Some of the 400 delegates at MFPE Annual Conference April 6-7. See more photos after the story.
Despite arctic storms and record snowfall, nearly 400 delegates braved white-knuckle roads to gather in Helena for the first Montana Federation of Public Employees Annual Conference, April 6-7.
They came from all across Montana, from as far away as Sidney and Libby, to participate.
“As a history teacher it is always a good feeling to be on site when history is taking place,” said delegate Jesse Barnhart, who drove 406 miles from Broadus through snowdrifts, white-outs, and black ice.
“When your union calls, you say “YES!” said delegate Cara Lokken-Frandsen, who drove 455 miles from Sidney.
Jim Johnson drove from Wibaux, nearly 450 miles. Jim Keith drove 384 miles from Miles City.
Laurie Enebo drove 360 miles from Glasgow. She and fellow delegates from Northeast Montana had a harrowing 24-hour drive home on treacherous roads, but they’re glad they made the trip.
“We travel the distance because it’s our union, it’s our way of life. We are proud to be the voice of our union brothers and sisters in MFPE’s District 7,” Enebo said.
These intrepid travelers and hundreds of others met to discuss and vote on their new union’s first budget, dues, officers, legislative program, and new business items.
The mood was upbeat and joyful as delegates tackled these chores and paused periodically to celebrate their new union. MFPE was created this year by the merger of MEA-MFT and the Montana Public Employees Association. Together, as MFPE, we have nearly 25,000 members statewide.
Annual Conference delegates also heard from a number of Montana elected officials, including Gov. Steve Bullock, Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney, U.S. Senator Jon Tester, and others.
“If we want to keep the middle class vibrant, unions are absolutely crucial,” Tester told delegates. “We would not have a democracy today if not for public education and public services.”
“Brothers and sisters, this is our time,” said delegate Amanda Curtis from Butte, who later was elected NEA Director for MFPE. “We know exactly who’s with us. We know exactly who’s not. We have nowhere to go but forward, and we have chosen to go forward together.”
Delegates elected statewide officers for MFPE. They elected regional members of the MPFE Board of Directors in their district caucuses. You can see officers and board members here.
New Business Items
Among new business items, delegates voted on a new logo for MFPE. See the logo and find more on conference business here.
Hall of Fame
As part of Annual Conference celebrations, three final members of the MEA-MFT Hall of Fame were honored, along with the first MFPE Hall of Fame member. All of these inductees have contributed mightily to the strength of our union and to the well-being of Montana’s people.
MEA-MFT Hall of Fame inductees include Denise Juneau, educator and former MT Superintendent of Public Instruction; Bernie Olson, educator and former Republican legislator from Kalispell; and Mary Sheehy Moe, 1987 MT Teacher of the Year and former legislator from Great Falls
Tom Schneider, first executive director of the MT Public Employees Assoc., was inducted into the MFPE Hall of Fame.
|Annual Conference delegates
|Listening to Gov. Bullock
|Newly elected MFPE president Eric Feaver
|Thank you, Senator Tester!
|Hall of Fame: Mary Moe, Denise Juneau, Bernie Olson, Tom Schneider