As I write these words, my first year of serving the Guild Membership as President is winding up. This is the time to reflect on where we have been and what lies ahead. It is so important to take a breath to look at the landscape of our work, but it seems the immediacy of the “now” engulfs the desire to look to the future. Here, then, is a rare opportunity to step back, take a breath, and take stock of our faculty Guild.
First, I cannot find adequate words to thank the Executive Board of the Guild (Troy Davis, 1st VP; Brian Reff, 2nd VP; Rosemarie Shamieh, Secretary; David Hassett, Operations Officer; Caroline DePiro, Chief Negotiator; Paul Very, Grievance Officer; Dr. Wendy Fonarow, Public Information Officer; Moe Taghdis, Budget Representative; and Harriet Cohen, Garfield Site Representative). It pleases me to no end that most of these officers are returning next year. Their work for you is remarkable and truly praiseworthy. Our faculty union – which means you – is lucky to have such a dedicated group.
Two members of the Exec. will not be continuing in their valued roles. The first, Rosemarie Shamieh, has done a fantastic job taking minutes for the weekly Exec. meeting as well as the membership meetings, but is taking on new and exciting commitments in her life and so felt she could not devote the time that is required. The second, Harriet Cohen, has provided invaluable service by connecting those who work at the Garfield Campus with the overall goals and plans for the Guild, but is planning on retiring. I will miss these two immensely.
Lastly, I have to offer a special thanks to Zohara Kaye. As Past President, her knowledge and perspective have been invaluable for the Guild overall, but for me in particular. I have made her promise that she is only a phone call away so that her perspectives and experience will not be lost to the Guild. Also, we are hoping to continue to utilize her experience with information management to help the Guild maintain our 95% membership! Thank you so much Zo.
Looking to next year, I am excited and optimistic to welcome two new faces to Guild Exec. Our new secretary, Patti Sternau, has been working with Rosemarie and attending our weekly meetings to get a head start on the job that lies ahead. She is from Noncredit Business and Life Skills, and so knows Rosemarie already. I have the utmost confidence in her abilities. Our new Garfield Campus Steward is Krista Raimondo. Krista will be following in the tradition of Noncredit ESL activism – the last 2 Garfield Stewards, Caroline DePiro and Harriet Cohen, came from this division – and this is the best endorsement possible. I have come to appreciate the collegiality and comradery of the Garfield Campus, and know that Krista will be the vital conduit for the Guild’s continued activism there.
In a broader context, I feel that our Guild has become stronger over the past year. Using the Membership and Mobilization philosophy, this year we have identified and trained nearly 20 Division Liaisons who will serve as a first point of contact for many in our union who don’t necessarily feel comfortable contacting the elected Officers. By this coming fall, these volunteers will have contact information on a new page of the Guild web page. These individuals represent the growing power of our union, and I look forward to continuing this growth next year.
There is, finally, the recommitment of the Glendale College Guild to a broader and deeper connection to the labor movement as a whole. The attacks on education, educators, and public-sector unions are intensifying. This year was about establishing some goals to embrace Social Justice Unionism. Expect exciting communications this summer regarding how your Guild – and you – can start to make a difference in the community we serve.
So, here is to the end of this exciting year and to the possibilities of the year to come. See you at our End of the Year Party!