MAPE launches new councils, big ideas
Power building, leadership developing, future planning – all topics covered as MAPE’s new council structure launched this week with a two-day training. MAPE’s new member-led councils met for the first time this week after a proposal to restructure MAPE passed at the 2018 Delegate Assembly.
MAPE’s previous committee structure was replaced for the most part by the new Political Council and Organizing Council, each consisting of five elected and two president-appointed members.
It was the first time the council members met since the recent MAPE election, and much of the first day was spent building relationships with members who will now band together to steer MAPE’s core work around politics and organizing.
“We will have a hard fight over the next year,” MAPE Executive Director Lina Jamoul told council members. “It’s important to know who’s in the foxhole with us and build solidarity among us.”
The Political Council’s purpose is to help define legislative priorities, educate members and encourage members to engage in the legislative/political process. Not only will the council set legislative priorities, but also implement strategies to organize around those priorities, political education and election work.
The Organizing Council will aim to organize diverse professionals to build power through membership recruitment, relationship building and conducting actions led by local leaders who are accountable to members. This council is also responsible for leading MAPE’s membership recruitment and retention efforts via effective annual membership drives and first 30-day initiatives in the locals.
The work will come naturally for Lauren Sigel, who was elected to the Organizing Council and previously served as Local 2101’s membership secretary and first 30 days coordinator. “I never fully grasped how important unions are until I started getting involved in one,” Siegel said. “I’ve always been passionate about raising standards for all workers. Organizing is a part of my identity.”
Fellow council members shared similar experiences working in non-union environments; stories of feeling like a “disposable widget in a law firm” or for Nicole Juan, Political Council member, memories of surviving the 2011 union fallout in Wisconsin. “Wisconsin’s (demise of collective bargaining) left me feeling powerless and made me want to be part of a strong strategy to respond to those efforts on the front end in the future,” Juan said. “I want to fight back the bad and push what’s possible for the good.”
After being appointed to MAPE’s Negotiations Team when the previous member from Local 701 resigned, Megan Dayton found a new appreciation for MAPE, and was hooked on having an active role in her union, so she ran for the Political Council. “It has changed my life for the better and gave me a better perspective,” she said. “I regret not getting involved years earlier.”
By the end of the two-day training, both councils had elected chairs and outlined goals for the upcoming year. Sarah Evans is chairing the Organizing Council with Lauren Siegel as vice chair and Cathleen Cotter is chairing the Political Council with John Ferrara vice chair. “Our goal is to create a statewide leadership ratio to support a sustainable leadership network ready for action,” Siegel said.
Cotter said the Political Council will focus on in-district meetings in this non-election year and strengthen MAPE’s association as a political entity while improving the narrative about state employees.