District Council 57

"Catch the New Wave” Conference Huge Success

200 enthusiastic participants converged on San Jose for Council 57’s Sixth Leadership Conference on September 27th and 28th. The conference theme was “Catch the New Wave,” and the top goals of the conference were to cultivate new, younger leaders and to inspire our members to be part of the new energy in the labor movement where workers are increasingly standing up and fighting continued cuts and challenges to their rights. Council 57’s Board, under the leadership of President Cynthia McCabe, made it a priority to recruit new leaders to attend which was highly successful: over half the participants were at the conference for the first time. Over three-quarters of the Councils affiliated Locals sent members. Read more

Another priority is to organize the Next Wave of leaders in our union. The largest number of young workers ever attended this year’s conference and they definitely were a welcome force. Ken Allen and Council 75 Board member/Next Waver Joe McGonigle led a plenary session that included young leaders from Local 2428 in which they challenged Council 57 to organize Next Wave chapters, and later gave a workshop to share tools and ideas about how to do so. Council 57’s Next Wave sponsored a raucous Labor History Trivia Pub Quiz at the Friday night reception (at which AFSCME’s 75th Anniversary Photo Exhibit was also shown). Young leaders committed to work to build the Next Wave within their Locals as well as alongside other AFSCME Locals regionally.

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Other conference highlights included a presentation by UC Berkeley Labor Economist Dr. Sylvia Allegretto on income inequality, which fired people up to fight for economic justice right off the bat, and a panel on the history of AFSCME and public sector collective bargaining rights with Marty Morgenstern, George Popyack and Linda Gregory. Conference participants sat enraptured for the entire session early on a Saturday morning, realizing the importance of knowing the how and why the rights we are struggling to maintain were gained in the first place.

Council 57 staff led three core workshops that everyone attended on: taking an organizing approach to grievances; communicating our message (with assistance from Kevin Brown from Communications); and a strike school on how and why public workers strike. Elective workshop topics included tactics to energize your local (by a Council 31 board member), grassroots advocacy, the ACA, pension reform, wellness, building trust as a leader and working with community coalitions (by California Area Field Services Director Chad Johnson). Political Action staff and apprentices had a PEOPLE booth and signed up 11 new members.

The idea for Leadership Conference originated in 2006 after the Council created a strategic plan to help move AFSCME’s Power to Win goals within the Council and Locals. Council 57 has just completed a new strategic plan for growing and strengthening the union through organizing, communications, political action, bargaining and contract enforcement for 2013-2015, which was presented by President McCabe during the opening session of the Leadership Conference.

 

Special thanks go out to the Leadership Conference Committee, led by Council 57 Board member Cheryll Grover. Committee members Cheryl Franklin from Local 444 and Alicia Garcia from Local 1684 contributed beautiful handmade prizes for the pub quiz and a conference ice breaker. Thanks also to all the Council staff who put in time and effort recruiting new members, planning workshops, putting together materials, assisting as needed during the Conference itself, and carried out dozens of other tasks too numerous to describe.

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