April 25 through 27, seven SEA members joined member activists from two other New England locals at the Northern New England Council’s 8th Annual Worksite Leadership Academy. Members from SEIU Local 1984/SEA, Local 1987 (Maine State Employees’ Association), and SEIU Local 560 (Dartmouth) attended the three day training. Kearston Crutchfield, Jennifer Hunt, Rich Gulla, Cindy Sanborn, Jim Nall, Jo-Ann Dixon, and Kevin McMahon represented SEA as some of our local’s emerging leaders.
Over the course of the three days, the groups explored the history and importance of labor unions, the characteristics of good leadership, and successful ways of effecting change within our worksites and our communities that better serve working families. Before “graduating” from the program, each Local worked to identify a significant issue that affects its members and built a comprehensive strategy/campaign to address that issue. SEA’s team will bring their suggested “campaign” to the SEA Board of Directors for approval soon. So, stay tuned!
“It was wonderful meeting members from our local and others. I left with new ideas and a renewed sense of our mission,” said Rich Gulla. Many of the attendees stated they were pleased to learn new strategies and pick up new skills. Most said the best part of their experience was being with members from other locals. “It is great to know there are others out there who have the same challenges,” said Cindy Sanborn. “We aren’t alone.”
The union experience of those who attended varied. Through an exercise using a union history timeline it was discovered that some attendees had been involved with the labor movement since the 1960’s while others had only been involved for a year or two. There was a great breadth and depth of experience from which all could draw. “This weekend’s experience was really energizing for me,” said Peter, a member from Local 560 who was a long timer. “Even though I’ve been around for a long time, there is always something new to learn and to share. There will always be workplace issues to address.”
SEA will be participating in a similar training designed for those who are new to union leadership or who are thinking of increasing their union activity. That training is taking place July 11 thru 13 at Southern Maine Community College in South Portland Maine. If you are interested in attending, please contact Beth D’Ovidio at 271-3411 ext. 105 or firstname.lastname@example.org.