Steve Skidmore with his United Way Joseph H. Mason Award. (Photo by the United Way of Southern Chautauqua County.)

JAMESTOWN — Now and then, good work gets noticed — and it recently happened to one of CSEA’s own union members.

CSEA Chautauqua County Unit President Steve Skidmore has been named the 2020 recipient of the United Way of Southern Chautauqua County’s Joseph H. Mason Award.

The award honors a member or staff person from the organized labor community who makes outstanding social contributions through volunteer service. Prior recipients play an active role in selecting each recipient.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s selection process presented challenges, including holding virtual meetings via Zoom. The award ceremony was held October 7.

Mason, who was the directing business representative of IAM District 65, was nationally known for serving as the first co-chair of the labor-management committee, a locally initiated revolutionary approach to labor relations. He was also a longtime member of the United Way Board of Directors. After Mason’s passing, the United Way Board of Directors created the award in recognition of labor’s critical contribution to the success of the United Way.

“Steve honors the Mason family legacy in many ways, and the United Way of Southern Chautauqua County is pleased to name him as the 2020 Joseph H. Mason Award winner,” said Amy Rohler, executive director, United Way of Southern Chautauqua County. “With the event limited to 50 persons, we were pressured to keep it small, but it was a terrific event nonetheless.”

Skidmore, who is employed in Chautauqua County Public Facilities Department, said by virtue of members electing him as a CSEA officer, it has given him the mobility and opportunity to give back.

“I have seen firsthand how volunteering and stepping up creates stronger bonds between co-workers, unionists, friends and family,” said Skidmore. “By building better connections and more powerful attachments to the people in your community, the benefits and rewards naturally follow. If you feel the need for deeper connections with your co-workers or the people in your community, try volunteering. It’s good for your soul.”

In addition to his extensive involvement with CSEA and the labor community, Skidmore volunteers for many neighborhood organizations as well.

Skidmore’s early volunteer activities in the community include being a volunteer softball and soccer coach and a treasurer for the East Randolph Fire Department. He is also very active in the Elks Club, which includes volunteering to work at an annual holiday party for more 300 clients of ASPIRE and The Resource Center. He has volunteered at the Special Olympics Flag Days through the Elks Club, as well volunteering for several activities involving veterans’ groups. Skidmore’s family also serves as a host family for Babe Ruth World Series.

He is a past recipient of the Jamestown Labor Council’s George Ritzer Award. Skidmore has also served as the longtime treasurer of the Jamestown Labor Council. Before becoming a CSEA member working for Chautauqua County, Skidmore had been an organizer and the president of District 65 International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, as well as the president of Local IAM 2111.

— Ove Overmyer

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About Author

Ove Overmyer is an award winning photojournalist and writer who has promoted the virtue of working people and the value of public service throughout his career. His work has been published by many well-respected international media outlets, including PBS Moyers & Co., Steward Update UCS Worker Institute Cornell ILR, CBS News, The Weather Channel, SCI-FY Channel, Associated Press and LOGO-TV. Before joining the CSEA Communications Department staff in 2015, Overmyer was a CSEA member employed by the City of Rochester and an officer of the union for more than 18 years. He covers a 14 county area of Western New York and lives in Rochester, NY.

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