Team effort helps build new leaders


SYOSSET — Strong local and unit leadership is essential to keeping our union strong, which is why a local or unit being in administratorship is cause for concern. 

When a CSEA local or unit has no president and treasurer, it is considered to be in administratorship. While it’s ideal for all elected board positions to be filled, the president and treasurer positions are mandatory. Other elected CSEA officers and labor relations specialists oversee day-to-day tasks such as managing finances and grievances.

CSEA Long Island Region President Jerry Laricchiuta speaks to SUNY Farmingdale members at a 2022 membership meeting.

When CSEA Long Island Region 1st Vice President and Town of Oyster Bay Local President Jarvis Brown discovered there were almost 40 locals and units in administratorship in the region, he immediately consulted CSEA Long Island Region President Jerry Laricchiuta to address the issue. Laricchiuta entrusted Brown with the lofty task of getting groups out of administratorship.

“I attribute the number of worksites in administratorship to the large turnaround in unit and local leadership,” said Brown. “Sometimes, when a new board takes office, there isn’t a proper transition of power. If a new group hasn’t been advised on how to address certain issues or what to expect, they aren’t prepared for the immense responsibility of union leadership so they drop out.”

Brown, along with Laricchiuta and Town of Oyster Bay Local Executive Board members, have been working hard to strengthen our union by recruiting new leaders and sharing their knowledge to help them succeed as activists.

Building our union’s presence


Brown begins his work by holding a membership meeting, at which he discusses with members the details of administrators, as well as his role in helping build CSEA’s presence at the worksite. 

Brown starts that process by recognizing the most vocal members at the membership meetings, or members who ask informed questions and would be ideal for a potential leadership position. Sometimes, members volunteer for a local or unit board seat.

When his schedule permits, Laricchiuta joins Brown and the labor relations specialist at meetings. He has also been clearing time to address local and unit administration on members’ behalf. 

Also playing an active role are CSEA Town of Oyster Bay Local Executive Board members, who help with conducting research, providing administrative support and assisting members.


“We explain the set procedures that we have in our local that work for us, step by step,” said CSEA Town of Oyster Bay Local 1st Vice President Salvatore Cecere. “That’s very helpful to members who aren’t knowledgeable about workers’ rights.”

CSEA Town of Oyster Bay Local Executive Vice President Guadalupe Johnson describes the way the group functions as being like a sports team.


“It’s like Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors,” said Johnson, referring to the star National Basketball Association player and his team. “Because of all the time they put in working together, they don’t even have to look at each other to successfully complete a pass.”

“That’s exactly how we work,” said Johnson. “We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. We can sense when our individual expertise is needed, which eliminates any hindrances that may get in the way of our success as a team.”

Veteran officers provide guidance 

Town of Oyster Bay Local officers members provide new activists with materials to guide them as they build a union.

At Brown’s suggestion, CSEA Town of Oyster Bay Local Treasurer Kathy Law created a treasurers’ guide that details how to keep accurate books. 


“If a local or unit is in administratorship, a lot of times, the books have been sitting idle for years,” said Law. “New treasurers come in afraid because they don’t know where to start. Having a reference guide and the assistance of an experienced treasurer helps to ease their anxiety about the situation. After you explain the job to them, they can see that it’s really not that hard.”

Brown is adamant about our union educating members about their rights, as knowledge builds power. Education also helps build our union strong well into the future.

“If a leader keeps members uneducated because they’re afraid they will be challenged one day, shame on them,” said Brown. “That’s keeping our union stagnant and members ill-equipped to face the challenges ahead of us. Not being educated is what put CSEA in the situation that we’re in – too many members that don’t want to participate in their own fate.” 

A success story

In one case, Town of Oyster Bay Local officers recently helped the Valley Stream Central School District Full-time and Part-time Unit get out of adminstratorship. 

During that meeting, Brown gave an empowering address to unit members, telling them they could be successful activists. 

After their first meeting with Brown, seven unit members volunteered for leadership positions. 

Many members were intersted in being more involved in our union, which led to the unit holding an election.

Brown also reminds members that their involvement in CSEA activities is key to a successful local or unit. 

“If I speak at a town board meeting on your behalf and I turn around and no one is behind me, how strong do I look to a supervisor?” said Brown. “Now, if I turn around and the place is packed with members, then I look strong because I have the workforce behind me.”

Their ability to empower members is why Town of Oyster Bay Local officers have been receiving requests for help from CSEA locals and units around the state. 

“What really helps turn people around is our ability to relate to their problems,” said Johnson. “When they know that you’ve been through it or helped someone else that has, they can see some light at the end of the tunnel.”

— Wendi Bowie


About Author

Wendi Bowie is an award-winning journalist who has focused the majority of her career on covering Long Island news. Her efforts have earned her the Press Club of Long Island Media Award for Public Affairs and the Long Island Coalition for Fair Broadcasting Folio Award. Wendi was drawn to her current position as Communications Specialist for CSEA’s Long Island Region because it speaks to her strong desire to champion the rights of the common man and woman.

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