2017 Award Recipients
In 1987 MPEA established its first award for excellence in service to MPEA and its members. Originally called the Dan Bukvich award in honor of long time MPEA board member Dan Bukvich who passed away on the operating table shortly after he left the board of directors. In 1995 Betty Morey was added to the award to honor the MPEA staffer who was murdered in front of MPEA headquarters in 1994. In honor of Dan Bukvich and Betty Morey this award recognizes MPEA members who have been nominated by their peers for outstanding service to their chapter and MPEA.
This last January we lost our friend and fellow union brother Kevin Bock. Few knew Kevin was ill; all of us were shocked to learn that he had died. We all still miss Kevin today.
Kevin started showing up to union meetings ten years ago to ask questions about what the union does and why. He wasn’t happy with what he was seeing within his own local and wanted to know what he could do about it. If you knew Kevin well, you knew he was not one to sit back for too long and he certainly wasn’t one to stay quiet for long either. Kevin learned quickly and then put things into gear by getting elected to the board of his local. Once there, he observed, participated, asked questions and agitated. In time Kevin became the President of the Department of Revenue Local which is really no easy task. Given the fact that the local is represented by both MPEA and MEA-MFT, Kevin found himself in the position to work with two different unions and two different structures-he managed just fine and kept us all on our toes. Kevin also went on to be elected as the Secretary-Treasurer of MEA-MFT and held that position when he died.
This is a meeting Kevin wouldn’t have missed. Kevin wouldn’t have missed last month’s MEA-MFT representative assembly either. In fact, Kevin just didn’t miss meetings, trainings, conventions, rallies, picnics or any gathering of union members. Kevin taught us all to get involved, mobilize, agitate, organize and as simple as it sounds, show up. You can’t move the union forward if you don’t show up and no one knew it like Kevin.
Kevin had a mantra when he talked to union members and union leaders: a member is a member. Kevin pushed that agenda hard at a national level and made fast friends with his message of equality of membership. Kevin proved his worth as a union officer by always showing up and always advocating for the union member. A member is a member, as simple and common sense as it sounds, there is a message there. We are all equals in the world of the union and we all show equal responsibility to show up and be involved. In the words of Joe Hill: don’t mourn, ORGANIZE.
We’ll all miss Kevin for his passion and his friendship. The MPEA Board of Directors would like to thank the MEA-MFT Officers and Board for naming their public employee award after Kevin this year. And in memory of Kevin, we award him the Morey-Bukvich Award posthumously. Knowing Kevin as well as we did, there is no doubt he’s saying ‘Well it’s about damn time!’ Godspeed Kevin and thank you for your inspiration.
The Board of Directors is pleased to introduce MPEA’s Morey-Bukvich award winner for outstanding leadership in her chapter, Colette Campbell.
Colette has been an MPEA member since 2008 and became the President of the Montana State University Chapter in 2014. She wasted no time getting to work in her new role and immediately started recruiting members to help with the tasks of running the Chapter. Colette sought advice from former Chapter Representatives and MPEA staff. She identified areas of concern to members and used her own experiences as a member to begin making connections with MPEA members across the campus. Chapter meetings now involve opening exercises based on organizing, guest speakers, sharing of information and always welcoming members who have come for the first time.
Colette recognized the need to communicate across various age groups within the membership at MSU. Prior to coming on board, MSU chapter members received sporadic information through the campus listserv. Today members receive meeting announcements, a monthly newsletter sent electronically and a follow up to what took place at the monthly chapter meeting within a day of the meeting. She has recognized that the MPEA membership at MSU is both interesting and diverse, in doing so she features an MPEA member each month. Colette also set up the first individual Chapter Facebook page for her bargaining unit. Content is posted to the page several times a week and is always relevant to the work of unions in Montana as well as the rest of the United States.
There is never a shortage of work for the union and there is always a shortage of willing members to help with that work. Colette, through her positive approach and welcoming personality has developed a team of members to help accomplish many tasks. She is always on the lookout for ways to have members contribute and become more involved. Colette manages to keep members who have been engaged for years on the move while at the same time attracting new talent to join in. Careful not to put members in a position to burn out she clearly believes that many hands make light work. Her efforts have not been isolated to just her Chapter, but with the larger chapter of the Montana University System and the seven campuses represented.
In an effort to learn about and be part of the big picture she has worked closely with MPEA staff and made contacts throughout the labor movement in Montana. She has gladly served as a delegate to the Montana State AFL-CIO Convention for MPEA for several years now. She has made contacts and developed relationships that have greatly added to the value of MPEA. Colette has become not only an integral leader at MSU, but within MPEA and the Montana Labor Movement.
If you’re ever in doubt of where Colette stands, read her signature line on her emails – ‘Lead or Be Lunch.’ From the Board of Directors, congratulations and thank you!
Tom E. Schneider Award
In September of 2001 the Board of Directors established the Thomas E. Schneider award to honor our long time Executive Director for his years of service. Tom served as the Executive Director for 35 years and is directly responsible for many of the benefits public employees received in the state of Montana. Each year the award is given to the longest term MPEA member in the area that the annual meeting is held. The purpose of this award is to recognize both longevity as an MPEA member and service to the public.
This year’s award goes to Valinda Holmes who has been an MPEA member since September 1, 1976. Valinda works for DPHHS – Health Policy Quality Assurance in the Public Health and Safety Division. She handles finances and contracts, oversees the “entire goings-on’s” for the Chronic Disease Bureau’s Budget. Valinda works part-time at Jo-Ann Fabrics and reportedly loves fabrics and sewing.
Congratulations Valinda for your dedication to MPEA and the DPHHS Health Policy Quality Assurance unit of MPEA.