What is CMEC?
The Conservative Member Engagement Committee (CMEC) is a group of Conservative SEIU members from around the country who have been meeting over the past 4 years to provide input and give a voice for our Conservative members to the International Union. SEIU 668 member Jeffrey Seabury was appointed by SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry and former Local President Tom Herman to represent Pennsylvania on that Committee.
The goal of the National CMEC was to bring a Conservative voice to the IU. Here in Pennsylvania, we’re looking to bring a Conservative voice to our union so that every member can feel that they are properly represented.
What is CMEC in Pennsylvania?
President Steve Catanese has committed Local resources to draw down grant money from the International to fund efforts to meet with, and engage, Conservative members within Local 668. Pennsylvania is one of two states (New Hampshire is the other) who has committed to this initiative.
What is a Conservative?
Traditionally, when people hear the word conservative, they think Republican voter. However, a Conservative can be a Republican, an Independent, a Libertarian or even a Democrat who has a more conservative approach to government or social issues. Conservatives may be better defined by a set of core values and beliefs than political party affiliation. Those values, while centrally themed, vary along a spectrum. In other words, a Conservative in Bucks County may be different than a Cameron County Conservative or even a Fayette Conservative (who is just as likely to be a registered Democrat as not).
So, while it may seem a little difficult to nail down “what is a Conservative?”… you know who you are and how you identify with core values. SEIU 668 wants to hear what you have to say about our union.
What are the goals of this program?
SEIU Local 668 is committed to being a union that represents EVERY member. The Conservative Member Engagement effort in Pennsylvania has the goal of reaching out to all interested Conservative members to hear about their union values and experiences through face-to-face meetings and structured listening sessions.
Our union wants to know what it is that keeps (or prevents) people’s union engagement. Most importantly, Local 668 wants conservative members to empower themselves, their voices and roles within the Local. Ultimately, we must have a union that values and represents all of its members on issues of Labor. After all: union is about Labor, not labels.
Is this a “conversion” effort?
ABSOLUTELY NOT. Both the International and SEIU 668 are fully committed to meeting members where their values are. If we can find the nexus of those values around issues of Labor, then we can speak for workers with a more unified voice.
Who is leading this effort?
President Steve Catanese has put together a team headed by Rachel Canning (Staff Leader) that consists of Jennifer Gilmour (Communications), Raj Varkey (IT and Technical Support), and two member leaders out on Union Business leave. Frank Gerlach from Lehigh County and Jeff Seabury from Fayette will serve as Conservative Member Engagement Coordinators for the next six months and will be the primary point of contact for members interested in learning more about our CMEC program.
Frank and Jeff combined have decades of experience and activism within our Local. They will be crisscrossing the Commonwealth to meet with members at Chapter, Shop and Committee meetings wherever they are at. Additionally, they will be conducting direct face-to-face meetings, as well as structured listening sessions with interested and engaged members.
If not now, when? Some folks may have skepticism about the timing of this effort when all across the country, there seems to be an ever-deepening divide between those traditionally considered Conservative and those who consider themselves Liberal. This initiative began in Michigan in 2015, but quite frankly it is long overdue to expand it to other states.
Traditionally, many unions have marginalized, and thereby disenfranchised, their more conservative members. While it is true that unions are a democratic society in which each member has a vote and the majority rules, SEIU 668 is seeking to provide a voice for ALL members in the union and focus on the issues of Labor where we all come together.
As a Conservative member, how do I get involved?
We’d encourage you to fill out our contact form (here) or email Jeff and Frank to have an initial conversation and get more information on our CMEC program and upcoming listening sessions.
Can Frank or Jeff come to my shop/chapter meeting?
Yes! Please email Jeff and Frank directly if you’d like them to come speak with your members to share their engagement efforts or just explain the program. You can also complete our interest form and they’ll get in touch with you.
Am I going to be judged on my thoughts/stances on current politics?
No. We’re creating this CMEC program so that we, as a union, can be more inclusive of all of our members. We understand that the current political atmosphere can leave people angry, scared, demoralized and disconnected, but our overall goal is to bring people together to show that, no matter what, our labor values cross party lines. We’re about Labor, Not labels. Everyone in our union has the opportunity to voice their thoughts and opinions, no matter what, and we ask that all members treat one another with respect regardless of their personal politics.