October 2011 Vacancy Election Candidate Statements

UCLA Recording Secretary Candidate Statements

• Brooks Ambrose

Dear voter,

I’m running for Recording Secretary, 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’d like you to consider casting your vote for me.

I’m running for Recording Secretary 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. Over the past year I have been working with fellow members to recruit a new cohort of UCLA Stewards. If rank-and-file members are the muscle of our union, Stewards are the bones, connecting each department and hiring unit together and helping us leverage each other’s strength. As members of your department or unit, they’re also your go-to support people for departmental, campus, and statewide organizing and for contract enforcement. I want to be Recording Secretary because I want to stand with Stewards 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 team backing them up.

I also want to be your Recording Secretary because I want to be on the UAW 2865 Bargaining Committee, the body that negotiates directly with the UC to protect and improve our contract. 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 Research Assistants the same protections and benefits that TAs Tutors and Readers enjoy, and they continue to charge out of state and international academic workers $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

• Zachary Williams

Hello, my name is Zachary Williams. I am a fourth year doctoral student in Political Science, specifically Political Theory. I’m in my third year of working as a TA. I’ve been a member of UAW 2865 since 2008 and I’ve participated in Academic Workers for a Democratic Union (AWDU) since it formed at UCLA in 2010.

I’m involved in our union because I believe our union is an important place to fight for public education in the state of California, because our interests, as teachers and tutors responsible for the bulk of instructional hours here on campus, are inseparable from those of our students and our society. As such, the quality of our working conditions helps determine the quality of our students’ education and this state’s future.

I aligned myself with AWDU in 2010 out of a commitment to transparency and democratic membership participation in contract bargaining. Those commitments kept me active in the union through the recent triennial election, where I ran for a Head Steward position. My experience with the elections process led me to close study of the rights and privileges of the membership within our union and the democratic protections we all share as rank and file members.

Over the summer I stayed involved in a number of committees within the new statewide leadership, participating in planning for our new efforts to defend public education in California and acting as a rank and file representative of our local at the Council of Graduate Employee Unions, as well as working to organize my own department. As part of these efforts I paid close attention to criticisms of UC policy and trends within higher education generally. As a result I have conducted my own investigations into UC budgeting and UCOP’s financial strategy, as well as the effects of UCOP policy on both TAs and students.

While I currently participate in our union both locally and at the statewide level and would continue to do so in my capacity as a Head Steward for our union, I am chiefly running for Recording Secretary because of the role I would play in contract bargaining. I believe I possess both a knowledge of and an interest in the relevant data regarding our union and its contract, our work and its changing conditions, and the UC and its budgetary policies. I hope to pair that knowledge with my commitment to transparent, factual analysis when we, in concert with the other unions at the UC, collectively bargain for a new contract in 2013.

As the UC continues to attempt to minimize its costs and increase its tuition revenues, we will find ourselves under increasing pressure and increasing vulnerability as workers. Only by coming together can we agree upon the sorts of protections we need to protect our status as both teachers and students and struggle together to achieve them. For more information about what I hope to contribute – or have already contributed – to our common efforts, please visit http://awduucla.wordpress.com/

UCLA Recording Secretary Vacancy Election: sample-Official-Ballot for October 2011