The 73rd Annual Convention of the State Employees’ Association of New Hampshire, SEIU Local 1984, was held Saturday, Nov. 9, at the Executive Court in Manchester. The day was jam-packed full, from the illustrious guest speakers at the beginning of the day right up until the awards were presented at the end of the day.
Rather than try to fit that all in one giant story, we’ve broken up our convention recap into eight stories:
The SEA, SEIU 1984 Convention which occurs each fall, is the highest governing body of the organization. It is there that the work conducted by the Constitution and By-laws Committee and the Resolutions Committee in preparation for each convention is considered for vote. This year the members of the Convention considered, discussed and voted on one Constitutional Amendment and two Resolutions. All three were passed.
The first item, C#1, had to do with the election of officers. It called for amending Article VII of the Constitution, which stated that the Association’s election of officers must take place in even- numbered years. It was noted this event competed with biennial political elections, causing conflict for many members – leaving them to choose between attending Convention or engaging in political activism. The Committee recommended this amendment ought to pass. Following discussion, the Convention voted to amend the Constitution to read as follows:
(b) (i) On the first day of the 2014 Annual Convention, nominations shall be made from the floor for a President of the Association, First Vice President, Second Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer who shall serve three (3) year terms.
(ii) Commencing with 2017, oOn the first day of the Annual Convention in even-numbered odd-numbered years, nominations shall be made from the floor for a President of the Association, First Vice President, Second Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer who shall serve two (2) year terms.
The first of the two resolutions, R#1, had to do with discussing and researching the possibility of rejoining the NH AFL – CIO and to bring findings derived from that study and recommendations to the March 2013 Council meeting. The Resolutions Committee voted this item ought to pass. After lengthy discussion this resolution was accepted by the Convention. You can read the full resolution here.
The second of the resolutions, R#2, actually resulted from the first. While reviewing the Constitution in consideration of rejoining the NH AFL0CIO, the committee discovered possible areas of the Constitution that may conflict with current day-to-day operating policy (the Board Policy). The resolution calls for instructing the Constitution and Bylaws committee to review the Board of Directors Policy in conjunction with the Constitution over the coming year; then making recommendations for changes in the Board of Director’s Policy and/or the Constitution no later than the next Annual Convention. The Committee recommended this resolution ought to pass. The resolution was adopted.
Each year at convention, the SEA President provides the delegates with a report of the activities, achievements, and challenges of the past year. This year, President Lacey’s report had overtones of optimism as she compared the previous years of relentless attacks by radical legislators bent on blaming public workers for all the woes of the time; with a much better place today.
“Last year I stood with you at convention and I asked you and the rest of our union family to give of yourselves, your time and your energy,” she said. “I asked you to share your voice, to make your needs heard; and predicted that together, we could make a difference. And so we did!”
She went on to tell of legislators from both sides of the aisle, since the 2012 elections, working together more and being more respectful of public employees’ opinions and contributions. “When we speak, they are listening to us. And although we won’t always agree, the hatefulness we were living with has been replaced with interest and a desire to understand different perspectives.”
Among the achievements and highlights of the last year, she reported:
Lacey added that things are not all perfect. “Income growth has not risen as fast as we would like it to. Retirees haven’t had a cost of living adjustment in a few years yet their costs increase,” she said. “We will continue to work on pension and retiree health care issues because it is clear that our seniors need a financial boost in a very big way.”
In closing her report, President Lacey said, “I must take a moment to share with you my appreciation for your support and hard work in getting us all through the recession. It has been five long years but things are finally starting to turn around. We have done a tremendous amount of work to keep us all together and driving toward a better future at the same time we had to tread water in the recession.”
Many things happen each year at the annual Convention, but perhaps one of the most exciting events is the announcement of several awards for individual members and chapters who have made significant contributions to the SEA and its mission. This year was no different and we’d like to share the winners with you.
The first award announced was the John B. Parker Award. This is considered SEA’s highest award and it recognizes the organization’s outstanding member. Betty Thomas, 2nd Vice President, announced Jonathan Hebert, Chapter 3, as this year’s recipient. When Jonathan is not busy with his job as an engineer at DOT, he is doing one thing or another for SEA with passion and drive. Since joining the organization in 1996, Jonathan has been a jack of all trades; serving as a union steward, chapter president and a member of the Executive Branch Master Bargaining Senate. “I was completely surprised by it,” he said humbly. “I thought afterward I should have said this and I should have said that. I was just so happy to be recognized.” As well he should be for his former and continuing commitment to his union. Congratulations, Jonathan.
Ken Roos, 1st Vice President presented the Ray Proulx Award. This award is presented to a member who has shown extraordinary commitment and involvement in political activism. This year’s recipient is John Hattan, chapter 45. John, who became an SEA member in 1990, has served on the SEA Political Education Committee for over a decade. He has participated at many levels including phone banking, leafleting, attending hearings, and even performing in a street performance as one of the Marx brothers in a political skit in front of the State House. No matter what the task, John has been game to get the work done to elect legislators who share his commitment to a just and fair economy and a government that is supportive of working families. Congratulations, John.
The Charlie Stevens award is presented to the outstanding Chapter President of the Year. President Diana Lacey presented this award to Tammy Clark, Chapter 45. Tammy became chapter president this spring and hit the ground running on a mission – to increase chapter member involvement. The chapter’s vast geographic span and large number of members creates challenges – all of which Tammy is addressing. Tammy has improved communication within the chapter; and together with a team of chapter members, has taken on the goal of reaching 100% attendance at the 2014 SEA Convention. Under Tammy’s leadership, the chapter passed a resolution to ask the Board of Directors to purchase and install a quality teleconferencing phone for the SEA office and video conferencing capabilities, in order to remove distance as a barrier for members to participate in chapter meetings. Congratulations, Tammy.
The final award given was to the Chapter of the Year. President Lacey presented this award to Chapter 1. Chapter 1 President, Peter Bartlett, accepted the award on behalf of the chapter. When he accepted the award, Peter said “I didn’t know we were even eligible for this.” Chapter 1 is composed of SEA retirees and is the largest SEA Chapter.
This award was earned by not just one year of stellar involvement and participation, but by many, many consistent years of excellence. Their chapter meetings are routinely well organized and well attended. They provide a great example of how to effectively communicate with each other and they remain strong by acting in solidarity even when they do not all agree. “Chapter 1has taught us how to do things and why it’s important to keep working together,” said President Lacey. “They have remembered what being in a union family means, they have lived it and they teach us still today how to live it. With over 1,200 members, Chapter 1 has set the standard for member engagement, political engagement, good union debate, charitable giving in its more than 50 year history with the Operation Santa Claus program, and so much more.” Congratulations to all members of Chapter 1.
The third panel discussion at the annual convention was composed of members of the SEA’s new ad-hoc committee – the New Hampshire Emerging Workforce (NHEW). As more and more public sector employees retire (yes, the boomers are aging), the quest for new workers and SEA members increases. The dilemma is how to recruit these new workers. That is part of NHEW’s mission. Casey Horner, the committee chair, shared that “We sat and spoke with some retired SEA members, Chapter 1, to see what tips they could give us. We want the same things they have fought for before us. We are trying to lay the foundation to do the same as older and more experienced workers.”
NHEW shared information about the meetings and events they have sponsored to date and encouraged all delegates to help spread the message that the group exists and is looking to grow. There are currently plans to develop a specific SEA website page for the group and presentations and upcoming events will be posted there. Stay tuned.
The second panel at the annual convention was composed of DHHS Labor Management Committee members. They explained the many benefits of having a labor management committee and the measures they have taken to try to provide members with knowledge of their existence and positive results. Co- chairs Heather Fairchild, Chapter 16 and Mary Fields, Chapter 45 shared that their LMC includes six different chapters and has been operating for six years. “At first, management ran the meetings,” said Fields. She explained that has evolved and now an agenda is established jointly. “We work well amongst ourselves. We communicate often, so we work cohesively. We work well with management and we are making gains.”
“One of the strengths, I believe,” said John Hattan, “is we are represented by a diverse work force.”
The LMC has recently been re-structured. It now includes three additional chair persons – Laurie Aucoin from NH Hospital; Mike Fitzpatrick from SYSC; and Cheryl Towne from Glencliff home. There are regular LMC meetings at each of those worksites.
The DHHS LMC has established its own page on the SEA website. “All members’ photos are there, as well as their bios,” said Fields. “We are a large agency, and we think this will help members recognize who we are and how we can help.” If your LMC would like to create a similar page, please contact Beth D’Ovidio at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.
As is customary at the SEA/SEIU Local 1984 Annual Convention, there were candidates running for available Board of Directors’ seats. This year there was one seat available for Director representing Retirees – incumbent Director John Amrol (Chapter 1), who ran unopposed, will be serving another three-year term. A second race for a Director seat with a one year term was also a one-candidate race. Cynthia Perkins (Chapter 19) will be serving in that position.
There were six candidates for four Directors’ seats for a three-year term. Following the election process, Tammy Clark (Chapter 45); Heather Fairchild (Chapter 16); Kevin Myers (Chapter 37); and Cheryl Towne (Chapter 9) will be serving as Directors for the next three years.
There were no candidates for the one vacant seat for Director/Private Sector.
At the conclusion of the convention, General Counsel, Mike Reynolds officially swore the Directors in. You can watch the brief ceremony here.
With the pound of a gavel, Ken Roos, First Vice President, convened the 73rd Annual SEA/SEIU Local 1984 Convention promptly at 9 a.m. last Saturday in Executive Councilor Chris Pappas’ backyard – Manchester.
Following the formalities of adopting and accepting the rules of order for the day and the introduction of the convention’s Parliamentarian, Attorney Jake Krupski, and approving last year’s minutes, Councilor Pappas welcomed the delegates to the convention. “The thing that has impressed me most since my time on the Executive Council this year has been the caliber of our state employees,” he said. “At every turn, at every agency I go to, I see people with skills, with knowledge, with compassion for delivering our mission of state government and doing so in an effective way. … I can’t thank you enough for all that you do.” To see a video of Councilor Pappas complete remarks click here.
The agenda continued with two more guest speakers – Governor Maggie Hassan and Dave Lang, President of the Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire.
In her remarks, Governor Hassan complimented the state’s workforce repeatedly referring to the workers as ‘dedicated and hard-working state employees.’ “Throughout the recession you pitched in, you gave up pay raises, you paid more for your healthcare and you did more with a whole lot less as the state work force dropped by 1100 positions,” she said. “And, despite those challenges you remained committed to serving the people of NH. Your efforts have helped maintain our high quality of life…With this in mind it is critical that we work to provide you with the supports you need and you deserve. You can watch the Governor’s address to the delegates in its entirety here.
David Lang, the last of the guest speakers was also complimentary to NH State Employees. Lang, the chair of the NH Retirement Security Coalition (NHRSC), spoke of the ongoing struggle to hold onto the retirement benefit promise that has been made to public employees. The NHRSC, a group of NH labor unions working collaboratively for the common purpose and cause of preserving this benefit, needs the help of members at large. “We have a great legislative plan; a legal plan; and a political strategy,” he said. “We are fighting for your benefits.” He challenged the delegates. “Even with this great plan,” he said. “We are going to fail without you. I am asking you all to participate when you’re asked to make that phone call to your legislator; when you are asked to attend a hearing; when you’re asked to hold a sign. At the end of a long hard public service career, you deserve a secure retirement.”
The 73rd Annual Convention of the State Employees’ Association of New Hampshire/SEIU 1984 is coming, and nominations are sought for several positions on the Board of Directors.
WHEN: Saturday, Nov. 9. Registration is at 8 a.m., call to order is at 9 a.m. Nominations will begin at 10 a.m., and balloting will be held from noon-1 p.m.
WHERE: The Executive Court, 1199 S. Mammoth Road, Manchester.
The openings on the Board of Directors are as follows:
If you’re interested in running for one of the open board positions, you must fill out a nomination form (http://bit.ly/SEACon2013) and return it to the SEA offices by 5 p.m. Oct. 11. You’ll find more details, including eligibility, on the nomination form.