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A closer look at SPEEA’s newly elected Council officers
The following elected officers were nominated and elected by their peers to serve as leaders of the regional and national Councils. As officers, they facilitate debate on motions, oversee Council budgets and document Council business. They also serve as Council Reps for their districts.

SPEEA Council (Northwest/Midwest)

“The best part about SPEEA is that we have a lot of people – whether Council Rep, officer, Executive Board or member – who really care about the future of employees. They make sure we do what’s best for everyone – the employee and their company.”

Theryl Johnson, SPEEA Council chair
Real-time software engineer (Plant II, Seattle)

Theryl Johnson
, who grew up in Lake Charles, Louisiana, decided to step up from Area Rep to Council Rep because of an email she sent to SPEEA leaders. They responded to her concerns and invited her to get more involved. Now she urges others to make their voices heard. “If you don’t like something, it’s not an invisible process,” Johnson said. “Come to a meeting or send me an email. We want your feedback.”


What I like best part about SPEEA is the employees have some kind of recourse when the company doesn’t follow its policies and procedures – employees wouldn’t have that otherwise.”
Matthew Joyce, Midwest Council treasurer
Systems Design engineer (Wichita)

Matthew Joyce, who grew up in Manhattan, Kansas, goes to new-hire orientation to talk about SPEEA. He starts by pointing to the SPEEA-Spirit collective bargaining agreement which states the company has the right to grant more favorable terms. “When managers have bad news, they usually try to blame the union or the contract. When they tell you this, point to section 2.1(b) as stated above.”


“As a union, we are powerful, as an individual, you can be stepped on... The idea is to know your rights. Once I found out my rights, I took action.”

Sandra Hastings, SPEEA Council secretary
Quality Technician in the Flammability Lab (Everett)

Sandra Hastings was born in Spokane, Wash., but grew up all over the world, including France, Morocco and Australia, because her father served in the Air Force. “My father always told me to join the military or the union – because they’re all family.” She received the Washington State Labor Council Elsie Schrader award for her leadership and activism on behalf of women in the labor movement.

Northwest Council

“What I’ve learned from SPEEA is that activism is all about the conversation. As long as people are talking, there’s a fighting chance for bringing people around to correct point of view.”

Tony Hickerson, Northwest Council chair
Tech designer (Kent)

Tony Hickerson, who grew up in Washington, D.C., served in the military prior to working at The Boeing Company. He remembers when he came into the SPEEA Tech bargaining unit, members gave him a SPEEA cup, a pocket protector, a SPEEA pin and a sense of belonging. “They came around me and said: Now, you’re one of us. What I got was invaluable. That team was like the Army team that I truly missed. Someone’s got my back.”


“What I’ve learned (as a Council Rep) has helped me become a better leader. I try to be better at communicating with people in my district, from members to managers, VPs, directors and Human Resources. I try to help them see that what we’re doing is important.”

Orlando De Los Santos, NW Council treasurer
Cabin Systems, Interior Furnishing Equipment (IFE) Tech (Renton)

Orlando De Los Santos, who grew up in Milwaukee, recalls walking the picket line when he was 10 years old – with his father, a shop steward at a foundry. “My dad had me fetch wood for the burn barrel,” he said, adding SPEEA’s burn barrels were much more high-tech.



“The most important thing to me (about being a Council Rep) is helping someone out. When the whole world feels against you, you’re not alone in this.”

James Raskob, NW Council secretary
Mechanical Systems Design and Analysis engineer – KC46 (Developmental Center/Seattle)

James Raskob, who grew up in Winchester, Mass., recalls his first interaction with a Council Rep during the 2012 contract negotiations. “That’s when my SPEEA desk tent was stolen. I asked my Council Rep if it was OK to have it.” When he found out the desk tents are protected free speech under federal labor law, he put up more.

Midwest Council

“Almost all professions are represented by some kind of union. They include rocket scientists, NASA, pilots, doctors, attorneys, engineers, and the list just keeps going on. Unions have made the middle-class. We have to keep the unions to save the middle-class in America.”

Mark Gayer, Midwest Council chair
Investment Recovery Property Management Specialist (Wichita)

Mark Gayer,
who grew up in Rose Hill, Kansas, has a master’s in business administration but didn’t know much about white-collar unions before joining SPEEA. Since then, he’s learned more about labor rights. “The grievance process takes time, but it does work,” he said.



What I like best part about SPEEA is the employees have some kind of recourse when the company doesn’t follow its policies and procedures – employees wouldn’t have that otherwise.”

Matthew Joyce, Midwest Council treasurer
Systems Design engineer (Wichita)

Matthew Joyce, who grew up in Manhattan, Kansas, goes to new-hire orientation to talk about SPEEA. He starts by pointing to the SPEEA-Spirit collective bargaining agreement which states the company has the right to grant more favorable terms. “When managers have bad news, they usually try to blame the union or the contract. When they tell you this, point to section 2.1(b) as stated above.”


“Some really believe office people don’t need a union. They might think they can just plead their case. But when the company starts managing you by ‘policy,’ you’re just one person. With a union, you’re part of thousands.”

Emily Forest, Midwest Council secretary
Supplier quality representative (Wichita)

Emily Forest, who grew up in Wellington, Kansas, appreciates being able to help people in her role as Council Rep. She calls that the ‘best part’ of SPEEA. She puts her master’s in conflict management, dispute resolution and negotiations, to use every day – in her work and in helping people who for whatever reason need to talk to someone. “It’s the ability to empower people.”