Organizing Gets the Goods – Jan. 31, 2024

Hi All,

I hope everyone is off to a great start to the new year. As we gear up for the Spring semester, I wanted to recap what we have accomplished together in 2023.

Our Organizing Department grew last year with the addition of an Executive Director, Leslie Simon, and a Lead Organizer, Sam Sukaton. Additionally, we made the Lead Student Intern Coordinator position full-time, currently served by Juan Carlos Vasquez. Some of you have met them at your first faculty orientation. They, along with the Organizing Director and the rest of our staff at the Guild office, are here to serve you and your Chapter’s needs district-wide.

As of December 31, 2023, we’re looking at the most significant growth year in our 60-year history, a trend for the third year running for membership growth! Many joined our union after being recruited directly by their Chapter President, Executive Board delegates, and Grievance Representatives during Opening Day or at monthly Chapter Meetings. Historically, on average, we’ve signed up 40 new members annually post-Janus. However, since the pandemic, with the hiring of staff organizers, and with the building of our Contract Action Teams (CAT), we’ve taken the message of the union deeper and broader to our membership–and, at about 191 new members for 2023, we have reached an 80% majority membership!

The in-person organizing drive (our first since COVID-19) warrants a closer look. Last Fall, our organizers trained 79 CAT members district-wide in organizing conversations, campus mapping, and identifying leaders to strengthen our union! The Organizing Department offered Organizing for Power trainings to all campuses. From Oct. 30-Nov. 3, 2023, 29 CAT members and Chapter Presidents at City, Harbor, Mission, Pierce, and Trade met with 54 faculty on campus, learned about their issues, addressed concerns, and signed up 24 new members in just one week, giving us a sign-up rate of 44% proving that organizing conversations work!

People are joining our Guild because they see us at work for our faculty and students–from a 10.22% wage raise in bargaining to over  $6 million in public service loan forgiveness from our student debt clinics led by an amazing crew of member trainers to the texts, phone calls, and conversations our members and organizers have every day! The state of our union is strong, with a ratification vote of 98.29% on our 2023-2026 Collective Bargaining Agreement.

A special shout-out goes to our CAT Leads, who have been working closely under the direction of our Organizing Department and their Chapter Presidents to ensure our processes are open, transparent, and inclusive. As we move into 2024, you’ll hear from your Guild leaders and CAT teams about opportunities to improve our workplace and enforce our contracts, support one another, and of course our students. We hope that you will answer the call.

As we start the year, I have a potential 2024 resolution for you: ask a colleague who isn’t in our Guild to join today!  You can find our online membership sign-up form, as well as Guild resources and our most recent petition in support of the Academic Senate, here.  Together, we can keep winning. Thank you and Happy New Year!

In Unity,

A. James McKeever PhD
AFT 1521 Faculty Guild President