With district elections approaching, it is worth noting how the Utah Public Employees’ Association (UPEA) has evolved since its founding in 1959.
Leonard W. McDonald, a Utah School Employees Retirement System employee, recruited seven other public employees with the intent to create an organization to represent public employees and give them a voice in government so employee benefits could be established. This gro
up met to brainstorm ideas and goals for how the Association would run. On May 13, 1959, they gathered in the Utah Secretary of State’s office to establish UPEA.
In the first couple years after its founding, UPEA membership grew rapidly, and the Association began sponsoring and initiating legislation to create various insurance programs for public employees. To help address UPEA’s rapid growth, the Association in 1962 assigned its Membership Enrollment Committee to create districts. These districts were formed to improve communication between employees outside Salt Lake City, and to create opportunities for members to become involved. Four districts were created, Northern, Central, Eastern, and Southern.
After the formation of districts, UPEA created a statewide Regional Organization Committee to organize the state into regional district chapters and implement a strong board for each of them. In 1964, Dale S. Brown headed the committee of five, and divided the state into seven districts with the approval of the Executive Committee. Boards for each district were created with a chairman and board members, and district headquarters were established. This new organization made it possible for members to meet regularly within the regions and keep up to date on information. The districts increased involvement and created opportunities for members statewide to make proposals to officers encouraging a strong grassroots organization.
Through the years, UPEA has grown and changed to to adapt to the needs of its members. Today, UPEA is divided into 13 districts based on geographic location or job jurisdictions where there are sufficient numbers of members. Each district has a district board and conducts district meetings to which all members are invited.