A Moment in History: Remembering a Past UPEA President

Paul Gillette (May 26, 1938 – July 10, 2019)

Paul Gillette was elected president of the Utah Public Employees’ Association in 1975. In his editorial to members, he called for unity, for “working together to create a better UPEA.” At the time, UPEA was going through some changes; The Association was transitioning from being a “state-only” group to a “public-employee” organization. The Utah State Employees’ Association, as it was previously called, had decided it could be more effective when all public employees had access. This action would allow all employees who worked in the public sector to be represented. Gillette spoke about how UPEA’s progress from serving as a social organization to becoming an  “effective employee [representative].” While a few members criticized this change, Gillette implored members to accept the expanded role of advocating for themselves and their jobs. “We are more oriented today in pursuing salary adjustments and other fringe benefits than in the past where the social aspects of the organization seemed more important.”

During his year as president, Gillette saw an increase of members from across Utah. Many joined from Brigham City, Logan, and Salt Lake County. During one membership drive in 1975, UPEA gained 506 members. He advocated fiercely for a wage increase for public employees. During the legislative session of 1976, the Legislature approved a 7.8 percent cost-of-living adjustment. UPEA also successfully lobbied to keep the Salary Act intact.

In early July, Gillette passed away at the age of 81. He spent nearly his whole career as an employee of the Department of Water Resources, eventually serving as the deputy director. After retiring, he was selected for the Utah State Retirement Board and eventually became the president. The board built the new PEHP/Retirement building at 500 East and 200 South in Salt Lake City. Gillette loved serving his community and Utah. His dedication to the public sector will always be remembered and we thank him and his family for the service provided to UPEA, its members, and the state of Utah.