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Guest post by Mike Shue.
Mike Shue is a recently retired rural carrier.
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This is my third article in this series about serving as a national delegate. You been nominated for a national delegate to represent your state, appeared on the ballot, received enough votes to be elected, and now are at the convention. So what will you be facing and what will transpire during the next week?
First, the NRLCA National Convention in Nashville, Tennessee this year will be the Association's 112th, beginning back in 1903 in Chicago, IL, skipping 1918 & 1945 due to the World Wars. The convention officially runs for 4 business days, beginning Tuesday morning and concluding sometime on Friday.
However, convention workers will be arriving and setting up in the weekend prior to the start of the convention. You can begin registering on Sunday morning. In years past, elected association delegates would be given credentials that you had to carry with you and present to the credentials committee. But a few years ago, a change was made to where your state secretary will now send in your credentials ahead of time to the credentials committee.
To register, you only need to show a valid ID, like your driver's license, to get your delegate badge. This badge is important as it shows you are a regular delegate who is allowed to vote on issues and for officers. Be sure to not lose it. Along with your badge, you will receive a ditty bag with all kinds of goodies, much of it from local merchants, plus a NRLCA calendar for the coming year, a convention program and a delegate gift.
As I stated last month, I always liked to arrive in town on Sunday afternoon so I could check in, register, and find my way around. The convention center in most cases will be a huge complex and the association, auxiliary and junior auxiliary will take up many spaces. The important places to find first is registration, main meeting hall, and most importantly the restrooms. OK, laugh if you will about the last one, but you will see how important that becomes as the week goes on, and especially in relation to the location of the meeting hall. Chances are you will run into members of your state's delegation wandering around the halls.
Find an experienced one that you feel comfortable asking questions because you will have many. There will be a vendor's hall where booths are set up by vendors selling all things rural, from t-shirts and signs to carrier vehicles. There are booths for candidates running for national office, the rural carrier insurance plan, retirement, OWCP, postal inspectors, about anything you could want that relates to the post office. If you don't get into town in time to register on Sunday (they usually close at 4:30), you can register on Monday. The national constitution requires all delegates to be checked in no later than 3PM Tuesday afternoon.
On Monday, there will be many committee meetings and seminars throughout the day and evening. It is usually state officers, elected and appointed, and various other personnel who will be involved in the committees. However, there are some things anyone may attend. A legislative seminar is held by our Director of Governmental Affairs where they talk about what is going on on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC in relation to rural carriers.
A State of the Union address by our national board (no, not like the one that takes place each January) where information is given out about current events with the rural craft. But the most important one for a first-timer may be Monday afternoon at the First-Timers Orientation Session where current and former national officers will give you the ends and outs of attending your first national convention. That evening, seminars will be held for interested persons concerning the Thrift Savings Plan, OWCP, and Retirement. There is also a Junior's Talent Show where the Juniors show off their skills at singing, dancing, playing musical instruments, etc. And they do a great job. If you bring a junior along, they are welcome to perform. It isn't a competition, just a show.
Afterwards, the Auxiliary holds an auction to benefit their project for the year. This year's project is Muscular Dystrophy. All monies raised from the auction and other fundraisers held throughout the year are donated to the current year's project. Usually somwhere around $100,000 is raised each year.
Tuesday evening will have seminars on Retirement, Insurance, and Academy Trainers. On Wednesday evening for the past few years, a meal and dance has been held, usually western-themed with a DJ. This has taken the place of the formal banquet held in years past. Evening activities are voluntary for the most part (a few states may require their delegates to attend one or more seminars) so if you don't chose to go, the evenings are your free time, with the exception of the caucuses on Thursday night. This is where candidates for national office go around to different groups, make their pitch for office and have questions and answers. The states are grouped together by geographical area so there is more chance for individuals to ask questions.
The convention officially adjourns sometime on Friday so there are no official activities scheduled. Some states choose to have a post-convention celebration at a local restaurant.
As a matter of information, the schedule of seminars is not set in stone as to their day. They may change from year to year depending on the presenter's availability. You may feel intimidated with all that goes on during this week, but that's only natural. It can be a little overwhelming for those who have been going for many years, being in a new town, not being sure what's available for meals, sights, and just finding your way around.
Just remember you are part of the rural carrier family and we will take care of you if the need arises. All you have to do is ask.
I had intented for this to be my final article but describing the goings-on during the business sessions might be lengthy, so I'll write one last one for next month describing things like constitutional changes, resolutions, green red and yellow cards, voting for officers, and why two of the most important persons at the convention are not rural carriers, but two folks named Jim and TimiAnne. See you next month.