The position of United Faculty union president is currently up for election.
Glenn Appell, the current UF president, has stepped down after his first term in the president’s seat, though it has been his 12th year on the UF Executive Board.
“Glenn has done a terrific job,” English professor and UF Vice President for Contra Costa College Jeffrey Michels said. “Being president is a lot of work, but Glenn was very even-tempered at the board and very aggressive at the state level.”
Michels said he considered it a shame that Appell chose to only serve a single term as union president.
“He (Appell) really focused on building a very effective and strong leadership team, and that’s what we have now,” Michels said.
Appell was unavailable for comment as of press time Tuesday.
The election for a new union president started on Nov. 11 and will end on Nov. 25. An electronic ballot has been sent out to all UF members.
Initially the race was between Sylvester Henderson, Marco Godinez and Donna Wapner, but Godinez has since dropped out of the race.
Henderson has been a professor for 30 years, and over 20 of those years have been at Los Medanos College. Wapner was a faculty member at Diablo Valley College for 22 years, and has spent the last eight years working for the union in numerous roles.
“I’ve spent almost the last decade learning everything union,” Wapner said.
Henderson was not available for comment as of press time.
Michels said this election offered faculty members a very serious choice.
“This election is really about change,” Michels said. “A vote for Donna (Wapner) is a vote of confidence in the direction the union has been headed, and a vote for Sylvester (Henderson) is a vote for change.”
In his President’s Message portion of the union’s Table Talk newsletter, Appell also urged union members to elect Wapner.
Michels said he would return to serve as CCC’s union vice president if Wapner was elected, but not if Henderson won the election.
Michels said it was nothing personal, but because Wapner has worked for the union for a long time, she has a realistic idea of what the level of work and dedication would be required of her if she won.
“Henderson has never worked for the union. He’s an outsider, and I’ve nothing against him, I just take union work very personally and I know I have a hard time delegating,” Michels said.
Henderson is currently the music department chairperson at LMC, and he is also currently serving as LMC’s Academic Senate President.
In his candidate statement, Henderson stressed that he will represent the entire district’s faculty with a level of commitment and energy that he has demonstrated in his positions at LMC.
Henderson wrote that the issues facing the union in the coming years are those of respect, and he vowed to fight for fair contractual language and appropriate compensation packages in regard to more respectful treatment of college faculty.
The UF is an independent collective bargaining unit, a union, that is not associated with the much larger college faculty unions in California.
The issues that the faculty face in the coming years are numerous, according to Wapner and Michels.
“The costs of medical benefits and pensions has increased,” Michels said. “But there hasn’t been any increase in funding for those. A lot of the local problems we have in the district are because we are underfunded.”
Wapner echoed this sentiment. She said, “We are going to have a lot of people retiring in the coming years. We need to find the funding for pensions and benefits now, and not when this ‘gray wave’ hits.”
Respect and dignity were also issues Wapner, like Henderson, said are facing the union.