It seems an inconsequential development in the grand scheme of things; a week’s vacation time lost to a young custodian working in the Farmingdale school district. But a revision in that school district’s contract that reduced vacation time for people working there was what motivated Nick LaMorte to become a CSEA activist.
“I wasn’t too happy when I found out our vacation allowance was cut by a full week,” recalled LaMorte. “I didn’t think there was much I could do about it at first, but then one of my colleagues suggested greater union involvement might provide some recourse.”
LaMorte took that suggestion to heart and began the journey that led him to his present post as CSEA Long Island Region President, where he is charged with ensuring that the rights of members are maintained and their work receives its due respect, mediating disputes of every kind and advocating for the membership to governmental officials and community leaders in both Nassau and Suffolk county.
He negotiated his first labor contract as chairman of the Farmingdale School District custodial unit negotiating committee in the early seventies and worked his way up the civil service ladder on the job and in the union ranks, eventually becoming Nassau Educational Local 865 Vice President and representing workers in 26 school districts. LaMorte was elected president of that local in the mid-eighties and served two terms.
In the late eighties, he was named chair of the Special Statewide School Committee, representing the interests of 35,000 school district employees. LaMorte ran for president of the Long Island Region a couple of years later but lost a close election race. He threw his hat in the ring again in the next election cycle and this time was elected Long Island Region President.
LaMorte has been re-elected several times since then and is currently in his seventh term.
He has repeatedly reached out to help the community during his tenure. As a member of the Long Island United Way he has served as co-chair for the State Employees Federated Appeal, an annual fund raiser to benefit the needy in Nassau and Suffolk, and is currently the State SEFA Council Chair. He also serves on the board of the Suffolk Child Care Council, as well as the Suffolk County Girl Scouts.
LaMorte serves on the board of the Long Island Federation of Labor, which named him labor leader of the year in 1995. He was on the New York State Executive Board of the AFL-CIO and continues to serve on many town labor advisory boards. In addition, the Long Island Progressive Coalition presented LaMorte the Paul Gutierrez Award for Contributions to Human Dignity. He is a member of the Sons of Italy and received the highest NYS award. The Golden Lion recently named him Grand Marshal of the Columbus Day Parade in the Town of Huntington.
LaMorte has been named by the Long Island Press to their Power List and became the first man honored by the advocacy group Women on the Job, in recognition of his many years of dedication to the principle and practice of equality in the workplace and equal pay for equal work. Dedicated to promoting justice, diversity and respect in the work place, he was awarded by the Suffolk County Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission for public service. He is a proud graduate of Hofstra University, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in secondary education with a major in biology, and an alumnus of the Harvard Trade Union Program.
But LaMorte does not want his office full of awards, citations and certificates to define him. He describes himself instead as “a custodian from Farmingdale who fights hard to defend and advance the rights of ordinary working people.”
CSEA represents workers who provide essential public services to just about every community in Nassau and Suffolk, as well as many school districts and libraries there. The union has more than a quarter million members in New York State and better than 50,000 on Long Island.
Nick and his wife Carolyn have four successful children and five grandchildren. You might even catch Nick on his “Harley” traveling to and from membership meetings! He is now a staunch advocate for motorcycle awareness.