Los Rios College Federation of Teachers
Ben Rust Award 2002
Michael Crowley has been a teacher for 37 years, first in K-12 then in the community colleges. As a teacher at Rio Linda High School in the Sacramento area, Michael was the president of the CTA-affiliated Grant Educators Association.
In 1970 Michael became part of the first contingent of faculty at Cosumnes River College, at the time the newest campus of the Los Rios Community College District. He has been active in the Los Rios College Federation of Teachers, AFT Local 2279, since the representational campaign in 1978. From 1981 to 1986, he was the LRCFT Campus Chair at Cosumnes River, where he was responsible for grievance handling, recruitment, and literature distribution, among other responsibilities. He served as president of LRCFT from 1987-1992, during which time the LRCFT made great strides in representing all faculty.
As president, Michael wrote an award-winning column for the LRCFT’s Union News. He also led the local in successfully and soundly defeating two decertification attempts by the CTA. In 1990, under Michael’s tutelage, the LRCFT became one of the earliest CFT agency shop locals.
In 1993 Michael stepped down as president, believing it was time to give someone else the opportunity to lead the union. He continued serving on the local’s executive board as past president. In 1994 he became campus vice president at Cosumnes River College for another four years. He finally retired from union office to devote more time to teaching English composition classes and to become a deacon in the Catholic Church. This was a continuation of his desire to serve people, both materially and spiritually. It was to be a short-lived retirement, however.
During his many years of service to the LRCFT, Michael has emphasized recruitment, both into the union and into the LRCFT’s Political Action Fund. Mainly as a result of Michael’s efforts, 95 percent of all CRC faculty are union members. Michael almost single-handedly built the Political Action Committee into a formidable presence in local board of trustee races.
Michael was called out of retirement last year to rebuild the PAC, which had fallen on hard times due to retirements and inertia. Since returning, Michael has increased the annual contributions to the PAC by $7,500, solely through his efforts on his own campus. He has configured his weekly schedule next semester to enable him to take a full day each week to recruit PAC members at the other campuses.
Together with his wife, Cissy, Michael has raised a family of five of his own children and numerous foster children. As a result of his example, several of his children went on to become teachers themselves. He is an avid bicyclist, using that form of transportation to get to and from work in all types of weather. He also designs and builds by hand his own wooden boats, winning several prizes for his craftsmanship.
Although Michael retired as a full-time tenure track faculty member at the end of the fall 2000 semester, he will continue his activities as an adjunct faculty member. While teaching part-time, his commitment to the union will be full-time.
Through his work, in the classroom, in the union, and in his community, Michael Crowley has exemplified what is best in the trade union movement. He has excelled as a teacher and he has built and strengthened the local as a force among the faculty and in the political arena. Virtually every aspect of his life has as its purpose serving his fellow human beings.