February 14 and 15: Time to Vote on all campuses!

This Tuesday and Wednesday, Feb 14-15, 2012, on all campuses, members are voting for Southern Vice President of our local. Voting locations and times for your campus are listed below.

You can read about the two candidates for Southern VP below:
Rob Ackermann (UCSB) and Erin Conley (UCLA).

Democratic control of our union by our members is the backbone of our union’s strength, so please cast your vote!

If you’re a member at UCLA, there is also voting for Head Steward candidates, you can find candidate statements below for:
Brooks Ambrose
Alexandra Holmstrom-Smith
Renee Lynn Hudson
Alexei Nowak
Mathew Sandoval

Executive Board Candidates for Southern VP:

Rob Ackermann:

I am a fourth year math graduate student and Recording Secretary at UC Santa Barbara. Watching the economic recession and cuts to the UC hurt my peers and the students I teach, I felt the need to “come down from the Ivory Tower” and get involved.

In 2010, I put pressure on the UC to accept our demands for childcare reimbursement and helped to ratify a great contract. Today I am running for Southern VP because our union is at a critical point. We need to increase our statewide membership numbers and involvement, in anticipation of a tough contract negotiation and to fight further budget cuts. Simultaneously, we need to build an activist base that will work to finish passing a bill which would give Graduate Student Researchers (GSRs) collective bargaining rights, and be ready to support those workers in forming a union. At UCSB, I’ve proven that I can lead organizing drives around these issues, and I hope to continue to do so as a statewide leader.
My first priority as SVP will be to ensure our union is an inclusive organization that reaches out to every Academic Student Employee. I’ve already worked towards this goal at UCSB by leading the most successful orientation membership drive in our history, by recruiting activists and personally speaking to hundreds of incoming graduate and undergraduate students. Strong membership numbers translate into winning contract disputes and political power.

This fall, I lead a petition drive and spent many hours talking to GSRs about the need for a GSR union. Having been a GSR myself, I think it is ridiculous that we have no collective say in our workplace. A GSR union could protect 14,000 workers from discrimination and unfair termination, ensure better wages and benefits, and be a huge political force for achieving higher education funding in the sciences. Recently I lobbied for a bill in the California legislature that would extend collective bargaining rights to GSRs. I!m happy to say that it passed in the State Senate 25 to 12.

Outside of our workplaces, it is essential that our union be involved in local and California state politics. Our union has played a role in successful protests throughout the state, as part of the ReFund coalition and with student groups. I was personally inspired when I witnessed hundreds of students at UC Riverside step up to protest budget cuts at a Regents meeting. I want us to continue building these coalitions so that together we can push through legislation and/or ballot initiatives that address income inequality in California, and begin to reform the UC Regents. I also think it is important that our union is involved in the politics of our local communities. For example, at Santa Barbara, our Union campaigned this Fall for City Council Candidate Cathy Murillo, who won, and is now working to build more affordable housing in downtown SB, an issue that helps our local community as well as our members.
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Erin Conley:

I’m a second year PhD student and Teaching Associate in the English Department at UCLA, and I’m eager to represent our members and continue the work of reformers from Academic Workers for a Democratic Union (AWDU) as the Southern Vice- President.

In nearly every recent national news story on austerity measures in public education, one can read about our union and the key role our members play in the public education movement. A year ago activists and organizers across the UC system were struggling to mobilize enough students on campuses to hold rallies in defense of public education. Our former leadership failed to recognize the power of our members, and as result, we were losing the fight against privatization and the fight for a stronger contract. Now we have the Regents on the defense, and this is a result of commitments that the reform leadership we elected last spring made to building a fighting union.

I’ve been on the front line of this fight, and I’ll bring vital experience in activism and cross-campus/cross-sector organizing to the SVP office. As a participant in OccupyUCLA, I helped organize an act of civil disobedience and was arrested alongside thirteen other students and alums at dawn on the morning after our first encampment. I also worked with our union’s partners in the ReFund California Coalition to develop a direct action plan and coordinate outreach for the November 9 Regents protests and the November 16th CSU Trustees solidarity protests. I coordinated dozens of Teach the Budget presentations to spread the word about the actions, and I helped turn out hundreds of students, workers, and community members for the 9th and the 16th. As SVP I’ll continue fostering our relationships with coalitions like ReFund California so our union can push for increased state revenue through measures like the Millionaire’s Tax, and I’ll help us build a base of politicized student-workers committed to a diversity of tactics in the fight for public education.

There’s no question that our union is indispensable to the fight against privatization in California, and a growing union will only strengthen our success. I’m also committed to meaningfully increasing our membership because an active, knowledgeable, and organized membership is how we win. Organizer trainings and grievance handler trainings are invaluable to empowering campus leadership and rank-and-file members alike, so I want to coordinate such trainings for the southern region on a more frequent basis. Likewise, I want to work with campuses to recruit more stewards and develop stewards networks in order to increase the membership’s access to information about the contract. Wider contract education and information sharing are essential for organizing around contract violations and workload issues, and as SVP I will encourage us to aggressively use the contract as a tool for protecting student-worker rights. To that end, I will fight for the strong contract that is possible if we continue to show our strength and win the fight against privatization.
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To learn more about AWDU at UCLA, visit our website at www.awduucla.wordpress.com.

UCLA Head Steward candidates:

Brooks Ambrose

Dear voter,

I’m running for Head Steward, UCLA 3rd District. I’m a 3rd year Sociology Ph.D. researching the history of the growth of U.S. universities, and I’m originally from West Virginia. I hope you will consider casting your vote for me.
I’m running for Head Steward because I want to help UCLA graduate students and workers get involved in the union, learn about our rights, and fight for the respect and dignity we deserve. I want to be Head Steward because I want to stand with stewards and rank-and-filers to help make the hard work of organizing more efficient, productive, and satisfying. I want our members to know that when they step up to the plate to protect their rights that they have a tireless, committed organizing team backing them up.

For a decade our bargaining teams have fought for new benefits and strengthened existing ones. Academic workers now enjoy rising wages, a cash childcare subsidy, paid sick leave for ourselves and our loved ones, paid healthcare premiums, and discrimination protections that reflect the actual diversity of UC students.

But the UC continues to discriminate and make excuses for refusing benefits to many of us. The UC denies Graduate Student Researchers the same protections and benefits that TAs Tutors and Readers enjoy, and they continue to charge out of state and international academic worker $10,000 dollars a year in “supplemental” tuition. Across the state graduate and professional students are standing with undergraduates and families to stop the UC from balancing the educational budget on our backs.

Our strategy begins today. We will work department by department until every graduate and professional student at UCLA knows a friend or colleague who is a steward in the union, until every SAO and department chair can’t go a day without seeing a union button, until the UC thinks twice before treating us like revenue or fat to be trimmed.
I’d be honored if you considered casting your vote for me, and I promise that I’ll put the work in to build our capacity and momentum in advance of the 2013 contract negotiation and in support of the growing social movement to restore public education in California.

In strength, Brooks Ambrose, UCLA Department of Sociology
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Alexandra Holmstrom-Smith

Although a relative newcomer to the UCLA campus, I have considerable experience with campus and union activism at my college, off-campus, and through my research. As a graduate student in Sociology I have been involved with the UAW and the fight for public education statewide, and I was recently among those arrested at a direct action in Westwood. The University of California system is world-renowned, and academic workers have to be committed to defending this institution from years of budget cuts and privatization. Our degrees, our teaching credentials, and our education are all intimately tied to the quality of this institution. When our workloads are too high it affects the quality of our research and teaching. Therefore, I believe that defending our rights as academic workers has to be connected with a broader movement to rethink funding priorities. AWDU has been a leader in this effort. If we don’t fight back, the state will continue to deal with its budget problems by squeezing graduate students, TAs, readers, and other vulnerable workers. As a head steward, I will continue to work to keep the pressure on the state to restore funding to public education. I will also be a responsive officer, available to listen to the needs and concerns of my fellow graduate students and academic workers. At UCLA, we have an opportunity this year to build the strength of our union and make it better positioned to negotiate on behalf of student- workers in the coming years. I am deeply committed to that cause, and I would be honored to represent you.
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Renee Lynn Hudson

We are at a pivotal moment in the fight to defend public education. The UC Regents have delayed voting on tuition increases. The Regents have also decided to hold their May meeting in Sacramento as part of a rally to improve funding for higher education.

These developments are a far cry from where we were in 2009. And yet, while the UC Regents’ rhetoric has improved, their response to us, the students, has worsened. This year has seen the continued militarization of UCPD to such an extent that protesters now expect to be beaten and pepper sprayed. The sight of police in riot gear has become the rule, not the exception.

Meanwhile, in my home department, English, we continue to lose top faculty to private institutions. TAs are now hired on a quarter-by-quarter basis instead of a yearly basis, leading to an even greater sense of job insecurity.

This is the situation we are in: we must fight the increasing privatization and militarization at our university. We must do this because fighting against the budget cuts directly affects the environment in which we labor. Our resistance to privatization will ensure that we are able to teach, not “manage” our students. Our resistance to privatization will ensure that we are able to teach, not provide a service for our student to consume. Our resistance to the militarization of our campuses will ensure a safe learning environment where we can focus on being students and workers, rather than victims of police brutality and intimidation.

As a candidate for Head Steward, I am committed to defending public education and advocating for our rights as academic workers. I am committed to working with TAs, readers, researchers, and tutors to address the concerns that affect us all, from the larger fight to defend public education to the issues that affect us everyday, like high workloads and a lack of summer funding. I am a fifth year PhD student in English, a TA, and a tutor. As a member of Academic Workers for a Democratic Union (AWDU), I am invested in continuing to reform our union and empower academic student employees. I am excited for the opportunity to serve you and encourage you to learn more about AWDU at UCLA: www.awduucla.wordpress.com.
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Alexei Nowak

I’m Alexei Nowak, a third-year graduate student in the Comparative Literature department running for UCLA Head Steward. We are now facing a crisis in the U.C. and in California public education as a whole, but it is also an opportunity, as part of the accelerating political mobilizations over the past two years in this country, for us as graduate students, TA’s, and GSR’s to take control of our own jobs and education. In 2009 I was involved in statewide organizing and local actions that revitalized the student movement, and last year I began working with Academic Workers for a Democratic Union because I believe our self-interest, a better contract, is in the interest of the overall refunding of the U.C.

Graduate students can play a key role in coordinating and leading the fight against university austerity measures. We take classes, like undergraduates; we have collectively bargained contracts, like workers; we teach, like faculty. We see classes and programs cut, while being asked to teach more students, ultimately weakening undergraduate education. If all of this were not enough, TA’s are paid between $16,000 and $18,000 per year to sink or swim in Los Angeles’s high cost of living. Once upon a time graduate school might have appeared as an investment toward life-long job security as tenured faculty, but those opportunities are increasingly scarce. So as student debt becomes less of an option, we need better wages while in graduate school itself.

This context may appear as an organizer’s dream, not only the opportunity but the pressing need to mobilize academic student workers for their own interests in our union’s contract negotiations in 2010. However, the previous union leadership kept rank-and-file members in the dark about the negotiations, relying only on the small bargaining team, until they finally pressed us to accept a contract that did not even keep up with inflation. It was out of the frustration with this process that I joined a new group looking to reform the union.

AWDU’s fundamental position is that only a well-informed, mobilized union of academic student workers can put the kind of pressure on the administration that it will take to win a better contract. Following our historic victory last spring, in which AWDU candidates won all ten seats on the union’s statewide executive board, we have become one of the most progressive elements in the larger labor movement. This has meant, among other things, working with the Refund California coalition to try to raise income and property taxes on the wealthiest Californians. Closer to home, all six of our UCLA AWDU candidates have participated in Occupy UCLA, including the action in November which forced the Regents to meet us on our own terms. The Regents are on the defensive, in a public relations crisis. I believe that in pressing them our greatest weapon is graduate students’ intelligence and creativity, and as Head Steward I will work to coordinate larger student participation in this fight.
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Mathew Sandoval



Our Public Education system is under attack

Our public institutions are under attack

Our public everything is under attack



They’re privatizing our university

They’re privatizing our campus

They’re privatizing our space, our time, our everything



We can’t afford to let this happen

We can’t afford to turn a blind eye

In a time when we can’t afford tuition or the cost of living, we can’t afford a Union that isn’t fighting back



Let’s stop talking about these issues in private

Let’s stop trying to solve them in private

Let’s join the widening, global chorus that sings “Fuck The Private!”



Let’s take our fight Public

Let’s take it to the streets

Let’s take it to the media

Let’s shove it right in front of everyone’s faces

And if that’s not enough, then let’s shut it down! LET’S STOP FUCKING AROUND!

Seriously, seriously, let’s stop fucking around. I’ve been at UCLA long enough to know that our Union has spent too much time lost in endless bureaucracy, too much time lost in power struggles among “decision makers”, too much time not looking past the end of its nose. We need a broader scope. We need reform. We need a more radical engagement with the problems facing graduate student workers.

That’s why I’m bumping fists with other activists from AWDU (Academic Workers for a Democratic Union) and running for the Head Steward position, so we can stop fucking around.


Our Union needs more creativity

Our politics needs more art

Our student movement needs to become a carnival



The Regents, the administration, the state officials, only know numbers

Their language is charts, graphs, and figures

Their faces are earnest, somber, and grave



We have to laugh, play, have fun, be lively

We have to speak a language of poetry and performance

We have to dance, make music, make puppets, make love



Let’s link it up with radical undergraduate groups

Let’s hook it up with state-wide Occupy groups

Let’s make this Union a party, not a political party, but a Party party, one that real people want to really be a part of.


Seriously, seriously, let’s start fucking around. I’ve been at UCLA too long to know how serious exams, and dissertations, and teaching, and researching, and fellowships, and applications, and funding, and committees, and every other fucking aspect of graduate school can be. It’s all serious all the time. Union membership, participation, and activism should not mimic that seriousness. Not if it wants to survive. Not if it wants to grow.

That’s why I’m running as Head Steward, because changing the world should be the necessary recess from the daily stress of graduate school. So let’s do the damn thang!

– Mathew Sandoval
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2012 Vacancy Election Dates, Times, Locations

Berkeley Voting Dates, Times, and Locations
Tuesday 02/14/12 10AM-4PM at Sather Gate
Tuesday 02/14/12 10AM-4PM in front of Kroeber Hall
Wednesday 02/15/12 10AM-4PM at Sather Gate
Wednesday 02/15/12 10AM-4PM at North Gate

Davis Voting Dates, Times, and Locations
Tuesday 02/14/12 10AM-4PM Memorial Union, Along the Quad
Tuesday 02/14/12 10AM-4PM Between Physics Bldg. and Phys. Sci. Library
Wednesday 02/15/12 10AM-4PM Memorial Union, Along the Quad
Wednesday 02/15/12 10AM-4PM Between Physics Bldg. and Phys. Sci. Library

Irvine Voting Dates, Times, and Locations
Tuesday 02/14/12 10AM-4PM On Ring Road in front of Reines Hall (FRH)
Tuesday 02/14/12 5PM-7PM At end of bridge across E Peltason next to Palo Verde Rd
Wednesday 02/15/12 10AM-4PM On Ring Road in front of Social Sciences Tower (SST)
Wednesday 02/15/12 5PM-7PM At the corner of Pereira and Adobe Circle

Los Angeles Voting Dates, Times, and Locations
Tuesday 02/14/12 12PM-6PM Young Research Library (YRL), Front Steps
Tuesday 02/14/12 12PM-6PM Court of Sciences, North End
Wednesday 02/15/12 12PM-6PM Young Research Library (YRL), Front Steps
Wednesday 02/15/12 12PM-6PM Court of Sciences, North End

Merced Voting Dates, Times, and Locations
Tuesday 02/14/12 12PM-4PM Lantern
Wednesday 02/15/12 12PM-4PM Lantern

Riverside Voting Dates, Times, and Locations
Tuesday 02/14/12 10AM-1PM Bell Tower
Tuesday 02/14/12 10AM-1PM Outside Hinderaker Hall
Tuesday 02/14/12 1:30PM-4:30PM Outside Bourns Hall
Tuesday 02/14/12 1:30PM-4:30PM The HUB
Wednesday 02/15/12 10AM-1PM Outside Bourns Hall
Wednesday 02/15/12 10AM-1PM The HUB
Wednesday 02/15/12 1:30PM-4:30PM Bell Tower
Wednesday 02/15/12 1:30PM-4:30PM Outside Hinderaker Hall

San Diego Voting Dates, Times, and Locations
Tuesday 02/14/12 10AM-4PM Applied Physics and Math (APM) (between APM & Muir Biology)
Tuesday 02/14/12 10AM-4PM Social Science Building (SSB), Coffee Cart
Tuesday 02/14/12 5PM-8PM 1 Miramar, Café Vita
Tuesday 02/14/12 5PM-8PM Coast Apartments (In Front of Community Room, Building 9350)
Wednesday 02/15/12 10AM-4PM Applied Physics and Math (APM) (between APM & Muir Biology)
Wednesday 02/15/12 10AM-4PM Social Science Building (SSB), Coffee Cart
Wednesday 02/15/12 5PM-8PM 1 Miramar, Café Vita
Wednesday 02/15/12 5PM-8PM Coast Apartments (In Front of Community Room, Building 9350)

Santa Barbara Voting Dates, Times, and Locations
Tuesday 02/14/12 9AM-4PM Arbor
Tuesday 02/14/12 11AM-2PM Engineering II Quad, near “Nano Café”
Wednesday 02/15/12 9AM-4PM Arbor
Wednesday 02/15/12 11AM-2PM Engineering II Quad, near “Nano Café”
Wednesday 02/15/12 5PM-8PM San Clemente grad student housing, front of Donner

Santa Cruz Voting Dates, Times, and Locations
Tuesday 02/14/12 10AM-4PM Science Hill, outside the Science Library
Tuesday 02/14/12 2PM-4PM Baytree Plaza near Graduate Student Commons
Wednesday 02/15/12 10AM-4PM Baytree Plaza near Graduate Student Commons
Wednesday 02/15/12 2PM-4PM Science Hill, outside the Science Library
Wednesday 02/15/12 5PM-8PM Family Student Housing – Affiliates Building

Run-off election, if necessary, will be Tuesday, February 21, 2012, at the same poll sites and with the same voting hours as Tuesday, February 14, 2012 for each campus; and Wednesday, February 22, 2012, at the same poll sites and with the same voting hours as Wednesday, February 15, 2012.
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