BRENTWOOD — CSEA Pilgrim Psychiatric Center Housekeeper and local shop steward Greta Glenn was in the middle of performing her assigned duties when a fellow CSEA member ran up to her to ask for her email.

He excitedly explained that he needed her contact information because he had submitted her name for an AFSCME award.

Now, Glenn is the proud recipient of the AFSCME Never Quit Service Award, which recognizes members’ outstanding service to our communities and union.

“I used to help with union activities whenever I could,” said Glenn. “One day, an officer asked me to be a shop steward because he saw that I was already giving out information to members and doing other shop steward duties.”

Knowing that some members are unaware of the many CSEA benefits they have access to because of their union membership, Glenn sees the need for a strong shop steward network at every worksite.

“For a long time, I didn’t know about New York State Deferred Compensation [a voluntary retirement savings plan offered by New York State and your employer, to allow public employees to put aside money from each paycheck toward retirement]. It would’ve been great to have someone in my building at the time that could’ve told me about it,” said Glenn. “Had I known it existed, I would have signed up when I started.”

Shop stewards play key roles in passing along important information to members.

“It’s crucial that we keep information flowing, which is the purpose of a shop steward,” said Glenn. “We need strong people that aren’t afraid to speak to management and act as the eyes and ears of our unit and local representatives so we can best represent our members.”

Although not in direct care, Glenn’s ease with people has allowed her to develop relationships with individuals who receive services at the center, who often ask her why she is so nice to them.

To that, Glenn has a simple answer.

“I have seven children and I don’t know where they or I will end up in the future,” said Glenn. “If any of us were to end up in a facility like Pilgrim Psychiatric Center, I would want us to be treated well. Just because you [have a mental illness]doesn’t mean you’re not human.”

Fighting anti-union attacks

Glenn is also using her role to discuss with members a challenge facing our union.

Anti-union organizations like the Freedom Foundation have slithered their way into CSEA members’ homes all over New York state with mailers that spew lies about our union and deny the importance of having a seat at the table with management.

Glenn is not one to fall for false narratives and cautions members against falling into the anti-union trap.

“People come to me saying that if they opt out, they can get [more money],” said Glenn. “I immediately tell them they don’t want to do that. Too many people look at CSEA as taking their money, but everything isn’t about a dollar.”

“Your supervisor doesn’t care that you had an emergency with your children or elder care and you were late because of it,” said Glenn. “Your union will have compassion for you and defend you.”


Across her worksite, Glenn is being congratulated by her colleagues for being honored.

“It feels really good to be recognized, provide some insight on the work we do here at Pilgrim Psychiatric Center and bring some attention to CSEA,” said Glenn. “I want to continue my involvement with CSEA as long as I can. Even after I retire, whenever that may be, I intend to be an active CSEA retiree local member.”

— Wendi Bowie

Above, from left to right, CSEA Pilgrim Psychiatric Center Housekeeper Greta Glenn informs CSEA Pilgrim Psychiatric Center Local Recording Secretary Joy Smith about member concerns.


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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