Late last month, a 12-member delegation from SEA/SEIU Local 1984 traveled to Detroit to take part in the SEIU Quadrennial Convention. The convention, which took place across five days, happens once every four years and brings together SEIU locals from all around the country.
For the SEA/SEIU Local 1984 delegation, each 12-14 hour day began with a breakfast meeting before the group members headed off to presentations and workshops on topics such as health care and the Fight for $15. Delegates voted on a series of resolutions as well as leaders for the International Executive Board. In that way, the convention sets in motion what the international union will focus on over the next four years. In addition to looking ahead, the convention also took a look back at some of the victories over the last four years.
“It was very enlightening to see and hear in action the things other unions have done,” said Kathleen Cintavey of Chapter 65. “That was a very motivating experience.”
One such victory that struck a chord with Cintavey is the Fight for $15, which aims to ensure that all workers earn a living wage.
“When you hear how (raising wages) has the potential to change people’s lives, I think that’s very important,” she said. “In our society, there are large groups of people who’ve lost hope all together. When you’re able to implement a $15 minimum wage, you’re giving hope to a lot of people.”
Cintavey said the days were long but the experience was well put together. She had high praise for the other members of the delegation.
“I felt a part of it all because our team of delegates was extremely welcoming to me,” she said. “I’ve never been to a convention like that, and they were very good at answering questions based on their previous experiences. It was a good opportunity for me to get to know the other people in the union, especially those who do quite a bit with the union.”
While the aim of the convention is to energize delegates and send them home with the tools and motivation to effect change, Cintavey said she found value in just talking with her fellow SEA/SEIU Local 1984 delegates.
“I do negotiations for my unit, and I was very happy to get to know Jim Nall,” Cintavey said. Nall is the chair of the Collective Bargaining Advisory Committee as well as the Master Bargaining Team. “He and I will be doing some work together.”
Lynn Ducasse, of Chapter 20, is another one of the new members who took part, and she agreed with Cintavey that the delegation helped make the experience more valuable.
“The group was fantastic, and I’m very glad I’m part of the union,” she said. “I felt like I could contribute. Everyone listened and wanted feedback, President Rich Gulla listened and everybody was able to contribute.”
Ducasse has been a member for just over two years and is increasingly involved in the union. She said she’s now motivated to do even more.
“There’s a lot that I’d like to get more into, and learn some more,” she said. “I’d like to continue to get more involved.”
The 2016 SEIU International Convention took place Friday, May 20 through Tuesday, May 24. The delegation included (in alphabetical order): Kathleen Cintavey (Chapter 65), Second Vice President Tammy Clark (Chapter 45), Corey Dearborn (Chapter 21), Lynn Ducasse (Chapter 20), President Rich Gulla (Chapter 54), Jonathan Hallet (Chapter 21), Secretary Kristen Marabella (Chapter 16), Director Jim Nall (Chapter 9), Director Cindy Perkins (Chapter 37), First Vice President Ken Roos (Chapter 16), Brenda Thomas (Chapter 20) and Director Cheryl Towne (Chapter 9).