Last month, we started a new feature in which we profile the SEA’s committees. The idea is to better acquaint you with the committees that carry out much of the union’s business (and hopefully encourage more of you to join up). This month, we talked with SEA Director Rich Gulla, who chairs the Steward Committee.
Question: What does your committee do? What function does it serve for the SEA?
Answer: Our committee recommends changes to the steward policies and and the steward handbook. It also provides the opportunity to gain knowledge and insight from fellow stewards in other agencies. We have ongoing informative trainings at our meetings, as well as guest speakers who speak on subjects that impact our members, like the Affordable Care Act, for example. We also help drive the topics that will be discussed and taught at the steward trainings – there are three of those trainings a year. We pick the dates and work with staff on content.
Q: How many are on the committee? Can anyone be on the committee?
A: There are 12 appointed members for the purposes of voting on recommendations to the Board of Directors. However, the committee meetings are open to all stewards and all are invited to attend. You must be a steward to be a voting member of the committee.
Q: How often does the committee meet, and what kind of time commitment is involved? What’s a typical meeting like?
A: The committee meets once a month on the fourth Thursday at 5:30, so the time commitment is about two hours a month. A typical meeting usually involves a light snack and a guest speaker or trainer. There is time for open discussion, as well.
Q: Why should members attend committee meetings?
A: Stewards should try and attend meetings for several reasons. I think it’s a good idea to meet other stewards from county and municipal chapters and other agencies. We can learn from each other’s experiences and share knowledge and information. We can be our best support group and knowledge center. As stated before, we’ve had, and will continue to have, guest speakers attend our meetings to educate and inform us, so we can be better worksite leaders for our members. That means knowing how to file a grievance or an appeal, or being able to answer questions about things like filing a workman’s comp claim or understanding the importance of SEA PAC, and how contributing benefits our members.
Q: Why is it important for members to get involved with committees and the union in general?
A: That’s important for several reasons. First and foremost, we are only strong if we are active and contribute. We are the union — not the staff – though they are great! Each and every one of us brings different thoughts, ideas and worksite perspectives that can benefit all as a whole. By being active on a committee, you the member have a great opportunity to make change that can impact us all for the better. There are several committees to choose from and be part of. I know we are all busy with work and family, however there is a rewarding feeling from participating on a committee that you find interest in. Whether it’s the Road Race, Operation Santa Claus, Political Education or the Steward Committee, just to name a few.