Suffolk Retiree Local President Carmela “Millie” Lucas may be retired, but she will Never Quit fighting for working people and retirees.
For her efforts, she was recently honored with CSEA’s Donald Webster Memorial Mission Achievement Award. The award honors a CSEA Retiree Division Activist whose work advances CSEA retiree issues.
CSEA President Danny Donohue presented the award to Lucas at the recent biennial Retiree Delegates Meeting, “Whenever a member needs (Lucas), she is there,” Donohue said. “She is tough, strong and a terrific activist who has dedicated her life to fighting for our union brothers and sisters.”
“I’m very proud to accept this award,” said Lucas. “I want to thank my mentors, Barbara Allen, Barbara Reynolds and Nick LaMorte, for being a constant source of knowledge and understanding.”
Lucas’ career in CSEA activism began in 1972 when she became a shop steward at Central Islip Psychiatric Center. She “hasn’t looked back since.”
Being compelled to help the underdog came from witnessing huge layoffs at the center. Lucas saw that many of her colleagues were in jeopardy and felt that she had to help them fight to retain their positions.
That was the catalyst that sent Lucas on the long road of union activism, including serving on numerous statewide and Long Island Region committees throughout her career.
Even though she retired in 2005, Lucas remains an activist.
In addition to her role as president of her retiree local, Lucas chairs the region’s Women’s Committee and serves on the region Political Action Committee. Lucas is also an enthusiastic member of the statewide and region PEOPLE committees.
Her involvement in PEOPLE is of particular importance due to her unwavering need to show members how important the program is.
“A lot of members don’t see how this program affects their lives,” said Lucas. “Participating in PEOPLE gives our union more power on the federal, state and local levels.”
Lucas said she stays involved because she believes that all people deserve to be heard and respected. She also believes that just because you’re a retiree doesn’t mean you can’t be involved.
“One of my favorite sayings is that I retired from my job, not from life,” said Lucas. “As long as I can walk and talk, I will back CSEA because I really believe in our union.”
— Wendi Bowie