Committee Spotlight

Featured Committee: Constitution and Bylaws

Our SEA/SEIU Local 1984 committee spotlight returns this month with a look at the Constitution and Bylaws Committee. Much like the Resolutions Committee, the work of Constitution and Bylaws is most visible at the annual convention. We talked with chair Eric Ferren to find out more about this important committee.

You can find previous committee spotlights here.

What does your committee do? What function does it serve for the SEA?

From our constitution: “Constitution and Bylaws Committee: It shall be the duty of the Constitution and Bylaws Committee to assist the Board of Directors in approving chapter bylaws by making a study of them and reporting its findings to the Board of Directors. It shall study the Constitution of the Association and present such amendments to the Convention as it deems expedient. It shall study all other proposed amendments and report its findings thereon to the Convention. It shall prepare the ‘Rules of Order’ for the Annual Convention. It shall act as an advisory group when called upon by the Council and chapters working to aid in preparing bylaws and rules of order. It shall be the duty of this Committee to insure the Constitution is updated if it has been amended by the Convention.”

What would happen if the committee didn’t exist? (Put another way, if there was no committee, what wouldn’t get done)

Our constitution requires that this committee exist; but if that changed, no new chapters could be formed, because it’s mandatory that this committee review and approve chapter bylaws. If the committee didn’t exist, the constitution would be locked, because this committee must review any constitutional amendments before they are presented at convention. A constitution must be a living document. Whenever an organization’s constitution is stagnant, the organization may also become stagnant. This can cause the organization to die, because it can’t take advantage of new opportunities or overcome new obstacles presented by an ever-changing world.

How many are on the committee?

Six.

Can anyone be on the committee?

Any member can join the committee and all are welcome.

How often does the committee meet, and what kind of time commitment is involved? What’s a typical meeting like?

The committee meets once a month on the second Tuesday of each month. Meetings last anywhere from one to two hours depending on the number and complexity of the topics being discussed. We occasionally have special projects assigned to us by either the Board of Directors or the SEA President that may require use to meet more than once a month.

Why should members join your committee?

The constitution is the governing document that guides how SEIU 1984 does all its business. This committee can recommend changes in the constitution that change where SEIU 1984 goes in the future. Some of the topics we are currently looking at are video conferencing of council meetings, creation of new committees to better define which committee members go to make changes in the organization.

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Featured Committee: Convention Arrangements

Our SEA/SEIU Local 1984 committee profile this month is especially timely, as the event this committee organizes is less than a month away. We talked with First Vice President Ken Roos about the work that the Convention Arrangements Committee does to prepare and put on the yearly convention. This year’s convention is on Oct. 3 in Manchester.

You can find previous committee features here.

What does your committee do? What function does it serve for the SEA?

The Convention Arrangements Committee establishes the location of the annual convention, selects the menu, and any other items (such as entertainment) related to conducting a successful convention. We also assist during the convention to ensure all delegates and guests have a pleasant experience, which results in a more productive event. The committee also is diligent about ensuring that all the convention information, such as resolutions and constitutional amendments, is assembled and disseminated to the delegates in a timely fashion. The committee puts a great deal of thought and energy into developing a theme that will carry throughout the year. The committee sets up and cleans up at the convention. The committee arrives early and is the last to leave a convention.

What would happen if the committee didn’t exist?

If the committee didn’t exist, the annual convention would likely continuously be held at the same site with a menu selected by the venue. The committee also works to hold down the cost of the event by negotiating contracts and being frugal when it comes to ensuring attendees have a variety of delicious options.

How many are on the committee?

In addition to the first vice president, the committee has 10 members, plus the SEA Business Manager, KJ Desjardin,  who provides her years of expertise in ensuring that convention runs seamlessly and on budget.

Can anyone be on the committee?

Any member or retiree (retirees are members) is welcome to join the committee, especially those with a flair for being a party host for innovation!

How often does the committee meet, and what kind of time commitment is involved? What’s a typical meeting like?

The committee meets quarterly on average, monthly as convention nears, planning components of the convention.

Why should members join your committee?

Issues important to our organization are acted upon at the annual convention. The Convention Arrangement Committee plays a vital role and contributes to the overall experience of the annual convention. If you like to plan parties and events, then join the convention arrangements committee. We just had a road trip scoping out sites for next year’s convention. We are already thinking ahead to when the two-day convention returns in 2017! Is the renovated Balsams in our future?

PS…Hope to see all who have been elected delegates at convention on Oct. 3!

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Committee Spotlight: Protecting Our Retirement

This month, we continue our profiles of SEA/SEIU Local 1984 committees, with a look at the Retirement Committee. John Amrol, a member of the Board of Directors and the chair of the Retirement Committee, took some time to explain what the committee is all about.

What does your committee do? What function does it serve for the SEA?

The committee monitors legislative bills dealing with retirement issues. We also work with the SEA’s Government Relations Coordinator Brian Hawkins and Political Organizer Jay Ward on issues of concern to them. In addition, the committee works with current and potential retired members on their issues and undertakes various projects of concern to retirees.

We coordinate attendance at political hearings in Concord, giving testimony when needed, whether oral or written. Members formulate projects to benefit existing or future retirees, such as planning additional savings for their retirement. We also work with the SEA/SEIU Local 1984 representative on the NHRS Board of Trustees, Germano Martins, monitoring the board’s activities.

What would happen if the committee didn’t exist? (Put another way, if there was no committee, what wouldn’t get done)

Our work is very necessary, so if there was no committee, I’m sure the work we do would eventually get done. It just might not be as detailed or thorough.

How many are on the committee?

There are 12 on the committee, plus a staff representative. Usually seven or eight are able to attend each meeting.

Can anyone be on the committee?

Any SEA/SEIU Local 1984 member or retiree can be on the committee.

How often does the committee meet, and what kind of time commitment is involved? What’s a typical meeting like?

We try to establish a common schedule agreeable to the committee members, currently the third Tuesday of every month at 5 at the SEA office. It’s important that all committee members try to make all meetings, for the sake of continuity and being up to speed on issues or projects.

A meeting usually consists of hearing from our political coordinator on pending bills and issues and any updates on projects that committee members may be involved with. We’ll assist staff with any of their issues or concerns and develop the agenda for the next meeting.

Why should members join your committee?

It’s a good way to be active and party to the organization’s political structure. Also, a secure retirement is something all workers have a stake in.

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Featured Committee: Fight for $15

After a hiatus, we continue this week highlighting various SEA/SEIU Local 1984 committees. We talked with Director Cindy Perkins, who is chair of the Fight for $15 Committee, one of the newest committees. Here’s what Cindy had to say:

What does your committee do? What function does it serve for the SEA?

Fight for $15 and a Union (usually called Fight for $15) is an Ad-Hoc committee working to establish a living minimum wage. The SEIU as a whole is strongly behind this effort nationwide.

What would happen if the committee didn’t exist?

Nothing would change. Low-wage workers would continue just as they are, working two or three jobs to barely stay ahead of the rent and the bill collectors, needing food IMG_2852stamps despite working 40 hours a week or more.

How many are on the committee?

Currently three to five people show up at a committee meeting. We have lots of interested people we keep in the loop, but we haven’t formalized a membership list.

Can anyone be on the committee?

Anyone and everyone may and is encouraged to join us, Union member or not. Our most energetic leaders are both SEA members and non-members! Non-member participants are not able to vote on agenda items.

How often does the committee meet, and what kind of time commitment is involved? What’s a typical meeting like?

We meet once a month, typically at 5 p.m. on the second Thursday of the month. A typical meeting includes information from the staff about events we might want to be involved in and new resources available, an update from committee members on what they’ve been doing, and a little planning for outreach and for an event we are planning.

Why should members join your committee?

Join because you are passionate about social justice. Join because you’re angry about paying taxes to subsidize hugely profitable businesses paying poverty-level wages. Join because this is what unions are all about! The fight for livable wages is so much bigger than this state, this union, the next contract – this is our opportunity to raise consciousness and make the U.S. a better place to work and live. So join us because when the revolution is over, you don’t want to be saying, “I coulda been part of that …”

What committee should we highlight next? Send your suggestions to atoland@seiu1984.org. You can read all previous committee features by clicking here.

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Social Activities Committee in the Spotlight

Question: What does your committee do? What function does it serve in the SEA?

Answer: The Social Activities Committee takes us back to our roots. I bet you didn’t know that the SEA was established in 1940 as a social group for state employees.  Over the years, the association evolved and changed with the interests and needs of the members and became a labor union. The work of the union is serious – collectively bargaining for wages and benefits is extremely important, and can be intense and stressful at times. The Social Activities helps put the fun into being a member.  We organize bus trips to various destinations, such as Mohegan Sun. This summer we are planning a Stay and Play camping trip for members. They can either stay for a day or for the night.

Question: What would happen if the committee didn’t exist? (Put another way, if there was no committee, what wouldn’t get done)

Answer: If the Social Activities Committee did not exist SEA/SEIU 1984 would be all work and no play. It is important to have fun.  Life is far too short to not enjoy the moment.  Participating in social activities provides a way for members to get to know each other in a relaxed setting. It is important for members to interact outside of work – this is a great way to do so.

Question: How many are on the committee?

Answer: There are currently two committee members. We are currently recruiting.

Question: Can anyone be on the committee?

Answer: Yes. Any SEA/SEIU 1984 member who’s interested in researching new activities and helping to plan, organize and carry out social opportunities for the membership is encouraged to contact Tammy Clark at tclark@seiu1984.org. We hope to grow this committee. We are always looking for new ideas and as they say, “many hands make light work.”

Question: How often does the committee meet, and what kind of time commitment is involved? What’s a typical meeting like?

Answer: The Committee meets once a month. We are currently meeting the third Wednesday of each month. A typical meeting consists of discussions regarding current events that may interest members. We are particularly interested in providing low cost activities that will appeal to many members.

Question: Why should SEA members join this committee?

Answer: If you like having fun and enjoy planning events, belonging to this committee is ideal for you. There are tasks that introvert and extroverts alike can be assigned. We hope you will consider joining us at our next meeting.

If you’re interested in checking out a Social Activities meeting or event, you can contact Tammy Clark at tclark@seiu1984.org.

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Featured Committee: NHEW Aims to Engage New and Younger Workers

Earlier this year, we began profiling different SEA committees to highlight the work those committees and their members do. This week, we talked to Alicia L’Esperance and Tracy Rousseau, both members of the SEA’s newest committee, New Hampshire’s Emerging Workforce, or NHEW for short.

Still in its infancy, NHEW is technically an ad-hoc committee that was approved by the Board of Directors last year. NHEW is a member-driven outgrowth of SEIU’s Millennials program, which was created in 2012, that focuses on engaging newer and younger workers.

Question: What does your committee do? What function does it serve in the SEA?

Answer: We are a welcoming group looking to raise up the voices of all workers. Our audience is all workers who are interested in learning about the union and how they can get involved.

Question: What would happen if the committee didn’t exist? (Put another way, if there was no committee, what wouldn’t get done)

Answer: The connection to new workers coming onboard might not happen. We host educational events for younger workers, so those likely wouldn’t exist. The union would also be lacking the voice of the newer and younger workers, which was much of the impetus to create the committee in the first place.

Question: How many are on the committee?

Answer: Eight are currently involved.

Question: Can anyone be on the committee?

Answer: Yes. Any SEA member who’s interested in moving forward the interests of newer and younger workers and bringing about change is welcome.

Question: How often does the committee meet, and what kind of time commitment is involved? What’s a typical meeting like?

Answer: We meet on the first Wednesday of each month. We have an agenda, and everyone is encouraged to participate in the meeting. As an example, this month, we reviewed our last social networking event, talked about getting involved with the SEA’s summer outing, and talked about the minimum wage law (an area of advocacy we’ve focused on) and the work that needed to be done.

Question: Why should SEA members join this committee?

Answer: Current issues matter to us, and we like to have fun when we focus on these issues. We are engaged and like to take action, and we are open to new ideas and leadership in the committee.

If you’re interested in checking out a NHEW meeting or event, you can contact SEA Field Representative Andy Capen at acapen@seiu1984.org.

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Featured Committee: Political Education Committee

Over the last few months, we’ve been talking with SEA committee chairs to give members a bit more insight into the role of committees at the SEA. This week, we talked with First Vice President Ken Roos, who’s the chair of the Political Education Committee, also known as Poli Ed.

Question: What does your committee do? What function does it serve for the SEA?

Answer: The Political Education Committee, as the name implies, provides information on the interrelationship between politics and our union. There are three main target groups. First, our membership; second, politicians; and third, the general public. We often hear “The SEA should get out of politics!” However, public employees’ collectively bargained rights, job security, working conditions and benefits are decided by elected officials. To protect these rights, our livelihoods and the quality services that Granite Staters deserve, the SEA must be involved in electing candidates who value, believe in, and will stand up for working families; but we also need to hold them accountable. We must then also show our political power in supporting pro-worker legislation and speaking out against that which will harm the people of N.H.

Poli Ed members that are participants in SEAPAC — our very own political action committee — also oversee the voluntary contributions to SEAPAC. Since by federal law, union dues cannot be used for certain political activities or contributions, this fund is administered independently from SEA operational finances, by SEAPAC contributing members.

Q: What would happen if the committee didn’t exist? (Put another way, if there was no committee, what wouldn’t get done)

A: The SEA has built a track record of member advocacy tied to the public good. We help set legislative and electoral priorities and are winning more than ever for our members. We can either make progress toward affordable health care, quality services, better contracts and retirement security, or be frustrated as elected officials ignore our needs and the needs of the people we serve. Without the Poli Ed committee, we would lack a mechanism for member involvement  and to advocate for ourselves in local, state and national politics.

Q: How many are on the committee?

A: There are 15 active members, in addition to our Government Relations Coordinator, Brian Hawkins and our SEIU Political Organizer Jay Ward.

Q: Can anyone be on the committee?

A: Any member or retiree is welcome, regardless of political party affiliation.

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 monthly, usually the second Monday of the month at the SEA office. The meetings begin at 5 p.m. and end by 7 p.m.

On numerous occasions, we welcome political candidates and appointees to vet them prior to any recommendation for endorsement. We also review current legislation and plan actions tied to bills of interest to the SEA. Current plans are to identify priorities for the upcoming legislative session tied to the SEA Granite Strong Vision. We will then develop material to educate candidates on these issues and potentially write supportive legislation.

Q: Why should members join your committee?

A: It is important for all members, no matter what side of the political spectrum or walk of life they may come from, to contribute to this work. We need to speak out in support of quality services, workers’ rights and what families need to thrive. If you want to be constructively involved in advancing our goals and political advocacy, then check us out. Our next meeting is Monday, May 12, at 5 p.m.

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Featured Committee: Keeping the SEA 5K Running

Charlene "Clarkie" Clark and Carol Beaudoin, both members of Chapter 1 and the Road Race Committee, pose for a photo before the 2013 SEA 5K.

Charlene “Clarkie” Clark and Carol Beaudoin, both members of Chapter 1 and the Road Race Committee, pose for a photo before the 2013 SEA 5K.

Over the last few months, we’ve been profiling the SEA’s committees (see the previous ones here). This week, with the 21st SEA 5K Road Race and Fitness Walk a little more than a week away on April 5, we profile the Road Race Committee. We caught up with Jennifer Day, who is in her first year as committee chair, to find out more about the members who keep the SEA 5K running.

Question: What does your committee do? What function does it serve for the SEA?

Answer: The committee plans and executes the SEA 5K Road Race and Fitness Walk. This year marks the 21st edition of the SEA 5K. Every year, all proceeds from the SEA 5K benefit the SEA’s Operation Santa Claus, which provides Christmas gifts to more than 3,000 children across the Granite State.

Road Race Committee Chair Jennifer Day, left, and committee member Dianne Blodgett hand out bibs to runners before the 2013 SEA 5K.

Road Race Committee Chair Jennifer Day, left, and committee member Dianne Blodgett hand out bibs to runners before the 2013 SEA 5K.

Q: What would happen if the committee didn’t exist? (Put another way, if there was no committee, what wouldn’t get done)

A: Well, the road race certainly wouldn’t happen, and Operation Santa Claus wouldn’t be able to help as many children.

There’s a lot that goes into planning the SEA 5K. A bit of what we do includes: updating the application brochure before the applications are sent to the printers; picking the colors for the race T-shirts for the runners and the volunteers; completing the necessary paperwork for the permits and contracts to hold the race; and maintaining the database of runners who have entered the race. We meet the afternoon before the race to start setting up for race day. On race day, with the help of our volunteers, we register runners, hand out drinks and snacks, and distribute T-shirts. One committee member, Bruce Vanlandingham, brings his motorcycle to guide our lead runners along the course. Afterwards, we pack everything up and load it in our rental van. It sounds like a lot, but it’s worth it, placing state employees in a positive light; encouraging exercise and ensuring that Christmas gifts go to New Hampshire’s disadvantaged children.

Q: How many are on the committee?

A: The Road Race Committee has 10 members from various agencies across the state; Safety, DOT, DOIT, DES; DHHS, and retirees from Chapter 1.

Q: Can any SEA member serve on the committee?

A: Yes, and the committee would certainly welcome more members, as many hands make light work.

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 the second Tuesday of every month at 5 p.m., from September to March, with a recap meeting in May. The committee has the summers off. 1. A typical meeting consists of an update from the committee member who regularly attends the CARS [Capital Area Race Series] monthly meetings, as the SEA 5K road race is part of  CARS.

Q: Why should members join your committee?

A: It’s a great event to be a part of. Every year, it draws a mix of walkers, competitive runners and casual runners, which gives it a great atmosphere. Plus, you’re helping raise money for Operation Santa Claus.

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Featured Committee: Steward Committee

SEA stewards listen during a presentation during steward training last March. The Steward Committee helps plan training sessions such as these.

SEA stewards listen during a presentation during steward training last March. The Steward Committee helps plan training sessions such as these.

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.

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Featured Committee: Operation Santa Claus

First Edition in Series Focuses on SEA’s Hardest-Working Elves

Operation Santa Claus committee members and volunteers pause for a photo in between loading trucks with gifts in December.

Operation Santa Claus committee members and volunteers pause for a photo in between loading trucks with gifts on Distribution Day in December.

For more than 50 years, Operation Santa Claus has been helping brighten the holidays for children around the state. From its modest beginnings in the early 1960s, the program now provides gifts for around 3,000 children who otherwise wouldn’t receive gifts on Christmas day. This program wouldn’t work if it weren’t for the efforts of the elves (as the volunteers like to be known) of the Operation Santa Claus Committee. We talked with head elf, aka, committee Chairperson Linda Farrell to find out more about the committee.

Q: What does the committee do?

A: The task that takes the most time throughout the year is fundraising. We are always looking for new  ideas. This past year we had seven different fundraisers — donations, BonTon coupon booklets, Lakes Region Casino, Longhorn Restaurant, iPad raffle and gift-wrapping at the mall. This money is used for children that don’t get sponsors.

Editor’s Note: OSC is again selling BonTon coupon books. You can buy one for the upcoming Community Days online (be sure to select Operation Santa Claus as the beneficiary organization!).

Q: What would happen if the committee didn’t do so much fundraising?

A: What people don’t realize is that the committee uses its funds to buy gifts for 250 to 300 kids each year who don’t get sponsors. I never want to receive a case sheet from a social worker about a child who needs help for Christmas and have to say, “Sorry, can’t help.” That is my worst nightmare.

Q: How many people serve on the committee?

A: There are about 15 formal members on the committee but that doesn’t count the committees at the various agencies throughout the state. This also doesn’t count the people that volunteer to help during preparation and delivery.

Q: How much time do the elves (committee members) spend, and how often does the committee meet?

A: The committee meets once a month, on the third Thursday of the month at 4:30 at SEA headquarters. All are welcome. The case sheets are sent to the workers at Health and Human Services in July for them to fill out and return to OSC. The case sheets are reviewed, sent to sponsors, logged out, logged in when packages are received, and the packages are sent to Health and Human Services. The heaviest need for a work commitment is from September thru the middle of December. The more hands that volunteer the less that is required of any individual.

Q: Who are the longest serving members of the committee?

A: The two longest committee members are Charlene “Clarkie” Clark and Barbara Lillios.

Q: What’s it like having such a big impact on a program that helps so many people?

A: Operation Santa Claus is very important to me. I have always loved children and believe that they all deserve to receive presents at Christmas. The OSC committee works hard to achieve this goal.

If you’d like to help with Operation Santa Claus, you can either come to the regular monthly meeting or send an email to seaosc@seiu1984.org.

Want your committee to be featured next? Send an email here.

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