head Steward.

 

Valerie McGraw

Bio: Valerie is a 2nd year in the Chemistry PhD program at UC Berkeley. She first became involved with UAW 2865 in January of 2018 as a co-captain for the science and math sector in the UCB organizing committee. In September 2018, she was elected as a Co-Chair for Berkeley’s Organizing Committee, and in October 2018, she was elected as a Head Steward.

Statement: I am running for Head Steward on the Organizing for Student Worker Power (OSWP) slate. Building worker power is not an easy task, but without strong leadership and an empowered rank-and-file membership, it is impossible. Historically, our union has had especially low membership among undergrad, professional school, and STEM workers. In order to build connections with workers in all departments, we must develop a strong network of rank-and-file leaders across all departments on every campus. Over the past year, I have had countless conversations with workers, during which I have signed up new members, identified new organizers and leaders, and helped workers address workplace issues. In addition to planning and facilitating Organizing Committee meetings, I have led organizer trainings and new worker orientations. These experiences have given me insights into how to organize effectively, and as a Head Steward, these insights will allow me to contribute to a bold organizing campaign to grow our union to supermajority membership and advocate for the benefits and protections that we deserve as academic workers.

Along with increasing membership and involvement of GSIs, readers, and tutors, the most important way to build worker power at UC is to unionize graduate student researchers/research assistants (GSRs/RAs). A successful RA organizing campaign will bring thousands of workers into our unit and extend to them the protections that we have fought for and won in our GSI contract. A strong organizing plan is crucial to building worker power, and I believe that this plan must include developing department-level stewards, mobilizing our members to participate in organizing, and making strategic efforts to have organizing conversations with as many workers as possible. I am excited to work alongside my colleagues in OSWP to implement a bold and comprehensive organizing strategy that will foster solidarity among academic workers across all job titles, departments, and campuses.

 

Diana Ruiz

Diana Ruíz is a fifth year PhD candidate in the Film and Media department. Currently she is a Head Steward (OWSP) and the Berkeley representative on the UAW2865 Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment Committee.  

I’m running for a Head Steward position on the OWSP slate because I want to continue the work of building a durable, inclusive, action-oriented union that both attends to pressing labor needs of my fellow student workers and long outlasts my own tenure as a graduate student. In our political landscape of resurging union power (and backlash), I want to help build a union we can all be proud of years from now. As a member of the Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment and Equity Committees, I am particularly invested in the protection of our most exploited student workers. I believe the OWSP focus on building supermajority membership is a crucial first step towards real leverage against UCOP. Beyond building supermajority membership, I want to work on structural policies that ensure each student worker signing a labor contract knows their rights and how to reject all-too-common discriminatory or unethical labor practices through the union grievance process.

 

Mary Mussman

Bio: Mary has been a Comparative Literature PhD student and active union member since August 2015, and was the lead appellant on the Mussman Appeal.

Statement: I am running for Head Steward on the Living Wage Now! Slate because I believe that the current wages paid to graduate students make our work unsustainable. The current contract failed to respond to the conditions we live, work and teach in. The 3% wage increase that does not keep pace with inflation and zero relief for the rising cost of housing for student-workers is unacceptable. The current leadership’s disinvestment in democratic unionism and member power were instrumental in this defeat. 

Our vision for the union includes building rank-and-file leadership to form a truly democratic union that fights for the interests of student-workers. We will also work to organize against the current austerity measures and privatization of UC. By working in solidarity with the other UC employee unions—we know that we can win fair contracts for all workers on our campus and throughout the state.

Countless times, our fellow workers have named their highest priorities: 

  1. Living wages, to make our work sustainable.
  2. Housing relief, so we can afford to stay here. 
  3. A campus without violence, discrimination, sexism, or racism. 

These demands are not optional—they’re urgent. Winning demands like these is why we have a union. These demands should be included in what our union fights for. 

We need new leadership to renegotiate the contract, organize for a strike, and win a living wage. And we need you with us. Vote for the candidates from Living Wage Now! When we fight, we win.

Yvonne Lin

Bio: Yvonne is a first-year PhD student in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures. In addition to being a departmental steward this past year, she has also helped build union membership by signing up people on walkthroughs, section visits, and onboardings.   

Candidate position: I am running for Head Steward at UC Berkeley on the Organizing for Student-Worker Power (OSWP) slate. When I arrived at Berkeley, it quickly became apparent to me that current bureaucratic procedures have far-reaching and unacknowledged negative impacts on graduate students. Standard practices like discrepancies in funding between members of the same cohort, the lack of opportunities to renegotiate funding packages over a period of often six or seven years, the complex (and often poorly communicated residency requirements) for out-of-state students, and the limited support for international students are considered immutable, but these practices can be changed. I believe that worker solidarity is a key component of solving equity problems. In order to identify and resolve instances of systemic issues impacting individuals, it is crucial to talk to workers on the ground and facilitate coordinated, cross-departmental efforts. Through a developing a robust departmental steward program and running union trainings, we can also build a strong enough network of active union members that every worker can turn to their immediate community for support in contesting exploitative labor practices. As Head Steward, I would target issues of unequal pay practices and hostile workplaces, especially as they disproportionately affect people who are marginalized on multiple axes.

 

Wilson Horner

I am running for Head Steward on the Living Wage Now Slate because I believe that the current wages paid to graduate students make our work unsustainable. The current contract fails to respond to the conditions we live, work and teach in. A 3% wage increase that does not keep pace with inflation and provides zero relief for the rising cost of housing for student-workers is unacceptable. The current leadership’s disinvestment in democratic unionism and member power were instrumental in this defeat. We need new leadership to renegotiate the contract, organize for a strike, and win a living wage. For that, we need you with us. Vote for the candidates from Living Wage Now.

Our vision for the union includes building rank-and-file leadership to form a truly democratic union that fights for the interests of student-workers. We will also work to organize against the current austerity measures and privatization of UC. By working in solidarity with the other UC employee unions and teachers unions, we know that we can win fair contracts for all workers on our campus and throughout the state!

As someone who has many years left in their graduate career, I anxiously look ahead to the future cost of living in the Bay Area. Rent in particular is rising far faster than our current contract keeps pace with, and by the time a new contract would be negotiated I fear that many of us will be financially stressed to a breaking point. During my time here I’ve had many opportunities to work with and learn from fellow union members who have steadfastly fought for our rights as workers, and if elected Head Steward I pledge to do the same. We can’t afford to wait another three years– the time to come together is now!

 

Layne B. Frechette

My name is Layne Frechette, and I am a 4th year Ph.D. student in the Chemistry Department at UC Berkeley. I believe in the power of student-workers to help collectively achieve a democratic, responsive, and just university. Translating this goal into action requires concerted effort on the part of union leaders to build union membership, center and respond to the needs of student-workers, and strengthen our union’s role in the broader fight for public education That is why I am running for Head Steward on the Organizing for Student-Worker Power (OSWP) slate. I have been actively involved in our union for nearly a year, during which time I have helped build our membership, signing up new members at onboardings, walkthroughs, and section visits. I have also had many conversations with fellow student-workers about the hardships faced by Graduate Student Researchers and Research Assistants, solidifying my conviction that we must work towards the creation of a GSR/RA union. In my role as a delegate to the Alameda Labor Council and through my participation in support of the recent Oakland Teachers’ strike, I have seen how our struggles as student-workers are tied to the struggles of other public education workers. As Head Steward, I would continue to build our membership, communicate with GSRs and RAs in my department and beyond in a push for GSR/RA unionization, and participate in political work that strengthens public education.

 

Holly Gildea

I am a third year graduate student in the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute. Like many graduate student workers in the UC system, I am part of a graduate group that spans multiple departments for teaching opportunities and research work. Within my graduate group, I advocated to my administration to decrease the financial burden on incoming first years by providing meals for their first weeks.

I was initially galvanized to get involved with union organizing after I was injured in a lab accident and realized that as a research worker I lacked many of the protections that I was granted through union bargaining for my GSI work. I am running for a Berkeley Head Steward position through the Organizing Student-Worker Power slate because we need the power of member involvement and advocacy to start the fight to organize graduate student researchers. It is unconscionable that we show up to work difficult and often dangerous jobs every day while the University remains completely unaccountable for our safety and well-being. By expanding our membership, increasing willingness to take action, and coordinating across the UC system, we can put resources into action to make a graduate student researcher union possible by 2021.

 

Isaac Marck

I am a third year graduate student in the department of Integrative Biology running for Head Steward on the Living Wage Now! Slate because I believe that the current wages paid to graduate students make our work unsustainable. The current contract failed to respond to the conditions we live, work and teach in. A 3% wage increase that does not keep pace with inflation and zero relief for the rising cost of housing for student-workers is unacceptable. We need new leadership devoted to democratic unionism and building member power to renegotiate our contract, win a living wage, and resist the institutional push for privatization, by any means necessary. 

Our vision for the union includes building rank-and-file leadership to form a truly democratic union that fights for the interests of student-workers. We will also work to organize against the current austerity measures affecting our union, students, and fellow UC workers. By working in solidarity with the other UC employee unions–we know that we can win fair contracts for all workers on our campus and throughout the state! 


Alex Mabanta

Candidate Statement: Unions, as democratic spaces, represent who we are and what we fight for as workers. I am committed to three specific platforms as an OSWP candidate:

  1. Political Power: We refuse to accept another four years of Trumpism. Along with the whole OSWP slate, I have helped to revive our union’s engagement in electoral politics, helping to author a local elections guide for all of Berkeley’s union members before the 2018 midterms. As a head steward, I will continue to do this work in our burgeoning political committee. Ahead of the 2020 election, our union will be the student voice to lead the political fight to vote out Trump and Trump allies. We will march and rally and organize and hustle. We will knock on doors, make calls, and drive up turnout. Moreover, UAW Local 2865 will push candidates who proclaim to be our allies to be accountable to us and to the needs of student workers. As a UAW Local 2865 Delegate of the Alameda Labor Council and member of the Berkeley Labor Coalition, I hope to leverage labor leaders, new and old, to join UAW Local 286-led political campaigns citywide and countywide: to ensure our politics are people-powered, corporate-free and student-centered. We cannot sit out of this election. We cannot permit our union to sit out this election. We must stand up and fight back.

  2. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: This year’s OSWP candidates represent more departments, gender identities, ethnicities, nationalities, sexualities and faiths than before. Our commitment to inclusion must extend to every level of our union: for underrepresented students, marginalized by the UC, to find strength and belonging organizing with us. Moreover, our campaigns must reflect the problems students, in their different identities, face. Together, let’s build a union militant against white supremacy, sexism, racism, ableism, anti-Blackness, homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism. To this end, let’s deepen our solidarity and partnerships, invest in our Equity Committee and International Students Committee, and focus on unionizing and empowering more women, people of color, LGBT people, and people with disabilities than ever before. I, along with the entire OSWP slate, is committed to focusing on low-density and low diversity sectors, and to cultivate and mentor underrepresented union members.

  3. Socializing and Social Belonging: Our union is a union of for everyone. We need more spaces to hang out, laugh, cry, conspire, and meet each other as we organize and activate membership engagement from every part of campus. As a member of the UAW Local 2865 Social Committee, I hope to co-institute more social events: to deepen our relationships, foster belonging, and facilitate pride in our union. As an intersectional organizer, I also hope to co-create events to uplift and celebrate working women, workers of color, LGBT workers, and workers with disabilities.

 

Wendy Wang

I am a 2nd-year PhD student of East Asian Languages and Cultures, and an international student from Taiwan. I am running for the head steward on the Organizing for Student-Worker Power (OSWP) slate. I am running because I believe that a better communication between our union and the larger student body is needed. Back in Taiwan, I have participated in several left-wing students movements, especially the LGBTQ movements and the campaign for the legalization of gay marriage. During the years as an participant and organizer of movements, I had a concern that many people with progressive values tent more and more to stay in a comfort zone and sometime can’t help but attack people with different opinions (even though they hold the same value but just have different approaches). At Berkeley, I started working as a departmental steward and helping the organizing activities around the campus since Fall 2018. Through talking to students of various cultural and intellectual background with different gender and ethnic identities, I have grown an conviction that the only way to achieve solidarity is to keep communicating and having dialogues with people who came from different social background and cultural upbringing. As a head steward, I will continue working on the organizing activities and recruiting more members. I will also strive to protect the benefits and rights of international students.

 

Dominick Lawton

Bio: Dominick has been a PhD student and union member since August 2014, an active rank-and-file organizer since November 2016, and a Head Steward since April 2018. 

Statement: I’m running for re-election on the Living Wage Now! slate, because to fight back against attacks on workers and public universities, we need a mass, militant, democratic union that fights for wages and dignity. The nationwide teachers’ strike wave, from West Virginia to Oakland and L.A., has shown how public sector educators acting together can wield tremendous power.

Within our union, I’ve organized walkouts, rallies, and bargaining town halls. I’ve also signed up new members across humanities and STEM departments, brought our workers to picket lines with striking AFCSME/UPTE workers and Oakland teachers, and helped underpaid workers get the wages they were owed.

Countless times, our fellow workers have named their urgent priorities: Living wages, to make our work sustainable. Housing relief, so we can afford to stay here. A campus without violence, discrimination, sexism or racism. These aren’t optional, they’re urgent. Winning demands like these is why we have a union. We can’t win victories without a large, active membership. But we also can’t grow our membership unless we have something to fight for. I will work to build a mass, militant, democratic union.

Last summer, as our previous contract neared expiration, I and the other Living Wage Now! candidates trusted our membership to go on strike and win, just as public educators have successfully done around the country. But 8 people on our bargaining team decided to settle a contract, putting it up for a ratification vote in mid-August, when most UC grad students statewide weren’t even on campus! Worse still, this subpar contract lacks any housing relief, or even a pay raise that keeps pace with inflation. This was a demoralizing mistake that took wind out of our union’s sails, which helps explain why membership has actually dropped since the contract was settled – from 58% at Berkeley and 52% statewide last September, to 54% at Berkeley and just 49% statewide now. 

We can only build a supermajority if we trust workers to fight. Union leaders’ job is to have workers’ backs so we can meet our needs. Our union must bring in more members, including by unionizing GSRs and Research Assistants, because we are all affected, and our strength comes in numbers. 

While we may be under contract now, many other campus unions are not, from AFSCME staff to AFT librarians. Their fight for a truly public UC is ours too. As a Head Steward, I will work for us to build a joint struggle with our fellow workers in these unions. If UC’s technicians can win the 5.5% pay raise that their union, UPTE, is currently demanding, then we as student workers will be in a far stronger position when we face our own next contract campaign. 

Vote for the candidates from Living Wage Now! When we fight, we win!


Alexa Nicolas

We can only win a fully-funded, tuition-free UC for All when workers have power. Our power can only be both built and seen when we reach everyone. To include over 19,000 readers, tutors, GSIs, and – soon – GSRs into our home-grown democracy requires us to build organizational structures in departments and cohorts, structures that reach through the ways our work atomizes us in classrooms, labs, carrels, cafes, all the spaces we work. We need to organize deeply and build strong coalitions with all of the unions at UC, because we can only win collectively. 

I am running on the Organizing for Student-Worker Power slate because building organizing structures and coalitions means that we can develop long-term strategies and resilient power. These are the tools that will allow our organizing to outlive our academic work at UC. Building power means we can win real raises and bargain creatively: continually enforce and uphold our contract, fight in our state legislature for better working conditions within California’s largest employer, and build common bargaining goals across all unionized workers at UC. As we’ve seen from other labor wins this year, we can, like teacher unions in California and nationwide, win big on issues we’ve never been able to bargain for before – affordable housing, paid peer-to-peer equity training, and ensure our workers are safe from UCPD. We can change what it feels like and who can work at UC.

 

UC Irvine Recording Secretary:

Charlie Gunn

My name is Charlie Gunn, I am a first-year PhD student in the English Department, and I am running for the position of Recording Secretary for UAW 2865 at the Irvine campus.

The strength of our union is drawn from our numbers. When the diverse body of student workers across the UC system stands together in solidarity within the union as card-signing members, we have the power, collectively, to improve our working conditions, protect our hard-won rights, and advocate successfully around the issues that affect each of us. To that end, I believe in strong and effective organizing on campus, which means working together to increase our membership, building a robust infrastructure of departmental leadership, and facilitating open communication among represented workers across campus. By bolstering our capacity to organize, we can reach majority membership at Irvine and make our union truly strong.

I am currently a member of the Irvine campus’ Organizing Committee, where I have worked closely with our unit’s projected leadership throughout the year to strengthen our union by steadily increasing our membership, promoting member participation, and developing organizational strategy. As Recording Secretary, I will continue to work to make our union an inclusive, fair, and democratic organization where all represented workers are engaged members whose voices are heard. That means ensuring that our unit’s votes and decision-making proceedings are transparent and well-documented, as well as encouraging the member participation that makes our union meaningful and democratic. With a clear, well-developed organizing strategy and an active body of membership, together we will build a formidable base of independent power for our union.

 

Jose Saramago

No statement submitted

 

UC Riverside Head Stewards


Eric Johns

No statement submitted

Noah Teller

Our union is emerging from a period of low membership engagement and demoralization, but now more than ever it is critical to revitalize our ability to collectively bargain with the UC. As the UC undertakes a dramatic expansion, it is critical that Graduate Student Workers not be left behind. My primary goals as your head steward will be to make the Union more responsive to student needs, to increase outreach and member education about what the Union can do, and to foster unity and mutual support both between Graduate Student Workers and other organized labor on campus (UPTE, AFSCME). Over the last year I have worked as a member of our Union Organizing Committee making face to face contacts to sign up new members, organized a pay stub review workshop that helped student workers identify pay errors, and helped students pursue grievances when they have been unfairly treated by their PIs, school administrators, or departments. As your head steward I pledge to hold weekly office hours to address student concerns, to organize well-publicized events that help you access Union services, and to defend Graduate Student Workers against being asked to unfairly share the burden of UC expansion. Thank you for your consideration!

 

Brianna McGee

No statement submitted

 

Somchate Wasantwisut

I became involved with the union after my fellow co-worker had his GSR-ship unjustly taken away by the abusive PI who disagreed with his decision to return home during the Winter Break; while at the same time, demanding more work without pay as a bargaining chip for re-instating the funding.

Nobody in his group is willing to speak out for him, so I reached out to Jonathan Koch; a member of the UAW 2865 from UCLA, and together we come up with various strategies to get his GSR-ship back. After a quarter of planning, I decided to confront the PI along with my co-worker in person. Together, we were able to successfully negotiate a compromise and my fellow co-worker finally got his GSR-ship re-instated.

During that time, I also helped draft the student climate survey to assess the funding situation of graduate students in the MSE program at UCR, which made me aware that there are many students who are also struggling with similar issues.

If I were to become a head steward here at UCR, I will do everything in my power to help students in need, build a stronger union, and improve working/funding condition for all student workers both domestic & international.

 

UC San Diego Head Stewards

Anna Mai

No statement submitted

Heather Paulson

No statement submitted

Kevin Allen Schwenkler

No statement submitted

Luis Diaz

No statement submitted

K-Dan Lee

As a member of the Biological Sciences Phd Program, I will represent and advocate for the student workers in the life sciences. Furthermore, I will strive to increase the participation and solidarity from the life sciences, which I believe is integral to the success of our union.

Gabriel Ascui

No statement submitted

Haley McInnis

I am a PhD candidate in the sociology department, and I’ve been a union member for five years – as long as I have been an Academic Student Employee.  I have spent time volunteering within my home department and in other university organizations to try and support my fellow grad students and make their time at UCSD a little better. However, with increasing attacks on unions that culminated in the Janus decision last June, I feel compelled to put that time to better use by organizing for the union in the capacity of Head Steward. I am passionate about building membership and hearing the concerns of my fellow graduate students with particular interest in issues related to housing, child care, and gender and sexuality. I want to work hard over the next two years in order to understand what graduate students need not just to survive at the institution, but to thrive.  I believe in spending my final years at UCSD working to ensure that our union is in the best position possible when contract negotiations begin again in 2022.

 

Eleanor Castracane

Hi UCSD! I’m Eleanor, a second-year Ph.D. student in Chemistry & Biochemistry. I’ve been a department Steward for the past academic year, where I’ve gone door-to-door to student offices in my department to raise awareness of issues that affect us as grad students, such as contract bargaining and housing. You may also have seen me at your ASE orientation answering your questions about our union! Chemistry & Biochemistry is one of the largest departments on campus, and I would like to continue to advocate for us, not just at the campus level, but at the UC level as well.

 

Juan Carlos Ybarra

My name is Juan and I believe that we need a head steward that can be a diplomat: to help bridge the divide between the Union and the GSA. As it stands, the GSA prides access to admins and to feel that they are heard (even if that may not be true); the Union worries that GSA execs are prioritizing access to administrators’ ears over trying all possible routes to success, including more confrontational tactics. The GSA has no leverage and refuses to apply pressure on administrators; the Union can always bring leverage during contract negotiations. We need a carrot and stick approach, and each org represents one of these approaches. Using each approach strategically, as opposed to cutting our nose to spite our face, by ignoring one another, we can achieve our goals of affordable housing, freedom from discrimination based on gender identity or race, lower student fees, decent wages, and funding for student parents between contract negotiations. Let’s be real, the Union has tangible achievements it has made on behalf of graduate students, but the GSA is less likely to be ignored when contracts aren’t on the line. Let’s find a way to work together.

 

Muhammad Zayed

No statement submitted


Cora Coleman

No statement submitted


Sven Brueggemann

No statement submitted