The member leaders of SEA/SEIU Local 1984 gathered the weekend of Oct. 28-29 at Attitash Grand Summit in Bartlett to take part in the organization’s 77th annual convention.
Delegates were there to decide on union leadership and several major questions facing the organization, in the form of constitutional amendments and resolutions. As it turned out, elections weren’t needed as all candidates were unopposed — including Rich Gulla, who returns for another term as president.
Beginning with a moment of silence
First Vice President Ken Roos called the convention to order just after 10 a.m., and after going through the nuts and bolts details, handed off the podium to President Rich Gulla. Gulla began on a somber note.
“Each year, we pause to remember those members we’ve lost in the last year,” Gulla said. “I’d like to direct your attention to the stage, where we’ve placed an empty seat in honor of Wendy Parent.”
Parent, a longtime member leader, passed away unexpectedly in June. Parent was a director, steward, chapter president at Lakes Region Community College, and a member of the CCSNH staff bargaining team. Her loss was immense.
“Wendy’s spark, toughness and kind heart are greatly missed,” Gulla said.
Gulla then directed members’ attention to a short video, honoring all of those members who had passed in the last year.
Note: We tried hard to make sure we included all who we lost in the last year, but inevitably we missed two. Tom Bruner, Chapter 5, passed away in August. Deborah Perkins, Chapter 54, passed away just a few days before convention, and we were not able to add her to the video.
Election of leadership
Going into convention, it appeared there would be just one contested election, but that changed when an expected candidate for secretary wasn’t nominated. With just one candidate for each position, there was no need for an election — parliamentarian Glenn Milner declared the nominated candidates winners by acclamation.
“Here we are, together,” Gulla said after his election. “Three years ago, I stood before you and promised we would move forward together … that not one of us was as smart or as strong as all of us. Only together could we forge ahead into a time of uncertainty with our union. It has been an honor and a privilege to lead our union and watch as so many of you have risen to meet the challenges we face.”
Some of those elected are new to the board, but all have years of union activism and state service. The winners have served New Hampshire for a combined 190 years, across a variety of state agencies and facilities, including DHHS, DOIT, NHES, Glencliff Home, Sununu Youth Services Center, White Mountains Community College and the Liquor Commission. All officers won two-year terms, while directors won three-year terms. The winning candidates are:
- President: Rich Gulla, Chapter 54
- First VP: Ken Ross, Chapter 16
- Second VP: John Hattan, Chapter 45
- Secretary: Cindy Perkins, Chapter 37
- Treasurer: Avis Crane, Chapter 5
- Director: Jim Nall, Chapter 9
- Director: Phil Burt, Chapter 45
- Director: Corey Dearborn, Chapter 21
- Director (CCSNH): Sylvie Pratte, Chapter 46
Resolutions and amendments
At each convention, SEA members have the ability to bring forward proposed constitutional amendments and resolutions, and this convention was no exception. Delegates to the convention were asked to consider six proposed amendments and five proposed resolutions. You can find all of the proposals here.
Amendments were considered on Saturday, with all but two being rejected. After lengthy debate, proposed amendments 1, 2, 3 and 4 were rejected. Amendments 5 and 6, which dealt with chapter rebates, were swiftly approved.
As for resolutions, the first two of five were approved as is; the fifth was amended slightly. The first asks the SEA to find a sponsor for legislation to set the minimum wage at $15 while the second encourages all bargaining units to push for a $15/hour floor in all contracts. The third and fourth resolutions — which were related to two of the rejected amendment proposals — were withdrawn. The final amendment centers on remote participation in union meetings at all levels.
No convention would be complete without handing out a bit of hardware. Award presentations were split up across two days, with the Chapter of the Year and Outstanding Chapter President awards being handed out on Saturday. On Sunday, the award for political action was distributed.
Chapter 45, led by newly-elected Director Phil Burt, was honored with the Chapter of the Year Award. The Outstanding Chapter President award — named for longtime DOT member leader Charlie Stevens — was presented to a current DOT member leader Dan Brennan, of Chapter 17.
Newly-elected Second Vice President John Hattan presented the Ray Proulx award for political action to our retirees in Chapter 1, calling them a “force to be reckoned with.”
“They turned out for major hearings, and had a huge presence at the legislature,” Hattan said. “They contacted their elected officials and had huge sway in this last legislative session. If every chapter did what they did this year, we’d be quite the formidable organization.”
The member of the year award was not handed out at convention, as the winner was not able to attend. We’ll be sure to report when it is handed out (and nope, no hints on who the winner is).
Without any elections on Sunday morning and bad weather on the way, delegates opted to wrap things up early. We thank all who attended and offer our sincere appreciation to the members of the Convention Arrangements Committee, who put in many hour of work to make this event happen.
Notes and trivia: The officers just completed three-year terms, a one-time change made to ensure the two-day convention wouldn’t fall just days before statewide elections … Guest speakers for the weekend included Executive Councilor Joe Kenney, Senate Minority Leader Jeff Woodburn, and gubernatorial hopeful Steve Marchand … This was the second time in recent years that the convention was held at Attitash, the last time being in 2012