The second cohort of UE’s Leadership and Staff Development program graduated in December. At the conclusion of the year-long program, participants reviewed their goals and progress towards them and reflected on their shared experiences.
Over the course of the program, members engaged in online workshops on everything from UE’s history, structure, and core principles to how to write a grievance. Most participants also attended the Building Union Power online course, and many went to the national convention.
“I think the program’s been very beneficial for me building confidence in being a leader in my local,” said Ashley Clemons, Local 1004. “I’ve gotten to better understand the workings of our union so I can more comfortably educate the members on the ‘why’s’ things happen and how to make them work for us in our local.”
Judith Lopez, Local 1421, shared a similar reflection. “This really helped me know so much more about how to talk to my coworkers about how to get involved. I learned a lot from everyone’s experiences.”
Many members noted that their trip to Erie, Pennsylvania during the strike at Locals 506 and 618 was a highlight of the program. Nichel Dunlap-Thompson, Local 150, said, “I learned so much at the strike line at 506 which I never could have learned from a book. The leaders really let the members decide about whether or not they would go on strike, and put in the members’ hands to make the final decision. It was amazing to experience that in person.”
Gay Brown, Local 123, Eric Escobar, Local 1018, Aziza Hamilton, Local 119, Ramona Malczynski, Local 1466, and Cedric Whelchel, Local 1177, also participated in the program. The program was coordinated by Angaza Laughinghouse, Local 150, and staff members Kass Ottley, Kim Lawson, and Kari Thompson.
As the LSDP program came to an end, the participants were tasked with strengthening their locals using the skills they gained in the program. Each participant expressed their great appreciation for the time, tools and lived experiences that were offered throughout the course of the year. Many planned to be ambassadors to recruit the next cohort. The LSDP participants are prepared to continue to fight and build their union.
LSDP participant Nichel Dunlap-Thompson contributed to this story.