Sign up – or – re-endorse
Area Reps help SPEEA ‘act in the members’ interest’
By Mike Shea
SPEEA Northwest Regional Vice President
SPEEA needs more Area Reps. The role is simply to
help Council Reps stay
connected to everyone
in their district - typically about 200 members. Each Area Rep has
a handful of members to
share union news.
Why would you want to
do that? Do you want to
be a part of an organization where your voice is
Those of us who are active in SPEEA are often
admonished to “act in the members’ interest.”
I’m totally on board with that. But it’s difficult
for us to act in members’ interest unless members
As former Council Rep, I voted on Council
motions that steer the course of SPEEA. If I
hear from one member, that’s one voice out of
~200 members of this Council district. How
much weight does that carry? Less than ½ of
one percent. Not much.
If I hear from 20 people, that’s 10 percent. Better,
More voices, more influence
but not even close to a majority. Do they really
represent the will of most of the district? I don’t
buy into the “silent majority” argument. All I
If I hear from 100 people, that’s about half the
district. The more people I hear from, the better
idea I have of what the “will of the members”
is. Bigger sample size, right?
What if I were to serve on the Joint
Compensation Committee (actually, I do)
when we meet with Boeing senior managers/
executives? Are they more likely to listen to me
(and maybe act) if I report that one person, or
two people, or five people are dissatisfied with
a specific issue?
Council Reps need Area Reps. They need to hear
the voices of different employees from different
areas, not just the co-workers who sit closest to
Area Reps communicate these questions,
issues, concerns and ideas from their areas to
Council Reps. If Council Reps have a better
idea of what the “will of the members” is, we
can act more effectively to address the “will
of the members.”
Are there any downsides, such as having too
much ‘exposure’? They could easily pick my
SPEEA jacket out of the crowd because I wear
it a lot, and I’m not targeted. My managers and
HR see me as a partner to help answer contract
questions or to help constructively resolve workplace issues.
Interested in having your voice heard and are
willing to share information to keep co-workers
informed? Talk to your Council Rep about sign-
ing up as an Area Rep.
[Editor’s note: Former Council Rep Mike Shea was
elected to the Executive Board this spring.]
SPEEA liaison to Council Reps
Seeking Area Reps
to sign up for new
Interested in sharing SPEEA news and reporting
members’ questions or concerns to your Council
Sign up to serve as Area Rep and help a small
group of co-workers in your area stay connected
to their union. No election required.
If you’re already an Area Rep, sign up for another
new two-year term by July 17.
To sign up or re-endorse, talk to your Council
Rep. Not sure who your Council Rep is? Go to
www.speea.org (drop-down menu: Councils/
Find Your Council Rep).
To learn more about the role and responsibilities, see the Area Rep web page at www.speea.
org (drop-down menu: Member Tools/Area
Union ties run in the ‘family’
When Ronda Cockrell talks about unions, you learn her enthusiasm runs in the family. Growing up in
Douglass, Kan., her father was an active member
of the plumbers and pipefitters union.
“He was very strong in the union and that rolls
down to me,” she said. That’s one reason why
she serves as an Area Rep and also belongs to the
SPEEA Midwest Legislative and Public Affairs
She wants to do her part on behalf of her union.
“It’s like we’re a big family, all trying to help
each other. If there is a problem, we all try to
When she went back to work after her young-
est child went to school, she applied at Boeing
Wichita, where her husband worked. With her
skills as a cake decorator (a side business while
she was a stay-at-home mom), she landed a job
as a sealer, represented by the Machinists.
Remembering her father’s strong union support, she not only joined the Machinists
union, she signed up to serve as a shop steward for 10 years until transferring into the
SPEEA technical bargaining unit. She loved
being a sealer, but the chemical fumes were
She transitioned into a communications role,
where she gave factory tours to visiting dignitaries to Spirit, then moved into her current
job as a technical specialist for engineering
Communication is key to serving as an Area
Rep, she said. “I’m helping get the word out,”
whether it’s updates or events or helping at a
SPEEA lunchtime meeting.
“Because of my work as a shop steward, I wanted
to get more involved in SPEEA,” she said. “I saw
there was a need (for Area Reps).”
As a shop steward for Machinists, she represent-
ed a much smaller group compared to Council
Reps, who typically represent about 200 in their
district. “Council Reps need all the help they
Wichita Area Rep
NW Regional VP