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Your union, your voice: MEA-MFT Rep. Assembly

MEA-MFT's annual Representative Assembly (RA) is democracy in action.


MEA-MFT's local affiliates elect local delegates to attend RA each year. Delegates set the direction for their union, MEA-MFT. What delegates decide, happens.

2017 Representative Assembly
March 31-April 1, Helena

2018 RA delegates stand with Rob Quist (in hat), MEA-MFT's endorsed candidate for congress.
More than 350 delegates attended RA 2017! It was one of the most dramatic RAs in recent history, as delegates took more steps toward merger with the Montana Public Employees Association (see new business items, below).

Here are some of the actions and events:

Elections - delegates elected:

1. MEA-MFT secretary-treasurer - Rich Aarstad was elected to fill the late Kevin Bock's term.

2. District chairs and vice-chair for odd-numbered districts, MEA-MFT Board of Directors (2-year term) -
  • District 1 (NW Montana) - Gene Marcille, chair; Lee Huestis, vice chair
  • District 3 (SW Montana) - Mike Kenison, chair; Sara Novak, vice chair
  • District 5 (NC Montana) - Shelli Lavinder-Schwalk, chair; Ron Gruber, vice chair
  • District 7 (NE Montana) - Laurie Enebo, chair; Janet Spracklin, vice chair
  • District 9 (SC Montana) - Rita Wells, chair; Lori Bremer, vice chair
  • District 11 (University Faculty): Mark Seifert, chair; Glen Southergill, vice chair
  • District 13 (DPHHS) - Julianna Crowley, chair; Scott Murphy, vice chair
  • District 15 (Misc. State Employees) - Yvette Smail, chair; Diane Hall, vice chair
  • District 17 (MEA-MFT Retired) - Ron Kimmet, chair; Debbie Willis, vice chair

3. MEA-MFT State Delegate to the NEA RA (2-year term)

4. Cluster Delegates to the NEA RA (1-year term)

Dues -
Delegates voted for a $1 dollar per year increase for all members. 

New business items - Delegates passed these new business items:

New Business Item #1 – With the full support of our brothers and sisters in the Montana Public Employees Association (MPEA), the 2017 MEA-MFT representative assembly directs the president to seek full merger with MPEA in governance, programs and services no earlier than August 1, 2017 and no later than July 1, 2018. To effect this merger, the president and his representatives shall work with MPEA representatives to design and propose a name, constitution, pertinent policies and dues structure for MPEA and MEA-MFT consideration and adoption at regular and/or special representative meetings of both unions.

New Business Item #2 – MEA-MFT enthusiastically endorses the extension of the 6-mill levy in the 2018 general election for the support, maintenance, and improvement of the Montana University System.

New Business Item #3 – President Feaver shall work with Executive Director Quint Nyman to appoint a joint MPEA/MEA-MFT committee of no more than 6 members to review and suggest alternatives to pre-budget negotiations and HB 13 as the method for advancing a state employee pay raise.

Members of the Year - Delegates celebrated the 2017 MEA-MFT Members of the Year, including:

• Kris Hursh, Kalispell: Education Support Professional of the Year

• Julie McKenna, Dept. of Revenue: Kevin Bock Public Employee Member of the Year

• Chris Danielson, Montana Tech: Faculty Member of the Year

• Federation of Probation and Parole: Local Affiliate of the Year

Delegates heard from Governor Steve Bullock and from Rob Quist, MEA-MFT-endorsed candidate in the special election for congress. 

Hall of Fame celebration: MEA-MFT also held its pre-RA Hall of Fame event to induct three new MEA-MFT Hall of Fame honorees:Tom Gigstad, Wanda Grinde, and Linda McCulloch.


2016 Representative Assembly

2016 RA delegates show their support for Melissa Romano, MEA-MFT member and candidate for Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction.

April 1-2, Radisson Colonial Hotel, Helena
Representative Assembly 2016 was one of MEA-MFT's biggest ever, with around 340 delegates gathering from all across Montana. It also had the biggest group of first-time delegates in recent history.

Mission statement: Delegates voted to replace MEA-MFT’s lengthy mission statement with a single sentence: “MEA-MFT is a union of professionals advocating for our members, the communities we serve, and the people of Montana.”

Business: Delegates debated and passed dues and a budget for MEA-MFT. They also voted to explore merging with the Montana Public Employees Association.

Board restructure: After a spirited debate and roll call vote, delegates voted to restructure MEA-MFT’s districts and board of directors.

Elections: Delegates re-elected Eric Feaver as president and Melanie Charlson as vice president. Amanda Curtis continues as NEA director. With Rich Aarstad stepping down as secretary-treasurer, delegates elected Kevin Bock to replace him.

They also re-elected Matt Bell as director-at-large and elected Ashley Johnson as state delegate to the NEA representative assembly in July. Student delegates elected  McKenzie Bradley to represent them at the NEA RA.

Once the new board and district restructure passed, delegates caucused in their new districts to nominate and elect a new slate of district chairs and vice chairs. District chairs, along with state officers and the director-at-large, make up MEA-MFT’s board of directors.


Celebrations: Delegates also celebrated the 2016 MEA-MFT members of the year: Sue Stewart, Education Support Professional of the Year; the Montana Federation of Historical Society Workers, Public Employee Members of the Year; and Phil Condon, Faculty Member of the Year.


2015 Representative Assembly
March 27-28, Helena

Nearly 300 locally elected MEA-MFT delegates converged in Helena March 27-28 for the 2015 MEA-MFT Representative Assembly.

Among other actions, delegates elected new statewide officers: Vice President Melanie Charlson of Missoula, NEA Director Amanda Curtis of Butte (the NEA director represents MEA-MFT members on the board of the NEA, one of our two national affiliates), and Director-at-Large Matt Bell of Missoula. Delegates also elected odd-numbered cluster district chairs and vice chairs. 

Delegates celebrated the 2015 MEA-MFT Members of the Year: Renne’t Sarbu, Kyla Gardiner, Eden Dias, Dave Shively. Congratulations to all four! 

Delegates voted on budget and dues and heard from VIP speakers: NEA President Lily Eskelsen-Garcia, Montana Governor Steve Bullock, Lt. Governor Angela McLean, Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau, and others.

In addition, delegates ringed the rotunda of the state capitol on three levels during the legislative session, holding signs in support of the state pay plan and against school privatization.  



2014 Representative Assembly
March 28-29, Helena - Red Lion Colonial Hotel

RA 2014 was inspirational and energizing! Read all about it here.

See photos on our Facebook page here.

Read about our 2014 Members of the Year



2013 Representative Assembly
April 5-6, Red Lion Colonial Hotel, Helena

 See photos and stories of RA 2013 here.


2012 Representative Assembly
March 30-31, Hilton Garden Inn, Missoula 



Delegates listen in delight to "Membership Man" at RA.

Four hundred-plus MEA-MFT delegates and guests rocked the Hilton Garden Inn in Missoula March 30-31 at the MEA-MFT Representative Assembly.


Delegates came from as far away as Wolf Point, Poplar, and Miles City to chart the future for their state union.


And they roared their readiness to defend public services, public education, and the rights of working people from the attacks other states have seen in the last year.

On Saturday, delegates saw two videos showing the train wrecks caused by anti-public employee bills passed in Wisconsin, Ohio, Idaho, Indiana, and many other states.


Then delegates cheered thunderously as Montana’s attorney general and gubernatorial candidate Steve Bullock and superintendent of public instruction Denise Juneau took the stage.


Bullock and Juneau vowed to uphold Montana’s tradition of workers’ rights and strong public services. And MEA-MFT delegates vowed to help them get elected. Delegates took action right then and there, calling fellow MEA-MFT members right from the floor of the RA to ask them to support Bullock and Juneau.


In other business, delegates:

• Elected state officers,  

• Passed a dues freeze and budget for 2012-13.

• Passed several constitutional amendments.

 • Heard a moving letter from the husband of slain Sidney teacher and MEA-MFT member Sherry Arnold, read by Sidney Education Assoc. President Mark Halverson.

• Celebrated MEA-MFT’s 2012 Members of the Year:



2011 Representative Assembly: April 1-2, Helena

What an RA it was – punctuated by MEA-MFT’s No Fooling with our Future Rally, which delegates attended April 1. They were joined by about 1,500 other Montanans concerned about the legislature’s needless budget cuts.


In other key RA events, delegates elected the following statewide officers:

2011 MEA-MFT state officers from left: NEA Director Karin Stanford, Vice President Jeff Greenfield, Secretary-Treasurer Jill Cohenour, President Eric Feaver.

  • President: Eric Feaver
  • Vice President: Jeff Greenfield of Billings
  • Secretary-Treasurer: Jill Cohenour of Helena
  • NEA Director: Karin Stanford of Lone Rock

Delegates also:

  • voted on several amendments to MEA-MFT’s constitution,
  • approved a new business item calling on MEA-MFT to organize plans to counter the current anti-union, anti- collective bargaining efforts seen in other states
  • approved a dues freeze
  • approved the proposed MEA-MFT budget


The evening of April 1, delegates honored MEA-MFT’s three new Members of the Year in a gala celebration:


MEA-MFT Education Support Professional of the Year Janet Baum

MEA-MFT Public Employee Member of the Year Rich Aarstad

MEA-MFT Faculty Member of the Year Grant Mitman



2010 Representative Assembly

MEA-MFT delegates gathered in Billings March 26-27 for the annual MEA-MFT Representative Assembly (RA). Along with a full work agenda, delegates had plenty to celebrate: MEA-MFT’s tenth birthday, new MEA-MFT members of the year, and an unshakable sense of unity and camaraderie.

MEA-MFT kicked off its tenth anniversary celebration with a recognition of its historic efforts to organize a new MEA-MFT local at MSU-Bozeman.


Delegates also heard congratulatory messages from Superintendent Denise Juneau and NEA President Dennis Van Roekel.  Both applauded MEA-MFT’s 10 years of unified actions on behalf of public education and public services.


“It’s time to organize and empower”
RA delegates gave a thunderous ovation to keynote speaker Dennis Van Roekel, president of the National Education Assoc. (NEA), one of MEA-MFT’s two national affiliate along with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT).


“I think it’s great that I get to be part of your tenth anniversary,” Van Roekel said. “It’s a rich history.”

Van Roekel talked about the last 18 months in America, saying, “I don’t know what I expected, but it wasn’t this. I didn’t expect the depth of this economic crisis. I didn’t anticipate the depth of anger, that some were willing to do almost anything to defeat those with whom they disagree.”

Acknowledging imperfections in the health care bill recently passed by Congress, Van Roekel said, “Don’t underestimate the significance of this vote. Elimination of pre-existing conditions alone is huge. Congress will be tweaking and changing this for years.”

On the Obama Administration’s controversial Race to the Top grants and blueprint for public schools, Van Roekel said, “NEA and AFT are not going to let our members’ rights to collective bargaining and due process be rolled over by some half-baked reform idea.” To roars of approval from RA delegates, he added, “We need to leave No Child Left Behind...behind.”

Van Roekel continued, “We do not accept the status quo in public education. But if you really want to transform education, you must involve all the adults involved. Mandates from outside won’t do it. Blaming and scapegoating won’t work. We are the ones in the schools every day. Ask us and we will work with you.”

Despite frustrations and concerns, Van Roekel said, “There has never been a better time than now. I want to take advantage of this time. We have all this passion, commitment, and resources. This is not the time to give in, give out, or give up. It’s time to organize and empower.”


Taking care of business: Representative Assembly actions

Over two days of hard work, delegates accomplished the following:

• Adopted standing rules clarifying how vote totals are allocated to participating delegates.

• Adopted Constitutional Amendment #1, allowing the MEA-MFT Board of Directors to delay electing successors in cases when a statewide office becomes vacant. 

• Adopted Constitutional Amendment #2, clarifying the membership status of the MEA-MFT president to assure that current and future holders of the office can continue to run once elected.

• Adopted Constutional Amendment #3, allowing the MEA-MFT Board of Directors to fill vacant seats on the board until an election can be held.

• Elected statewide officers: Eric Feaver, president; Dave Severson, vice president; Jeff Greefield, secretary-treasurer; Janet Spracklin at-large delegate to the NEA RA; and Cecil Crawford, director-at-large.

• Heard presentations by candidates for U.S. Congress: A.J. Otjen, an MEA-MFT member; Dennis McDonald, Tyler Gernant, Sam Rankin. Incumbent congressman Dennis Rehberg was also invited to address RA but was unable to attend.

• Heard a presentation from Beth Baker, candidate for the Montana Supreme Court.

• Approved New Business Item 1 to consolidate two MEA-MFT governance districts into one.

• Approved New Business Item 2 to introduce legislation to authorize reimbursement for state employee training expenses required by the state of Montana .

• Approved New Business Item #4, authorizing MEA-MFT to oppose proposed ballot initiative CI-105. CI-105 would “prohibit state or local governments from imposing any new tax on transactions that sell or transfer real property” (see page 10)

• Approved New Business Item #5, authorizing MEA-MFT to support Ballot Issue #24 that would create a “Montana Comprehensive Alcohol Abuse and Drug Free Plan.”

• Approved New Business Item #6, authorizing MEA-MFT to support Ballot Issue #25 that would cap the annual interest rate lenders may charge on certain loans (e.g. “payday” or car title loans) to 36%.

• Approved New Business Item #7, directing MEA-MFT to develop a fact sheet on Health Savings Accounts and Health Reimbursement Accounts.

• Approved the MEA-MFT Legislative Program, 2010-11 budget, and 2010-11 dues.