This election is an important opportunity to make your voice heard about the future of our union. Together we can elect a progressive majority on the MPEA Board. We’ll begin to build a union by the members and for the members; for a better workplace and for a better contract.
Lindsey Silas for Vice President
Hi, my name is Lindsey Silas and I’m a Senior City Planner in the Planning Division of CPED. I’m running to be your next MPEA Vice President. I’ve been a dues-paying member of MPEA since 2016. In that time, I always assumed that union leadership was doing their best to push for the strongest contract and best benefits for members, but I’ve since realized that’s not true.
The current MPEA board has left strength and power on the table by not meaningfully engaging members. The unity of our members is the most important source of power we have as a union. The current leadership of MPEA has made it clear that they want to retain decision-making power for themselves and keep members in the dark. This strategy has led to a disappointing contract that resulted in a 2.5% increase in two different years despite record inflation.
As the MPEA Vice President, my main goal is to engage and build power in our union so we are in the strongest position possible upon negotiating our next contract in 2025. A monthly newsletter alone is not going to cut it. I will seek to make the Board’s work understandable, accessible, and open to member feedback.
As Vice President I will:
- Create a mobilization plan ahead of contract negotiations to understand member priorities, plan solidarity events during bargaining, and communicate with members throughout the bargaining process;
- Build solidarity with other City of Minneapolis unions to advocate for more PTO, floating holidays, and larger salary increases;
- Oversee restructuring of our Union to engage members through union stewards, department liaisons, and committees;
- Represent and protect our members on workplace issues including discipline, grievances, pay upon promotion, and class maintenance studies;
- Support quarterly member meetings to keep membership up-to-date on union efforts
Rebecca Gaida for Secretary
My name is Rebecca Gaida and I’m running for MPEA Secretary. I’ve worked at the City of Minneapolis for two years in Finance. I hold a Master’s of Public Administration with coursework and a robust knowledge of nonprofit leadership. I was elected to the MPEA Board in 2023 as a member at-large. I believe an informed and engaged membership can only strengthen our union. My voting record shows that I support increased transparency, member engagement, and fiscal responsibility. In member meetings, I’ve been vocal about supporting transparency, accountability, and the rank and file of our union.
You deserve to know the activities of MPEA and how the Board is acting on your behalf. With closed Board meetings, one member meeting per year, a sparse newsletter, and delayed and unclear minutes, there is almost no way for members to know what happens behind closed doors in Board meetings. As we approach contract negotiations in 2025, communication with members is crucial to building power and solidarity. Hybrid and remote work has changed our workplace, that means the Union also needs to change how it connects with and engages members. My priority as Secretary will be to bridge the communication gap between the Board and its members, so that information is accessible to all.
I’m ready to serve you as Secretary by:
- Publishing accurate and timely Board meetings minutes with clear motions and vote count
- Sending updates on grievances, contract negotiations, and legislation so you can understand what is happening and how it affects you
- Sharing member lists to dues paying members so you can connect and communicate with other members in your department and across the entire Union
- Creating a communication and engagement strategy to solicit feedback from members about what you want to gain from contract negotiations and keep you updated on the progress
- Updating our website with a member portal so new employees can easily join the Union, members can view information and resources, and connect with others whether in the office or working from home
- Supporting increased number member meetings, including full participation n for online attendees and provide meeting materials and minutes
James Coleman for Member At-Large
Hello, my name is James Coleman, and I am running for an at-large board member position with MPEA. I am running because I want MPEA to be a responsive, engaged, transparent and strong union for all of its members.
I have worked for the City of Minneapolis for almost 17 years. I started as an intern, and have been with Regulatory Services for my whole tenure and have prided myself on being someone who works hard and takes on challenges. I have been a part of several groups and committees including co-chair of the City Culture Club, community outreach projects, MBEN, and most recently the Career Pathways Program. This program is aimed at the hiring, retention, and promotion of our departments BIPOC, indigenous, and female staff. I have for many years been passionate about diversity and inclusion in meaningful, intentional and fully inclusive ways, ensuring everyone has a seat and voice at the table.
This is why I am running now. I want to make sure that our union is intentionally and passionately fighting for ALL of its members at every level. I believe there are several areas that we can do better as a union, and as a member at large these are the areas I will push to improve:
Communication: Open, honest, and quick communication is foundational for an informed and engaged membership. Transparency of board minutes, treasury reports, and board votes and elections process is important to keep the board accountable, and the membership feeling empowered.
Engagement: Engaging the members openly and frequently brings power to both members and the union as a whole. There is power in numbers. Contract negotiations, grievances, elections and more become more effective and meaningful with an engaged base. I will advocate for an engagement committee to help increase involvement, and push for more active recruitment to help strengthen our union.
Contracts: This is a fundamentally important role of a union. With increased communication, engagement and transparency, we can fight for better contracts for ourselves. In the 2021 Gender Pay Equity Study, the city failed the salary range test with women having to work more years to reach top pay than men. I will place member protection and compensation as the highest priorities for contract negotiations
Equity and Inclusion: This is an area of passion of mine, and it can be a difficult topic. I know there is space to both work towards an equitable union/workspace, while not excluding any voices or bodies from the conversations. It can be difficult, but with intention and purpose this work can be done without distracting from other very important duties of the union.
As I have for the last 17 years, I am ready to commit to another challenge. I want to be a voice in the room that represents our membership, not a personal agenda. This union is about us.
Tate Nguyen for Member At-Large
My name is Tate Nguyen and I work in Neighborhood and Community Relations, a department that is centered on connecting the community to the City and the City to the community. I’ve seen the importance of how providing avenues to participate empowers residents in decision making that impacts their daily lives. Engagement is my passion and my profession and I am committed to applying these skills to strengthen our Union.
Before coming to the City, I worked as a seasoned organizer across the metro area, working for a non-partisan organization engaging community members and elders in local issues and elections. In college, I served as an At-Large Representative and presiding officer of the University of Minnesota student government. I represented over 20,000 students, oversaw committees, ran meetings using parliamentary procedure, and cultivated relationships to increase student representation by more than 50%. Outside of the city, I volunteer as a mutual aid organizer and graphic designer for a local community-based organization serving the LGBTQIA+ community.
It is important that MPEA is a unified force as contract negotiations approach in 2025, so that we are in a stronger position to protect and advocate to one another. Currently, there are few opportunities for members to engage with the union and our membership numbers show it. I see an opportunity for the union to grow its membership numbers and increase participation. It is essential for MPEA board members to co-create and nurture an inviting space, so we have a platform that we can all actively take part in order to build our collective power together.
If elected, I would implement the following:
- Reinstating an Engagement Committee to host events and build relationships;
- Implement office hours to facilitate open conversations about the union, membership, and feedback;
- Enact union stewards in each department as points of contact for member issues and provide member list to all dues-paying members;
- Increase dues-paying members by attending new employee orientation and following up with members as they finish probation;
- Supporting quarterly member meetings that the agenda is co-created by members;
- Provide resources and training to members on topics such as grievances, arbitration, and discipline in the workplace.