President’s Report from AFT Oregon 2017 Convention

United Academics, as an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), enjoys a voice in the deliberations within our national union. AFT-Oregon’s Executive Council and annual conventions are the primary vehicles for this engagement. I am delighted to report that our five elected UA delegates actively participated in this important exercise of union democracy. Last weekend, we joined with AFT-affiliated unions from across the state (including our local cousins at the GTFF) to shuffle through 2+ days of business and decision-making. Dozens of resolutions, elections, and internal policy changes moved our union in fresh and positive directions. I must say that I was humbled – as in past years – hearing from people who work as faculty, staff, and academic professionals in schools, colleges, and universities across our state. Every year I (re)discover people committed to practicing union democracy and sustaining a force for improving not just our schools, colleges, and universities, but our state, nation, and world. Our union is an inspiring community.

As Joe Lowndes and I step down as Vice Presidents for AFT-Oregon, Tres Pyle (English) and David Woken (Libraries) stepped up and ran winning campaigns to get elected as VPs for AFT-Oregon’s Executive Council. United Academics is well represented on the leadership team of AFT-OR.

On Saturday morning, after several hours of committee work, hundreds from our convention joined thousands in Portland’s March for Science. It was a spectacular moment of resistance to the “alternative facts” of authoritarianism and, simultaneously, a creative affirmation of science, evidence-based policy, education, and freedom of thought.

On Friday evening we heard from Andrea Paluso (co-founder of Family Forward) about working in alliance for a beloved community, one that is equitable, inclusive, and safe. President Obama honored Paluso as a White House Champion of Change for Working Families in 2015.   

UA won two awards – one for General Excellence in Communications, which honors our communication to members about diversity issues on campus; and one for Best Website. These awards are well deserved. Our UA Secretary, Chris Sinclair, has done a wonderful job designing a newsletter to keep you informed.
State Representative Teresa Alonso Leon, first immigrant Latina elected to the Oregon House of Representatives, briefed our convention Sunday morning.  As a first generation college student serving on the House Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee, Representative Leon knows the value of education. She reminded us all that in a state where corporate taxes are 50th in the nation, we should not be cutting education, especially in good economic times. Instead, we need corporations to pay their share. Here is a leader we should thank.

If this convening sounds enjoyable to you, we have another opportunity coming up quickly. This coming Saturday, April 29, we do this again on a smaller scale at the AAUP-Oregon meeting in Corvallis. There is no cost for this one-day conference and meeting. The day’s theme is “Resisting the Attacks on Science, Faculty and Student Rights.” If you can attend all or part of the day (from 9:30 to 3:00 in Corvallis), please register here:

Our report on AFT-Oregon’s convention is not complete without a reminder that AFT President Randi Weingarten is here in Eugene this Wednesday, April 26, delivering the Wayne Morse Lecture on The Future of Public Education. Hope to see you at the Ford Alumni Center ballroom at 7:00 pm for this great opportunity to hear from our national union president.