New Hampshire’s Emerging Workforce Committee, or NHEW for short, held its second event Wednesday night with a focus on education, following a successful social event held this summer.
If you’re not familiar with NHEW, it is an ad-hoc committee of the SEA that is focused on building for the present and the future. Because NHEW’s target audience is people who are younger or newer to state employment and the SEA, the educational presentations on Wednesday night aimed to introduce those in attendance to the union and rights in the workplace. Casey Horner, part of the NHEW committee, led off the event with a good overview of the SEA, and Rich Gulla, a SEA director and chair of the Stewards Committee, led a presentation on workplace rights.
Alicia L’Esperance, another member of the NHEW committee, said she was glad to see new faces at the event Wednesday night.
“The group is really looking to engage and empower members, so the more people the better,” she said.
L’Esperance helped lead a dynamic activity that called on participants to set their own priorities in bargaining.
“We were brainstorming at a meeting and throwing out ideas, but many weren’t interactive and didn’t’ help to feel the impact of the union,” she said. “There’s a series that UNH does on budgeting and paying bills that asks you to identify priorities in your budget, so we actually built off of that.”
In this activity, participants set their bargaining priorities and then a stand-in employer set his priorities. Finally, participants broke up into groups to collectively discuss priorities. The point the activity drove home was that as a single employee, your priorities are typically secondary to your employer’s priorities. Collectively, though, there is room for discussion. L’Esperance said that delivering that message in real terms helps crystallize the idea.
“In order to really understand it, you kind of have to feel it,” she said.
L’Esperance said she found Wednesday night’s event, and NHEW’s progress, encouraging.
“The fact that the union approved us as an ad hoc committee, the fact that SEA President Diana Lacey was there last night engaging with us and reinforcing the things we’ve been wanting to move forward, I think it speaks volumes to our engagement and our ability to incite change and action,” she said.
If you missed Wednesday night’s event, but you’d still like to work with NHEW as it helps build for the present and future, you can email Field Representative Andy Capen at firstname.lastname@example.org.