On Sunday, April 30th, our 2017 Oregon AFSCME Convention wrapped up with the swearing in of our officers and executive committee. Members began embracing, saying goodbyes, snapping their last selfies, and packing up their belongings to make the journey home. It was a quiet and nice end to a convention that began with a rally in the Capitol Rotunda that shook the walls, and a fire-branded speech from AFSCME International President Lee Saunders. In between all that, our union elected its Executive Committee, debated and passed numerous resolutions, hosted the Governor, held a casino night celebration fundraiser, and more.
This year’s convention actually started with our annual leadership conference. About 70 folks from around our union came out to learn a variety of skills and some new concepts that our union has been promoting for some time. Workshops on effective communications through social media, how to take action on your boss, and implicit bias were particularly successful. During lunch, the leadership conference joined members on the Capitol steps for a rally for a fair budget. After great speeches from Stacy Chamberlain, Brenda Johnson, and Jeff Klatke, we headed into the Capitol Rotunda. From there things got loud! Members chanted and demanded that legislators do the right thing and balance the budget fairly.
On Friday evening, Convention began in earnest with the Corrections Color Guard presenting the flag and our members making the pledge of allegiance. Following that, AFSCME International President brought the house down with a raucous speech on the state of our union and our national politics. It was delivered with his now-famous, fire and passion. Members then enjoyed a meal with some more speeches and closed out the day.
Saturday, was full of elections, resolutions, a visit from the governor, and our Interim Executive Director Stacy Chamberlain’s speech. All went well, the governor pledged to work with us and make sure that this budget was not balanced on our back. Stacy gave us an update on what our unions challenges in the next year will be and what steps we have done to prepare and become stronger. The floor debate on solar panels for our offices was union democracy at its best and worst, depending on which side of the issue you were on. However, as always, our members came to a balanced and well thought out resolutions that met the wants and concerns of each party.
The elections of our officers saw two contested positions, Second Vice-President and Secretary. All the candidates had great qualifications, however, Dominic Lopez and Korie Erickson ended up winning the day. Following that, members awarded, Michael Arken with the first annual leadership award, named in his honor. It was emotional for everyone to pay their respects to one of Oregon AFSCME’s best leaders. Again, the spirit of compromise and solidarity carried the day and our membership left united.
In the evening, members cut loose at the PEOPLE Contributor Casino night. Drinks, faux-gambling, and prizes won the day and put smiles on many peoples. The only people who lost it seemed were the dealers, who may or may not have been up to Vegas standards…
All this brought us to Sunday, where folks wrapped up the elections and the final set of resolutions. It was one of our best Conventions ever and members walked away smiling and inspired for the fights ahead.