By DON McINTOSH
Southwest Washington Central Labor Council (SWWACLC) has a new president.
Shaun Gundert, a high school science teacher and member of Evergreen Education Association, was nominated and elected unopposed at the council’s monthly delegates meeting Dec. 7. Immediately following the election, outgoing president Shannon Myers handed the meeting over to him.
Gundert was serving as vice president, and that position will be open for nominations at the Jan. 4 delegates meeting.
Gundert, 37, grew up in Vancouver and graduated from Skyview High School.
By his own account Gundert himself didn’t enjoy or do well in high school, and he wanted to bring about a better experience for others. He decided to become a science teacher, and earned degrees in chemistry and physics from Western Washington University in Bellingham. Influenced by the ideas of Brazilian educator Paulo Freire, he came to see education, and science education, as a tool of liberation.
“Once you start learning it, and if you learn it deeply enough, science allows us to think radically differently about the world,” Gundert says. That’s not just a help to former students who’ve gone on to careers in science and technology, but to anyone who wants to understand how things work.
Gundert is now in his seventh year of teaching physics, engineering and chemistry at Henrietta Lacks Health and Bioscience High School in Vancouver.
Encouraged by others, he got active in his union, the Evergreen Education Association, and was given responsibility as a kind of ambassador for the union to the wider local labor community.
That meant service as a delegate to the SWWACLC, and eventually, being drafted to serve as its vice president. A labor council is a local body of the AFL-CIO union federation, but SWWACLC welcomes non-AFL-CIO affiliates like teachers unions to join as well. A labor council’s job is to aggregate the power of its affiliated unions, and represent the labor movement as a whole in front of the community and elected leaders in government.
As vice president, Gundert led SWWACLC’s political endorsement process in the primary and general elections this year, interviewing candidates and making recommendations alongside other political committee members.
Now, as labor council president, Gundert says he hopes to bring an organizer’s mentality to the stipended but largely volunteer position. He wants to bring people into the organization and get them trained. He’ll also emphasize democratic practices and transparency to encourage participation and ownership of the council by delegates.
Also elected unopposed at the Dec. 7 meeting were:
- Executive Board, Position 2: Kevin Fanning of United Assocation of Plumbers and Local 290
- Trustee, Position 2: Theresia Lloyd-Siemer, a Health Unit Coordinator at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Oregon Health and Science University and member of AFSCME Local 328.
NEW MEETING LOCATION
Southwest Washington Central Labor Council is moving its meeting location starting January to the Vancouver office of Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals, 316 SE 123rd Ave., Vancouver. That’s the first Wednesday of the month at 6 p.m. Any union member in Southwest Washington is welcome to attend.