MCEA 2014 Convention Recap

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The Maryland Classified Employees Association convened in Ocean City, MD in the middle of October for their annual convention. The purpose of the gathering was expressed in the motto “Reclaiming the Promise of Quality Public Service for Strong Communities.” President Linda Day presided over the conference and saw that the events ran smoothly. Union business was the order of the day for the convention as votes were held, debates were had and officers were elected. Returning members to the board included Brenda Baskin, Anadi Naik, Dale Maddox, and Barbara Thompson. Marion Jones, Raymond Benson and Agnes Valenzia were re-elected while Anna Custer was elected to the board for the first time.

The highlight of the conference was the powerful and dynamic speakers who came and gave inspirational, informational, and moving words to the people of MCEA. Speakers were a who’s who in labor and politics. AFT Secretary-Treasurer Lorretta Johnson, AFT-Maryland President Marietta English and AFT Public Employees Director Steve Porter all gave remarks stressing the relationship of American Federation of Teachers and MCEA. Johnson and English both made repeated appeals for the body to show up to polls on Election Day (November 4) to support Anthony Brown for governor.

Other labor leaders to address the convention were Fred Mason, President of Maryland State and District of Columbia AFL-CIO as well as Donna Edwards, Secretary Treasurer of the same organization. Both of those speakers continued with the message of how important it is for labor to support politicians who would support them. Edwards in particular stressed that sometimes she doesn’t always agree with politicians, even ones she supports (pointing out Delegate Norman Conway). She remarked that it was important to have people in Annapolis that you trusted had your best interest at heart and was willing to lay it on the line for state workers. The AFL-CIO presence was unmistakable as President of the Metropolitan Baltimore Council of AFL-CIO Unions Ernest Grecco also addressed those in attendance. In keeping with the message of the convention Grecco called on members to show up at the polls on Election Day to ensure their concerns will be addressed by politicians. Grecco also delighted the crowd with humorous stories from his days as an early union member.

The politicians who graced the podium were both representatives of the Eastern Shore. State Senator James Mathias and the aforementioned Conway both expressed their appreciation of the group holding their convention in Ocean City and continued the message of making sure the members turned out to vote. Elected officials made plain how important the relationship with the Unions and politicians are. What was of note was how particularly important state employee unions are with politicians because those workers are the ones who make everything in the state run smoothly. Delegate Conway discussed the importance of having the convention in his district. He appreciated MCEA for choosing Ocean City and spoke on how the tourism industry is vital to that community’s economy.

The convention wasn’t all business, however, as many evenings were dedicated to exciting receptions and dinners. During the evening receptions members mingled with fellow workers from different areas, exchanged pleasantries and enjoyed great music and delicious food. Suzette Pritchett provided music as she played familiar tunes that brought out a two-step in even the most modest of dancers. The capstone of the evening events was the MCEA Dinner Dance. The band On The Edge performed and thrilled the audience. Attendees participated in line-dances, hand-dances and even slow dances.

The convention was capped off by President Day recognizing several members for outstanding work on behalf of the organization. Many people were applauded for doing work that often goes unnoticed by those outside of the union. Raffle prizes were also a big part of the final day as many areas raffled off several prizes. Among the gifts winners received were sports paraphernalia, gift cards and cash prizes. On the whole President Day said she felt it was a positive convention for the union that addressed some challenges that had been facing MCEA in the past and the group is ready to look forward toward the future. Executive Director Jack Nelson was pleased with how well and smoothly the convention was run. He hopes moving forward, are that they are able to keep the stability and continuity going.