RPEC Shines at WFSE Annual Convention
RPEC was highly visible at the Washington Federation of State Employees (WFSE) 50th Biennial Convention, October 6-8, in Seattle. Not only was RPEC an exhibitor with a booth staffed by RPEC volunteers, but RPEC also provided two two-hour workshops for Convention-goers.
The Convention’s theme focused on the union’s 80-year history. A focal point included spotlighting former WFSE leaders who had made their mark not only on the union but also on the entire state, forever changing the working conditions and benefits for state employees. WFSE’s public relations team developed video vignettes highlighting the successes and challenges of each decade. To complement the event theme, Tim Welch (Chapter 2 president), was asked to coordinate and co-facilitate a panel discussion (one of the workshops) about WFSE’s milestone years and achievements. The panel featured RPEC champions, who had made significant contributions to WFSE and state employees, as well as April Sims, president of the Washington State Labor Council, and Peggy Holmes, who was instrumental in WFSE’s fight to earn pay equity for women performing jobs of equal worth. The RPEC panelists included: Claude Burfect (District 9), Carol Dotlich (District 8, Chapter 12 president), Bev Hermanson (PAC Chair, Chapter 2), George Masten (Chapter 2), Penny Hall (District 5, Chapter 20 vice-president), and Gail Spaeth (Chapter 13 president). Each panelist responded to questions, sharing insights and stories about key achievements that they helped WFSE navigate for the betterment of its members and state employees.
The panelists’ comments inspired all in attendance. One WFSE member raised her hand during the Q&A portion of the workshop and said, “I have been coming to these Conventions for many years. This is by far the best workshop I have ever attended. Thank you so much!”
After the workshop, a WFSE member approached the three women who led the WFSE’s equal worth battle (Penny Hall, Gail Spaeth, and Peggy Holmes). She wrapped her arms around them and said, “If Martin Luther King were not already my icon, you would be!” She thanked them for all they had done and asked them to return to future Conventions.
Following the panel, WFSE hosted a catered lunch for the panelists, as a gesture of thanks for their service, contributions, and for their contribution to the Convention.
WFSE is producing a video of the panel discussion. When it is made available, RPEC will share it on the website.
The second workshop, to a standing-room-only crowd, featured Jakob Canup, RPEC Membership Coordinator, and Debby Haigh (Chapter 30 president). The workshop included a detailed presentation about getting ready for retirement.
Another highlight of the Convention included the awarding of Senator Sam Hunt with the George Masten Courage Award. Senator Hunt was honored as a tireless champion for the union, union workers, and public-sector retirees. The award is given in honor of George Masten (Chapter 2) and his countless contributions to WFSE and state workers. George is also a former president of RPEC.
RPEC values our close relationship with WFSE, and we are grateful to Executive Director Kurt Spiegel for the opportunity to showcase RPEC and our members. President Clair Olivers and Executive Director Laurie Weidner attended the entire Convention as WFSE guests.