President Dayton: Members elect first new president in 12 years
When Megan Dayton agreed to fill a last-minute vacancy on MAPE’s Negotiations Committee 18 months ago, she never expected it to be a catalyst to union leadership, but today she is fresh off a robust campaign and victory as MAPE’s new statewide president.
“When our local president asked for someone to fill the region’s negotiations rep spot, I said, ‘Sure,’ and it absolutely changed my life, my whole perspective,” Dayton said. “I saw a professional side of myself I didn’t know existed.”
Dayton came into a negotiations process that was already underway, but she experienced firsthand the frustrations of bargaining with Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB).
“In bargaining with MMB, there were a lot of things we didn’t get, conversations we didn’t have,” Dayton recalls. “Instead of getting frustrated by those, I saw potential of moving our union forward. The collective bargaining for the common good is really motivating to me.”
After negotiations, Dayton was appointed to the Political Council, which fueled her interest in seeing MAPE move in a new direction. Though when several people approached her, encouraging her to run for statewide president, her kneejerk response was, “No way, I’m not ready.”
“I started to see my relative lack of experience as a benefit rather than a drawback. I’m motivated, creative and I can see through the frustration that stagnates other people,” Dayton said. “You don’t always get to decide when you’re ready for something, and it seemed the organization had decided I was ready whether I wanted to be or not.”
She started talking with members and heard enthusiastic support for her campaign, and next thing she knew, she had a “tapestry of members” who would become her supporters, volunteers, and confidants.
“Not having a union background, I think we can do things unions don’t typically do or think about things in ways unions don’t typically think about things,” Dayton said. “What motivated me to make this a statewide campaign was the ability to think outside of the union box while being willing to listen when others tell me to take a seat.”
What’s most important to Dayton is transparency and integrity, something she valued as a rank-and-file member and is a foundation to her role as statewide president.
“I’m excited to learn the ins and outs of MAPE and find places we can make improvements while holding on to the things that work,” she said. “I’m not just your president, I’m also still your coworker, and I’m keeping my feet on the ground from the perspective of a rank-and-file member.”
MAPE Executive Director, Lina Jamoul, said she’s eager to work with Dayton to build an even better MAPE.
“On behalf of all staff at MAPE, I am excited to welcome Megan as MAPE’s new statewide president. Our union, much like our state and country, is facing unprecedented challenges,” Jamoul said. “We salute Megan for stepping forward to lead, and we all look forward to working with her to tackle those challenges head on, do right by our members and build a more just workplace. Building on a powerful legacy, we will work together to make a strong organization even stronger.”