May 2013 Statewide Election Candidate Statements

Candidate Statements for the May 2013 Statewide Vacancy Election

Southern Vice President

John Gust

Troy Araiza Kokinis

Financial Secretary

Rob Ackermann

Mauricio Velasquez

Southern Vice President:

John Gust:

PhD Candidate
UC Riverside

I am asking for your vote for Southern Vice President and this is what I will do:

  • I will work with other union leaders on an aggressive campaign to win a great contract in Fall 2013.  Our next contract must enable TAs, GSIs, Tutors, and Readers to provide a world-class education to our students, while compensating us in a fair manner that competes with what other universities’ pay their student workers.   The contract must also continue to build upon family-friendly policies, as they are one of the best ways to ensure gender equality in academia. We must not fall for stall tactics UC uses so often in order to delay a contract and delay your raise.
  • I will fight alongside Graduate Student Research Assistants (RAs) to secure the right to choose to form a union through passage of SB 259.  All other employees who conduct research at UC have the right to organize and unionize. It is wrong that RAs contribute so much to UC’s research mission but are denied this fundamental right.

  • I will represent student workers interests in Sacramento, Washington DC, on campus, and in our communities to make sure that the political leaders who students and workers helped to elect continue to legislate in our interests. Specifically, I will fight to ensure that progressive revenue we helped raise for California with passage of Proposition 30 goes to fund UC.

  • I will work to expand immigrants’ and guest workers’ rights.

  • I will work to oppose online education schemes that are not directed by educators and line the pockets of private, for-profit corporations.

  • As Southern Vice President I will work to reinvigorate the dynamic one-to-one organizing model that made us the example for other academic student worker unions.

Vote for me for Southern Vice President, because of what I have done.

I have been active with our union since my first day at UCR.  My involvement in leadership started during my second year, and has continued with increasingly greater responsibilities.

I helped bargain our last contact which:

  • Included no losses

  • Advanced family-friendly policies through enhancement of childcare subsidy

  • Achieved the only guaranteed raise for any UC union during the Great Recession

  • Grants partial fee remission to non-residents

I have aggressively enforced our contract to:

  • Advocate that workers responsibilities are outlined clearly

  • Facilitate resolutions of ASE workload problems

  • Help ensure that positions are posted in a fair and timely manner

I have served with UCR’s GSA representing anthropolology graduate students and on several committees.

I have helped to expand rights for workers through protest, by aiding in electing student-and-worker-friendly candidates, and by educating elected leaders.

Together with my friend and candidate for Financial Secretary, Rob Ackermann, I am helping to spearhead our union’s fight to secure the right to form a union for RAs at UC.


Troy Araiza Kokinis:

MA Student
Latin American Studies
UC San Diego

Solidarity forever.


Financial Secretary:

Rob Ackermann:

Mathematics Graduate Student
UC Santa Barbara

I have been a mathematics grad student since 2008, a campus officer for UAW 2865 since 2010, and a legislative liaison for the UC Students Association since 2012.  I am an experienced, successful activist who has worked constantly on campus, at the capitol, and in the streets for student workers and educational quality.

I ask for your vote both for my record of success, and for what I hope to accomplish in the future.

  • I will work towards mass mobilization to win a great contract in the Fall of 2013.  Our next contract must ensure fair, competitive wages and benefits for TA’s, tutors, and readers while protecting educational quality at UC.  I believe we have the strength to win a great contract in the Fall, and that we should not fall for the stalling tactics UC Administration uses against other unions.

  • I will continue fighting for family friendly benefits, including 6-weeks maternity leave, expanded childcare subsidy, and better dependent health care.

  • I will continue to lead the campaign for the rights of 14,000 Research Assistants to choose to have a union through the passage of SB 259.  Recently this campaign resulted in the UC extending a childcare subsidy to Research Assistants, the first of hopefully many victories.

  • I will continue working on the ground across the state to build an inclusive union that all student workers want to participate in.  I ran the most successful UCSB orientation drive in the history of our local, strengthened our relationship with student government, and developed union contacts in most departments.  The result of this work is that Santa Barbara has the second highest membership rate of all UC campuses, including majority membership in many science and engineering departments.

  • In 2012, I acted along with student leaders at UCSB to mobilize 12,000 student votes to pass Proposition 30 and elect a Democratic supermajority in the state legislature.  I will work to hold politicians accountable and seize this opportunity to make real change in California.

  • I have lead our union’s lobbying efforts, ensuring that we take action to oppose ineffective, privatized online education, support expanded paid family sick-leave, and protect immigrant/guest workers from employer retaliation.  Today I am also working with the Postdoc union to reverse the devastating loss in research funding due to sequestration, and with UCSA to improve CalGrant availability.’

  • I will continue the tradition of financial responsibility in our union, ensuring that we have the resources to massively mobilize when we decide the time is right.  I will ensure that your dues are spent effectively towards winning a great contract while also maintaining our reserves for future student workers.  Finally, I will ensure monthly financial reports are sent to each campus to improve financial transparency.

A vote for me is a vote for a demonstrably effective leader.  Please also consider voting for my friend John Gust who is running for Southern Vice President.


Mauricio Velasquez:

PhD Student
Political Science
UC Los Angeles
-None Submitted-