Meet Chapter 502 President Lt. Coopwood

Posted: 8/16/2013 Tags: election membership Tags Views: 2017 Print:

ACSS recently chatted via email with newly appointed Chapter 502 President Lieutenant Coopwood about his concerns about the future for state supervisors, the challenges of state hiring practices, running one of ACSS' geographically largest chapters, and more.

When did you start working for the state?
I’ve been employed with the state of California for over 18 years now. I switched from working at McClellan A.F.B as an Aircraft Electrician to work for DCA (Department of Consumer Affairs) I.T. (Internet Technology) division. I wasn’t able to put my college computer degree into practice at McClellan, hence the reason for the switch. I also gained a lot of management skills while in the Air Force for 33 years.

Why do you continue work for the state?
As a state worker, there are multiple opportunities to work your way into a career path that coincides with a person’s field of study. Although Consumer Affairs has proven to be a place where opportunity abounds and I’ve not needed to move around outside of the department to gain work experience I sought.  

What's the biggest challenge/obstacle you face as a supervisor?
The biggest challenge I’ve faced as a supervisor is the inability to quickly hire good I.T. candidates. That’s mostly due to the lengthy time it takes for our department to go through the hiring process. It can take between 3 – 6 months and sometimes even longer. So of course we often end up losing our top choices because other departments get them before we can make an offer.

What are the challenges in running one of the largest geographic chapters in the state?
One of the biggest challenges in running Chapter 502 that is so spread out across the state is that I can’t reach those members and potential members that are in the more remote regions. So I’m planning on contacting current members that are in those locations and encouraging them to pull other potential members onto conference calls. I’m going to have to rely heavily on technology to keep those members in the loop. Holding meetings at worksites where they can all gather to discuss their concerns might be an option. So rather than one meeting for all, I might have to have 2 or 3 different meetings at remote locations.

What are your plans for the chapter in the next three years?
As of now my immediate plans for the chapter are simple: Build an officer base and let the current members know I’m here for them and I need their assistance. I can’t make the chapter effective by my efforts alone. Just as ACSS President [Arlene Espinoza] needs the Chapter Presidents’ help, so do I need my members’ help. My long term plan is to build smaller subgroups with leaders of those groups, who then meet with me and my officers to pass on their needs and concerns. I then will make sure their input reaches the ears of our president and eventually, our state elected officials. It might seem that I have a simplistic view of the process but I’ve learned to keep the message simple, that way it reaches its destination faster.

Why did you join ACSS?
I joined because SEIU grandfathered me into ACSS when I promoted. In all honesty, I was a reluctant member of SEIU but once I was moved into ACSS, I got curious and wanted to see what this supervisors’ organization was all about. I’ve since learned the crucial role ACSS plays in fighting for supervisors’ and managers’ rights. We need a voice – one voice – in order to be heard at the Capitol.

Why did you get involved in a leadership role with ACSS?
In the military I’ve always been in a leadership role of some form or fashion. So it’s only natural for me to gravitate to leadership in ACSS. I’ve also learned that there’s a time to be silent and a time to stand up and speak. Now more than ever, supervisors need to stand up and make themselves heard.

What's the best ACSS event you've attended?
I would say the most beneficial event by far was Lobby Day. It was a big eye opener to get an insight on just how state government works. The lesson learned there is “The squeaking wheel gets the most grease.” You aint squeaking, don’t expect to get legislators’ attention. Other groups squeak loudly, often, and do get noticed. So even if you don’t want to get overly involved with ACSS, just your presence at Lobby Day is enough to make an impact.

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