CSEA NUMC Unit officers discuss the agenda for the unit’s next Member Engagement Day. From left to right, CSEA NUMC Executive Vice President Shakira Settles, CSEA NUMC 3rd Vice President Michael Gornetzki, CSEA NUMC Treasurer Diane Atkinson and CSEA NUMC Unit President Antonia Gavan.

EAST MEADOW — CSEA Nassau University Medical Center (NUMC) Unit members are building solidarity at their worksite through one member engagement event at a time.

Unit officers saw the need to increase communication after receiving a few member complaints about not receiving enough union updates.

In response, unit officers created Facebook and Instagram pages, on which they post unit updates as well as a weekly flyer, which unit officers distribute every Friday.

“We stand outside the hospital employee entrance and hand the flyers to members as they come into work,” said CSEA Nassau University Medical Center Unit Executive Vice President Shakira Settles. “We come in contact with 500 to 700 members that way.”

The unit also started holding Cafeteria Day, which was eventually renamed Member Engagement Day.

“I was having a conversation with Jerry [Laricchiuta] (then CSEA Nassau County Local President and current CSEA Long Island Region President) about leaving the office and going out to speak to the members, which Jerry always encouraged us to do,” said Settles. “One day, we brought cookies to members in the cafeteria and members started coming up to us and asking us questions. That’s when we decided to start visiting members in the cafeteria more often.”

Because the hospital is a 24-hour facility, unit representatives also plan to hold events for night shift workers.

CSEA NUMC Unit officers pack CSEA cookies the officers had made for CSEA Member Appreciation Day. From left to right, CSEA NUMC Unit Treasurer Diane Atkinson, Unit 3rd Vice President Michael Gornetzki and CSEA NUMC Unit Executive Vice President Shakira Settles.

During the monthly event, unit officers set up a table with giveaways, informational flyers and even a spin-the-wheel game for union members. In that game, members would spin the wheel and must correctly answer the CSEA-related question listed on the wedge on which the wheel stops. If they are correct, the member wins a prize.

The game affords participants and observers the opportunity to ask questions about related topics and offer feedback.

Unit representatives understand the importance of the availability of office hours to members in need of council, so officers open the unit office at 6:30 a.m. to cover the overnight and morning staff. They are in the process of implementing evening hours to make themselves available to the overnight shift.

“We don’t close for lunch,” said Settles. “When we’re here, we’re here.”

Settles, who was recently featured in a Public Service Spotlight video to urge people to pursue public-sector careers, noted in the video that she mentors younger co-workers on the benefits of being union. Unit officers have been inspired to build on member engagement in their unit by watching members’ outstanding efforts.

“We’re really proud of the work that CSEA members in our unit do every day,” said Settles. “They do the best they can with whatever they are given and that makes us want to do more for them.”

— 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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