2011-2012 Executive Officer Nominations

Below are the candidates running for the 901 2011-2012 Executive. There will be an all-candidates meeting NOTE DATE CHANGE on Thursday 21 April at 5pm at NOTE LOCATION CHANGE the Grad Club, third floor board room (use second set of stairs). Candidates will be there to answer questions. Elections for Executive Officers will take place at our AGM (26 April 2011).

Executive candidate summary:
President: 2 candidates
VP Community Relations: 1 candidate
Chief Steward: 1 candidate
Treasurer: 1 candidate
Secretary: no candidates
Equity Officer: 1 candidate

Executive Candidates:

Name: MaryAnne Laurico
: English
Employment Position
: Teaching Assistant/Tutorial Leader
Running for
: President

Being a Teaching Assistant has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my time at Queen’s. I take pride in both my work and students. I appreciate the work the diverse range of TAs and TFs perform at Queen’s, and I strive to maintain this pride and appreciation.

When I first came to Queen’s to start my PhD in 2008, I was surprised to learn there was no TA union, but was unsure about getting involved with a union campaign. Despite being unsure, I was overwhelmed by the passion of the activists working on the drive, and was then inspired not only to help out, but to learn more—to challenge my own conceptualization of unions and unionisms. Being a labour organizer has truly challenged, changed, and enhanced the way I understand activism and advocacy. The ethic I bring to serving our local is rooted in my organizing experience.

Over the past year, I’ve had the opportunity to further broaden my understanding of our union by serving as a member of both the Interim Executive and Bargaining Team. As an Interim Executive member, I’ve had the chance to work with various groups and individuals at Queen’s and in the broader Kingston community to start to build what I hope will be lasting ties. Over the last year, I’ve sat on several 901 committees, worked with members of the SGPS Executive, sat on the Queen’s Council of Employment Equity, and served as a delegate member of the Kingston and District Labour Council, the PSAC Kingston Area Council, and PSAC Kingston Regional Women’s Committee. I’ve volunteered my time to do all of this because I believe those in advocacy roles need to be well-informed: I’ve done this to learn to better serve our local, and you, the 901 member.

As a Bargaining Team member working to negotiate our first Collective Agreement, I’ve developed a strong understanding of and appreciation for the collective bargaining process and CA language. I’ve learned that bargaining is not simply about monetary demands; instead, it’s much more about putting into place strong practice policy and process. It’s all been a tremendous learning experience for me, and I’m very thankful for it all.

Development, outreach, education, and representation are my driving priorities for the local. 901 is a member-driven, autonomous local—and I want to help keep it that way. It is now a particularly exciting time to be involved with our new union because it’s a time where we can shape its direction.  There are going to be a few bumps along the way as the union finds its voice and place at Queen’s, and it’s going to take a lot of work to get the local up and running smoothly. But I’m dedicated to learning and adapting as we go. I’m also dedicated to working with a strong executive to represent the strength and diversity of our membership.

I’ve seen the positive change that has happened, and I will strive to see it develop and grow. I believe strong working conditions are the basis for high-quality education. I believe in sustainable movements and social justice. I believe in the strength of collective advocacy. I believe we’re all worth it.

Name: Karl Skogstad
Department: Economics
Employment Position: Teaching Assistant
Running for: President

The reason I have chosen to run for president of the union is in the hope
of bringing some reason to an organization founded on lies and
misinformation.  It became clear to me that the union organizers had no
idea about the workings of the university or the value of money.  Some
organizers told me that Queen’s had billions of trillions of dollars to
spend.  Clearly it would be unfortunate for people who believed such
nonsense to be put in a position of power.

I don’t believe in unions.  I feel that each individual TA or TF is the
best person to deal with problems that arise in the workplace.  I do not
want to be drawn into a labour dispute between a TA and a professor in
another department, the same way I’m sure most people do not care about
the problems between myself and my boss.

I think it is important to remember that this a job, not a career.  As a
TA or TF you are being hired to perform a specific task.  If you feel that
this task is not worth the pay associated with it, then you are free to
refuse the job.  Organizing a union to transfer money from Queen’s to a
large union seems like a ridiculous way of maintaining a positive learning
and work environment.

I do not have any prior union experience (thankfully) but, I do however
have experience in leadership roles in various student groups.  I know how
to lead effectively and can bring a voice to non-trivial grievances that
may arise.

My plan for the union would be for it to have as little influence as
possible.  I would do my best to make sure none of our precious dues were
wasted on nonsense.   I would do my best to make sure that we would not go
on strike.  I would do my best to ensure that each department maintained
the same number of TAs and TFs and that wages grew to keep pace with
inflation.  My general view on the union is that less is more.  The less
control and power that the union has, the better off its members will be.

The union was a mistake, but we can ensure that that mistake is limited by
limiting the union’s role.

Electing me would mean electing someone who cares about Queen’s University
today and tomorrow.  Disrupting the university over a few individual
problems will not be my policy.  The status quo was fine and I will strive
to ensure that there are no major changes.

Name: Krystle Maki
Employment position:
Teaching Assistant
Running for: VP Community Relations

I’m interested in running for the VP position because it is important to build a strong and vibrant local and outreach and community building is essential to engage the membership to get involved in their union. I look forward to learning more from the membership about what kinds of events and campaigns they would like to see their union involved in. I have had previous experience organizing a PSAC union drive in 2008. My duties included outreach, education and community building. I have had experience running union 101 workshops, organizing events, working with various social justice groups in the Queen’s and larger Kingston community, I helped organize the Union Day event that was held in March 2011 and I have had 4 years of experience engaging with our membership about unions. In this position I would be working closely with other unions on campus and various other campus groups. I would be interested in organizing monthly lunch and learn workshops that the membership could attend to learn more and get involved in their union. I would also like to help organize a PSAC 901 social justice committee.

Name: Christo Aivalis
: History
Employment Position
: Teaching Assistant
Running for
: Chief Steward

I came to Queen’s University in 2009 to study labour and working class history, due mostly to my work as an undergrad at the University of New Brunswick.  I have always been fascinated by the role of unions in larger society, as well as the internal functions that make the day-to-day operation of a local possible. While much of my research deals with larger labour bodies, I truly believe that the most positive actions take place at the local level, where direct responsibility to the membership is of the utmost importance, and where changes to both union and societal structures percolate up.

My experience with PSAC Local 901 touches on many aspects of local building. Since the certification of the local, I have been a member of the interim executive, and have helped to write the local’s bylaws.  I am also a member of the bargaining committee and bargaining team. The first group comprised 16 fellow Teaching assistants/fellows whose task was to write our original package for the employer. The latter group was formed out of the committee, and it is our task to sit with the employer in the effort to obtain a first collective agreement.

Relating to Chief Steward, my experience on the bargaining committee and team is of great importance.  Not only I have been involved in building the local, but my work on helping to both write and bargain the collective b agreement allows me to better understand the intents and nuances in the document. Because this is the first such agreement at Queen’s, the first year of its application will be a time where both the union and employer feel out the intricacies of the document; as such, having someone involved in its creation will serve the local and its members well. This knowledge will help me better in dealing with the concerns of our members in relation to our collective agreement.

My plans for the local are directly related to the tasks of a Chief Steward, namely the creation of a strong, effective, and comprehensive stewards’ network at Queen’s. One of the key goals for Chief Steward is to organize and aid each department’s steward in the task of representing those TAs and TFs.  This network, and the stewards who compose it, are the veritable nerve system of the local; without them, employment issues and concerns may be lost in the university’s various nooks and crannies.

My key goals as Chief Steward, should I be elected are

  1. To ensure that after the ratification  of a collective agreement, our local is best represented in its application
  2. To ensure that a strong and effective steward network be created, as it would serve as the principal system where members’ concerns could be aired, and the system in which democratic expression can be marshalled both from the executive, and to it.

Name: Sean Field
: Geography
Employment Position:
Teaching Assistant
Running for
: Treasurer

My name is Sean.  I am running for the position of Treasurer because I am excited to work with members of the local on common issues in these next few critical years.  As a fledgling local, there is a lot to be done at 901.  Making sure 901 is on the right financial foot and working with the Executive set up internal administrative processes to serve the needs of our members will be key to the local’s future success.

I feel that I am the right person for the position of Treasurer because of my previous experience working with union locals and student government.  Before coming to Queen’s, I was the local Treasurer of CUPE 3913, representing TA’s and Sessional Professors, at the University of Guelph.  At local 3913, I was responsible for the day-to-day finances of local, managing the local’s $0.5 million budget, and managing the local’s strategic financial assets.

Before working with CUPE, I was the Finance and Human Resources Commissioner at the University of Guelph’s undergraduate student union, The Central Student Association (CSA).  At the student union, I was similarly responsible for overseeing the CSA’s $1.05 million operating budget, its $5.9 million of in-trust assets, and the management of its 78 staff.  In addition to this experience, I have an MSc in applied economics and I am currently working on a PhD in Geography, with emphasis on economic geography.

I feel this experience has prepared me for challenges associated with being the Treasurer of a fledging local, and I am excited to work with other to help make our local strong.  This is an important time for our local and I hope you will support my nomination for Treasurer.

Name: Hannah Johnston
Employment Position:
Teaching Assistant
Running for: Equity Officer

I came to Queen’s from Philadelphia in the fall of 2009 as a Master’s student in the Department of Geography.  My interest in how agricultural industry expansion impacts worker’s legal consciousness and organizing efforts has shaped my scholastic experience throughout my time in Kingston. This research stems largely from my extracurricular work experience over the past three years.

Over the past year my Masters degree work was coupled with and enhanced by employment experience; while pursuing my degree I worked for the only active farmworker’s union in Pennsylvania where I was employed as the Union’s business representative.  In that capacity I was responsible for handling all worker grievances, including issues related to work place equity and harassment. This job relayed the importance of being able to use Federal and State legislation in addition to union bylaws and the collective bargaining agreement in order to best support union members.

Prior to my experience in Pennsylvania, I worked with a farmworker union in North Carolina as well with multiple equity-related projects.  I participated in two anti-racism trainings run by CrossRoads and one program held by the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond; these organizations are among the United States’ largest and most prominent anti-racist education organizations. All of these experiences have given me skills to identify and work toward the goal of eliminating structural oppression within academic institutions and labor unions alike.

I believe that the 901 local has demonstrated a commitment to an anti-oppressive framework on a number of levels.  Efforts have included a demonstrated dedication on the part of the negotiating team to obtain the best collective bargaining agreement possible in order to support Teaching Assistants and Fellows. The 901 local also has encouraged PSAC to address equity issues at the Federal and Provincal level.  If I am elected the Equity Officer I plan to continue to advance these and like efforts and ensure that equity remains a prominent goal and concern of 901 and of Queen’s.

If I am elected as 901’s Equity Officer I want to address corresponding concerns in three ways, all of which I believe are important to make Queen’s a safer and healthier space for everyone. First, I want to make sure that equity issues disproportionately affecting TAs and TFs are well documented in order to advance 901 concerns at the University level.  Second, I want to work with established anti-oppression initiatives on campus to ensure that union members are provided with appropriate equity training opportunities that will help make members more effective TAs and TFs.  Third, I want to continue to work with Union Executive to ensure that 901 is representing and supporting all of its members effectively.

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