Delegates attending the sixth annual UE Local 170 state convention, held in Charleston, WV on August 4, elected the local's officers and trustees and made plans for organizing and political action in the coming year. The Local 170 statewide officers nominated and elected for the coming year were Donna Morgan, President; Chris Wolford, Vice-President; Melanie McCartney, Secretary-Treasurer; Cathy Miller, Recording Secretary; and Jamie Beaton, Chief Steward. David Marple, Nola Lilly and Nelson McCloy were nominated and elected as the local's three trustees. 

After debate and discussion, the delegates also voted to approve the local's political action goals for 2013, which included a substantial pay raise for West Virginia state workers, reform of the West Virginia public employees' grievance system, seniority rights for state workers, meaningful caseload standards for DHHR program areas, full funding for West Virginia OSHA, safe staffing levels and an end to mandatory overtime at the state hospitals and nursing homes. Prior to the convention, the local's seven chapters nominated and elected their rank-and-file delegates and adopted their chapter's legislative policy recommendations, which were voted on at the convention.  You can read the 2013 policy objectives here.

"You have made a real difference for West Virginia state workers during the short time you have been in existence," said Bruce Klipple, UE President, who brought greetings on behalf of the national union. Klipple encouraged the local to "continue to fight for fair wages for West Virginia state workers; continue to challenge the unfair WV grievance system; and continue to stand up for the rights of WV state hospital employees." 

Andrew Dinkelaker, UE General Secretary-Treasurer, gave a brief power point presentation on the national union's finances. "I will challenge you to name another national union which is more open with its members about its finances as UE," said Dinkelaker, who pointed out that in UE "open books and tight fists" is how a rank and file union operates and that the members will be fully informed and involved in the coming year as the union develops a new per capita system.  

"We have to increase the fight for collective bargaining rights for West Virginia public workers," said Deb Gornall, UE Eastern Regional President, who added that "political action is key to moving Local 170 forward."

John Hovis, retired UE President, traveled to West Virginia with his wife Sharon to attend the convention in order to present the first annual $1,000 "John Hovis Scholarship" to Britani Chambers, whose father is a DOH member from Wood County. Local 170 established the annual scholarship in John Hovis's name because of his strong support for organizing Local 170 and his commitment to rank-and-file member education during his time in office. See full details on the scholarship.

In keeping with the local's tradition, Elaine Purkey, a native West Virginian labor folk singer, kicked off the convention with several labor folk songs, including "Public Workers." Delegates and guests observed a moment of silence in memory of Ray Greenwood, recently retired DHHR Chapter President, who passed away unexpectedly earlier in the week. Greenwood was an active member of the local and was a member of the local's executive committee and a past member of the UE Eastern Regional Council Executive Committee.

You can see photos from the convention here.