My name is Steve Striffler. I’m a professor in the Anthropology Department and Director of the Labor Resource Center. I’m running for President of the FSU and writing to ask for your vote.
There is an ongoing attack on our urban mission at UMass Boston. To confront this, we need union leadership that facilitates member mobilization while adopting strategies and approaches that are up to the current challenges.
We need, in short, to reimagine the FSU.
The FSU has traditionally worked from a leadership model in which a couple of leaders make all the decisions, with very limited involvement from the rank-and-file, or even the Executive Committee. This type of unionism will no longer serve our needs. We need a union that is far less defined by its leaders – a union that is rooted in our collective action and power. During this period of political and economic uncertainty, a mobilized and energized union is absolutely necessary for advancing not only our interests, but those of publicly funded higher education.
To usher in a new era of union mobilization, I have been working with the Caucus for a Democratic Union, a group of UMB faculty members and librarians who are promoting greater democracy, empowerment, and participation in the FSU. By establishing majorities on both the Executive Committee and (more recently) the Bargaining Team, we have made significant gains in transforming the FSU into a more transparent, democratic, and engaged union. For example,
- Despite opposition from FSU leadership, the CDU brought “expanded” or “open” bargaining to the union, which opens the bargaining process to all FSU members while constituting a Bargaining Team that supports open, rank-and-file bargaining. All faculty and librarians are now members of the FSU bargaining team.
- We are also working to repair the FSU’s strained relationships with the other campus unions and our sister union at UMass Amherst – which have been undermined over the years and most immediately by the FSU’s go-it-alone strategy on parking bargaining.
- We are also holding the FSU accountable and responsive to the needs of faculty of color, are prioritizing NTT equity, and believe that we need a more engaged union to face ongoing threats to our urban mission.
As President, I will work with others to ensure that these (and other) important changes are nurtured over time and translate into gains at the bargaining table.
But more than that, we must build on this movement. It is essential that we build a stronger union now, one in which members are working together, not just to defend the broader urban mission, but also to demand adequate funding for: salary raises, improved benefits, our Centers and Institutes, better facilities, smaller classes, improved maintenance and administrative support, the rolling back of parking fees, and more. We also need to demand fiscal transparency on the part of our Administration.
There is still a lot of work to do. Please join the majority of recent and current members of the FSU Executive Committee and Bargaining Committee in supporting my candidacy for President. In addition to having served on the FSU Executive Committee and the current Bargaining Team, I have been involved in the labor movement as a scholar and participant for over twenty years.
As FSU President, I will help lead a collective reimagining of our union, one that transforms the FSU into a democratic union where member initiatives are encouraged, and help build a mobilized body with the capacity to confront the challenges that faculty, librarians, and the university as a whole face.
Director, Labor Resource Center and Labor Studies Program
University of Massachusetts, Boston