Union Strong – Words to Live by

SEA Director Tammy Clark speaks during the first panel.

SEA Director Tammy Clark speaks during the first panel.

This year’s convention theme was Union Strong, and the program focused on resiliency, leadership, action and our future.  In addition to listening to the guest speakers and the President’s report, the convention delegates heard firsthand from several panels comprised of members.

The first panel shared their stories of activism. Tammy Clark, chapter 45 shared her story of taking a stand in her workplace.  Even though her actions resulted in disciplinary action against her, they ultimately led to the resolution of the workplace issue. “When we stand together, we win,” she told the audience.

SEA Director Rich Gulla speaks during the first panel.

SEA Director Rich Gulla speaks during the first panel.

Rich Gulla, chapter 17, shared that he has become more involved in union activity following significant changes at the NH Liquor Commission.  He recounted the horrible way he felt, when as a manager, he had to explain to staff changes being made that negatively impacted their wages and schedules.  The Commission had arbitrarily made across the board changes that affected part time workers.  At the same time, the administration stopped meeting with workers altogether. Working with his member colleagues, SEA field rep, the SEA legal department, and the political department, Rich was able to meet with an Executive Councilor and share his concerns; the SEA filed two related Unfair Labor Practice petitions; and job actions were organized. Things began to improve. “Organizing and using all available resources led to victory,” Rich said.

The third panel member, Bedford Police Officer Chris Storti, President of Chapter 64 explained how his chapter sponsored a community event in early 2013 – a screening of a documentary called “Heroes Behind the Badge.” The film recounts stories of law enforcement officers who were caught in the line of fire. The event was organized as a fundraiser for the National Law Enforcement Memorial, which displays the names of fallen officers etched in its stone.  This event raised nearly $8,000 in five weeks.  The funds were sent to Washington, D.C. to contribute to the operations of the Memorial.

A brief clip from the documentary was shared with the convention delegates. The room was quiet and still, with the only audible sound being sniffling from those attempting to hold back tears and emotion. The clips paid great testimony to the incredibly dangerous service law enforcement professionals provide each and every day to keep our communities safe.  “Every day you go out and it could result in something like what you see in this film,” said Officer Storti. “I try not to think about it, but it’s very true.”

President Lacey shared with the delegation that she and Officer Storti hope SEA staff and SEA members in the law enforcement community will work together to sponsor a second showing of the film in the state capitol so legislators, policy makers, and other rank and file SEA members will gain a better understanding of what our local heroes and their families live with every day.

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