By Michele Kramer, President.
The WLUFA CAS Award was created to recognize the exemplary contributions a Member of the Contract Academic Staff Bargaining Unit has made to the Association. This year, the WLUFA Executive unanimously voted to have the award shared by two nominees: Kimberly Ellis-Hale and Jim Gerlach.
Though both Gerlach and Ellis-Hale have served WLUFA for a number of years and were already strong contenders for the award, it was their note-worthy individual contributions to this year’s Contract Faculty negotiations that made it impossible for the Association Executive to vote for one nominee over the other. In a year of difficult bargaining–one that brought Contract Faculty to the brink of job action–Jim and Kimberly proved themselves to be formidable figures in the ongoing fight against precarious work.
Jim Gerlach has been actively involved with WLUFA since 2008 when he first volunteered to work as support staff for the strike headquarters at the time. Since then, he has been a member of every CF negotiating team, including his role this year as Chief Negotiator. Jim has also held the position of Treasurer on the WLUFA Executive for the past five years. His nomination package noted that Jim is an “excellent steward of WLUFA’s assets” and furthered that statement by noting that “a strong financial position means a strong position in negotiations and Jim’s leadership in this area strengthens WLUFA’s position at the bargaining table for both Contract and Full-time faculty”. In addition to these roles, Jim has also served the Association at both provincial (OCUFA) and national (CAUT) levels where he has been a member of various Contract Faculty committees.
Kimberly Ellis-Hale has served as the Contract Faculty liaison on the Association Executive for three years and, like Jim, she is also an active member of OCUFA’s Contract Faculty Committee. She has also been a member of WLUFA’s Communications Committee, taking on the role of Chair this year. In addition, Kimberly is now working on helping to bring the $15 and Fairness campaign to Waterloo. In particular, however, it was Kimberly’s work as Action Committee Chair during this year’s CF negotiations that impressed the Executive. As her nomination package noted: “Kimberly immersed herself completely in the task of mobilizing the CF bargaining unit, keeping them informed about the process and status of negotiations, networking with local and provincial representatives in order to garner support for the bargaining unit and plain-old putting Contract Faculty (and their struggles) in everyone’s face! Put simply, the strong strike mandate that the Executive received from its Contract Faculty–and the successful round of bargaining that resulted from that mandate–is almost wholly due to Kimberly’s indefatigable approach to her work on this front.”
The WLUFA CAS Award acknowledges the risks to job security that CAS Members may take when they challenge the precarious conditions under which they and their colleagues must work. Kimberly Ellis-Hale and Jim Gerlach stand out as Members who will not shy away from bringing the plight of precarious workers into the limelight and, for that, WLUFA is incredibly grateful.