CSEA 87th Annual Conference
Daily News Updates
Delegates elect new state officers
On the final day of the conference, delegates elected Michael Bilbrey, a member of Citrus College Chapter 101, as the association’s 44th president since 1927. They also elected Ben Valdepeña, a member of Yucaipa-Calimesa Chapter 209, as CSEA First Vice President; Delores Rodriguez, a member of Corona Norco Chapter 369, as CSEA Second Vice President, and Kerry Woods, a member of Fullerton High Chapter 82, as CSEA Secretary.
“I want you to know you have elected an amazing team that is going to work hard on your behalf,” Bilbrey said. “We are CSEA. We are one.”
Delegates honor top legislators, approve budget
Delegates at the 87th Annual Conference honored two state legislators who have supported CSEA and fought for working families throughout California.
Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, and Assemblyman Dr. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, were named the CSEA Legislators of the Year. Steinberg was unable to attend the conference, but Pan was in attendance.
Pan has helped CSEA to fight anti-union forces in his Assembly district without being asked to do so. He said it’s important to fight against bad school board members whose decisions hurt students, classified employees and the state as a whole.
“We simply can’t have school board members who don’t understand how schools work,” Pan said.
Pan said he is proud to support classified employees and is humbled to receive the award.
“It truly is an honor to be recognized by all of you who make sure our children get educated,” he said.
Delegates approved the association’s general and restricted fund budgets after a question and answer session.
Member-delegates honored the winners of the Walter H. Blice Award, which is given annually in recognition of outstanding political service on behalf of CSEA. This year’s winners are Sandra Rivera, of Rio Hondo Community College Chapter 477, and Imojean Cupp, of Retiree Council 5006.
The final Member of the Year presentation honoring Ron Carson, maintenance custodian with Palermo Chapter 366.
This afternoon, delegates will attend the final Education Days workshops, which include budget boot camp, the community college symposium and the county office of education fireside chat.
Tomorrow morning, delegates will vote on new association officers, install the new CSEA Board of Directors and Retiree Unit Executive Board, and bring the 87th Annual Conference to a close.
Delegates finish work on resolutions, honor members
There were lots of smiles during the morning session of the third day of the 87th Annual Conference as delegates awarded CSEA’s highest honors, and completed action on resolutions.
Association President Allan Clark and Napa Solano Retiree Council 5029 President Dayton Smith were awarded Life Membership. Retiree Unit District C Director Pat Bollin and Conference Committee Chair Roy Hartnell were named to the CSEA Honor Roll.
Delegates also honored Member of the Year Alicia Evilsizer, a special education assistant from Vista Unified Chapter 389.
Member-delegates finished the final two resolutions of the conference, approving one and referring one to committee.
The day began with the second set of Education Days workshops. Today’s sessions centered on the concept of “safe schools.” Education Days workshops wrap up tomorrow afternoon with sessions including budget boot camp, the community college symposium, county office of education fireside chat and merit system panel presentation.
Delegates march in solidarity with hotel workers
CSEA brought a “Sea of Blue” to the Cosmopolitan Hotel and Casino to rally in solidarity with the Culinary Workers Union Local 226, who have been working without a contract for two years.
As the temperature hovered in the triple digits, delegates joined about 2,000 hotel workers in demanding safe working conditions and fair wages from the Cosmopolitan. Association President Allan Clark said for nearly 25 years, CSEA has stood with the Culinary Workers Union.
“Unions standing together in times of need is what built the labor movement,” Clark said. “We will continue to help our brothers and sisters when we come to Nevada because their fight is our fight.”
Delegates honored the Activist of the Year, Mary Lavezzoli of Old Adobe Chapter 646. She was humbled by the distinction.
“This is an immense honor, mostly because I’m among activists,” Lavezzoli said. “There’s a room full of activists here, and I accept it on behalf of all of you.”
This year, there were two winners of the William P. Schwartz Humanitarian Award. They were honored for their actions to improve the lives of CSEA members and the community. Jerry Chames, of Kerman Unified Chapter 279, and Gloria Pinedo, of Patterson Unified Chapter 174 graciously accepted the award.
The award is named after William Schwartz, who founded CSEA in 1927. His widow, Grace, was on hand to help present the Humanitarian Awards. Following the presentation, a motion was made and approved from the floor to place Grace Schwartz on the CSEA Honor Roll.
CSEA Past President and CalPERS Board of Administration President Rob Feckner updated delegates on the strength of the pension system. Feckner said that CalPERS has rebounded impressively since the financial meltdown of a couple years ago. Feckner said he is available to visit chapter meetings or other events to talk about CalPERS and related issues.
“Don’t hide the good news about CalPERS,” he said.
Feckner stressed the importance of re-electing Michael Bilbrey to the CalPERS Board of Administration. He said having a second classified voice on the board ensures that CSEA’s concerns are heard.
Former CSEA president and current executive vice president of the AFL-CIO Executive Council Clyde Rivers delivered an update on issues related to labor nationwide. He said the AFL-CIO is making conscious efforts to educated young people about unions and welcome them to the House of Labor.
Delegates recognized the association’s top communicators by awarding the Communication Awards. Awards of excellence were bestowed upon Region 56 newsletter editor Fil Zamora, Sweetwater High Chapter 471 editor and webmaster Francisco Tamayo, and East Whittier Chapter 87 communicator Ivan Pastrano.
Unity was also on display with recognition of the chapters that participated in the Member Unity Program. Orange Chapter 67 was honored as the Member Unity Program Award winner.
Delegates also honored Carroll Canada, projects secretary with Coalinga Chapter 90, as one of CSEA’s Members of the Year.
Members flock to Education Days workshops
More than 1,000 member-delegates attended informational workshops this morning as part of Education Days.
Today’s workshops included discussions about the Williams Act and its effect on classified employees, online services offered by CalPERS, the value of CSEA member benefits, and the association’s scholarship and grant programs.
The most popular workshop was on the new healthcare law, the Covered California health exchange and how it will affect classified employees. Cherie Jordan, member of Fullerton High Chapter 82, said the workshop provided a good base of knowledge about the new law. She said she’s looking forward to attending tomorrow’s Education Days session about how the new healthcare law will affect people who currently have health coverage.
“I didn’t know where to begin to find out information about the new healthcare law,” Jordan said. “Now I have a better idea of how people will benefit from it.”
Elizabeth Romero, of LACOE Paraeducators Chapter 624, said she also found the healthcare session particularly informative.
“Our members are afraid about how the Affordable Care Act will affect them,” Romero said. “This info will help me explain that.
Ben Flores, of Milpitas Chapter 281, attended the CalPERS session, which he said will be helpful in staying informed about his retirement security.
“It’s a good tool to prepare people for retirement,” Flores said.
Laura Myers, of Chaffey College Chapter 431, found the workshop on CSEA member benefits particularly informative, especially using them as an organizing tool.
“It was quite helpful to learn more and it make me more confident with the information I’m sharing,” Myers said.
Delegates put nose to grindstone on resolutions
The bulk of the second day of business at CSEA’s 87th Annual Conference was dedicated to discussion of the 14 resolutions before delegates. Debate on resolutions went well into the night, with delegates approving three, defeating five and four being withdrawn. Discussion of the remaining two resolutions will occur tomorrow.
Members took time to honor two of CSEA’s Members of the Year: Bambi Mayfield, an alternate media support specialist with Butte College Chapter 511, and Colleen Gamboa, senior payroll accountant with San Bernardino CCD Chapter 291. Delegates will honor the three other Members of the Year in the coming days.
Director of Field Operations Keith Pace reported to the members about the many successes of the past year and outlined some of the challenges expected in the coming year. Pace said restoration of concessions given by chapters to help districts weather the tough financial times is of the utmost priority. He said field staff is hard at work to undo years of pay cuts, furlough days and other concessions in many districts.
Pace also noted that CSEA has been diligently analyzing the Affordable Care Act and conducting education and training of members and staff about how the new law will impact classified employees. Pace added that bargaining strategies related to the new healthcare law are being explored and developed.
Tomorrow, delegates will take action on Life Member and Honor Roll nominations, present awards and hear a report from CSEA Past President and current CalPERS Board President Rob Feckner. And for delegates, don’t forget it’s T-shirt day!
Delegates hit the ground running as Conference kicks off
The nearly 1,500 delegates in attendance dove right into business at the opening day of the 87th Annual Conference.
Association President Allan Clark gaveled the conference into order and then delivered a rousing State of the Union speech, expressing gratitude to all CSEA members for their hard work in meeting head-on the challenges that CSEA faced during the past four years.
“Thank you all so much for helping California fulfill its promise,” Clark said, “a promise of a better day, a promise of investing in education and a promise we will never ever again let be broken.”
During his report Monday evening, CSEA Executive Director Dave Low said CSEA members never backed down from the challenges that 2012 brought.
“I can sum up my 2012-13 report in six words: ‘California School Employees Association kicked butt!’” Low said.
Low noted that CSEA’s efforts to pass Prop. 30 and defeat Prop. 32 last year were unparalleled and CSEA was recognized by the California Labor Federation as the top performing union in the state. He added that Prop. 32 showed that billionaires can write checks to try to pass anti-worker laws, but CSEA and other union members will mobilize and win every time.
“I am gratified and proud of the work we have done together,” Low told delegates.
The delegate body conducted the first reading of the association’s budget. Further discussion and action on the budget will occur on Thursday.
Delegates also nominated candidates for association office. There is one candidate for each of the four association offices. The election will be held on Friday.
Delegates excited, energized for 87th Annual Conference
The more than 1,400 member-delegates attending CSEA’s 87th Annual Conference steadily arrived at the Paris Las Vegas to register for the five-day event, which starts tomorrow.
Delegates arrived ready to complete the association’s business, including voting on resolutions, approving a budget, honoring fellow members and electing association officers.
After registration, delegates were busy networking with fellow members from around the state and perusing the Benefit Provider Area, which showcases a variety of exclusive deals and services available to CSEA members.
Delegates were eager for the conference to commence tomorrow for a variety of reasons. Oxnard Chapter 272 Vice President Efrain Cazares is eager to see the member-delegates get energized for the year ahead.
“I’m excited to see the unity,” Cazares said, adding that he wants to see all 208,000 CSEA members get involved. “We know we have more than 200,000 members, but a lot rely on others to do the job for them. We need to get engaged.”
Ken Hamilton is one of many members who want more information about the new healthcare law.
“I’d like to see what’s happening with the Affordable Care Act,” said Hamilton, a member of Monterey-JC Crumpton Chapter 93. “Some of our members are wondering about that.”
Emilio Sanchez is one of more than 300 members who are conference delegates for the first time. Sanchez, chapter public relations officer for Walnut Chapter 446, said he knew he wanted to go to conference after hearing a report from delegates last year at his chapter meeting.
“I’m looking forward to seeing the whole association united,” he said. “I think it’s going to be a good experience.”
First-time delegate Jill Oguin, a member of Lompoc Valley Chapter 257, said she is excited to soak it all in and learn as much as she can.
“I have heard so much about Conference,” she said. “I just can’t wait.”
Even for seasoned delegates, the excitement is palpable. Sweetwater High Chapter 471 President Francisco Tamayo is attending his third conference, but he admits the experience is anything but old hat.
“It’s exciting to watch people experience for the first time that CSEA is not just their chapter,” he said. “It’s thousands of people working on the same issues and sharing experiences.”