After four days of resolutions, budget analysis, recognitions and energizing speeches, CSEA’s 92nd Annual Conference concluded Thursday, leaving member-delegates energized and motivated.
The approximately 1,500 delegates who attended the conference at the Sacramento Convention Center from July 29-Aug. 2 worked efficiently and effectively to vote on resolutions that will set the future course and goals of the union. They reviewed the Association’s income and expenditures for the upcoming year carefully and voted to approve a balanced budget. They learned how their association has become more united over the past year from Association President Ben Valdepeña in his State of the Union address.
“When we are united, we are stronger,” Valdepeña said “This sentiment is the backbone of the union movement, and at the heart of what will help us remain the best union for classified employees in the nation.”
Executive Director Dave Low, Assistant Governmental Relations Director Jai Sookprasert and Director of Field Operations Keith Pace presented updates on political matters and congratulated chapters for their outstanding work during the last year. Specifically, they urged chapters to stay strong and encouraged them to keep communicating the benefits of CSEA membership. With the November Election coming up, they reminded delegates about the significance of electing pro-education, pro-worker candidates, including Tony Thurmond as California Superintendent of Public Instruction.
“CSEA will fully engage in the upcoming election cycle and has designated the election of Tony Thurmond to the office of state Superintendent of Public Instruction as our priority campaign,” Pace said.
Former Association president and current CalPERS Vice President Rob Feckner and CalPERS CEO Marcie Frost addressed delegates and told them that their pension fund will be stable for years to come.
“What I’m here to tell you about today is that your benefit is safe,” Frost said. “The CalPERS board is focused on the sustainability of the fund and the staff at CalPERS is focused on sustainability and member services.”
In addition to presentations from CSEA leaders, conference delegates were treated to a host of special guest speakers, including State Superintendent candidate Tony Thurmond and state Senate candidate Maria Elena Durazo.
“I think all kids demonstrate promise and potential, regardless of their neighborhood, regardless of their background, regardless of their ethnicity,” Thurmond said. “I hope you will help us get to the finish line so that we can serve all six million students of this state.”
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 2018 Members of the Year had their moment to shine. CSEA also honored long-time activists with Honor Roll membership. They recognized the union’s top humanitarian and advocate for classified employees with the William P. Schwartz Humanitarian of the Year and the inaugural Laurence Twoaxe award.
Another central component of the conference is helping members provide better service to students and their chapters. This year, delegates could choose to attend a broad array of informative forums, symposia and seminars. Education Days gave them a chance to learn skills and strategies on topics ranging from how to deal with difficult behavior to achieving a better work/life balance.
As the delegates return to their chapters, they bring back to their fellow CSEA members valuable information about how their union works and an improved sense of solidarity. For many members, the conference offered a unique opportunity to renew their motivation to keep fighting for education and for working families.
“It’s a challenging time for all of us but also a time to celebrate,” Valdepeña said. “CSEA’s past, current and future success depends on all of us, joining together, standing together and fighting together. I’m In!”
The 93rd Annual Conference will be held July 28 through Aug. 2, 2019 in Las Vegas.
Photographer Joe Gallagher of Gerlinde and Michael Photography has posted all of his photos to browse and purchase. Go to the Gerlinde Photography webpage, click on the CSEA 2018 Conference album, and enter the password c2s0e1a8 in the pop up window.