2021 Rise Up: Strength, Solidarity, Resilience

One hundred and twenty WFSE members from all parts of our union gathered virtually June 6 and 7 for the 2021 Rise Up Conference.

The first-ever virtual Rise Up included a panel on WFSE Member Action Team (MAT) wins, a showing of the film PRIDE, an array of workshops tailored to building power in our union, and more.

Snapshots of union siblings virtually gathering in workshops, panels, and plenaries

BoJohn McClung, the WFSE Local 1488 Secretary, a member of the WFSE Executive Board, and a dedicated shop steward, appreciated the opportunity to connect with other WFSE members.

“Nothing can beat the in-person experience, but the digital conference was engaging and the workshops made great use of the technology to stay connected with my union siblings,” he said.

Times have been hard this past year, but our power as a union has not diminished.

During the panel on using member action teams to address workplace issues, Kristen Plate of WFSE Local 3488 discussed the successful campaign to keep Maleng Café open at Harborview Medical Center. This was a big win for the workers who run the Café and for the community, doctors, and medical personnel who have come to rely on the comfort and good coffee they provide.

Jessica Crowell, a member of WFSE Local 573, talked about winning an important grievance at SOLA through building leverage with their MAT.

During a panel on workplace wins, Cristina Rodriguez of WFSE Local 443 and Nahaci Torres of WFSE Local 1221 shared their experiences uniting as Black and Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) leaders with their MAT and organizing for structural change.

Rodriguez spoke about how she found a strong virtual community and solidarity with other BIPOC workers through forming a MAT.

“It’s beautiful to create a community virtually during COVID,” Rodriguez said.

“We found this decolonized community space in our workplace where we support and mutually respect each other. That community is there to last. We can really show up authentically.”

Workshops ranged from core steward curriculum such as “Informal Resolution” to workshops sponsored by the WFSE Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee, such as “Community Care AS Self Care.”

Our first virtual Rise Up was a resounding success. As we continue to recover, heal, and fight for our communities, we should be proud that we have built powerful MATs in many workplaces, faced tough issues that affect our communities, and maintained strong relationships in our union—and we’ve done most of it virtually.

“I know it’s been a very challenging time for all of us, but we also have a lot to be proud of as a union,” WFSE President Mike Yestramski said during the conference. 

“When faced with adversity, we didn’t bury our heads in the sand. We stood together as union and took action for our jobs, families and communities.” 

Stay tuned to the WFSE calendar for upcoming training opportunities.