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Council Executive Board Elections 2023: Candidates Statements


At the close of nominations on March 9, the following candidates have accepted nominations for positions for the April 2023 Elections.

Candidate statements are below.
President - Katie Rodger

Secretary/Treasurer - Miki Goral
VP Unit-17 - Kendra Levine
VP Unit--18 - John Branstetter
VP Legislation - Trevor Griffey
VP Organizing - Joshua Brahinsky
VP Grievances - Iris Ruiz

Nomination and Election Timeline

· February 16: Nomination period opens
· March 9: Nomination acceptance/candidacy declaration deadline/nominations period closes
· March 10: List of candidates shared with chapter chairs/eboard and posted to website
· March 11-April 23: Two candidate forums (TBD)
· April 1: Candidate statement submission deadline
· April 24-30: Ballot period 8AM 4/24 through 5PM 4/30
· May 1: Written notice of results to membership
· July 1, 2023: Terms (2 years) begin

Article VI of the UC-AFT Constitution outlines the duties of each office.

Katie Rodger

I am running for re-election as UC-AFT President to continue to serve our union, and I ask for your support.


In my first few months as President, I helped us navigate the UAW strike and its effects while continuing to support the trajectory of growth, strength, and power we’ve created together over the past few years. Together with the full Executive Board, we have grown our membership, defended our contracts, and supported our allies in other unions.


But we're approaching a critically important time for all of our members: the Unit 17 librarian contract campaign. Now more than ever, we have the chance to channel the full strength of our whole union in support of the demands of our librarians, which reflect the values we all share to make the UC a better, fairer place for all workers and students. I am eager to help facilitate and support this new campaign, just as librarians did for lecturers.


It’s also critical that we reject and fight back against the austerity UC is imposing via cuts to instructional staffing and support across the state, which are a direct result of the university's refusal to fund the contracts it just settled with UAW. We've seen this pattern from UC before. After librarians won their last contract, sweeping reorganization of campus libraries left many of our members de-professionalized in the wake of the gains they'd fought hard to secure. Likewise, after Unit 18 teaching faculty won reappointment preferences and better raises, we've seen management take a hard line against many of our lecturer-heavy units and departments. The UC's track record of undermining the contracts it negotiates needs to be called out, and I look forward to continuing to work with our UC coalition partners to do so.


I am proud to serve as UC-AFT president, I will continue to work for all of you. I welcome the opportunity to continue building our union via collaboration with our leaders, activists, supporters, and members.


Secretary Treasurer
Miki Goral

Miki Goral, Secretary-Treasurer

I am running for re-election as UC-AFT Secretary Treasurer. I have had the honor of serving UC-AFT in various capacities since 1983, when I first joined the Unit 17 (Librarians) bargaining team as the record-keeper, later becoming the Chief Negotiator. I have led the Unit 17 negotiating teams from 1984 to 2007 and am still on the negotiating team.

In 1984, I was elected Secretary of UC-AFT, an office I held until 1986, when I became Treasurer. In 1999, a re-structuring of the Council combined the duties of Secretary and Treasurer into one position, which I have held since then. During my tenure as a Council officer, I have worked with a number of officeholders and Executive Directors and can provide a context of continuity for the work of the organization.

The Secretary-Treasurer’s duties are set out in the By-Laws: namely to record and disseminate minutes of Council meetings and to be responsible for all monies received and paid out by UC-AFT. I have developed and streamlined procedures to fulfill the duties of the job efficiently and accurately. I have striven to monitor the union’s finances and ensure that our funds are used wisely for the benefit of our members.

While most of the union’s work is focused on representing our members and enforcing the contracts we have negotiated, we must not forget that UC-AFT is part of the larger union movement in the United States. I serve as a vice-president of the CFT, representing the interests of UC-AFT and university academic employees in that body.

I think I have the experience and dedication to continue managing the union’s finances.

Miki Goral


Vice President for Unit 18
John Branstetter

I am a sixth-year lecturer in UCLA’s political science department. I am currently going through my excellence review, which is something I truly never thought would happen. I sincerely believe the only reason I am still at UCLA is because of the transformative contract we won last year. My department has gone from one of the worst churners in the UC system to saying that lecturers are an important part of their teaching plans. Union power works. I am running along with Katie Rodger to make sure that the contract we won delivers real changes for everyone. The impact it has had on my life is truly immense, and I want to help win equally transformative contracts for my fellow members who work in the l K-12 programs and in the libraries across the system.

Within this broader vision, I am running for the Unit 18 Vice President position for three concrete reasons. First, I have shown that I can be an effective lead negotiator for lecturers and teachers at the UC’s K-12 institutions. Second, I am passionate about building a truly statewide union, which is a project that began with our new constitution last year. Third, I want to support Katie Rodger’s vision for the future direction of our union.

First. I recently finished negotiating an agreement with UCOP over the effects of the Fall 2022 UAW strike. I put together a strong table team, and we worked to get a deal that ensured that our member were protected against negative evaluations and paid for any extra work they did. Although this first agreement was a success, I believe I can do better. I am working to become the best negotiator I can be. In the short term, I have been shadowing Bill Quirk as he leads the negotiations at UCLA’s lab school to see the process from the inside. In the medium term, I plan to attend CFT’s summer school course on contract negotiation, as well as other opportunities from our state and national organizations. The goal is to be ready to lead the next round of contract bargaining for UCSD’s Preuss school in 2024, or any side-letter issues that appear before. Because I am based at UCLA, I am well positioned to lead the negotiations ahead, as both the lab school and Geffen academy are in LA. The Preuss school at UCSD is a relatively short drive away. I also look forward to working closely with our Unit 17 VP in order both to support the librarian’s upcoming struggle and learn from their table team’s work.

Second, I think my experience positions me well to define the VP position and enhance the solidarity of our union across campuses. I have been UCLA’s president and then co-chair since 2020. I have been involved in statewide leadership since I joined our campaign’s escalation team that same year. I eventually co-chaired that committee, hand helped to turn out members to attend our bargaining sessions and coordinated actions across campuses. At council, I helped to initiate the constitutional convention that led to the unification of our locals into a single organization. I ultimately co-chaired that convention and helped see our new constitution through ratification. Because I participated in the convention, I know firsthand the discussions that were had regarding the role of the Unit VP positions. I believe I can help define the role in line with those original constitutional debates, and leave the position with a clear purpose and function.

To that end, I believe the role of the Unit 18 VP position is threefold. First, it’s about effectively negotiating to achieve what our members want at the table. Second, it’s about helping our members across the state feel connected to one another, and powerful precisely because they have that connection. Third, it’s about supporting the president’s goals by accepting delegated assignments and coordinating with other board members.

I eager to support Katie Rodger’s plans for our union. We share a vision of a strong, statewide union. We both are committed to helping unit 18 understand and support unit 17’s campaign. We both imagine that in two years’ time, our union will be less divided by campus and bargaining unit, and more powerful at the bargaining table as a result. The goal is to win great contracts for all of the different roles that our members play in the UC system, and Katie has a plan that I would be proud to be a part of.

Vice President for Unit 17
Kendra Levine

I enthusiastically accept the nomination for Unit 17 Vice President of UC-AFT because I am really excited to keep building for our upcoming contract campaign. I am excited by the opportunity to work on behalf of the unit to build our strength. 

Since I was first elected to this position 2 years ago, I have regularly found collaborating with UC librarians across the state rewarding, and am continually inspired to keep working with you all for the UC we all deserve. In the past two we’ve strengthened our local and system-wide organizing structures, engaged members about their hopes and goals for the new contract, and used our current contract to preserve working conditions for librarians across UC. 

I look forward to continuing this work in our upcoming contract campaign, and positioning our fight within the larger context of austerity in public higher education. While many of our issues are local - such as California’s housing crisis, UC’s growing enrollment that seemingly doesn’t include more support for libraries - many of our issues are shared by academic library workers across the nation - such as academic freedom and livable wages. I hope our new contract can be a model for other academic librarians, just as the Unit 18 contract has been for contingent faculty. I look forward to working with, organizing, and building power with all of you over the next two years.

Vice President for Grievances
Iris Ruiz

It is with great pleasure and enthusiasm that I submit this candidate statement for the Vice President of Grievances for UCAFT, a union that I have been a member of since 2010. I’m excited that Mia McIver endorsed my candidacy when I was elected for this position, I vow to commit to the duties of the position with as much advocacy, knowledge, and tenacity as she has demonstrated as the current UCAFT president: one that has afforded so many improvements and securities for Unit 18 lecturers in our new contract.

To give a glimpse into my background and qualifications for the position of VP Grievances, I have been with the University of California since 2003: first as a graduate student and now as a unit 18 lecturer. As a graduate student representative, I advocated for and won a permanent position of VP Diversity on the Graduate Student Association. Further, as the graduate student intern, I advocated for and won parental leave rights, which was interestingly an issue taken up by the UC graduate student union at the time. As a UC lecturer, I have served as a grievance steward for UC Merced, and I spent one semester training and shadowing our campus union representative for the purpose of undertaking grievance steward work. In that semester, I was very committed to bring attention to issues surrounding fair rehiring rights and the reappointment process. In this role, I was involved with multiple grievances and advised on others. During that period, I addressed office space issues on campus, fought a workload grievance with the writing program, and defended individual members against violations of our contract.

With the new contract, I see the UC system as being at a crossroads with issues like these that can challenge ideas of academic freedom and the rights of non-senate faculty. I also identify as a woman of color, and I serve on our campus Equity, Diversity, and Inclusive advisory board that reports to the Vice Chancellor Chief Diversity Officer. I’m no stranger to advocacy work, and I have a background in legal writing, so I possess the skills needed to interpret our new contract comprehensively and with tenacity.

I have worked closely with our campus union president, John Haner, focusing on how to approach grievance work with regard to training grievance stewards and the issues at individual campuses. Together, we brainstormed the following grievance steward training strategies: First, is training in designing and implementing methods of studying and identifying potential grievances through survey work, interviews with members, local eboards, and local field reps. Second, is training for grievance procedures, like filing RFIs and grievances, preparing for "step" hearings, conducting "step" hearings, and managing schedules and deadlines. Third, is training around listening and understanding member concerns, how to communicate throughout the grievance process, and how to prepare people for managing their expectations around grievance outcomes on an uneven playing field with the UC. Fourth, is training in how to utilize the statewide support system for local grievance operations-- what can stewards expect from staff, when can we get lawyer advice, and when to call in the Statewide VP for Grievances. Ensure that all new stewards have full staff and VP support for managing their first grievance procedures.

Lastly, if elected for this position, I adhere to the promises set forth by my local chapter from UC Merced which are: to protect and improve the job security, salaries, professional opportunities, instructional and technical support, health and retirement benefits, academic freedom, and general welfare and working conditions of those represented by UC-AFT, to promote and defend the highest standards of education at the University of California, and its role as a public institution, serving the people of the entire state, and open and affordable to all those who qualify to attend, and to combat discrimination and promote full equality of opportunity for all those who make up the diverse membership of UC-AFT, the employees and student body of the University, and the population of California, regardless of race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, physical ability, economic status or political beliefs, and lastly to bargain collectively with the administration of the University of California for negotiated contracts or Memoranda of Understanding for the two units that the union represents, Librarians and Non-Senate Faculty, and any other UC employees who may be organized in the future by UC-AFT.

What I’ve been involved in so far:

-The creation of an updated grievance training program

-Support for the UC-AFT Executive Director, Bill Quirk

-Support for effects bargaining regarding the UAW strike

-Maintenance of grievance arbitrations

-Bargaining over the side-letter with UCOP

-Meetings with stewards and Eboard

-Participating in statewide union delegate representation

Thank you in advance for your support!


Vice President for Organizing

Josh Brahinsky

Hi folks, I am very proud of a few things we figured out in the past two years of my tenure as vice president for organizing.
- When our U17 campaign was stuck at 25% of our members committed to strike and our CFT advisors and many of our leaders reasonably felt like we needed to settle rather than call for a strike, I developed the ground game plan, led the process of building the consensus within the leadership committee around it, and helped us get to a successful strike vote and strike readiness such that we could confidently call a strike and win the job security we were aiming for. I also took over the lead organizing at UCR for the last three weeks of the campaign and was so inspired when members there went from 25% to 60% committed to strike.
- Last fall I facilitated our U17 Statewide Organizing Committee in leading our union to 55% membership.
- I facilitated a process that got us working closely with UCPath that has them fixing the systemic problem of members without dues deductions.
- I led the process of writing an organizing grant and hiring three new member-organizers who are right now doing really lovely 1:1 organizing among potential members and potential CATs.
In the next 2 years I would like to accomplish several things.
- I want to continue to support U18 in developing a winning contract campaign and together find innovative ways to push the UC administration to improve librarian working conditions.
- I want to help develop and train the CAT network throughout the union - this means finding and training dozens of new union leaders. In the process, I hope to move our union leadership closer to a reflection of the diversity of our membership.
- I hope to guide us to 70% membership across the state.
- I would like to develop a more systematic long term plan supported by CFT to develop member-organizers across the state.
- I want to start the process of organizing the 6-800 UC adjunct into our union
But mostly I see this union as a beautiful place to nurture powerful voices of brilliant people who are working every day to make this university and academia and our world a better place and I find it very inspiring. I am so excited to continue this work with all of you - thanks for the opportunity.


Vice President for Legislation
Trevor Griffey

Lecturer in Labor Studies at UCLA and U.S. History at UCI

I’m honored to be able to run for reelection as Vice President of Legislation for UC-AFT.

I first ran for the position in 2022 to facilitate our members’ participation in the legislative process, in partnership with our union affiliates the California Federation of Teachers (CFT) and the California Labor Federation (CLF). I tried to do this both by inviting support for CFT’s campaign for part-time faculty equity, and by encouraging UC-AFT members to contact their legislators to express support for AB 2046, which created a dedicated fund for the campus expansions of UC Merced and UC Riverside. I was not successful in inspiring significant engagement from our members on these issues, but it was through this work that I started to learn more effective ways for us to participate in the legislative process and CFT governance.

Throughout my time in this position, I have promoted labor solidarity in our union’s work—including with the UC Union Coalition, CFT, CLF and Higher Education Labor United. This coalition work has included my advocating for our union to be more openly in solidarity with UAW during its strike, working with UC Faculty Associations to develop a petition to the UC President and Regents against cutting instructional staffing to pay for UAW salary increases, and participating in coalition meetings with UC’s Chief Investments Officer led by AFSCME 3299 that challenged UC’s risky investment of billions of dollars into Blackstone, Inc.

During the 2023 session, I have made our union’s primary legislative focus the passage of AB 504, which would create a right for public sector workers to honor picket lines by other unions, and would neutralize the prohibition of sympathy strikes in UC labor union contracts (including ours). I supported our union getting CFT to co-sponsor AB 504, with UAW and Teamsters; secured an opportunity for a UC-AFT member to testify in support before the Assembly Judiciary Committee; and worked to ensure that it is included in CFT’s Lobby Day this year.

I have also been active this year in watchdogging the UC’s budget for UC-AFT members, and have tried to raise concerns about the Governor’s budget to CFT. It’s on this issue that we most need union member-to-member organizing and activism, and robust union coalition work, to create the political will to push back against politicians’ refusal to properly fund the UC and the rest of its public higher education system. Without such organizing, UC campuses will likely significantly cut graduate student and lecturer positions in the near future, ostensibly to pay for UAW raises and make up for chronic state government under-funding. Proposed delays and potential cuts to government funding for UC Berkeley’s decarbonization, UC Merced and Riverside’s expansion, and non-profit UC student housing have also highlighted the need for us to advocate for more robust and stable revenue for public higher education.

I see our union’s political work as part of the bigger project of our revitalizing our chapters and organizing around issues that excite our members. If re-elected, I hope to continue to identify ways to build our political power to address the root causes of our public schools’ insufficient investment in academic labor—both its instructors and its research librarians.