2014 conference energizes and motivates delegates
Member delegates spent four days at CSEA's 88th Annual Conference adopting resolutions, analyzing the Association budget, listening to important speakers and honoring outstanding classified employees.
Getting down to business
The approximately 1,400 delegates who attended the Conference at the Sacramento Convention Center from Aug. 4-7 worked efficiently and effectively to pass three of the eight resolutions that were presented to them. They reviewed the Association's income and expenditures for the upcoming year carefully, asked questions, and voted to approve a balanced budget. They heard how their association was working for them during President Michael Bilbrey’sState of the Union, and during reports by Executive Director Dave Low, Assistant Governmental Relations Director Jai Sookprasert and Director of Field Operations Keith Pace.
"You see, your union is not just looking out for you today," Bilbrey said. "Our eyes are keenly focused on the future, looking to solidify CSEA's position as the best union for classified employees."
Speakers deliver motivation
Besides working to move their Association forward, the delegates were treated to a host of speakers including some of the most recognizable names at the Capitol. Gov. Jerry Brown told the delegates that they are instrumental to ensuring the future progress of California.
"We have to fight for a decent economy and for good political leadership," he said. "California may have some problems, but we’re a state that is working to solve its problems."
CSEA's political clout was evident by the number of esteemed lawmakers who spoke at Conference. Besides Brown, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin DeLeon and Board of Equalization member Betty Yee addressed delegates.
"All of us have the capacity to make the future better than the present," Newsom said.
In addition to California's lawmakers, some of CSEA's other top advocates made an appearance including California Public Employees Retirement System(CalPERS) President Rob Feckner and AFL-CIO Vice President Clyde Rivers.
Honors and Recognitions
One of the focal points of CSEA's Conference each year is the recognition of the extraordinary individuals who provide exceptional service to California's students and the Association. This year, each of the five 2014 Members of the Year had their moment to shine.
"I liked how the Member of the Year program really showed the humanity of the winners," said Patricia Sanchez, an elementary school office clerk and member of Azusa Chapter 299.
Food services worker Ethel Larkins, instructional aide Marisa Hernandez, transportation mechanic Keith Hildreth, school secretary I Denise Arroyo and Robert Zamora exemplify what it means to be a CSEA member. "As a school secretary for the past 35 years, I can tell you that it's been a labor of love," Arroyo said. “We are food service workers, custodians and, when the need arises, principals."
In addition, Grace Schwartz and Larry Forshaw, two long-time and highly-esteemed members of the CSEA family, were placed on the CSEA Honor Roll. The Walter H. Blice award for political action went to Solange Keiko Inoue, a member of Alisal Elementary Chaper 577, who has worked diligently to ensure the rights of her chapter's members are respected by her district’s school board.
Marie Hoveln, vice president of Vista Unified Chapter 389, received the Humanitarian of the Year award. Among her many charitable causes, Hoveln seeks donations for Christmas and Easter baskets for the homeless. She and her husband use their vacations to help build homes in Mexico. She volunteers helping prepare meals for the homeless at her local church.
Lora Lee of Desert Sands Chapter 106 was named the CSEA Activist of the Year. Among her many achievements, Lee was instrumental in helping her chapter win a $1.1 million PERB decision and was a driving force to help the chapter become part of the San Bernardino/Riverside Central Labor Council.
“I think that anyone who is an activist has the desire to make things better for those in the present and in the future,” Lee said.
Conference delegates also took time each day to honor members and relatives who have served in each branch of the U.S. armed forces.
"I really liked that they honored the vets each day because I'm a retired Marine," Retiree Unit District H Director Jim Vinion said.
Gaining knowledge to provide better service
Another central component of Conference is teaching members how they can provide better service to students, improve their chapters and live better. This year, delegates could choose to attend a broad array of informative forums, symposiums and seminars. Education Days gave them a chance to learn many things including the nuts and bolts of the Local Control Funding Formula, how to keep students safe and how to communicate the value of their work.
Renewed energy for continued activism
As the delegates return to their chapters, they bring back to their fellow CSEA members valuable information about how their union works to serve them as well as a sense of solidarity and the knowledge that they are part of a movement that extends from El Centro to Crescent City, and from Santa Barbara to Needles.
“I have spent this first year as your Association President re-discovering the potential in our members and our organization,” President Bilbrey told delegates. “You, my brothers and sisters, have power that remains untapped. I believe in you, and believe that the best has yet to come for our great union.”
Next year's Annual Conference will take place July 27-31, 2015 at Paris, Las Vegas.