CSEA Annual Conference
August 4-7, 2014
Sacramento Convention Center
Delegates set path for CSEA at 87th Annual Conference
LAS VEGAS, NV–CSEA members emerged from the 87th Annual Conference full of energy and with a new leader. Michael Bilbrey, a member of Citrus College Chapter 101, was elected the association’s 44th president since 1927.
Conference delegates 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.”
Bilbrey’s election means the end of Allan Clark’s four years as Association President. Clark will remain on the CSEA Board of Directors as the association’s past president. Clark led the association as it faced some of the biggest challenges in its 87-year-history. Under Clark’s leadership, CSEA was a trailblazer in fighting to rebuild California and improving the lives of working people.
Clark thanked CSEA members for their efforts to create a better California, to preserve the rights that past CSEA members fought to realize, and to build the union and ensure that California fulfills its promise of a better tomorrow.
“Together we made a difference. Together, we won,” Clark said. “It was because we are connected not only as part of the human race but as people who care. The heart that beats in us is stronger than any 10 of our enemies. We are lions. We chose to stand together. We chose to care. We chose to refuse to lose. We are CSEA.”
Delegates join fight for workers’ rights at Cosmopolitan
CSEA brought a “Sea of Blue” to the Cosmopolitan Hotel and Casino to rally in solidarity with the Culinary Workers Union Local 226 members, 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. President Clark said that 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.”
Allan Clark, Dayton Smith awarded Life Membership
Delegates bestowed CSEA’s most prestigious honors, awarding Life Membership to Association President Allan Clark and Dayton Smith, Napa Solano Retiree Council 5029 President.
Under Clark’s leadership, the association weathered some of its most difficult times and won major victories that benefit classified employees, students and the entire state of California. He thanked delegates for the honor of Life Membership.
“This is a very humbling experience,” Clark said. “I will remember this day for the rest of my life.”
Smith was awarded Life Membership for his tireless dedication to CSEA while both an active and retired member. He was placed on the Association Honor Roll in 2000. Currently a retiree council president, Smith’s work in establishing Area Institutes and retreats has helped promote excellent leadership programs throughout the state.
“It’s really humbling to be here,” Smith said. “Nothing’s more rewarding than being selected by your peers, and I thank you.”
Retiree Unit District C Director Pat Bollin and Conference Committee Chair Roy Hartnell were named to the CSEA Honor Roll. Delegates added another name to the Honor Roll with a surprise motion from the floor—Grace Schwartz, widow of CSEA founder William Schwartz, was given the prestigious honor.
Top members honored for activism, humanitarian efforts
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.
New board members sworn in
Delegates bid farewell to three outgoing members of the CSEA Board of Directors. Area E Director Karen Gardner and Area G Director Bill Rawlings both gave tearful goodbyes to the board. New Area E Director Sylvia Diaz and new Area G Director John Nieto were sworn in as board members. Past President Rob Feckner also said goodbye to the CSEA Board after 17 years. Clark will now sit on the board as past president.
Completing a week full of business
Delegates completed action on 14 resolutions, approving four, defeating five and referring one to committee, with four being withdrawn. They also approved the association’s general and restricted fund budgets.
Three days of Education Days workshops were wildly successful as delegates packed sessions about a variety of subjects, including the new healthcare law, CalPERS, the Williams Act, school safety and the merit system.
The more than 1,500 delegates who attended this year’s conference went home weary but with a sense of accomplishment and an eye toward next year, when the 88th Annual Conference will be held in Sacramento.