Campus Equity Week–Thursday Say “Thank You”

Thursday is Thanksday. Say thanks to the people you know who are out there in the trenches organizing and trying to make working and living conditions better for all of us. No matter how much or how little we’re able to do, it’s our collective efforts that are going to win this fight in the end. But it’s a hard fight and, sometimes, a little thanks can make the difference between keeping on and giving up in despair. So say thanks.

Debra Jenks, VP of Adjuncts, AFT Local 1839, New Jersey City University

Debra Jenks, VP of Adjuncts, AFT Local 1839, New Jersey City University

I have a lot of people to thank, in addition to the fantastic folks I work with who are part of the NFM board and foundation, and who are just the newest of my activist brothers and sisters in arms. To start, I want to thank the two tireless women at my own local at NJCU, AFT 1839, who mentored me when I first joined the union and who continue to do so. At right is artist Debra Jenks, our VP for Adjuncts, who’s a driving force behind much of our activism and always has fantastic ideas. She’s fearless and forthright, as is Niloofar Mina, the first active adjunct I met at NJCU. Niloofar is a past Adjunct VP and has held many other union offices. She’s now on our negotiating team for local and state negotiations and I would not want to face her across that table.


Teresa Mack-Piccone, kick ass organizer of adjuncts and nurses.

I’d also like to thank T.L. Mack-Piccone, who started out as a brilliant Ph.D. in English, moved out of the adjunct rat race to organize adjuncts in upstate New York and is now organizing nurses in California. The long conversations with her on the phone and on Facebook were the building blocks for my radicalization, and the start of a great friendship. She cooks like an angel, swears like a sailor, and is the holy terror of bosses (always said in italics) everywhere.

Others to whom I owe shout-outs and thanks for their inspiration and courage, in no particular order: Miranda Merklein, Tiffany Kraft, Kat Jacobsen, Robert Craig Baum, Joe Fruscione, Bri Bolin, and MG Gainer (who’ve taught me about bad-assery); Caprice Lawless (who woke me up); and Lakey Love and Ralph Benton Wilson IV for their brilliant UnKoching work; and all the amazing union women I met at the 2013 Northeast UALE Summer School.

If I’ve forgotten anyone, please forgive me. And make sure you thank the folks who’ve inspired you, too.

–Lee Kottner

P.S. OMG, I forgot Lydia Field Snow! Musician, creative organizer, disrupter, and scourge of #Badmin. How could I? Good luck with your panel at the Economic Inequality Initiative Roundtable.


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