The halls were filled with eager activists ready for AFGE’s first National LEAD Training Conference in Chicago the week of July 17.
Born out of the 2015 AFGE Convention, the LEAD training brought leaders and activists together to hone their skills so that they can lead stronger, more effective locals.
Attendees took classes focused on new leaders: representation and collective bargaining. The advanced level courses taught participants effective communications and problem solving, strategic planning for building strong, effective locals, negotiation skills and advanced workers’ compensation.
“The model of leadership that we’re developing is about mobilization and teaching people to delegate and galvanize the members behind the work that they do so that we’re building infrastructure and getting people involved. Helping people have more of a voice and more ownership of the union,” said AFGE Field Services and Education Director Dave Cann.
AFGE Deputy Director for Education Julie Mendez-deLeon learned from participants that LEAD is a desired training in the field.
“So far people have really felt like this is a training that has been needed for a really long time,” said Mendez-deLeon. "They’ll actually be able to use and apply the skills when they go back. And that they’ve enjoyed having a lot of interaction with other people from different locals [and] different geographic regions.”
Mendez-deLeon also noted that the LEAD training is a collaborative effort among the departments at the headquarters office and district trainers around the country. Throughout the training, attendees provided critical feedback to the staffers behind AFGE’s education program.
“I’ve really enjoyed and learned a lot at the LEAD conference. I am excited to take a lot of the ideas and information back to my local. The speeches by President J. David Cox and others were very inspiring and motivating. It's amazing the passion that some of the AFGE members have for taking care of employees and doing what's right by employees, despite that we must fight to stop the cuts to our federal retirement benefits.”
- Sabrina Smith, AFGE Local 725, United States Military Entrance Processing Command
“What makes the training so good is when you come to training and you talk to other presidents, vice presidents, [and] treasurers. You hear their stories and their challenges and what they’ve had to overcome, which helps me in my understanding.”
-Gary Medley, AFGE Local 1975, D.C. Department of Public Works
“Union knowledge is union power! The advanced workers’ comp training should be taught by Joe Mansour at all of the districts.”
- Marcia Beasley, AFGE Local 547, Department of Veterans Affairs
“This is an excellent training, very informative. Hopefully, we’ll get more younger stewards to attend these trainings and start learning this stuff. A lot of us old cats are getting ready to leave. We have to get the youth to start coming in and taking our spots. Hopefully, a lot of locals start pushing their younger stewards and vice presidents and presidents to start attending these functions.”
- Bobby Shackleford, AFGE Local 1923, US Coast Guard
Through the LEAD training and other educational initiatives AFGE looks to provide union leaders with the tools they need to mobilize members across the country. “The work of the LEAD training and the work of our department is to turn all of our local leaders into coaches, not just players,” Cann said.
Learn more about the structure of this new program here.
Photos from the training can be found here.