The AFT's 2016 convention was peppered with heroes, from labor icons like Dolores Huerta to steadfast politicians like Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton and, of course, the first woman to become the Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton. The higher education division also honored its own heroes, who systematically and persistently grind their way through the work of the union and are rewarded with results that improve the working lives of so many.
The following local affiliates and individuals were honored at the convention's higher education divisional breakfast July 19.
Professional Staff Congress, City University of New York
2016 Norman G. Swenson Militancy Award
In recognition of the union's membership engagement in direct action to "give CUNY a raise":
This local rallied, protested, held events, collaborated with countless allies, bargained hard and overcame political obstacles, to finally win a contract after six years of struggle. The contract awaits final ratification in August.
Non-Tenure Faculty Coalition, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
2016 Louis Stollar Award for Advancing the Rights of Contingent Faculty
In recognition of the union's exemplary and effective militancy toward a groundbreaking first contract:
NTFC was a newly-minted union when it entered contract negotiations. When progress stalled 18 months later, members decided to strike—twice. NTFC pulled off a successful demonstration of its members' persistence and determination and wound up with a groundbreaking first contract that includes three-month advance notice of class assignments as well as regular participation in faculty governance, academic freedom protection and additional job security.
2016 Leadership Award
In recognition of his years of exemplary service and leadership at the local, state and national levels, and especially his solidarity with Temple University's adjunct faculty members:
Art Hochner, a 38-year, full-time professor of human resources management and longtime president of the Temple Association of University Professionals, has been unstinting and generous with his support for all faculty and staff at TAUP.
AFT-Wisconsin Higher Education Council
2016 Lawrence Gold Professional Issues Award
For the union's work to defend tenure, academic freedom and shared governance within the University of Wisconsin System:
AFT-Wisconsin's Higher Education Council faces devastating opposition to academic freedom, as the governor of Wisconsin has swept away state protection of tenure and shared governance as well as millions of dollars in higher education funding. Yet the council stands firm, protecting faculty dignity and autonomy to the end.
Union of Rutgers Administrators
2016 Organizing Award
For the union's member-to-member work to increase membership density to its highest level ever:
URA has exemplified union strength by mobilizing to expand membership significantly over the last year. In a unit with more than 300 job titles, from pastry chef to horticulturalist, organizers have talked to nearly every new hire at orientation, and they run a lunchtime professional development program to keep all members informed of their rights under the union contract and federal law.
2016 Staff Award
In recognition of her exemplary work to build the AFT Higher Education division, organize the part-time faculty workforce to fight for dignity and justice, and engage all those she touched with both purpose and love:
Linda Cushing was one of our most dedicated staff members and began her work organizing higher ed locals. Since her tragic death this year, she is sorely missed.
2016 Higher Education Everyday Hero
Every two years, AFT members select an Everyday Hero for each division of the union, honoring them for going above and beyond in their work, their union and their community:
Arnie Korotkin, an adjunct professor of sociology, is COPE co-director at the AFT's Montclair (N.J.) State University affiliate. He acts as a guardian of his community, keeping neighbors informed about local politics and activities, advocating for safe transportation, and looking out for victims of the 9-11 tragedy and their families.
[Virginia Myers; photo by Russ Curtis]