2018/2019 FSU Executive Committee Elections – Candidate Profiles

The FSU Elections are taking place from March 2nd through March 9th. You will receive your ballot through your umb.edu email.

In addition to candidate statements, we have invited candidates to participate in the online forum. 

PRESIDENT

(Vote for One)

Marlene Kim, Professor of Economics (candidate for re-election)

1) Why do you want to serve on the Executive Committee?

I believe I have the experience and skills (in organizing, bargaining, political action, and knowledge of the university, our contract and past practice) to serve the FSU most effectively. I have been FSU President since 2014, on the executive committee since 2008, on the bargaining team since 2007, at UMB since 2000, and active in the labor movement for over 30 years. I have organized the department chairs in a union (see below); negotiated contracts that enhanced our pay, benefits, and rights; averted attacks on your rights, and have worked with the other unions on campus and across the state to reinstate your health care plans, prevent your health care cost share from increasing, fend off parking rate increases , and place measures on the state ballot that help higher education and workers in the Commonwealth (including the Fair Share Amendment, which will raise money for higher education this fall). I have summarily resolved many of the problems of our members—from reinstating all the CAPS courses that were cancelled in the summer of 2017 (within three hours after I made this problem public), to intervening on behalf of members to management to resolve many issues, including attacks on academic freedom and faculty governance. My exemplary record speaks for itself—I have tirelessly and effectively worked for you and brought you the representation and results you deserve.

2) Given the local and national threats to unions, like the Janus decision, what would you do to strengthen the FSU?

The FSU is listening to members about your concerns, involving members, and talking to members about what is occurring at the university and in the state, and will continue to do so to strengthen the union. We are visiting departments and listening to problems and concerns, talking to members about these, and reaching out to colleges that are not involved with the FSU. We are encouraging members to be involved in the union and to provide your thoughts on issues that concerns that we should be working on. We are involving more members to staff FSU committees and to participate in our actions. We have an open door and take your concerns seriously—as a union should. We will continue to address your problems and concerns at the university—from faculty governance to budget cuts to parking fee increases. We are working closely with faculty council on many issues that concern faculty, such as faculty governance issues, and working with unions on campus and across the state to strengthen our power.

3) What is your favorite campus memory?

Organizing and winning the chairs union in FSU: Almost two years ago the department chairs union was born, the culmination of almost three years of work by myself and the FSU. We prevailed against legal challenges by our own university and against our Provost, who tried to scare faculty away from unionizing by sending personal letters to the homes of all the chairs and informing them why they should not unionize. I began this work soon after being elected President of the FSU. A team of us were trained and talked to all or almost all of the chairs. I talked to many, including the ones nobody else knew—in the sciences and math. It was ingratiating to talk to these chairs and to hear about their concerns and problems in their departments. When the time came to count the ballots at the Department of Labor Relations in downtown Boston, I was present, along with the UMass President’s head of Human Relations Mark Preble and Joe Ambash, the expensive attorney they hired to defeat this unionization campaign. One by one the ballots were counted, and I kept track. One was invalid because the chair did not sign the back of the inner envelope, and I knew the predilections of that chair were for the union. We held our breath. The count at the end was overwhelming for the union. Management slumped, looked deflated, then offered a tepid, “Congratulations” to me, and we discussed how bargaining would begin. In this era of attacks on working people and unions, this remains by far my most memorable.

Steve Striffler, Director, Labor Resource Center, Professor of Anthropology

1) Why do you want to serve on the Executive Committee?

I am the Director of the Labor Resource Center, a Professor of Anthropology, and a member of the executive committee of the FSU.  I have been in the labor movement as a scholar and participant for over twenty years, and held leadership positions in two unions prior to arriving at UMass.  If elected President, I will work to strengthen the FSU’s capacity to be a powerful voice for faculty/staff – to build a strong, democratically-run, union that is responsive to member needs, provides avenues for member engagement, defends our interests, and builds alliances with other unions.  Strengthening our voice is crucial not only because the jobs of faculty/staff are threatened, but because our mission as a public-research university that provides an affordable education to a diverse student population is currently under attack.  I believe that one of the most important ways to defend higher education is to maintain a strong faculty/staff – one that produces knowledge, provides a first-rate education to students, and has the capacity to advance the public mission.

2) Given the local and national threats to unions, like the Janus decision, what would you do to strengthen the FSU?

Because the anticipated Supreme Court ruling (Janus v AFSCME) will allow employees to enjoy the benefits of union membership without paying dues, it provides a strong incentive for people to opt out of unions.  The (ironic) upside is the ruling should force unions to be better – to engage more with members in order to collectively advance their issues, concerns, and interests.  It will encourage unions to do what they should have been doing all along — organize and mobilize members.  To face these threats, we need to strengthen the FSU both internally and in terms of our external alliances.

Within the FSU, we need to be run as efficiently as possible, both to use resources wisely and so that members can contribute their time and ideas in effective ways; we need to be run as democratically as possible so that members become more involved, knowing that they are part of the FSU’s leadership and will collectively chart its direction; and we need to improve our capacity to protect the rights of our members, including the most marginalized among us.

But the FSU also needs to strengthen our alliances, including with students, unions, and other allies on campus, with our sister unions across the state, with the MTA, and with friendly politicians and policymakers across the region.  As the attack on the public sector continues, these alliances will become increasingly important not only for UMB faculty/staff, but for higher education in general.

3) What is your favorite campus memory?

When the university announced that parking is free.   Oh, wait…

 

TENURED FACULTY

(Vote for Two)

Steven Levine, Associate Professor of Philosophy (candidate for re-election)

 

Emilio Sauri, Associate Professor of English

1) Why do you want to serve on the Executive Committee?

I am running for this position because I strongly believe that living up to our urban mission as Boston’s only public institution of higher learning depends on fostering a thriving union on our campus. As we all know, higher education faces unprecedented challenges not just in Massachusetts but across the country as well. Devastating fiscal policies driven by privatization schemes, along with an increasingly pervasive rhetoric hostile to the very idea of education as a right, have left faculty and staff in vulnerable positions. In this context, our best recourse is maintaining a strong union that not only represents our interests at the bargaining table but also encourages members to see the union as theirs. We need a democratic union that fights for the right of all stakeholders: students, faculty, and community. My experience with unions began when I was a graduate student at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where I worked actively to unionize graduate students, a campaign which we won. Although the challenges we face on our campus today are not the same, I believe my work with the Graduate Employee Organization at UIC provided me with the kind of experience that will help me be an effective member of the FSU’s Executive Committee. In this capacity, I will work to get our employers to see that UMass Boston works only because we work.

2) Given the local and national threats to unions, like the Janus decision, what would you do to strengthen the FSU?

The Janus decision will, in all likelihood, deal a blow to public sector unions across the country and in Massachusetts. Yet, there is reason for hope. Even as union membership in the private sector has dwindled (from 12 million in 1983 to 7.7 million in 2015), membership in public sector unions has remained consistent (7.2 million and counting in 2015, 1.5 million more than 1983). Furthermore, unionization campaigns on private university and college campuses in the Boston metro area (in which several of our members played significant roles) have proven successful. Whether any of this will be enough to stop the tide of catastrophic consequences following from the Janus decision is yet to be seen, but they’re nonetheless important to keep in mind. On our campus, educating students, faculty, and staff about local and national threats to unions is an important first step, but one that needs to be followed up with a campaign to strengthen union participation on campus. We also need to continue to work collaboratively with our sister unions, PSU and CSU, and coordinate efforts both to protect employees and to build a broader culture of union participation on campus.

3) What is your favorite campus memory?

My favorite campus memory involved seeing the campus in person, for the first time. I was visiting the campus as a job candidate, and as my future colleague turned from Morrissey Boulevard onto Bianculli Boulevard, I remember feeling a keen sense of excitement. What I saw was a public university much like the one I had spent the last seven years of my life, and driving onto campus that day, I felt immediately at home.

Tim Sieber, Professor of Anthropology

1) Why do you want to serve on the Executive Committee?

After 44 years here, more and more I see the union offering the possibility of the freshest and most unified voice we as faculty can have at UMass Boston. The FSU doesn’t owe anything to anybody – except to us, and the commitment we have to our students, the communities we serve, our professional fields of knowledge, and the university’s mission. We are also entering into a dangerous era for all organized public sector workers. We need an even stronger union that fosters more faculty participation and dialogue, includes everyone, and offers a clear voice on the many long-term problems that still trouble UMB.  I have benefitted a lot from the presence of the union, as we all have. I’m worried about its future, I and would like to give something back after all these many years, since I was on the FSU’s first steering committee in the late 1970s.

2) Given the local and national threats to unions, like the Janus decision, what would you do to strengthen the FSU?

If the Janus decision goes as most people expect it will — against us and all members of public sector unions throughout the nation — it will not suggest we need unions any less to help us formulate our collective voice as faculty over terms and conditions of our employment.  If the Supreme Court upholds Janus, it will simply mean that anti-worker forces have succeeded at taking a good chunk of unions’ financial resources from them, so that unions will have less to work with in doing their important work.  This prospect argues even more for all of us who believe in the efficacy of a union voice to work harder to promote inclusion, dialogue, and more unity among ourselves, and to awaken colleagues who may not have recognized the union’s value yet.

3) What is your favorite campus memory?

When I first came to UMass as a new faculty member in the mid-1970s, the year our “Harbor Campus” opened, despite the prison-type architecture that constructed barriers between us and waterfront environment, we were more connected and intrigued by being on the waterfront than we seem to be any more.   My department, with families in tow, used to arrange to have a university boat take us out to the harbor islands so that we could have a picnic in the spring at the end of the year. Once on Thompson Island, or Lovell’s, we would set up a large tent and a grill, cook food, take out sports equipment for games, and enjoy the day outside, on the water and in the sun. It seems that faculty, all being new to the university and to one another, also socialized more regularly with one another in those days.  I miss the camaraderie we felt in those early years and the sense that everyone was part of an exciting new project – to create an accessible public university of the highest quality in Boston, a place where nothing like that had ever existed before.

 

TENURED FACULTY – Special Exlection for Vacant Seat

(Vote for One)

Jeff Melnick, Professor of American Studies

1) Why do you want to serve on the Executive Committee?

This is my 8th year at UMB. I am in my second term as graduate program director for American Studies, have served once as interim department chair, and twice as a member of the CPC for the College of Liberal Arts. These relatively “local” service commitments have made it clear to me that senior faculty need to commit themselves to fighting energetically and in a collective way against the attacks on campus live traveling under the banner of “budget crisis.”  The economic challenges are real but the solutions are not predetermined or readymade.  As an American Studies scholar whose work has always been engaged with the relationship that obtains between the “real” and the “representational” I know that rhetorical formations matter.  Part of our work in the FSU is to make sure we’re doing the best job we can at communicating to the widest possible public how our work on campus matters to the health of the Commonwealth.

2) Given the local and national threats to unions, like the Janus decision, what would you do to strengthen the FSU?

While I certainly have ideas about how to strengthen the FSU, it strikes me that as a new member of the Executive Board my greatest contribution would be to serve as a good listener (and accurate reporter). As GPD in American Studies, I have some access to the concerns of graduate students and to the “strategic plans” of administrators (such as replacing an amazingly skilled and dedicated long-time member of the Grad Studies staff with a “customer relations management” platform called “Salesforce” And no, I am not creative enough to have invented that dystopian detail.)  I have former students and dear friends who are K-12 classroom teachers in the Commonwealth.  So my goal, in taking on this work is to try to understand what concerns we share across our various locals in order to best brainstorm strategies for scaling up our collective power.

3) What is your favorite campus memory?

Given that I am running for the Executive Board of FSU, it probably goes without saying that I am dedicated to planned, organized collective action. But I’m also a big supporter of spontaneous, meaningful collective action as well. So I’d have to say my favorite UMB moment has to do with the response that greeted two men who tried to spread a message of homophobic hate on campus last year under the cover of preaching scripture.  I saw them trying to gather a crowd when I arrived on campus that day and had my usual complex feelings about whether to just ignore them or try to figure out a more direct response. I went off to my office hours and returned to the plaza a couple hours later to find them more or less surrounded by a large number of students, faculty, and staff.  A table had been set-up by members of some campus office—I still don’t know which—to hand out rainbow stickers and pins.  Students “followed their arrows” (as country singer Kacey Musgraves has put it)—some engaged thoughtfully, some chanted, some drummed.  Faculty milled about, talking to students, joining chants, and so on. Just a great moment of UMB togetherness.

 

PRE-TENURE FACULTY

(Vote for One)

Joseph Brown, Assistant Professor of Political Science

1) Why do you want to serve on the Executive Committee?

I am eager to serve on the Executive Committee as a way of building community and collective strength among faculty, staff and students. I realize the power and dignity that an effective union provides. If elected to the committee, I look forward to working on several issues, including member mobilization in light of the Janus decision, academic freedom, ongoing budget cuts, and increased parking fees. I can offer my energy and creativity to advance these goals, and I look forward to doing so.

2) Given the local and national threats to unions, like the Janus decision, what would you do to strengthen the FSU?

I believe we must offset the challenge posted by Janus decision with increased strength in numbers. One way to increase our strength in numbers is to build solidarity with undergraduate and graduate students affected by the same issues that matter to faculty. Such issues include budget cuts and parking fees. By coordinating our activity with those of undergraduates and graduate students (particularly the graduate student union) we can be stronger and more effective in achieving our goals.

3) What is your favorite campus memory?

My favorite campus memory is actually an off-campus memory: the first time I saw our campus from across the harbor, after starting my job here. Looking across at UMass Boston and knowing that I worked there, I was proud to be part of UMB’s social mission.

NON-TENURE  TRACK FACULTY

(Vote for Two)

Ellen Frank, Senior Lecturer, Economics Department (candidate for re-election)

 

Monique Fuguet, Senior Lecturer, Mathematics, College of Science and Mathematics (candidate for re-election)

 

George Kelley, Senior Lecturer in the College of Management-MSIS

1) Why do you want to serve on the Executive Committee?

To strengthen the Executive Committee.  The current Executive Committee has become entirely too detached from addressing the daily needs of our members in a transparent and participatory fashion. The Executive Committee is tasked in our bylaws with establishing sub-committees that oversee collective bargaining and contract administration as well as facilitate and encourage member involvement and participation. Its record doing so for several years now has been very poor.

2) Given the local and national threats to unions, like the Janus decision, what would you do to strengthen the FSU?

Janus is a soon to be decided case which may do away with compelled union contributions to unions like the FSU that represent government employees. To strengthen the FSU, we should remove the exclusivity clause from the union contract with the administration and replace it with a most-favored clause. Those who do not pay dues would be excluded from the contract and not benefit from the union contract provisions, and instead have to negotiate with the administration individually and at their own risk and expense. This risk and expense will encourage them to join the union. The administration will be weakened by the distraction from the need to negotiate several individual contracts.
With the most-favored clause in place, the union would gain strength by being able to exercise the most-favored clause should the administration negotiate an individual contract provision that is more favorable than a provision obtained by the FSU on behalf of its members. For example, pay level increases mandated by the Massachusetts Equal Pay Act soon to become law this July 1 2018 will bump up pay for some above their current pay. The FSU with the Most Favored Clause in place could then leverage these individual equity increases to obtain equal-pay-for-equal work pay for its members.

3) What is your favorite campus memory?

My favorite campus memories are from seeing people enjoying the Harbor Walk and Campus Center in the days before there was construction on campus.

LIBRARIAN 

(Vote for One)

Jessica Holden, Reference Archivist (Librarian II)

1 Comment

  1. Why don’t you have any people of Black women or men running for these positions?

    How many Black union members do you have as part of the executive board ?

    How many black members do you have who pay dues?

    How do you deal with racism and discriminatory practices in the job?

    Thank you,
    Natalicia
    Have the union reaching out to them?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

© 2018 FSU Blog

Theme by Anders NorénUp ↑

css.php