The International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers held its international convention last week in Las Vegas and produced inspirational speeches, thought provoking resolutions, and an insight to where labor is headed in the coming years.
With four days packed with resolutions, work groups, and committee work, our 20 Local 21 delegates from around the Bay Area enjoyed a crash course on the inner workings of international unionism, as well as heard from some of the biggest names in the labor movement. From Lee Saunders, head of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, to Liz Shuler, the Secretary-Treasurer of the AFL-CIO, the delegates, in between voting on Constitutional amendments and resolutions, heard motivational messages from labor’s top brass.
“The international convention and the speakers were inspirational,” said Sue Guest, Public Health Nurse Program Manager for Contra Costa County, L21 Chapter President and Executive Committee delegate. “They reaffirmed that the labor movement is there for all of us.”
Secretary-Treasurer Shuler kicked off the convention congratulating the union on being “a powerhouse in organizing.”
She reminded us that since we are “doing the jobs of the future,” it is important to continue to build a “new 21st century coalition” and keep labor fresh and relevant to our economy.
To do that, she said, “We need to systematically reinvent ourselves.” This includes reflecting the country’s changing demographics in our movement, particularly in engaging more women and people of color.
Shuler emphasized that unions are not just for the stereotypical “burly” male worker, but for a wider range of workers as well, which includes white collar employees. This is why the IFPTE is so instrumental. “Professional employees need a voice at work and IFPTE can give it to them,” she said.
Renee Sykes, Oakland Vice President and one of the delegates who attended the convention, said that one way the union can diversify and grow is by doing “global outreach.”
“We have to take advantage of the tools that our union has to offer,” she said. Sykes elaborated on the need to reach out to millennials using the new resources we have at hand such as social media, without neglecting good old-fashioned phone banking to reach out to older members and others. ”One-on-one is the best way to connect,” she said.
Sykes also agreed with a comment that IFPTE President Greg Junemann made, that with less money on the table for politics, our voices have to come through even louder and clearer. “Overall, unions have to be more politically active,” she said.
Delegates also heard from struggling IFPTE locals in New Jersey which represents toll workers, to newly organized locals like a group of Administrative Law Judges in Washington D.C. and how IFPTE is helping each in their own respective challenges.
Also, Local 21 Vice President John Mukhar from San Jose was recognized with a resolution praising his years of hard work and dedication to the local. It is with a heavy heart that we at L21 announce that John is leaving Local 21’s San Jose Chapter to accept employment in Palo Alto.
“It was a really pleasant and amazing surprise for me to get recognized at the international union for all the work we’ve done,” John said. “It was also a reflection on Local 21. It was a great honor to receive this recognition. All of the delegates have done a lot of work toward the union.” He also gave the presentations and workshops high marks: “They were excellent!”
The take away from the international convention was that despite serious challenges ahead, by working together and being focused on the best representation possible, Local 21 will continue to grow and strengthen IFPTE as a whole.
Local 21 also co-hosted a cocktail hour with our sister Local 20 – and it was a huge success.
The Convention delegates voted to hold the next convention on the East Coast, possibly in Atlantic City, which will occur in 2018.
#IFPTE58 Revitalizing Local Union Leadership @IFPTE convention #EveryMemberIsALeader July 28, 2015
For more photos, see IFPTE’s photo gallery on Facebook.