Team AFSCME elects new officers at 47th Annual Council 13 Convention
Council 13’s starting lineup hit the field in full force at the 47th Annual Convention, electing new officers and reinvigorating its team spirit as we push forward in a turbulent time for the labor movement.
Executive Director David Fillman was re-elected for a sixth three-year term, Jane Gill was elected President, Earnestine Kearse was elected Secretary, Shawn Makar was elected Treasurer and Susan Emswiler was elected Vice President Representing State Employees, and Derrick Sampson, Lorena Cutshall, Christopher Murphy and Rick Wise were elected as Trustees, all by acclamation. Congratulations to all!
The Convention kicked off on Saturday morning with an energetic opening as Coco the Hershey Bear accompanied Executive Director Fillman, AFSCME International President Lee Saunders and Council 13’s District Council Directors, as they made their entrances.
The Council 13 Color Guard presented the colors before AFSCME Local 906 (Hollidaysburg Veteran’s Home) member Rodney Watson performed the National Anthem using American Sign Language. Willie Sawyers, AFSCME Retiree member and pastor at Guiding Light Ministries, led the delegation in the invocation.
“Team AFSCME is on the move with more confidence and enthusiasm than ever before,” President Saunders said as he delivered the welcome address to open the general session.
Council 13’s then-President Todd Singer presided over his last Convention after serving the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and this great union for 39 years.
“I want you to remember the most important element in this labor movement is the members. That’s all of us – you and I. We are proud union members,” Singer said during his farewell address.
Convention attendees were then joined by State Representative Tom Mehaffie (R – 106th Legislative District), who reminded everyone that the labor movement supports any candidate who supports it back, no matter the party affiliation.
“A lot of people say Republicans aren’t for labor. Let me tell you, this guy is for labor!” Mehaffie proclaimed to a big round of applause.
Like President Singer, then-Treasurer Barbara “Bunnie” Cooper was serving at her last Convention as an Executive Board member. Executive Director Fillman recognized both Bunnie and Todd for their extensive contributions to the labor movement and presented them with awards for their service.
Fillman then delivered his keynote address, rallying Team AFSCME to keep up the fight for working families despite the seemingly non-stop attacks on our livelihoods.
“”In the face of a malicious Supreme Court ruling and anti-union politicians, we keep educating and organizing day in and day out,” Fillman said.
The general session concluded with the passage of several resolutions aimed at bolstering the labor movement and supporting pro-worker policies, as well as video messages from AFSCME Secretary-Treasurer Elissa McBride and Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman.
On Saturday night, District Council 86 won the Outstanding MVP Achievement Award, District Council 88 won the Outstanding PAL Achievement Award and the western district councils (83, 84, 85 and 86) won the East vs. West PAL Award. Congratulations to all!
The final day of the Convention, Sunday, April 28, was Workers’ Memorial Day, when we honor those who were killed or injured on the job. Convention delegates held a moment of silence for these sisters and brothers, with a special focus on our AFSCME brother Bryan Chamberlain, a PennDOT worker who died on the job in August 2018.
Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President Rick Bloomingdale then spoke more about Workers’ Memorial Day and the fight for safer workplaces, including efforts to pass House Bill 1082, which would provide public sector employees with the same OSHA protections as those in the private sector.
Bloomingdale then swore in newly- and re-elected officers of Council 13 before Executive Director Fillman adjourned another successful Convention.
Thank you to every member of Team AFSCME who made this convention possible and make Pennsylvania happen every single day.