Page 14 - Work Force May 2020
P. 14

Welcome our new CSEA Region Presidents
Jerry Laricchiuta, Long Island Region President
Lester Crockett, Metropolitan Region President
Long Island Region
President Jerry
Laricchiuta has been
a staunch advocate
for working class
people since he
began his activist
career in 1995 as a shop steward.
Since then, Laricchiuta has earned his political stripes by serving as the CSEA Long Island Region’s Executive Vice President, Nassau County
Local President, Co-Chair of the CSEA Statewide Judicial Committee and other positions. Along the way, he has received numerous honors for his unionism, including CSEA’s Mission Achievement Award.
As he begins his largest role to date, Laricchiuta is looking forward to rolling up his proverbial sleeves and continuing his long history of activism.
Perhaps one of Laricchiuta’s biggest accomplishments is helping lead efforts against privatization
at the Nassau County Correctional Center, where he worked as a cook. Aramark Corporation, a private sector supplier of food services, facilities and uniforms, was planning to take over the food services at the jail.
“The unit board and I started working with [Nassau County] legislators and we got them [legislators] to agree to two
things,” said Laricchiuta. “They [legislators] agreed that they
would never privatize the jail and
we got legislation that says New
York prisons, jails and support staff positions can never be privatized. We won, we beat the big guys.”
The Aramark victory is a legacy that Laricchiuta plans to continue in his role as Long Island Region President. Recognizing the magnitude of his new position, Laricchiuta is looking forward to learning more about his role.
“I know that being a region president is very different from being a local president,” said Laricchiuta.
“I plan on learning my new role and learning it fast, while I keep a watchful eye on local government, which is difficult because in this case, our members are working for an entity and not a person. Our members need someone who is strong who will work for them and advocate for them.”
As far as his leadership style, Laricchiuta believes in collaboration.
“It doesn’t matter what your position is — you always have to treat people with respect,” said Laricchiuta. “If you want people to be your partner and work with you, you can’t think of yourself as being above them.”
After more than two decades since he became an activist, Laricchiuta has used the knowledge he has gained to become a more aggressive activist.
“When you have experience,
you can start ‘playing chess,’”
said Laricchiuta. “Just by having a conversation with someone, I can clearly see what they’re planning and I can prepare myself for what they’ll do three moves ahead.”
Laricchiuta want members to know that although he is financially comfortable now, he remembers what it was like when he wasn’t.
“No one can tell me that I don’t understand financial instability,” said Laricchiuta. “My father passed away when I was 17, leaving my mother with me and my five siblings to raise.”
His personal experiences have strengthened his commitment to helping those in need.
“I know what it’s like to go without,” said Laricchiuta.
“That’s why I care so much about people who are struggling. My life experience is why I’m so passionate about advocating for our members who need these jobs. People’s families depend on their union salaries, and benefits, and I will fight for them until the death.”
— Wendi Bowie
MANHATTAN — CSEA Metropolitan Region members recently re-elected Lester Crockett unopposed as our union’s Metropolitan Region President.
“I am honored that the members had confidence in me and I was re- elected, but I am more concerned about the well-being of our members, especially those who are out on
the frontlines and are essential and fighting for us every day,” Crockett said.
Crockett is referring to hundreds of members working in facilities throughout the region during
this unprecedented coronavirus pandemic. He also expressed his condolences for those members who have died or lost someone in their families or workplace.
“I offer them my prayers for strength and peace and also offer my praise and respect for their work and contributions to our union family,” said Crockett.
Fully aware that health care crisis will lead to a financial crisis, Crockett maintained that we need to fight just as hard to make sure today’s heroes don’t become tomorrow’s targets.
“Our members have gone above and beyond the call of duty during this pandemic,” Crockett said. “Let’s make sure their hard work and sacrifice is not betrayed by budget cuts, layoffs and austerity measures.”
One of five children, Crockett grew up during some of the most tumultuous days of court-ordered desegregation in the mid-1960s.
A hard worker since age 10, Crockett bought his own Mr. Softee Ice Cream truck at age 24. But don’t ever make the mistake of calling Crockett a Mr. Softee. Crockett, who grew up in Brooklyn, has always had the tenacity and conviction to not only survive, but thrive.
“That was one of the important trials of my life,” Crockett said. “The transformation from attending an all African American school to a school
that was predominantly white.” Yet, that is where he relished
the opportunity to learn about and befriend different groups of people. He graduated from Midwood High School and enrolled at Borough of Manhattan Community College, but not before experiencing another life- changing moment.
Just days after his 17th birthday, and just moments after speaking briefly to a good friend, the same friend died in a violent gang fight. For Crockett, his friend’s murder cemented his decision to continue his education.
“I never cried so hard in my life.
I held myself responsible because
I failed to take the time to really listen to the pain my friend was experiencing,” said Crockett. “From that point on until today, I make it a point to listen to people. I also made it a point to speak about positive things.”
Looking at the next years, Crockett shared that, “One of my main goal is to unify the locals within the region and continue to educate our leaders who can in turn then educate the members about how important it is to be a part of our union.”
Over the years, Crockett has served on numerous boards and committees, including the Board of Directors, and statewide committees, including Charter, Constitution and Bylaws and as a trustee of Political Action Fund.
He also served as the Metropolitan Region’s Executive Vice President
for five terms before he was elected Region President.
“We have to continue to work with our statewide leadership to direct
us in the areas that we need to grow and also give voice to the serious issues that we face downstate,” said Crockett.
“We took some tremendous losses in leadership in our region and in our communities and families,” said Crockett, referring to the pandemic. “It’s going to take us a long time to recover from this.”
— David Galarza
  14 The Work Force
May 2020

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