Letter to faculty on first day of semester

Aug. 27, 2007

Dear SF State Faculty,

The film “A Day Without a Mexican” (directed by Sergio Arau, 2004) explores the outcome of a California without a Latino labor force. Without warning, millions of service workers—whose vast contributions to California’s economy are generally taken for granted—have disappeared. The ensuing impact on society is dire.

Imagine this scenario unfolding at our SF State campus. Imagine what it would be like if the mostly invisible, taken-for-granted work force of custodians, gardeners, grounds’ workers, copy machine operators, office managers and support personnel, computer network operators and help desk professionals, health care specialists, laboratory and theater technicians, etc. did not show up for work. For example, people often comment on the beauty of our campus without knowing the hard work that goes into creating and maintaining our park-like campus environment, whose workers usually start their workday at 4 a.m.

University staff and service workers exist and are an essential part of our vibrant community. We are here and we have always been here. Without the benefits of a labor union, however, we would not have much of a voice in this community.

The California State University Employees Union (CSUEU) represents most of the non-faculty university employees on campus (nearly 1,400) and in the CSU (nearly 16,000). Unionized employees contribute to a more stable, higher-quality workforce. Union membership has been shown to increase employee productivity, boost morale, and open the channels of communication between employees and their supervisors. This contributes to a more positive work environment on the campus level, which in turn enables the faculty to do what you do best—educate.

The California Faculty Association (CFA) and CSUEU are both members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Faculty and staff face many of the same employee-related issues: salary, health care, working environment, challenges to our pensions, etc. We are pledged to work together for a better CSU.

When both faculty and staff are active in their unions and aware of their respective rights, the campus community benefits tremendously. Faculty who are aware of staff rights contribute to the betterment of the campus community and of faculty/staff relations.

Please take the time to familiarize yourself with the CSUEU if you have not already done so (especially if you are supervising staff) and I encourage you to become active in your own union. As I am fond of saying, the union is only as good as the people involved. If you have any questions or would like more information, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Sincerely,

Russell Kilday-Hicks
President, CSUEU Chapter 305
415-338-3008 • rkilhick@sfsu.edu

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