It takes a special person to dedicate over twenty years to a volunteer position, but for Sean Simmons, it’s been a privilege to serve on the PROTEC17 Executive Board. As he embarks on a new leadership position at the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) that will remove him from the bargaining unit, PROTEC17 has created a leadership award that will honor his name and his contributions to our union in his nearly 30 years as a member.
Simmons began working at WSDOT in 1993, and has served a variety of union leadership roles in that time, including as a Steward, a State negotiations team member, and Chapter officer. He was first elected to the PROTEC17 Executive Board as Secretary-Treasurer in 2002. In 2019, Simmons was elected to the Vice President position.
Having served for may years, Simmons has an invaluable historical knowledge of PROTEC17, and has been a steady and reliable voice – especially during challenging times, like union structure and leadership changes, anti-union Supreme Court rulings, and a global pandemic. In addition to the countless hours served on the Executive Board, he has also been active with the WSDOT Memorial Fund for members killed on the job, and has twice served on the committee tasked with updating the PROTEC17 constitution.
At the Regional Executive Committee (REC) meeting in October, the PROTEC17 Executive Board and REC Delegates honored Simmons’ unwaivering dedication to our union by naming a leadership award in his honor. The ‘Sean Simmons Dedication to Service Award’ will be henceforth given to members who demonstrate the same meritorious qualities of a true union leader.
At the meeting, Executive Director Karen Estevenin introduced the award, saying: “I have relied on Sean’s deep knowledge of our union and history of our Executive Board countless times, and I know our Board all feels the same. He is always kind, compassionate, adds value to the dialogue, and I will miss working with him tremendously.”
In his acceptance speech, Simmons referred to PROTEC17 as part of his family. And while he finds it difficult to leave, he is confident that the Board is in excellent hands.
“It’s been a privilege serving you on the Board for all of these years,” said Simmons. “I’ve seen this organization at its best and its worst. And we’ve always come through because of our members and leaders.”
In closing, Estevenin said: “Sean often refers to our union as his union-family, and I’ve always liked that. While we are going in different directions, you always have a home here.”