November 9th, 2010
Fellow members of the GTFF,
I thought I’d try to do something somewhat unique and compose a brief “State of the GTFF” message.
I’d like to acknowledge, and thank, all the new members of the GTFF for joining the union and attending the GMM (it was our largest turnout ever)! I’d like to also applaud the continued membership of returning GTFs and especially those members who take the time to be leaders in our union. These leaders are the department stewards, board members, caucus leaders, volunteers, and those who get involved and speak up about our union’s direction and affairs. It’s the enthusiasm of our membership which makes the GTFF a unique and active organization, enabling us to continue to be a strong and representative union.
As of today, seventy-five percent of GTFs are full members of our union. This is a membership rate unsurpassed by any other graduate student union in the county. I believe this is a reflection of the direct benefit the GTFF has on our lives (quality health care, good workplace protections, rising pay and reducing fees, among other things). While this membership number is excellent, it is slightly lower than it has been in the past. Fellow members! If you know a fellow GTF and friend who has not joined the union please encourage them to join! While numbers are not a true reflection of the strength of our union the more members who join the union the stronger the GTF is when engaging with the university. More members also means a more representative union and clearer lines of communication between the membership and the leadership. So fairshare GTFs (non-union members), I encourage you to join, especially if you are from departments with lower membership rates (Business, Architecture, Art History, East Asian Languages and Literature, Biology, Economics, Linguistics, Chemistry, Mathematics), join the union and have your voices heard! If you are interested in joining the union or have questions come down to the GTFF office or contact your department steward http://gtff.net/about/stewards.
The GTFF had a major staff this change this year with long time organizer Dave going over to the United Academics organizing campaign (http://unitedacademics.wordpress.com/) and former GTFF president and newly minted PhD Glenn Morris coming on as our staff organizer. Glenn has done an excellent job as temporary organizer keeping the GTFF running smoothly, members questions and concerns well attended to and the endless stream of requests I constantly send his way fulfilled! Dave provides lots of useful advice to the board and staff and to maintain our financial books. Lisa continues to provide the excellent administration of our health care she is renowned for while dealing with the massive headaches of very late GTF appointment lists from the UO and the changing federal COBRA regulations. All our staff members work hard to serve the membership in an efficient and professional manner and I wish to acknowledge their good work.
The GTFF membership was quite active this election cycle, volunteering to support the candidates we endorsed at the fall GMM. DeFazio and Kitzhaber won, but unfortunately Pat Riggs-Hensen did not win; a great disappointment since it means a lost opportunity to have a very labor friendly candidate on the Lane County Commission. We wish the best to Pat in her next exploits in life. A special thanks to all the GTFs who put in many hours knocking on doors and phone-banking to elect labor friendly candidates.
The GTFF has also been active this quarter in a number of other activities. Dozens of members, organized by GTFF Women’s Caucus chair, Sarah Praskievicz and VP of External Relations, Wes Shirley, turned out to hold signs during rush hour for Women’s Space which is dedicated to ending domestic violence. We also raised a few hundred dollars for Food for Lane County at a special beer tasting at the local bottle shop 16 tons (http://sixteentons.biz/blog/).
A fun event is coming down the pipes this December 3, 6:30 PM. We are having a beer taste off event the day before the civil war in Corvallis against CGE (our sister graduate union in Corvallis). We will be arranging car pools up to Corvallis and we hope lots of members attend!
Also we have successfully used the Helios online voting system to ratify our latest contract. 474 members voted, which stands as a record turnout for GTFF contract ratification elections.
Lastly, I’d like to commend the GTFF board for all their hard work this quarter. Running the union on a weekly basis is surprisingly a lot of work! Each member of the board has been diligent in their responsibilities and have sacrificed lots of their personal time to do the unions business. They work day to day to maintain a strong union, ensure the contract is properly enforced (protect GTF rights), plan good volunteer events, and fun activities. All full members are invited to attend any board (weekly) or council (monthly) meetings (http://gtff.net/calendar).
I hope to see everyone at the EOT party this December 14 (location TBD) and the Winter term General Membership Meeting, (date TBD).