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CSEA's 89th Annual Conference celebrates the 'Power of Us'


CSEA's 89th Annual Conference, held July 27-31, 2015 in Las Vegas, brought together CSEA members from all over California to share ideas, debate and vote on resolutions, adopt a budget, elect state officers and present awards for outstanding service and achievement. Celebrating the theme "The Power of Us," members left the conference energized to confront the challenges facing classified employees and working families in 2016.

On the final day of conference, member-delegates elected Michael Bilbrey to another two-year term as Association President. Ben Valdepeña was re-elected First Vice President, Delores Rodriguez-Burke won re-election as Second Vice President, and Kerry Woods was re-elected as Association Secretary.

Conference opened 
Monday with the State of the Union address, in which President Bilbrey said he is confident that CSEA members are ready, willing and able to face the challenges ahead. Chief among those, Bilbrey said, is a pending Supreme Court decision that could eliminate the requirement that service-fee payers contribute their fair share for bargaining and representational services that unions provide. Bilbrey said that CSEA is already ramping up service-fee payer conversion efforts and signing up newly hired employees as members, in the event the Supreme Court rules against unions. 

"No matter the outcome, our work and preparation for this case means that CSEA will emerge a stronger union with better recruiting tools, and staff and members trained in organizing and union building," he said.

CSEA cultivating future leaders
Bilbrey also reported that CSEA is preparing not only for the next few years, but for decades ahead. In this vein, Bilbrey last year directed the creation of the CalGen Taskforce. This group, comprised entirely of members 35 years and younger, provides input from our union's emerging and future leaders on what the union means to young members and how to better serve those members.

"We must mentor and cultivate our next generation of leaders if we are truly to last for another 89 years," Bilbrey said.

As usual, a number of California's elected officials visited the conference to address member-delegates. State Controller Betty Yee and State Treasurer John Chiang both praised CSEA members for tirelessly fighting to improve the lives of working families and children.

Chiang, best known for withholding state lawmakers paychecks until they passed a balanced budget, said 
Thursday that he is confident that CSEA members will lead the way in defeating the proposed Reed-DeMaio pension initiative and attacks from those who would dismantle retirement security.

"We're California, we're CSEA, and we're stronger than anything they throw at us," Chiang said. "This is a battle about the future of retirement security in the United States of America."

Presentation of honors and awards
Tuesday's session was a day of bestowing some of CSEA's highest honors. Former Area I Director and current Retiree Unit District I Director Jennie Batiste was awarded CSEA's highest honor, Life Membership. For more than 40 years, Batiste has served at all levels of leadership in CSEA. She expressed her gratitude for the honor.

"I humbly accept this prestigious award and thank you so very much," Batiste said.

Three names were added to CSEA’s Honor Roll, the second highest honor bestowed by our great organization. Hortensia Benner, Sandy Dabney and Nancy McCall all became the newest members of the
 Honor Roll

Benner served CSEA in a variety of capacities, including representing Area F on the Board of Directors. A testament to her leadership skills, Benner has served as Administrator to two chapters, both of which have benefited greatly from her guidance and service. Benner reflected upon her 44 years of activism for CSEA, and she expressed gratitude to the delegates for bestowing the honor

"I'm very humbled by the action you have taken. I am truly honored and I thank you," she said.

Dabney's contributions to our association have spanned many years, and she currently serves as the Retiree Unit District K Director. Dabney was the chair of the Pre-Retirement Resource Committee for many years, helping to develop critical training materials. Dabney thanked delegates for the award, adding that it was her pleasure to serve CSEA.

"I cannot begin to express how deeply honored and humbled I am," Dabney said.

McCall's contributions to CSEA in the area of legislation have positively impacted all members. McCall, retired member of Riverside COE Chapter 693, was the driving force behind a resolution adopted at Conference that eventually led to the adoption of Assembly Bill 1038, which granted classified employees the same rights as teachers when they are laid off under certain circumstances. McCall urged members to get involved and be a part of the CSEA family.

"It's your duty to attend and participate in union activities," she said. "CSEA is a wonderful union, but it only stays wonderful if you stay involved."

Delegates also honored Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Oakland, as the Legislator of the Year for his continued support of working families. Bonta, raised in a union household, said he was honored to join delegates at the 89th Annual Conference and to continue to fight in the Capitol for the working class.

"CSEA is the lifeblood of the Labor Movement," Bonta said. "It's easy to be a champion for you because when we're being a champion for you, we're doing the right thing!"

The more than 1,500 delegates in attendance also made short work of the seven resolutions before them, adopting two, rejecting one, and referring one to committee while three were withdrawn.

Wednesday’s sessions featured the honoring of a number of outstanding members, including the 2015 Members of the Year: Lee Anne Gaxiola of Gilroy Chapter 69, Debbi Partridge of Yosemite CCD Chapter 420, Lauro Jimenez of College of the Desert Chapter 407, Paul Rasso of Colton Chapter 244, and Margaret Warder of Laguna Beach Chapter 131. These members exemplify CSEA's mission of improving the lives of our members, students and communities.

Sandra Rivera, member of Rio Hondo College Chapter 477, was named the 
Richard C. Bartlett Activist of the Year. Rivera was lauded for her unwavering dedication to working families in the greater Los Angeles area and her work on the campaign to raise the minimum wage. Rivera said CSEA has helped her every step of the way.

"You've moved me to fight and defend and motivate and agitate," Rivera said. "Thank you sincerely for this humbling honor."

The winner of the 2015 William P. Schwartz Humanitarian of the Year was also announced: Miguel Alatorre-Munoz, member of Orange Chapter 67. Alatorre-Munoz' efforts in the community include working with disabled children, teaching kindergartners to read, and doing fellowship with jail inmates.

"I want to thank the people who have given me the opportunity to help them," Alatorre-Munoz said.

Training opportunities at conference
Delegates had ample training and networking opportunities during the 89th Annual Conference, including symposia on community college and county office of education issues, job-specific think tanks, and Education Days sessions. These popular workshops covered topics including: the Local Control Funding Formula, leadership, healthcare, CSEA policies and procedures, the 2016 election and planning for power at the negotiating table.

Delegates ended Conference weary but energized for the year ahead. With many challenges to overcome—the Supreme Court decision, the 2016 Presidential and U.S. Senate election, and the threat of another pension initiative—Bilbrey said he is confident in our members to put in the work necessary to be victorious.

'Power of Us'
"I know we have the power of all of us in CSEA to be successful. We have weathered many storms and we have risen to the challenges each and every time," he said. "There is nothing that will stop us from being on the right side of victory. We will weather this fight together, we will bring our members to the edge if we have to, and we will show everyone once again that the Power of Us will not be stopped."

The 90th Annual Conference will be held in San Jose, Aug. 1-4, 2016.

More from the 2015 Annual Conference:

Conference Friday   Update: Friday, July 31:
Delegates emerge ready for the challenges ahead as Conference closes
The 89th Annual Conference came to a close today, with members ready to tackle the challenges ahead. Delegates queued up early this morning to cast their votes for Association officers. Michael Bilbrey was re-elected as Association President for another two-year term, Ben Valdepeña was re-elected as First Vice President, Delores Rodriguez-Burke won re-election as Second Vice President, and Kerry Woods was re-elected as Association Secretary...More

  Update: Thursday, July 30:
Legislative session, budget approval highlight Thursday's session
Delegates were fired up and ready to go following the Legislative Session of the 89th Annual Conference. State Treasurer John Chiang thanked CSEA for its leadership in fighting for working families and the children of California. “Somebody has to care about the people who are still struggling to make it,” he said...More

Member of the Year Winners   Update: Wednesday, July, 29:
CSEA spotlights members’ contributions
The third day of the conference spotlighted members who have gone above and beyond in their service to CSEA and the students of California...More

Life Member Award   Update: Tuesday, July 28:
Four members awarded CSEA's highest honors
The second day of the 89th Annual Conference celebrated four members who have dedicated their lives to CSEA. Former Area I Director and current Retiree Unit District I Director Jennie Batiste was awarded CSEA’s highest honor, Life Membership. For more than 40 years, Batiste has served at all levels of leadership in CSEA. She expressed her gratitude for the honor...More 

Resolutions   Delegates complete business on resolutions
Delegates completed debate on seven resolutions Tuesday. Resolutions 1 and 2 were adopted, while other resolutions were withdrawn, defeated or referred to committee...More 

Opening Ceremonies   Update: Monday, July 27:
Conference kicks off with ceremony and speeches
Association President Michael Bilbrey declared the 89th Annual Conference in session Monday, as delegates spent a busy afternoon hearing speeches and reports, and preparing for the week of business ahead...More

State of the Union   Association President Bilbrey trumpets successes, outlines challenges in State of the Union
In his second State of the Union address as Association President, Michael Bilbrey reflected on major accomplishments of the past year and told delegates he is confident that CSEA members are ready, willing and able to face the challenges ahead...More

Registration   Update: Sunday, July 26:
Delegates converge on Paris Las Vegas
Thousands of CSEA member-delegates, staff and guests poured into the Paris Las Vegas hotel today in preparation for the 89th Annual Conference, which begins tomorrow...More

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