From our CCA Family, a huge congratulations to full-time English Instructor and Writing Center Coordinator Jessica Gatewood, on being named Gavilan College’s Employee of the Month for May 2022! It’s always a great moment when one of our own gets honored for their tireless work being done every day on behalf of students. Gatewood’s dedication to her students includes having developed a robust online tutoring program during the pandemic so students in English and other reading and writing-intensive classes can assess the support they need. She always strives to create an inclusive environment when advocating for decisions that impact both full-time and part-time faculty and has taken up leadership roles that impact everyone at her college. Her strong and caring demeanor has taken the Gavilan College Faculty Association (GCFA) to new heights.
“I think we all know that strong union leaders inspire new people to get involved, and that is absolutely the case with me. When I was part-time at Gavilan, a full-time colleague encouraged me to be active, so I ran for secretary of our executive board and served with her for a couple of terms. I learned a lot through that experience: 1) it’s hard work and often feels thankless; 2) it’s important work, and we always need more people to be involved; 3) it teaches you a perspective of the campus that you don’t otherwise see,” said Gatewood when asked about what inspired her to be active in the union. “I took a hiatus from union work when I became full-time faculty, but as soon as I was tenured, a colleague who has been active in the union for years reached out, and I was happy to jump back in. I spent a few years as vice president on the executive board, and just this last year took on the role of negotiation chair.”Currently at the table, GCFA is in a tough fight over the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) – money is flowing into the state and into the colleges, but the district has been working to get out of a financial deficit caused by many factors.
“As is the case with many colleges, our district is claiming there is no money. Our union leadership has been pressing hard, and our membership has been rallying in a really encouraging way!”
– Jessica Gatewood, Gavilan College
Last fall, a group of members drafted a petition that received over 200 signatures from faculty. The letter addressed the need for the district to ensure faculty and staff receive COLA. At graduation this spring, faculty wore white arm bands over their gowns and distributed copies of a letter written to the graduates and community from faculty.
“The tone at the negotiation table has shifted in these last couple weeks, and we truly credit our awesome membership for their organization and collective actions. The next steps are working with CTA to develop an organizing plan and creating a PAC so our chapter can be a more active voice in the Board of Trustee elections,” said Gatewood.