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Chaparral 2015-2016: 24.4 Building Power: Membership and Mobilization is not just about money

Building Power (April 2016)

Building Power: Membership and Mobilization is not just about money

by Roger Bowerman
1st VP, GCC GUILD


On April 19th over 150 faculty and staff occupied and demonstrated at the Board of Trustee’s meeting held at the Garfield Campus. It was an evening full of excitement and anticipation, where our voice was hear repeatedly by the Board, our College Superintendent/President, and other Glendale Community College (GCC) administrators. They were confronted with unity, the key to successful labor action. It felt so good to be a part of the faculty community, to feel that we are starting to put pressure on the administration who new see that they must listen to our negotiation team and respond with a meaningful salary proposal.

Such activism does not, however, happen overnight. If the GCC Guild leadership had called on faculty to attend a Board Meeting out of the blue, I doubt we would have had no more than 20 faculty at that Trustees meeting. Our current member activism is the result of months of organization and communication. We have created a Membership and Mobilization team of over 30 faculty members who are working to build stronger ties among our membership as well as recruiting new members to join the faculty Guild.

The current Guild leaderships understands that we have to encourage greater commitment to our Union. Many faculty feel that the only real function of the GCC Guild is to negotiate a compensation package. While this is clearly important, we all must understand that our feeling of satisfaction at the workplace is intimately connected to the Guild. Of the 10 factors identified with employee satisfaction, 7 of them are directly related to our work as a Union.

These 7 areas are:

1.      Job Security

2.      Benefits (especially health care)

3.      Compensation/salaries

4.      Autonomy to accomplish work

5.      Recognition for job performance

6.      Communication throughout the organization

7.      Satisfying relationships at the workplace

It not all seven of these seem to be connected to the work of the Guild, upon closer examination we will see that our Union is the key for our workplace satisfaction. The first four on the list are clearly related to working conditions – the traditional role assigned to unions. We can look in the contract to locate our benefits and compensation package, we can call on union representation whenever we feel our livelihood is threatened, and our assumption of Academic Freedom is defined by the Senate, but guaranteed through the contract. But what of the last three? What is the role of the Union in these areas of job satisfaction?

The answer is community.

The GCC faculty Guild can include all faculty, providing the structures that can make our workplace satisfying. Here we can find support and recognition for our efforts in and out of our interaction with students. It is our faculty union that is an avenue for communication about what is happening on campus. And, most of all, it is the community created through union activism that can build satisfying relationships throughout the campus. Guild membership is the key to creating satisfaction with your work here at GCC. This increased job satisfaction does not happen by itself. In order for us to have this richer satisfaction with our job, we need to commit to the community. We need to become more engaged in the Guild and its work. You need to become active in the organization to reap the benefits of belonging.

For many, this call for Guild participation seems an overwhelming request. We are all so busy with our daily work of helping students. The last decade has witnessed an increased workload and accompanied institutional expectations, and it feels like there is nothing more to give. This feeling is precisely what undermines your sense of job satisfaction. How many times have you heard fellow faculty talking about being overwhelmed and overworked? The increased workload has pushed us to work alone, often eating lunch at our desk because we can’t seem to get out from under piles of work.

The truth is that these feelings of being overworked and overwhelmed are the result of our isolation, not the work itself. The best way to battle burn-out and alienation is to embrace community: The Glendale College Guild. Through greater commitment you can find increased satisfaction with your work. And that commitment does not need to be overwhelming. There are so many vital tasks in Union organizing that require minimal time commitment. How about phone banking, getting a short list of people to call about an upcoming event? This can be done on your own time at your own pace, but is essential for effective mobilizing. Maybe you enjoy using your hands? Help make signs for an upcoming event; it will only be an hour or so out of your week, but immensely beneficial to our union.

The examples go on and on. They all point to one clear fact: we are our union. As our Guild moves forward, we all need to think about what we can do to support our community. The results of such increased activism are astounding. On the one hand, our union becomes more effective in advocating for the faculty. On the other hand, you will become a happier faculty member. Through belonging and contributing you can create a more satisfying workplace. Talk about a win-win!

Become an active Guild member and enjoy yourself.

 

 

 

 

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