Monday morning, more than 1,600 delegates from across the state of California converged into Paris Las Vegas to kick off the first day of the California School Employees Association’s 93rd Annual Conference. While some are attending as new delegates and others are returning as members who have attended for years on end, they have all come together with a common goal: uniting in solidarity to make an impact for the more than 240,000 members they represent each and every day.
Throughout the week, delegates will come together to review and approve resolutions, elect Association officers, approve budgets, and so much more.
On #MondayMotivation, we asked attending delegates what motivates them to attend the “Greatest Conference Ever.” Here is what three of them said:
Caitlin Fuller, Senior Administrative Assistant, South Orange CCD Chapter 586
Linda Vaughan, retired Secretary, Lynwood Chapter 116
Kyle Frazier, Campus Supervisor, Antelope Valley Union High School District Chapter 612
The first business session of CSEA’s 93rd Annual Conference kicked off on Monday with opening ceremonies, the Association President’s State of the Union Address, Executive Director’s Report and more.
Association President Ben Valdepeña delivered his State of the Union address and credited members for keeping the union strong.
“This year’s conference theme, ‘Facing the Future Together,’ is fitting,” Valdepeña said. “At last year’s conference, the uncertainty of the potential of the Janus decision loomed over us. We made contingency plans and focused on strengthening our union. I am proud to announce, we did not experience the drop in membership we anticipated.”
Valdepeña credited the thousands of member activists and staff that allowed CSEA to withstand the challenge and enable CSEA to continue to thrive. He did caution that anti-worker organizations such as the Freedom Foundation have not relented and are continuing their efforts to weaken unions and take away workers’ rights and pensions.
“We must stand together, united in solidarity knowing we are stronger when our collective voices are heard,” he said.
In his report, Executive Director Keith Pace echoed that same theme.
“This year, due to the Board’s leadership, preparation, and planning, and the activism of members and staff, the Janus decision has not prevented us from presenting a balanced budget containing a healthy reserve with no cuts in programs, training, services, or benefits to CSEA members,” Pace said.
He also reflected on his 32-year journey with CSEA that he said began before he was a member and officer of Dixie Chapter 242 in San Rafael. His parents were also CSEA members.
“Because of their classified employment, and their chapters’ strong contracts, they earned a middle-class wage, which allowed them to provide a middle-class life for our family,” Pace said. “They received health and welfare benefits, which allowed us to see a doctor when we were sick. They had paid vacation and sick leave, which allowed them to take time off without loss of pay. They both worked under union contracts, which allowed them to grieve contract violations through arbitration and protected their jobs from being contracted out.”
Delegates also listened to an inspiring speech from keynote Jonathon Mooney, who praised the work of classified school employees and said they made a difference in his life.
“I had a meaningful life because of people like you,” he said.