Council 4 Conference Charts Path Forward In Post-Janus World

Using the Supreme Court’s decision in Janus v. AFSCME as a jumping-off point, Council 4’s biennial conference served as a call to action to maintain strength and solidarity in the face of stern challenges ahead.

More than 200 members participated in the conference, which took place April 5-7 in Groton, and embraced the theme of “Our Union, Our Future” as we engaged further in the fight to protect our rights and freedoms.

“The Janus decision was supposed to be our funeral,” Executive Director Jody Barr said during his opening remarks to delegates. “But it wasn’t."

Barr's reference was to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31, which made "Right to Work for Less" the law of the land in public sector employment.

"We did our jobs," he continued. "We stopped the corporations and billionaires who wanted to bury us. We talked to our members. We got them to sign recommitment cards. We discovered new activists.”

Interactive panels and workshops focused on a wide range of subject matter, from contract arbitration and workers compensation to overcoming “unconscious bias,” understanding the economic divide and introducing members of our union’s new conservative political caucus.

Here are some conference highlights: 

  • Our Member Recognition Banquet honored 10 outstanding union members and bestowed our first-ever Hall of Fame Awards to Courtney Poirier of Local 3689 and Laura Waller of Local 991. (Scroll down for the list of honorees and their bios.)
  • Our Women’s Committee sponsored a Silent Auction that raised more than $4,000 to be donated to Safe Futures, CT, an organization helping those impacted by domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and trafficking in southeastern Connecticut.
  • Members elected our 2019-21 statewide and district PEOPLE Committee, which will help shape our legislative and political mobilization efforts. (Scroll down for the list of Committee members.)

The 2019 conference attracted more than 50 first time attendees. New union participants found the conference enlightening and useful.

“It was a great event,” said Rebecca Fettig of Local 1049 (Watertown School Custodians, Maintainers, Cafeteria Workers and IT Professionals). “As a new attendee it was great to meet people from all over the state. I liked hearing the stories and issues from the varied professions and sized locals. The panels were good for learning how union leaders can better represent fairly all employees. Unions should not be concerned as much about the political divide between Democrat and Republican as much as the rights all workers should have in order to live dignified lives.”

 “I thought the conference was a major success,” added Nathan Hunsicker of Local 1565 (State NP-4 Dept. of Correction). “The Council 4 team did a phenomenal job organizing and carrying out the event. The workshops were informative and helpful. No matter what political side of the spectrum you stand on, we as union members need to be open to building bridges while promoting a pro-labor, pro middle class agenda.” 

Members left the Council 4 Conference focused and fired up and ready to mobilize for a post-Janus world.

“We are fighting back. We are growing our union,” Barr said.

Member Recognition & Hall of Fame Awards:
(Click here for brief bios)
Fonta Clark-Cole, Local 1579 (Torrington Board of Ed)
Charles DellaRocco, Local 749 (State Judicial)
Stacey Kaufman, Local 991 (Manchester Town/BoE)
Carmen LaSalle, Local 196 (State NP3 Clerical)
Marek Marowski, Local 1174 (East Hartford DPW)
Mary Matsagas, Local 2663 (State P2 Social Services)
Joan Parker, Local 2663 (State P2 Social Services)
Cynthia Phillips, Local 562 (State NP3 Clerical)
Paula Pinto, Local 562 (State NP3 Clerical)
Anthony Spence, Local 318 (State NP3 Clerical)
Courtney Poirier, Local 3689 (Killingly Paraprofessionals)*
Laura Waller, Local 991(Manchester Town/BoE)*
*Hall of Fame Awards

Thanks to the following Council 4 members and staff who volunteered to serve on the Committees that made our Conference a great success.

Conference Committee
Megan Batchelder, Co-Chair
Kathy Cooper, Co-Chair
Cynthia Paterson
Robert Augusta
Linette Gaunichaux
Rose Phillips
Patricia Davis

Valencia Johnson
Kim Rice
Lorine Roberts
Jennifer Pelletier
Rhonda Charette
Carla Simmons
Betsey Grady
Neal Cunningham
Bonnie Liedtke
Jonny Dailey

Civil Rights Committee
Kathy Cooper, Chair
Claudine Wilkins-Chambers
Harold Brooks
Stacie Byrdsong
Wayne Marshall
Sotonye Otunba-Payne
Marsha Tulloch
Dana Beecham-Brown
Sherryl Chin
Patricia Davis
Rose Phillips
Ruby Blackmon
Valencia Johnson
Lorine Roberts
Kim Rice

Women’s Rights Committee
Marybeth Hill, Co-Chair
Marsha Tulloch, Co-Chair
Lois Brodeur
Sandy DeCampos
Claudine Wilkins-Chambers
Lorri Adgers
Colleen Carter
Ruby Blackmon
Jeanette Morrison
Cassandra Lang

Awards Committee
Linette Gaunichaux, Chair
Rose Phillips
Valencia Johnson
Marie Bartell
Marybeth Hill
Betsey Grady