February 2021 Advocate: Executive Secretary Marianne Kaletzky

AFT 1493 staff

AFT 1493 Executive Secretary Marianne Kaletzky is at center of Local’s work advocating for all faculty

Although AFT 1493 Executive Secretary Marianne Kaletzky (in photo below) was hired last summer and first introduced herself to members in an email message at the beginning of the Fall semester,  we asked her to re-introduce herself in this issue, along with the newly-elected officers, to enable all faculty get to know who she is and what she does.

I joined AFT 1493 as Executive Secretary in June, having spent seven years organizing workers and students in public education. Before coming to AFT 1493, I organized as a member-leader for UC-AFT, which represents adjunct faculty in the UC system, and as a member-leader and staff organizer for UAW 2865, which represents graduate student workers at UC. During that time, I worked with teachers to win a 17% wage increase, guaranteed access to lactation rooms and all-gender bathrooms, and, most recently, a repeal of a reappointment freeze that would have caused the layoffs of more than 700 adjunct instructors at UC Berkeley. I collaborated on several campaigns with Paul Bissember, this union’s former Executive Secretary (who moved to New Orleans in June,) and became interested in AFT 1493 after hearing him speak enthusiastically about this union’s commitment to engaging members and advocating for accessible public education.

Since joining AFT 1493 6 months ago, I’ve been happy to coordinate with our Contract Action Team to build our Fall Teach-In, “Social Justice Unionism in Practice: From Part-Time Parity to Anti-Oppression Organizing.” It was galvanizing to see almost 200 faculty and students turn out on Zoom to talk about how we can be in solidarity with one another’s struggles. It’s also been rewarding to consult with individual members to solve workplace issues, including ones that have arisen due to Covid and remote instruction; to negotiate together with our bargaining team to win special Covid provisions and a multi-year pilot program to quantify workload; and to see our members turn out at Board meetings to speak about the need for Covid family leave and fair faculty compensation.

In addition to organizing, I’ve worked as a public high school English teacher, a graduate student instructor, a contingent faculty member, and a paralegal. I grew up in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the daughter of immigrants from Russia and the Philippines, and now live in the East Bay with my partner Mick and our tabby cat Lyra. I have taught for many years in the Prison University Program at San Quentin State Prison and am a volunteer Spanish-English interpreter for asylum applicants through Oakland’s Centro Legal de la Raza. Once I’m fully settled into my union position, I hope to take Filipino language classes at Skyline.