May 2019 Advocate: AFT 1493 President says goodbye


So long SMCCD colleagues & friends!

by Paul Rueckhaus, AFT 1493 President

Although I’m only halfway into my term, I profoundly regret having to inform you that I will be ending my term as AFT 1493 President and my time at SMCCD at the end of this semester. It pains me to write these words. For the past eight and a half years, the Skyline, SMCCD and AFT communities have not only been part of my daily routine but such an integral part of my existence–beyond the paycheck. I’ve truly been nourished and nurtured in this District and this union.

Until occupying the role of President, I’ve not led anything bigger than a classroom. Serving as your union President has been the most gratifying, challenging (sometimes near torture-level challenging), enriching experience of my career thus far.

In our Union and the labor movement overall, this has been a truly remarkable year. Across the state and country, teachers, hotel workers and now supermarket workers are standing up for their rights as workers… and winning! All this in the context of Supreme Court decisions and legislation we thought would weaken the labor movement. Locally, this has been a year of transition in the Union. Working with this Executive Committee (EC) and our dynamite Executive Secretary, Paul Bissember, over this last year has been tremendous. This EC strikes an impressive balance of institutional memory and fresh thinking. You have members with deep expertise in grievances and negotiations as well as members with broad experience in other areas of campus life, particularly Academic Senate with 6 of your 15 EC members also serving on their campus AS bodies.

When I ran for President, I was pretty sure I’d only be available for one year. As an adjunct professor teaching at 3 campuses, I’ve not been able to do justice to this office in the way that a full-time resident faculty member could. You deserve a President who is laser focused on maintaining and improving working conditions while addressing your labor needs in a complete, undivided way. Unfortunately, the nature of adjunct employment demands that my attention is divided. It grieves me that leadership, and the attendant responsibilities that come with it, is out of reach for so many of us instructors trying to broaden our careers and influence the conditions on our campuses, but find ourselves caught in an adjunct labor pool that diminishes our capacity. I thought I could handle it, but I know it’s not fair to my students, to the union of faculty (you), and to myself.

I will continue to teach at City College of San Francisco and San Francisco State. I do and always will cherish my many years at Skyline and in the union and most of all this last year that I’ve had the privilege to represent such a dedicated, talented, spirited group of educators like yourselves.