Executive Committee

The ALU Executive Committee is elected each year by ALU members. The Executive Committee members volunteer their time to help improve the working conditions of graduate assistants at the University of Hawaiʻi. The 2019-2020 executive committee ran together on a slate, which is a team of candidates who share a vision for the future of ALU and endorse each other’s candidacy. Their platform is as follows:

1) Organize for striking power. Our priority is engagement and capacity-building on campus, with the intention of having enough support to strike if we need to. We will do so by continuing the card-signing campaign to petition the Hawaiʻi Labor Relations Board together with the ILWU, and simultaneously organizing structure tests such as grade-ins or walkouts throughout the year. We are aiming to accomplish support from a majority of GAs, and to actively involve more workers in the unionizing process.

2) Commit to active transparency. We want to be up front with our membership about our strategies and tactics, and avoid back-room deals and rumors. We know where we want to go, and we will be transparent about the process of getting there.

3) Organize whole workers, not just for wage and benefits. We want to advocate for our members within their community, and emphasize political education to not only build support for ALU, but build awareness to broader struggles and political issues in Hawaiʻi and abroad.


Jonathan Fisk

Natural Resources and Environmental Management; Academic Affairs, Graduate Division

Without graduate student workers, the UH system would cease to function, and yet we’re exploited as if our labor and our livelihoods are expendable. We’re but a small fraction of the workers in Hawaiʻi, and a relatively privileged fraction at that, but through organizing we have the potential to reshape the power structures of UH, one of the most pivotal and influential institutions in Hawaiʻi. We have the potential to further re-stitch the socioeconomic fabric of the islands and embolden others to claim their worth as well. As Chair, I will seek to guide this movement, not only to secure the wages, benefits, and agency graduate student workers deserve, but so, like converging ocean swells, our movement helps build towards a paradigm shift in Hawaiʻi where people are no longer ruled and governed by greed and colonial powers.

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Lucie Knor
Vice chiar

Oceanography; SOEST, Oceanography

Aloha, my name is Lucie and I’m running for Vice Chair. I want to get more people involved in ALU from all departments and campuses, to not only accomplish our card-signing campaign, but also organize for striking power. I want our EC to be transparent about what we’re up to, and to provide political education to connect with broader political issues in Hawai’i and beyond.

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Tom iwanicki

Zoology; CNS, Biology

My name is Tom Iwanicki. I am a Zoology PhD candidate, an international GA, and one of the founding members of Academic Labor United. I am running for Secretary-Treasurer because I am inspired by my fellow ALU members. They remind me that graduate workers are the university. Throughout our struggle to win collective bargaining rights UH admin has been paternalistic at best and outright antagonistic at worst. ALU has gained many allies in both the House and Senate, unfortunately House leadership have abdicated their responsibility to uphold the constitution. We are in charge of our future now, and it will take all of us to win. That is why I am proud to run on a slate with Jonathan Fisk (Chair), Lucie Knor (Vice Chair), Paul Spooren (Recording Secretary), Alex Miller (Communications Chair), ‘Ilima Long (Political Education Chair), and Organizing Chairs Tyler Greenhill (Arts and Humanities), Wesley Sparagon (School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology), Liz Conlon (College of Natural Science), Sasha Kovacs (UH Hilo), Elizabeth Laws (JABSOM), Kat Burke (Social Work/Nursing/Dental), and Valentina Alvarez (At Large). Together we will focus ALU’s organizing energies on growing our membership to striking power, committing to active transparency, and organizing whole workers, not just for wages and benefits.


Paul Spooren
Recording Secretary

Information and Computer Sciences; CNS, Information and Computer Sciences

For the last few years, I've been working in some small unions in Germany, working in the areas of communication and managing technical infrastructure, like mail and ticketing systems. While new to the U.S. union system, I'm excited to put my previous experience into action as Recording Secretary.


Alex Miller
Communications Chair

Dance; COE, Center on Disability Studies

Aloha mai kākou! I am running for Communications Chair because I believe in the organizing power of media for our movement. My goals for ALU’s media presence as we move into a new year of building power are threefold: 1.) to highlight, honor, and disseminate the amazing work ALU members are doing to fight for labor justice and the liberation of our communities; 2.) to build solidarities between ALU and other justice movements in Hawaiʻi nei and abroad; and 3.) to utilize media as a site for continually envisioning and imagining the expansive possibilities of our collective power. We are stronger together! E alu kākou!

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ʻIlima Long
Political Education Chair

Political Science; Native Hawaiian Student Services

Aloha, My name is ʻIlima Long and I'm a PhD student in Political Science. I've been involved in ALU organizing for two years. I'm running for Political Education Chair because I understand that a strong union that is powered by its members requires ongoing political education about worker rights, worker issues, labor history and organizing. I'm running as part of a slate of graduate students who are committed to organizing whole workers to build power for graduate employees and for broader labor justice at the University of Hawai'i. What do we mean by "whole worker"? We mean that we see graduate workers as more than just wage earners. We see graduate workers as whole people who are connected to communities and whose quality of life is measured beyond wages and benefits. We believe that this approach strengthens our movement for unionization and makes unionism that much more meaningful for workers.


Tyler Greenhill
Arts & Humanities Organizing Chair

American Studies; CAH, American Studies

Aloha kākou, my name is Tyler Greenhill and I am a PhD student in American Studies, born here in Honolulu.  I am running for Academic Labor United’s Arts and Humanities Organizing Chair because power belongs in the hands of us workers and people, not oligarchs.  As an Organizing Chair I recognize that to realize this goal and activate our agency as graduate workers requires all of us to be informed and engaged. In addition to building capacity by incorporating new members within Arts and Humanities and best representing our college on ALU’s EC, my goal is to make sure our constituents understand how working together can help us achieve more than needed union recognition and the opportunity to collectively bargain our own contract.  Building our union is an opportunity for us to have the power over the future of our graduate studies, University of Hawai‘i, and beyond. I am excited to see many of you voting and look forward to a year of organizing on behalf of Arts and Humanities!

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Wesley Sparagon
SOEST Organizing Chair

Marine Biology; SOEST, Oceanography

My name is Wesley Sparagon and I am running to be SOEST Organizing Chair for Academic Labor United. My priority as SOEST Organizing Chair will be to nurture and maintain a strong and cohesive group of Graduate Assistant’s in SOEST who are continually involved with ALU. Overall, one of the main goals of our slate is to build the capacity of ALU to striking power if necessary. This requires the continued involvement of most GAs, and I will work to achieve this by both pursuing members of SOEST to sign ILWU cards, by developing a strong GA network within SOEST through fun/engaging activities (picnics, tie dying, etc.), and by strongly advertising and promoting ALU events such as the General Assembly, grade-ins, walkouts, etc.


liz conlon
Natural Sciences Organizing Chair

Botany; CNS, Botany

I'm running for organizing chair because I believe a graduate worker union is long overdue at UH. Knowing that UH does not recognize our basic rights as workers or allow us a say in decisions that affect our lives makes me feel powerless. I hope we can reclaim our power this year by working with as many grad workers as possible to make our voices heard. I want to help ALU to stay in communication with busy grad workers in CNS departments so that we can mobilize and show UH our strength. Although I hope to graduate this year, future grad workers at UH deserve recognition and the right to collectively bargain with the administration to improve their working conditions.


sasha kovacs
Hilo organizing chair

Natural Product Chemistry; UHH, College of Pharmacy

I hope to help to organize and acquaint the GAs at the Hilo campus with each other for greater solidarity and support as we pursue information transparency and clarity with regards to our GA working conditions, contracts, rights and expectations. Perhaps in the future to start a Hilo GSO or RISO for graduate students here at Hilo and have a graduate student representative at the Hilo Graduate Council, if this is of interest, but for now organize the other GAs at the Hilo Campus and hear their concerns and ideas.


Elizabeth laws
JABSOM Organizing Chair

Cell and Molecular Biology; CHSSW, Cell and Molecular Biology

Epidemiology is a study of what befalls the people. When we are organized, we may better capture what befalls the people. In a modern, funded, and moral academia, an institution must have and be accountable to a body which speaks for the needs of its professionals. Only then may we rise to the occasion of updating our standards to best serve the interests of academic professionals. I have an interest in developing solutions to these ends.


kat burke
Public Health, nursing, and social work chair

Public Health; CHSSW, Nursing

Aloha, my name is Kat Burke, originally from Connecticut. My roots are French, Greek, Irish & Romanche and my passion is pulling/eating weeds for public health. I am running because I'm interested in organizing for striking power. As graduate students, especially in health sciences, our research can greatly benefit from union protection. Unionizing can empower students to feel safe to do the research that needs to be done (as permissible by the Institutional Review Board) without fear of censorship or retaliation. This may include research that honors indigenous ways of knowing, Kanaka ʻŌiwi methodologies, and helps UHM become the Hawaiian Place of Learning it strives to be.


Valentina Alvarez
At-large Organizing chair

Biology; Academic Affairs, Graduate Division

I am running for the “at-large” organizing chair position because I would like to have as much of an impact on the ability for graduate students to fight in solidarity for the right to unionize and collectively bargain. If elected, I will represent and organize students that are not technically employed through a particular college but are employed through graduate division, outreach college, or the dean’s office. The needs of these graduate students may be different than traditional TA’s and RA’s though their voices must also be heard and represented. I will take advantage of my position as an NSF fellow employed through graduate division to organize and work with students to push forth the mission of ALU and ensure that all students are aware of their rights and the right to fight for them!