Page 6 - Work Force February 2016
P. 6

‘We believe in the fight for CSEA: for our members’
Don Lynskey, president of the CSEA Central Region Judiciary Local, is a senior court reporter
at the Unified Court System who
is based at the Oneida County Courthouse in Utica.
He received one of CSEA’s
most prestigious awards, the State Government Mission Achievement Award, which CSEA President Danny Donohue presented to Lynskey at the union’s recent Annual Delegates Meeting.
Recently, The Work Force sat down with him to ask his thoughts about being a union activist.
The Work Force (WF): What challenge do you face having such a large local?
Don Lynskey (DL): Our local comprises 20 counties (the entire CSEA Central Region). Some of our challenges are geographic, obviously – we reach from the Canadian border down to the Pennsylvania border.
We’ve found ways to address those challenges because I think one of the most important things for an activist is communication with the members. We’ve developed a couple ofmethods to reach all of our members including emails, a 1-800 number, websites, and face-to-face communication at dinner meetings, luncheons and so forth.
WF: What is a typical day in the life of a union activist like?
DL: On a typical day, in our local anyway, one of the very first things
I do in the morning is check my text messages. We have various shifts
of security that come in before the rest of the work force, and they
often experience issues early in the morning. From that first cup of coffee in the morning, I’m checking text messages and answering emails.
On a typical day, I’ll get dozens of emails and dozens of phone calls, at all hours of the day. Part of being a good union representative is availability – I need to be able to
answer those texts and questions, not necessarily giving an immediate answer, but at least letting members know they are being heard.
WF: How did you get started as a union activist?
DL: Back in 1991, our local president at the time asked me to sign on as
a unit 2nd vice president. I enjoyed
it, so I stayed on board, and in 2007, when she retired, I ended up taking the local president position. It’s been very rewarding.
One of the very first challenges that I faced was a member who contacted me indicating that she
had lost the ability to speak, and
she wanted to keep her job. I was able to go through the CSEA Health Benefits Department and work with the insurance companies to bring in the necessar y equipment for her to be able to maintain her employment. That’s very fulfilling to be able to do that for someone. And, that’s just one example. On a daily basis, an activist can help a lot of members.
WF: What motivates you to be a union activist?
DL: The motivation behind being
a good activist, at least for me personally, is being able to help
the members. Making sure that our members are treated fairly, that they get a good contract, a good paycheck and good benefits.
WF: What are some of your biggest challenges?
DL: Getting people involved – they need to help us help them. We’re willing to do as much as we possibly can, but we need the members behind us. So getting the members active is definitely a challenge on a daily basis.
WF: What do you want the members to know about why you do what you do?
DL: I guess the members really should know that this is a volunteer position, and that we do it because we believe in the fight of CSEA: for our members, for our best interests. We enjoy it! If
you’re going to be doing it, you might as well be having a good time while you’re doing it. It’s been nice because through CSEA we’ve made a lot of very close friends and accomplished a lot of great things not only for our members, but for the community as a whole.
WF: What makes a good activist? DL: I think one of the most important
things for a local president, or any union officer, is communication; and, not just communicating, but being accessible and available. Sometimes that can be a little trying on one’s personal life, but it’s important to the members, so whether it’s a weekend or late at night, I get back to people.
WF: How does being a union activist make you feel?
DL: The bottom line is, I really enjoy what I do. I enjoy interacting with
the members, for the most part, and
I enjoy the camaraderie in CSEA and helping people out – it makes me feel good – and that’s the bottom line.
— Mark M. Kotzin
 6 The Work Force
February 2016

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