Gary Miller, a labor leader and LGBT rights advocate, was honored by the City of Roseville, California, for his 25-year service on two separate school boards – Robla board in North Sacramento for 19 years and Roseville City School Board since 2008.
Miller started his career as a full-time marketing specialist with the Sacramento Employment and Training Agency (SETA). He administered the job-training program that helped high school dropouts and underprivileged residents find and sustain jobs. This is where Miller decided to get involved in public education.
“The children of today are our future leaders,” Miller said. “We need to make sure they have the best education now so they can lead years from now. I do believe education is a lifetime experience. We should always be learning new things.”
First elected to the school boards in 1987, Miller was re-elected seven times, despite the difficulties of running for public office as an openly gay man. He attributes his success to keeping in mind what really matters to voters, “educate children and provide a good working environment for staff.”
Miller helped his co-workers join Local 146 (Council 57), serving as president from 1995 to 2005. Miller successfully gathered enough signatures to form a union at his workplace when his employer – SETA – refused to give employees a cost-of-living adjustment despite an infusion of federal funds. His work helped gain the wage increase they deserved.
Reflecting on the importance of unions, Miller said, “I have always been a strong believer in unions. Without a union it is like the old-fashioned marriage, where the husband made all the decisions about whether the wife would work, how many children to have, where to live, etc. With a union it is like a modern day marriage where the two individuals sit down and make decisions together.”