2019-2020 Voters’ Guide

Voters’ Guide for 2019-2020

See below for information on 

Voting will occur via online ballot during Week 8 (5/20-24).

Please email VP for Operations Ellen Gillooly-Kress at operations@gtff.net with any questions.

Candidates For 2019-2020 Executive Board

(1 candidate)

Ellen Gillooly-Kress (Theatre Arts)

I am a third year PhD student the Theatre Arts departments (though it is my fifth year as a graduate student at UO!). This year I had the honor of being your VP for Operations, coordinating logistics and food to support all the great work that we do in this union. I seek to be president of GTFF because I am dedicated to moving this union forward together, especially as we enter a contentious and tumultuous period of contract negotiations. My goal is to continue the relationships we have worked hard to establish, while at the same time creating new relationships to harness our power as workers and community members. We’ll only go forward if we go forward together!

VP for Organizing
(1 candidate)

Trevor Brunnenmeyer (Physics)

I’m Trevor, a 4th year GE in the Physics department. I served as a steward for the Physics department for a year and a half, until I was elected VP for Political Education last February. I am also a member of the Bargaining Committee this year and am heavily involved with the Contract Action Team. In my involvement with the union, I have seen how the our efforts are able to improve the lives and working conditions of GEs on campus. As VP for Organizing I look forward to strengthening our steward network and improving communication between the elected leadership of the union and the membership in both directions. I will also take the knowledge that I have gained through trainings and my experiences with the union and share it with our stewards and members in order to keep our union strong and fight for our rights as workers.

VP for Grievances
(1 candidate)

Alexis Kiessling (Physical Chemistry)

I’m in my fourth year of the physical chemistry PhD program. Last fall, I became directly involved with the GTFF for the first time by joining the bargaining team as a representative of the natural sciences and of the queer caucus. On the team, I am directly involved with writing contract language for the proposals we exchange with the administration; it is very engaging work! I wish to take an active role in enforcing the contract I am helping to write and design through the position of VP for Grievances. My work on the bargaining team has provided me with the knowledge of our CBA required to do the work of Grievances, and I see the position as a way to use that knowledge to improve the working lives of GEs for whom the contract is not being upheld.

VP for Operations
(2 candidates)

Michael Dekovich (Music Theory)

Michael is running for the office of VP for Operations. A second year PhD student in Music Theory, he is committed to serving the members and organization of the GTFF in day-to-day operations as well as in the long-term goals of improving graduate student welfare and securing benefits, better pay, working conditions for graduate employees. He views the ability to organize as essential to the maintenance of any union and will work to ensure that the union will represent graduate students strongly and effectively.


Rachel Hampton (Earth Sciences)

My name is Rachel Hampton and I am a second year PhD student in the Earth Science Department studying magma chemistry. It isn’t my knowledge of volcanoes that I believe makes me qualified to be VP for Operations though. I have served as a Union steward in the natural sciences since I set foot on campus, organizing members, attending events, and fighting for a fair contract from the University. My involvement in organizing a wide array of other campus groups, including groups that fight for diversity and gender-equality in science, has given me a lot of experience with logistics, and event planning, making me excellently suited to this position. Being VP for Operations would allow me to serve the Union that has fought for me over the last two years and bring a natural science perspective to our fight to secure and maintain a fair contract for all GEs.

VP for Membership
(2 candidates)

JP Lempke (Music Theory)

JP Lempke is a first-year PhD student in music theory who specializes in the study of experimental concert works, an inclination derived from his years working as a composer and occasional performer. He became involved with the GTFF almost immediately upon his matriculation in the fall, and by winter had become a steward for the music department. In spring of this year, he was hired as one of our union’s member organizers, and thus regularly communicates with graduate employees about the importance of a united front in defeating the university’s harmful policies. His experience this term informs his platform as VP of membership, including developing a priority list of departments in most need of organizing, upgrading the database to better display information, and operate steward trainings each quarter to help facilitate improved conversations between members and non-members. These positions will fuel a better structured, more organized community of graduate employees.

Morgan Sosa (Chemistry)

I am a 4th year PhD candidate in the Chemistry department. Towards the end of last year, I became active in the GTFF as a steward in Chemistry, and was ready to put in effort to connect the natural sciences with the rest of the graduate community. That effort shifted when I joined the bargaining committee, and have been sitting at the bargaining table for the past 6 months. When bargaining has finished, I hope to go back to my initial reason of becoming an active member, which is connecting graduate students and employees across all departments with the larger union community. Ultimately, it is the members of our community that make the GTFF a strong union and advocate. As VP of Membership, I will work to help build strong steward networks across all departments and maintain the high level of membership we have had.

VP for Member Communications
(2 candidates)

Teresa Caprioglio (Media Studies)

I am a first-year Ph.D. student in Media Studies and a steward for the School of Journalism and Communication. I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity to get involved with the union this year! As part of the CAT and the Communications Committee, I’ve helped put together some events and messaging about bargaining for union members, including bargaining updates and FAQs. I worked for a while in the academic support side of community college education with a specific focus on communicating with and assisting adjunct faculty, and I think my experience there, as well as in writing, could be an asset to the union. I’m excited to do what I can to help with the rest of this bargaining cycle and keep folks up-to-date on what’s happening with the union.

Kisa Clark (Media Studies)

I am a first year PhD student in Media Studies at the School of Journalism and Communication. As a new graduate student at the U of O, I have been excited and happy to become more involved in GTFF as a Steward, a member of the Communication Committee, and to have opportunities to support the union and its important work during this bargaining year. I have a background in television and documentary production and believe my communication skills would lend themselves well for the position of VP for Member Communications. I also believe the work I have done with CAT this year will be valuable experience to effectively communicate with members around bargaining which will be essential if we are still working toward a contract agreement into the summer and fall terms.

VP for Equity and Inclusion
(1 candidate)

Michelle Dreiling (Media Studies)

As a member of the bargaining team focusing on issues of diversity and inclusion, I am extremely familiar with our contract and the proposals which will eventually become part of our contract. Over the past year, I have had the opportunity to speak to and intimately examine issues of parenting, LGBTQAI+ issues, accessibility, international student issues, and survivor support, among others. My background is in strategic communication and my research focuses on intersectionality and identity; I am keenly sensitive to the varied needs of members of our GTFF community, and I’m ready to fulfill the demands of this position. I believe that our strength is in our connection to one another, and I look forward to facilitating these connections in our community – we are stronger together – solidarity forever.

VP for External Relations
(1 candidate)

Rajeev Ravisankar (Media Studies)

Hi all, I am a first-year Ph.D. student in Media Studies. As the current VP for external relations I have worked to build relationships with a variety of campus groups and also with organizations active in the Eugene community. Also, I’ve focused on our outreach to media to get them to cover GTFF events and have had the opportunity to represent GTFF in interviews for radio and newspapers. I’m deeply committed to continuing this work guided by a vision of connecting GTFF with local and national networks rooted in solidarity that can be a force for social change.

VP for Political Education
(3 candidates)
Mauricio Betancourt (Sociology)

I am a second-year, international GE in the Department of Sociology. I am interested in political economy, imperialism, and ecology. I am doing research on the nature-society relationship in different economic systems. Given that I am an international student, I believe that I could bring some insights about some labor struggles outside of the U.S. that are currently going on and that have taken place historically, which could be useful for the GTFF’s organization. On the other hand, I believe that I could learn a lot from labor organizing in the United States by being part of the Union’s Board.


Evan Quarles (Philosophy)

Hi, my name is Evan Quarles. I am currently a first-year MA student in the Philosophy department studying all sorts of odd French texts on alienation (inter alia) and teaching undergrads Marx. Radicalized in a Marxist reading group in the deserts of New Mexico, I straddled groups of friends and comrades, some who were engaging direct action in pipeline resistance and environmental struggles, and some who were fighting for healthcare and immigration rights in grassroots political campaigns. Committed to educating both myself and those around me in the archives of dissident political theory and the past and present of labor struggles both in the street and in organized endeavors, I would be staunchly dedicated as VP of Political Education to identifying labor struggles and pro-union legislation at local, national, and international levels to which, aggregating the GTFF’s political priorities, we could lend our political endorsement and organized, active support.

Sarah Stach (Political Science)

I’m currently finishing the second year of my PhD program in Political Science. Over the last year, I’ve been active in GTFF as both a department steward and a member of the Bargaining Committee. I think our union, as strong as we are, has a considerable amount of power when it comes to affecting local and regional political issues. If elected VP of Political Education I would like to strengthen our relationships within the Eugene community and ensure that the Committee on Political Education is engaged in the issues that affect GEs as well as the members of the community we stand in solidarity with. Moreover, with UO’s claimed budget shortfalls, I believe it will be important to keep the pressure on the administration as well as the state government in order to hold the university accountable to its workers and students.

(1 candidate)

Alberto Lioy (Political Science)

My name is Alberto Lioy, I’m 32, from Italy, I’m a fifth year Political Science GE, and I study participation and political parties. I’m currently on the Bargaining Committee which has been an endless source of fun and amusement, most for what I hear the UO team say at the table. I want to be the GTFF treasurer because it is a good way to do something with the BA in Economics I got in 2012. You should vote for me because I’m honest and I spent my best years governed by Silvio Berlusconi, so I know how corruption looks like.

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Bylaw Amendment Proposals
Read the existing bylaws on the GTFF website.
  1. Updating Language to be Gender Inclusive, Replacing GTF with GE, and Other Grammatical Changes
  2. Officer Role Changes
  3. Lead Steward Proposal
  4. Stipends for Lead Stewards
  5. Updating Caucus Names and Descriptions
  6. Enshrine the Survivor Support Caucus, Disability Access Caucus, Environmental Justice Caucus, Workers’ Caucus, and Parents’ Caucus in the Bylaws
  7. Negotiating Committee Clarifications, and Empowering the VP for Organizing to Form a Contract Action Team

1) Updating Language to be Gender Inclusive, Replacing GTF with GE, and Other Grammatical Changes

EXPLAINER: Language is updated throughout the by-laws document, replacing “he/she” with “they”, replacing any remaining “GTF” with “GE”, and general grammatical changes.

Voting YES changes these words throughout the document.

Voting NO does not change these words throughout the document.

2) Officer Role Changes
EXPLAINER: Responsibilities have been redistributed between officers in the executive board to better balance the duties of officers on the executive board to include newer positions such as VP for Equity and Inclusion and VP for External Relations. This includes attending one workshop per term organized by the VP of Equity and Inclusion, focused on developing a more inclusive environment in union organizing.

Voting YES redistributes responsibilities between positions on the Executive Board.

Voting NO keeps the duties and responsibilities of officers the same.

TEXT: See highlighted language proposals HERE

3) Lead Steward Proposal
EXPLAINER: Union leadership has established ad hoc “lead stewards” for the past year to represent four to five areas. These lead stewards have acted as a conduit for information from each of these areas for both the executive council and executive board. These proposed By-law changes enshrines these positions into our by-laws as Lead Stewards, along with proposing a mechanism for elections.

Voting YES creates these positions, along with an election mechanism for these positions.

Voting NO does not create these positions.

TEXT: See highlighted language proposals HERE

4) Stipends for Lead Stewards
EXPLAINER: This by-law amendment proposes $50/ term stipends for Lead Stewards. (Annual Cost: $600)

Voting YES would instate stipends in 2019-2020 for four Lead Stewards  at a rate of $50 per term.

Voting NO means Lead Stewards would not receive stipends.

TEXT: See highlighted language proposals HERE

5) Updating Caucus Names and Descriptions
EXPLAINER: Several of the existing caucus names have been updated to be more inclusive. Caucuses to be updated include the People of Color Caucus, Queer Caucus, and the Latinx Caucus.

Voting YES changes the name of the caucuses.

Voting NO means the names of the caucuses will remain the same.

TEXT: See highlighted language proposals HERE

6) Enshrine the Survivor Support Caucus, Disability Access Caucus, Environmental Justice Caucus, Workers’ Caucus, and Parents’ Caucus in the Bylaws
EXPLAINER: Several ad hoc caucuses have been established over the past two years, and this amendment enshrines these caucuses in our by-laws, thus ensuring the voting power of these caucus chairs. The Survivor Support Caucus chair is additionally empowered to become a point person for survivor support services both on and off campus.

Voting YES establishes these caucuses, increasing our caucus number from 6 to 11.

Voting NO the number of caucuses in the by-laws remains the same.

TEXT: See highlighted language proposals HERE

7) Negotiating Committee Clarifications, and Empowering the VP for Organizing to Form a Contract Action Team
EXPLAINER: The purpose of these changes is to clarify and streamline the process by which the negotiations committee is formed, and to empower the Vice President for Organizing in developing and implementing a contract organizing campaign

Voting YES clarifies the Negotiating Committee, and empowers the VP for Organizing to form a contract organizing campaign

Voting NO rules for the Negotiating Committee remain the same, and the VP for Organizing is not specifically empowered to form a contract organizing campaign.

TEXT: See highlighted language proposals HERE

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Endorsement of Graham Trainor for President of Oregon AFL-CIO

EXPLAINER: The Executive Council has recommended to the general membership to endorse Graham Trainor for Oregon AFL-CIO President. AFL-CIO is one of our parent unions.

Voting YES will endorse Graham Trainor as President of AFL-CIO Oregon.

Voting NO will not endorse Graham Trainor as President of AFL-CIO Oregon.


Graham Trainor has been a long-time GTFF ally. In the 2014 strike, he walked the picket line in solidarity with us. He is campaigning on:

  • building a federation-wide culture of organizing
  • supporting affiliates first
  • protecting workers in a 21st Century economy
  • growing out statewide capacity – regional focus
  • prioritizing racial and gender justice
  • strengthening our political operation – winning for workers

A little history about Graham (from his campaign website):

Graham grew up in a small, rural, Midwestern town in the heart of the historical stronghold of the American automobile manufacturing industry, not far from the birthplace of the United Automobile Workers.  His grandfather, a forty-year UAW member at a factory in Northeastern Indiana, used his union card to lift his family out of Depression-era poverty and into the middle class.

His grandfather’s deep roots within the UAW and his mother’s involvement in the Indiana State Teachers Association had far-reaching impacts on his life.  As the son of an elementary school teacher and bank salesman, he was instilled with a strong work ethic and commitment to community service. From an early age, Graham always had a job.  He baled hay, worked at a local hardware store, was a server in the restaurant industry, and was a UFCW member at a grocery store during college. He grew up with a keen understanding of the dignity and value of all work.

After graduating college, Graham’s passion for activism led him to a job as a community organizer.  This exposure to the fight and struggle for social and economic justice, and organizations and campaigns across the country, had him hooked.  He committed himself to a career of community and public service, wanting to fight for what mattered.

More than thirteen years ago, Graham joined the Oregon Labor Movement as the State Director for Working America, the community affiliate of the AFL-CIO.  Around that time, he had opportunities to help Oregon workers come to power through forming their own union and winning political and policy campaigns that made a tangible difference in their lives. Those were some of the most formative moments of his early career, and he has been championing the Oregon Labor Movement ever since.

Graham has served in nearly every role at the Oregon AFL-CIO, as an organizer, campaign manager, lobbyist, and now as Chief of Staff.  He has been on the frontlines of many of the fights for economic justice in Oregon throughout that time. Notably, he led the largest paid get-out-the-vote operation in Working America’s history, defeated Bill Sizemore’s most recent attack on our unions (Ballot Measure 64 in 2008) as campaign manager, and helped lead and negotiate Oregon’s recent groundbreaking minimum wage increase.

Graham’s track record with the Oregon AFL-CIO has prepared him to be a strong leader for the challenges ahead for our Movement.  In collaboration with a team of incredibly talented Oregon AFL-CIO staff and trade unionists, he is ready to take on the hard fights for a fair and just economy alongside the Federation’s great affiliate union leaders.  A proud eleven-year member of IBEW Local 48, and UAW Local 1981 (in honor of his grandfather), Graham is ready and excited to work hard to keep Oregon UNION STRONG.

For more information about Graham’s campaign, you can visit his website https://www.oregonlaborforward.org/ or his campaign Facebook page.


Dear GTFF members,

I am writing to encourage you to vote NO on a GTFF endorsement of Graham Trainor for Oregon AFL-CIO president.

At the April 16th E-Council meeting, Trainor asked for an endorsement from the GTFF. He talked a good game about supporting social justice and organizing workers in the service sector. However, when asked for his position on the most important issue of our time, climate change, Trainor balked. He refused to answer several direct questions about his stance on the national Green New Deal or the Oregon AFL-CIO’s support for the Jordan Cove natural gas pipeline.

Instead, Trainor insisted that he views the president’s role as that of a neutral arbiter between the federation’s unions, making it inappropriate for him to take a position on fossil fuels. However, national AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka has had no qualms about publicly opposing the Green New Deal resolution. Why should we expect differently from Trainor? Moreover, why should it be politically difficult for any representative of the working class to oppose the fossil fuel industry or support a green transition?

The real reason for Trainor’s reluctance is, of course, that the federation includes unions that view progressive climate politics as a threat to their own short-term interests. In Oregon, the AFL-CIO resolved in 2013 to support the construction of the Jordan Cove liquid natural gas terminal. If constructed, Jordan Cove would become the biggest single source of greenhouse gas emissions in the state. According to Oil Change International, the lifecycle emissions of the project would be 15.4 times the emissions of Oregon’s last coal-burning power plant (https://www.opb.org/news/article/jordan-cove-lng-project-coos-bay-oregon-greenhouse-gas-emissions-report/). It would also dramatically increase tanker traffic along the coast and would further endanger sensitive southern Oregon forest and river ecosystems, some of which are located on indigenous tribal land.

The American labor movement, and especially the AFL-CIO, have been utterly myopic about climate and environmental issues. By working to defend the fossil fuel industry (without question one of the most reactionary and politically aggressive fractions of the capitalist class), they threaten the continued basis for human life on this planet. And in opposing visionary policies like the Green New Deal, these conservative unions are sabotaging the greatest opportunity to revive worker power in a generation. Instead, the strategy of these unions and their representatives seems to be to concentrate union strength in precisely those industries which must be abolished if we are to preserve a livable planet for ourselves and future generations.

Of course, they are wrong. The national Green New Deal resolution, as well as the even more progressive Oregon Green New Deal resolution (http://www.orjta.org/campaigns/ognd/), are blueprints for rebuilding union power. Besides decarbonizing the economy and investing massively in green jobs, these resolutions include strong provisions for transitioning workers out of fossil fuels and into clean renewables.

Regarding the politics of this endorsement — the vote to put Trainor’s endorsement on the ballot at the April 16th E-Council meeting was conducted with little debate or enthusiasm. When the issue of an endorsement for Trainor came up again at the April GMM, more people expressed opposition. If discussion and debate had lasted longer at the April 16th meeting, I feel strongly that the E-Council would not have voted to put a Trainor endorsement on the ballot.

At the April GMM, some GEs raised concern that opposing Trainor could bias him and his allies against the GTFF. This should not be a concern.

Frankly, we should not expect much assistance from the AFL-CIO anyway.

We are much closer organizationally, politically, and culturally to our direct parent union, the American Federation of Teachers. Far more important, however, is the fact that the GTFF has a moral responsibility to speak our conscience and oppose fossil unionism.

Finally, we must consider our own legacy in the GTFF. Trainor is running unopposed, and we should not allow him to decorate his coronation with the words “ENDORSED BY GTFF 3544”. We have always been at the leading edge of progressive unionism in Oregon — let’s not sacrifice that for Graham Trainor.

In solidarity,
David Purucker, Sociology Steward

GTFF members,

I don’t usually vote on single issues, but I believe that the issue of climate change is (without exaggeration) an imminent threat to the well-being of everyone on the planet. As a graduate student in Environmental Studies, I’ve studied and thought about this a lot.  The Green New Deal – drafted by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey – is the most promising pro-worker, pro-labor proposed environmental legislation we’ve seen to date that even comes close to matching the scale of the climate change crisis.

However, Graham Trainor does not support the Green New Deal. He has stated that he’s taking orders from AFL-CIO National, which came out against the proposed legislation, claiming it would jeopardize the livelihoods of their workers. The fact that AFL-CIO isn’t even willing to engage in dialogue about climate change or energy transition policy shows that they aren’t taking climate change or the needed transition to a clean energy economy seriously – at the peril of the very workers they claim to represent.

Graham Trainor is running un-opposed and will surely win, so endorsing him doesn’t mean a whole lot. However, NOT endorsing Graham Trainor would send a message to AFL-CIO Oregon and National that they need to engage seriously in planning for a just transition for their workers and working to create a habitable planet for everyone else, lest they lose some of their own labor allies.

Shawn Rodine, Treasurer