Author Archives for Utah Public Employees

Public Employee Salute Winners and Luncheon

The Utah Public Employees’ Association (UPEA) is proud to participate in the Public Employee Salute Program.  The idea for the program began in 1999, when a past UPEA executive director noticed that KSL Radio had a special segment to recognize Utah teachers.  The segment is commonly known as the “Teacher Feature.”  However, there was no feature recognizing Utah’s public employees.  The following year, the UPEA and Mountain America Credit Union Public Employee Salute program began.

The Public Employee Salute Recognition Luncheon was held at the UPEA office on Oct. 2. Salute recipients represented various state and county agencies and traveled from around the state to attend the event. UPEA is grateful for the continued support of Mountain America Credit Union to recognize Utah’s public employees.

The following individuals have been nominated and recognized with the Public Employee Salute:


Kendall Black

Kendall Black is a caseworker with the Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS). She is compassionate, thoughtful, and a helpful coworker and caseworker. She gives her clients 100% of her efforts while also doing the same for her coworkers. She is always willing to cover visits for coworkers and offers helpful stories regarding her experience in the field. She has a heart of gold and it shows in her work.


Elitza Pitones

Elitza Pitones is a hardworking caseworker with DCFS. She desires to help others in need, and consistently goes above and beyond. She maintains her compassion despite all the difficulties she faces. Pitones is committed to the parents, children, and foster parents working with DCFS.


Mylitta Barrett

Mylitta Barrett is currently a data scientist with the Office of Inspector General over Medicaid. She previously worked for the Department of Health and the Department of Energy and has worked for the state for a total of 26 years. She is known for doing a great job pulling data request for the OIG and helping others understand the complexity of Medicaid data.


Justin Seely

Justin Seely is a program coordinator for Juvenile Justice Services. He has worked for the state for 19 years and is one of those people who always go above and beyond. He works extremely hard making sure everyone knows how to do the BMS. He is a caring person who is always there for his employees.



Cindy Nielson

Cindy Nielson is a Living Skills Workshop supervisor for the Utah State Development Center. She has an amazing attitude and is always willing to help wherever is needed. She goes above and beyond her assigned duties and is always willing to rearrange her schedule when something comes up and staffers need assistance. Her positive attitude and willingness to listen are appreciated by all.


Tammy Knight

Tammy Knight is a senior business analyst for the Office of Recovery Services. She has been a state employee for more than 20 years and continues to give 110% to her work duties. She is a dedicated employee who treats everyone with kindness and respect. Knight also serves as a notary public for customers, assisting them in completing required documentation so they may receive the agency services they need.


Marjorie Rasmussen 

Marjorie Rasmussen is a Region 2 East traffic engineer for the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT). She really cares about people and works tirelessly to keep Utah moving safely. She is always willing to explain the conclusions that UDOT has reached about certain issues.


Rachel Black 

Rachel Black is an environmental health scientist for the Salt Lake County Health Department. She is very dedicated to protecting the public’s health and is part of the food-borne illness team. She is appreciated by her coworkers and is a valued asset to the Health Department.



Gary Cox

Gary Cox is a supervisor for the UDOT Motor Carrier Division. He gives everyone he meets the opportunity to express themselves and their ideas without interruption, acknowledging where they can excel in the workplace. He works side by side with his employees, encouraging teamwork and leading by example. Cox takes UDOT’s mission to heart.


Luke Prinz

Luke Prinz is a very dedicated employee of the Salt Lake County Health Department. As an environmental health scientist, Prinz works hard to protect public health and is the mobile unit coordinator. He is always willing to help his coworkers and is very supportive. He is a great asset to the Health Department.


Stephanie Lupeamanu
Stephanie Lupeamanu is the supervisor for the Gemstone Girls Program for Juvenile Justice Services. She  has helped create a team that works together; she uses her education and leadership skills to help problem solve and create results for the population served.


Jay Dominguez
Jay Dominguez is a qualified intellectual disabilities professional with the Utah State Developmental Center. He is an excellent example for those he works with and always gives his full attention. He is often the disc jockey during special events, playing favorite songs, and he is willing to step in and help.


UPEA wants to congratulate all of our Public Employee Salute honorees and thank them for their extraordinary work for the state of Utah. The Public Employee Salute is an ongoing program UPEA is proud to be a part of. Please nominate any coworkers who you believe deserve recognition for their hard work.


A Message From UPEA President, Deb McBride

Hello Everyone.

A long time ago, a very wise man asked me how I could not pay attention to what the Legislature was doing.  He pointed out that because I was a state employee, lawmakers controlled my salary, retirement benefits, the amount and kind of paid leave I could receive, and even the hours and location of my employment.  Thinking about the control they have over my life made me pay attention.  I decided then and there I’d better pay attention!  We all have stories of how and why we joined the Utah Public Employees’ Association (UPEA).  I can truthfully say it was the best thing I could have done.

Now it’s that time of year for campaigns, debates, and elections.  UPEA’s legislative committee has its list of approved issues for us to work toward.  UPEA’s focus is solely on what benefits public employees.

It’s time to check the voting records of your legislators to see if they are public-employee friendly.  Listen to what they say, how they say it, and ask whether they represent their constituents.   When UPEA endorses candidates, it’s because they respect and support the employees that keep the state, county, and city governments running smoothly.

Get involved and vote.  Let’s make a difference!





UPEA Presents “P.E.P. Squad” a Podcast for Public Employees

Over the past few weeks, Utah Public Employees’ Association (UPEA) staffers have been discussing how best to deliver important UPEA information to members in an efficient, new way. Their solution? The new P.E.P Squad podcast. (P.E.P. stands for Public Employees’ Podcast.)

Listen to the podcast to hear legislative updates and interviews with legislators, representatives from URS, PEHP, and others. During the 2020 Legislature, the podcast will offer a behind-the-scenes look at which bills are being deliberated, and how they might affect you. It also will share other tidbits about the session. The podcast’s goal is to keep you informed, get you involved, and help you learn more about UPEA. You can listen online or download episodes to listen to when you are on the go. Keeping up with UPEA has never been easier!

Do you have ideas about who you would like to hear from? Please reach out with ideas, feedback, and questions. The first episode is on the UPEA’s website – check it out!


New Employee Relations Representative Joins UPEA

Samantha Unruh is the Utah Public Employees’ Association’s (UPEA’s) newest employee relations representative.

Unruh graduated from the University of Utah in May with bachelor’s degrees in international relations and environmental sustainability. Her studies took her to Costa Rica to research conservation biology and to Washington, D.C., to intern with the Bureau of Land Management.

In her free time, she enjoys cooking, crafting, and playing volleyball. Sam is excited to join UPEA and work alongside all of the awesome staffers and members. She looks forward to learning about the political process and using her experience to help advocate for Utah public employees.



Moment in History – 1973: State Employees Receive First Ever COLA

Let’s go back in time to the night of March 8, 1973, the final day of the legislative session. The Utah Public Employees’ Association (UPEA) had been lobbying tirelessly for a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for state employees. To enable passage of a COLA, UPEA presented an amendment to the state’s Appropriations Act and got it passed minutes before the session ended at midnight. An amendment to this act had passed only one other time in the prior 20 years.

Rep. Dallas Buckway of Ogden stated of the amendment, “It is the intent of the Legislature that in implementing the new State Salary Act on July 1, 1973, that all state employees are to receive a cost-of-living adjustment.” UPEA received unanimous support in the House of Representatives for passage of the amendment, but efforts were delayed in the Senate by leaders who refused to bring the bill out of the Senate Sifting Committee. UPEA staffers committed to their lobbying efforts and eventually received the commitment of the Senate to pass the COLA.

UPEA concluded a 60-day “lobbying session” of the Legislature, producing the first-ever COLA. Through the efforts of UPEA staff, Utah’s public employees were granted a 3.3 percent COLA that took effect July 1973.

UPEA staff is already lobbying the Legislature for the upcoming 2020 legislative session. Keep an eye out for employee representatives visiting your worksite, the “P.E.P. Squad” podcast, and informative videos to stay updated on lobbying efforts and how to contact your legislator.




CAPE Committee Seeks 3 New Members

The Utah Public Employees’ Association (UPEA) State Board of Directors is accepting applications for three vacancies on the Citizen Action by Public Employees (CAPE) Committee.  Qualified UPEA members who have served as district or chapter leaders for at least one year are eligible to apply.

Members who fill these positions will serve three-year terms that will expire in December 2022.

The CAPE Committee endorses political candidates and organizes political activities for the Association.

To apply, submit a letter of intent and resumé to:


Attn:  Todd Losser

1000 Bellwood Lane

Murray, UT 84123

or email your information to

Dec. 31 is the deadline to submit a letter of intent and resumé.  The UPEA State Board of Directors will conduct interviews.

Resolutions Sought for 2020 Policy and Platform

The Resolutions Committee is meeting to discuss proposed changes it may include in the 2020 Policy and Platform to be presented at General Council in March 2020.  The committee has issued a call for resolutions to be considered for inclusion in the Policy and Platform.  The following items must be included on each resolution form:

  • Who is submitting the resolution?  Resolutions can be submitted by a district, a committee, or by a group of at least 10 Utah Public Employees’ Association (UPEA) members.  A resolution form should include signatures.
  • Who is the contact person?  The resolution form must include the name and telephone number of an individual who can be contacted with questions.

Resolutions must be submitted, faxed, or postmarked no later than Jan. 2.  The Resolutions Committee will not consider resolutions not received by this date.

Submit resolution forms to Kendle Zdunich at or by mailing them to the following address:


Attn:  Resolutions Committee

1000 Bellwood Lane

Murray, UT  84123-4494