W21 Newsletter – My UFE Story: Miranda Mellis

Every workplace has its salty and its sweet. If the sweetness of an academic job comes from accompanying students in the excitement and rigors of study, the saltiness comes from the challenges of renewing and transforming education writ large and the UFE plays an important role in that at Evergreen. 

I started teaching at the college in 2012 and I’ve been a union steward for nearly as long. From the start I found UFE forums to be convivial learning experiences. A union meeting is like a partial x-ray of an organization: it shows you with a degree of objectivity what’s happening with the body politic and where the medicine of collective bargaining may be helpful. 

The year I served on the bargaining team I discovered that composing and enacting a bargaining agenda is much more than a bureaucratic procedure. It is an intellectual puzzle and a creative collaboration, a way of improving working conditions – and thereby learning conditions – but also for exploring conceptual, processual, and ethical questions about how power is mapped around the table, a microcosm of the organization in all its contradictions and promise. What the UFE brings to that table is an essential ingredient, as fundamental as salt. As for me, I find sweetness in the camaraderie of the process.

– Miranda (Steward)