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Member Spotlight

Jadd Tryon

I first became aware of Jadd Tryon when I saw his compelling and professionally created short videos showing highlights of our all-hands membership actions in support of our bargaining demands during the last contract negotiations earlier this year (view them here). I was curious to meet our talented colleague who works at the Dean of Students’ Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life. 

The first thing Jadd told me is how proud he is to be a Triple Duck, with a BA in Journalism & Communications, a Film certificate, and a BA in Film. Although Jadd traveled near and far – stints in Seattle and Portland, Virginia and North Carolina, and even a stretch in Costa Rica – he always returned to his first home here in Eugene. Remarkably, he has the distinction of attending every Duck Football game from 1992-2013!! 

Jadd has worked in advertising, analytics and restaurant management and is now, and for the past three years, an essential part of the success of his department. As a long-time union supporter, Jadd doubled-down his involvement in our union when he was hired as a full-time staff member in 2022. He saw an opportunity to put his skills to good use for our union and jumped at the chance, particularly during the last round of bargaining this past year. You may have seen him at every update meeting and bargaining action.  

Remember the videos I mentioned? Our union colleagues at SEIU 503 saw them too and recognized Jadd’s talent. They invited Jadd to join them at the newly created Unions for All Digital Network – a network of activists seeking to raise awareness, create collaboration and solidarity among all unions. Our union, SEIU 503, wants to help all union actions to be successful, as that makes the whole union movement successful. SEIU’s goal is to unionize one million more Americans by 2035. 

The Digital Network’s first event was in Los Angeles earlier this year, where they trained Jadd and 200 other activists on how to increase the excitement and visibility of a historic labor march and rally there. Jadd just returned from SEIU’s International Convention in Philadelphia where up to 3500 workers marched down the streets of the city demanding dignity and livable wages.  

While in Philadelphia, Jadd and the Unions for All Digital Network team took thousands of photos and videos of the action. They also interviewed hundreds of attendees to find out what they are most excited about with This Union (“Our Union!”) and the election our next SEIU International President, April Verrett. Jadd’s media creations were used extensively on SEIU’s social accounts and the Digital Network Team was featured on the main plenary stage twice to showcase their efforts and to encourage involvement. Sadly, Jadd did not run into his long-time favorite quarterback, Randall Cunningham. 

Besides Duck and Eagles football, Jadd loves photography and video editing, and foraging for mushrooms with his partner. He is known for his salsa garden and makes multiple kinds of hot sauces, with custom labels of course. If you’re intrigued by the Digital Network and wondering how you can learn more or participate, check out this link: The Unions for All Digital Network Wants You!

Beth Robinson

Beth Robinson has 30 years of experience as a paper conservator, art handler, and cultural property specialist including reparations. She studied in Italy and at the UO Law School and has been at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art on the UO campus for almost ten years. Beth loves sharing her day with my student interns. Building their skills working with actual pieces of cultural property enhances their career potential while they discover transferable skills from their studio programs. Though Beth appreciates her immediate team, she still has concerns about a lack of respect from the UO administration. Beth knows first-hand what is at stake – not only for this contract fight, but for the ongoing struggle for unions in general – she is a fifth generation union member that stretches back to the infamous triangle shirtwaist factory fire. When asked to take a leadership role, Beth readily said yes. She had already investigated our democratic, member-led union, and found a lot to be excited about. Beth started her time in leadership as a Member-Organizer, being the first classified colleague new employees met at the new employee orientation (NEO). She maximized the short slot on the NEO agenda by introducing folks to the union and to our contract that we have worked so hard to win and to maintain. Of her time on the Executive Committee, Beth is most proud of winning our current historic contract, and of securing COVID health precautions and pay. As a Steward, Beth is disappointed in how many of our colleagues have to deal with Bully Bosses and a lack of respect on the job. Looking forward, she is excited to encourage more co-workers to participate in our union. Beth says it best:

“As a union we have the power to negotiate the needs of our members collaboratively and can advocate more effectively for what protections and improvements we want in our contract.  Even though I have negotiated my own contracts when I was in private practice there is no way I would want to take on the administration alone with their lawyers, lobbyists, and analysts. The administration is a political body advocating for the interests they see fit and, without a voice in the conversation, the needs of classified workers would go unmet without the union. In union we are stronger together, I encourage every classified worker to discover how you can participate while making a stronger statement to the administration in number alone.”

Annie McVay

Annie McVay is a key member of our Local’s Communication Committee. She is the genius behind so many of our Local’s outreach materials (flyers, newsletter, graphics). She is also a Graduate Programs Assistant at the School of Journalism and Communication, not to mention a UO alumnus who majored in Public Relations. Annie loves our campus (“beautiful arboretum”), our community (“clean and kind”) and our union (“benefits – especially healthcare!”). Annie is an optimistic person but still finds it upsetting that the University of Oregon doesn’t pay classified staff a living wage and tries to outsource our jobs to temporary workers, who don’t get any benefits or union protection. “With wages how they are now, I’ll never be able to afford my own home, rented or owned, or start a family. I feel stuck!” Annie may feel stuck, but knows she isn’t helpless. As a natural born do-er (“comes with the McVay name”), Annie got involved in our union to help change things for the better for all classified staff. She says that becoming a leader, and meeting colleagues from throughout the various departments, helped her realize that we’re all struggling together. In the lead-up to our recent practice picket, Annie says that “making picket signs together was especially fun because I saw how creative everyone is, despite our frustrating situation.” Looking ahead, Annie has concerns. She is focused on actionable and fixable issues including fighting for a living wage, UO outsourcing our jobs to temp agencies, that more and more vacated classified staff positions are being changed to OA, and, the unfortunate fact that “the University of Oregon isn’t union-friendly and keeps trying to become more and more corporate.”

Ash Stewart

Ash Stewart is a Faculty Support Coordinator in the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS), supporting the Human Physiology, Psychology and Linguistics departments. Ash came from a small business/retail background, so working in higher ed has been a significant career shift for her over the last year. Overall, they enjoy having a better work-life balance here and security in our union. But most of all, Ash loves the colleagues she has met here across campus … our classified staff are brilliant, funny, charming, and damn hard-working, and it has been a pleasure making connections all over campus!” Ash has had issues at UO securing the respect and dignity she deserves, including a long fight for disability accommodations within her department. This struggle spurred her desire to get involved with the union noting, my union reps and coworkers have stuck by me through it all, and I now have the arrangements I need to fully access my job. That’s why I felt so compelled to step into union leadership – I want to work alongside the folks who have supported me through hard times. Together we can do so much more!!”

Though Ash has only been a CAT (Communication Action Team) for a few months, they already recognize the power of having bigger conversations with colleagues about our needs and rights as workers. As a CAT, Ash also values being able to support others with information and answers to their questions in their own times of need. Looking forward, Ash is monitoring growing workplace issues in CAS and is eager to see our co-workers compensated well for the total overhaul and workplace chaos that the switch to Shared Services caused. 

“Many people were tossed about in the sea of change during that reorg who have not seen the respect or compensation they deserve for such intensive work. If our university doesn’t address it now, they’ll have to in the future – we aren’t going away!”

Chris Case

Chris Case recently started working at the UO in the Pathway Program at Oregon Hall. His team works on helping historically underserved populations in Oregon earn a degree. He is a graduate of Cal State Los Angeles with a BS in Computer Science. This is Chris’ first job in an office setting, having previously been a US Marine, a comic book store clerk, a bike courier, and a wildland firefighter (hotshot). Having such a diverse set of work experiences aids Chris in his current job, but also in his union work as a CAT, where he has an ease speaking to and sharing with folks from diverse backgrounds. Though Chris is struggling with the low pay that the UO offers in comparison to other jobs with similar responsibilities, he loves his team and their dedication to equity and student service. Chris has always believed in the power of working together to achieve a better society through meaningful change and was thrilled to be able to join his first union here at the UO. And getting involved in the union has been rewarding as he explains, “Just getting to meet different folks through the union and connect with different areas on campus has been a blast. Also, in these times of incredible uncertainty and turmoil, it is heartening and refreshing to be a part of an organization that really does care about the folks that constitute its membership.” For Chris, an important part of the current contract struggle is the University’s push to contract out our jobs. 

“It always starts with the jobs worked by our most  vulnerable members and by the end of the process our entire member base has been gutted. The Universities contract push feels like another nefarious tactic from their big bag of dirty tricks that they love to use against us workers!”

Jane Brubaker

I know the union is there for me.  I have been through a lot in the past and know they are there for me and my colleagues

When Jane Brubaker steps forward, it’s stepping forward for what she cares deeply about. And wanting to make a meaningful difference. I like helping people in trouble.”  There’s her quiet steely resilient strength and determination that defines her in all she finds meaningful. Stepping forward – again and again – sharing her knowledge and experiences of over the 27+ years and some – from student worker to grounds keeper. Landscape designer/maintenance labor coordinator. Today, Jane is a Trades Maintenance Coordinator and a proud Double Duck – with her BA and MA in Landscape Architecture.

I have known Jane since that first email I sent her over twenty years ago, with the suggestion “Ask Jane” to know the name of the dainty pink flower that piqued my curiosity  in the plant bed in parking lot behind Oregon Hall, then it was the name of that variegated plant by the College of Education. Then maple trees. In her work, Jane is attuned to campus safety. I remember her noting the hazardous conditions around Knight Library at the beginning of the ice storm a few years back; icy pavements and steps that workers were tasked to shovel ice and snow, and students were expected to traverse.

Safe Spaces:  When Jane served in the UO Senate with past Local 085 President, Carla McNelly, and myself, our discussions would be on advancing leadership around the three key issues of classified experiences: Respect, Diversity and Professional Development. Jane served with us on the Senate Classified Staff Leadership Award, the Senate Taskforce, and on the Adhoc Committee on Respectful Workplace. Our collective experiences on bullying and the fear of retaliation  would lead to a recommendation to the President for an Ombuds Program where we later served together on the Ombuds Advisory Committee for the Safe Space Community Resource. In 2015, she was appointed to serve on the Sexual Assault Advisory Council. It was an eye opening experience for her. “Nothing is simple on sexual misconduct issues…all over campus  from Athletics to issues in Study Abroad, Band campsthe experience made me more sensitive when I see things. Also around prejudice in race.”  While she is heartened there’s progress she feels there’s still work to do over bigger issues around these experiences

Equity and Inclusion: Jane served on the Campus Planning and Facilities Management (CPFM) Diversity Committee as Co-Chair with Johnny Earl. It was meaningful to her to plan the Veteran’s Day event, trainings and forums.  Serving on the Vice President of Financial Affairs’ (VPFA) Diversity Committee was meaningful as Jane worked on inclusion, tours and events, strategies to stay connected, and building lasting friendships within the committee, as she had with our Local member-leader, Jay Butler. 

Union:  She enjoys the camaraderie in union, “we are the people who get the work done.” Particularly important aspects of being in the union is access to  health insurance, personal leave for mental and physical stress, not to mention the holidays as well.

Future: Jane would like to see more done in retention of employees, and representation. In training and education – the options to training, for people to know there is good opportunity to learn. For members to know what they have in benefits (e.g., she didn’t know about the cash advance that was available once a year).  She would like more training and education on the benefits to savings and investment funds. Perhaps on a yearly basis, there would be experienced people to help educate people at open enrollment, general education in retirement, offering assistance and connections with the right people.

When Jane Brubaker steps forward, know her colleagues and union siblings matter to her. Know that our workplace culture matters. Know it’s her commitment to equity and inclusion and safe spaces. Know she cares about the Union – being there for each other. Let us all join to  stand with Jane when she steps forward to speak and advocate for us!!

Martine Wigham

Martine Kuyken Wigham came to the US from Belgium in the early nineties and met and
married her Ernie in 1995. Martine has an uncle who lives in Cheshire and, while here on a visit
with him, met Ernie in a place called the Crazy Al’s in Veneta and has been with him ever since.
In Belgium, she worked on big corporate clients and had to travel a lot and interpret things in
different languages and it was a very busy work schedule. Belgium has great worker protections
and benefits and the remote work options, even back then, were much more progressive than
now. She worked via fax for one week a month and maintained a 9 month busy long distance
relationship with Ernie. After 15 years in the corporate world, Ernie proposed, she accepted,
and started her 6 month Visa on the path to becoming a US citizen.

The Register Guard had a classified ad for a position at U of O for an admissions
coordinator at the American English Institute. The position had everything to do with visas and
being a foreigner coming to the US for studies, and it was right up her alley. On top of
admissions coordinator, after 9/11, the government designated a few people per university who
could hold a position to help with official government paperwork for international students. As an
international advisor, she was able to help with student visas linked to education. Since then,
she’s amassed a sizeable number of recognitions, awards and accolades from all across the
University. Including the MLK award, numerous accolades from department heads, deans,
presidents, faculty, staff and students that she’s helped over her 25 years here.

Tell me about what you’ve done for U of O?
“I made the job at AEI my own over the years and it was wildly successful. My idea
was to work directly with the director of AEI and also with the Linguistics department head to
recruit international students. I played a major part in connecting the English requirement for
international students coming to the US, and not just in Oregon, but the country. My cost saving
idea for UO and all over, was to recruit students from Arab speaking countries. I was very
familiar with Muslim customs, culture, and communication styles and was able to connect with
people over there who wanted to send their kids to America to study. Particularly right after 9/11,
there was a lot of stigma with Arab speaking countries and I was a sort of go between for the
government, immigration, the administration, and the students and their families. We went to the
embassies to recruit and worked with them on scholarships and paperwork and in less than a
year, we went from a 5% Arab population, to more than 20%.

I worked for AEI for 20+ years and I loved that job. I worked with the PPPM/Art
History/Product design departments for 5 years starting in 2018. I am currently slated to be
medically separated after 25 years of service. I have 2 masters in Germanic Linguistics and in
Education and was accredited to teach Flemish, Dutch, English and German as a second
language. With all those credentials, the job worked for many years until I started suffering
medical problems and received pushback on remote work from my boss. It’s indescribable the
pleasure that I received from helping people, including foreigners who were 17, never left their
country, and suddenly found themselves in the US and at a big university. I was empathetic to
their plight and got a lot of satisfaction in having parents reach out to see how their kids were
doing, having kids reach out and help them with their problems, and genuinely helping people
get a quality American education. It was my dream job.”

What do you consider the main benefit of being a unionized classified worker on

“In Belgium and France, unions are so strong that if things don’t go their way, there is
rioting in the streets. Here I see the main benefit of being in the union as being part of the larger
whole of people who do the work and run the place. Frankly, the disrespect that happens on
campus needs a constant watchful eye and the people need a voice in the way things are run.
There are absolutely no benefits, no job certainty, and no protection without people to watch
over the workers, and who better to look out for the people than each other? Workers who care
about their campus community and help to get you the respect you deserve and restore that
sense of humanity in the workplace; those are the real heroes around here. Who better to undo
the wrongs that management can do to everyday workers than the people who know how to do
the job? There is no other way than having a union to protect you that I know of in the
workplace. I’ve learned that people care, how much the exec team and the leaders put in for
other people, and how they want to illuminate the best and the worst that this place has to offer.
To me the U of O had tended towards a lot of disrespect towards all of the unions on campus
but I hope that this is changing with new leadership all over. My wish in all honesty is that
people that care get more involved in decisions that happen at the UO and that all that care
radiates out into the campus community.”

The President recently reached out to you about your lengthy service at UO. What would
you like to say about that, and what would you like to see as his priorities in the coming

“It was a surprise to me to have the President reach out. No one was in the office at my
current position so he left a message. I thought that that gesture of deciding to leave nice
messages to employees, and, from what I’ve heard, he was doing three a day. I was pleasantly
surprised to have a nice genuine gesture come from the incoming president to an employee
with 25 years of service. That reminded me about why I love to work for the UO. It brought me
back to the days of Frohnmeyer who was personable, everybody knew him, he was genuine
and humane and it was refreshing. That was the first time since Frohnmeyer that I got a
message that was positive and encouraging from a president.

The irony of it was that he probably went through the recognitions and years of service to
prioritize who to call first. And right there, you see the discrepancy; I had already been told that I
was not an employee because of my medical issues, and then the poor guy reached out to me
unbeknownst to him. I hope that that was a positive step towards my continued employment
here. I’m hoping for the UO, that he will be a teaching president, a leader to look up to, a great
example for the campus community, and my wish is that UO, under his leadership, is that he will
change the tone from Schill’s leadership approach, to one of his own and something that brings
us back to the people aspect of who runs the UO. That message showed me certain problems
with the University however. That there is a disconnect between what’s happening on the
ground and what the people at the top are getting reported to them from below. I hope that the
university either learns from his kind demeanor and gesture, and that a culture shift is coming
under our new leader. The UO is making a lot of changes at all levels, athletics, CSUs,
departmental changes and I just hope they are for the best and that he steers the ship in the
right direction.”

What do you want incoming employees at the UO to know?
“The camaraderie of classifieds on campus is wonderful and welcoming and an instant
community that I’m proud to be a part of. The people that have been there for a while will be
there for you. If you treat people right and ask for help, people will be there for you and stick up
for you and they have the heart to look out for their coworkers and will help everyone. Perhaps
that’s the most important and positive aspect of work on campus; the people who want to see
you succeed will help to make sure that we all do.”

Mohamed Mounir

Mohamed Mounir (second from left) surrounded by fellow members of the CPFM custodial staff.

“I became a Steward because I wanted to be involved in our union and help other workers. Working at the bottom of the scale made me see that our lowest paid workers aren’t appreciated nor get the respect they deserve. As a Steward, I get to help people who are the most vulnerable and it is very rewarding. Everyone needs an ally in the room.”

I first met Mohamed Mounir during the pandemic and only via zoom. I had just gotten involved with our union as a Steward and regularly saw Mohamed in the monthly Steward roundtable. He always offered deeply considered input and I heard others referencing and congratulating him on his recent new job position. After meeting Mohamed in person and serving on other committees with him, I was able to ask him questions about his story and how and why he is involved with our union.

Originally a police officer in Morocco, Mohamed joined the UOPD in 2016 as a Community Service Officer. This was his first experience in a unionized environment as the police force in Morocco cannot unionize because they are not allowed to strike. Knowing that he valued the union and benefits at the University, but looking for more opportunities for advancement, Mohamed started working for UO Facilities as a custodian.

The pay scale for campus custodians is the lowest on campus (excluding student-employees) and advancement is slow so Mohamed re-evaluated his options. One day, while perusing the SEIU 503 Statewide website, he clicked on the “benefits” tab and saw that SEIU offers free Associate Degrees to members via an agreement with an online accredited community college. Mohamed had noticed the high demand on campus for folks with accounting skills and initiated the straightforward enrollment in the college’s accounting program. The whole program was free – including textbooks and extra classes in finance! Mohamed achieved his AA degree in Accounting in December of 2020.

Mohamed applied for several Accounting Tech positions on campus and quickly landed a job in the Chemistry Department, less than a year before the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) re-organization. He transitioned into the Central Business Office (CBO) for the newly transformed CAS and processes invoices and other business operations.

Now, Mohamed is gaining on-the-job experience while considering applying to the UO’s BA in Accounting program, with a goal of becoming a Fiscal Coordinator. He’s balancing time constraints as he is also serving as a Steward, is a Contract Action Team (CAT) member, is on the newly-formed 085 Communications Committee, just became secretary of the Sub-local Executive Board for 085, and is on the 503 Board of Directors as the Assistant Director for Higher Education!

I asked Mohamed what he thinks the priorities of our union should be and he, characteristically, gave very thoughtful answers:

1. Create an anti-racist union and increase diversity.
“This area is majority white, but the workforce is changing. Our union should be prepared and welcoming of diversity in higher education.”

2. Find a pathway to advancement for those in lower-wage positions.
“I cannot accept that you put in 20-years at a job and leave in the same economic situation as you came in. This is a university and it should be a priority to educate and make individual situations and outcomes better.”

3. Climate Justice and leaving a better tomorrow for our children.
“As a 503 Board member, we have a budget that we can use to influence political priorities, but to really build a momentum for change involves increasing awareness in the rank-and-file members.”

Thank you for all you do for our union, Mohamed!