LAKE PLACID — John LeFebvre links a strong union to strong workplace safety and health protections.
That is why he not only works tirelessly to engage our members on safety and health issues, but provides potentially lifesaving peer training to workers.
LeFebvre, a longtime state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) employee and president of our High Peaks State Employees Local, was recently honored with our union’s William L. McGowan Award for Occupational Safety and Health, which was presented before nearly 1,000 attendees at our recent Statewide Conference on Occupational Safety and Health.
Since LeFebvre became a Peer Trainer in 2009, he has become known throughout our union as one of the strongest safety advocates with a dual mission — to raise awareness and take precise action when needed.
He is credited with playing a key role in equipping DEC employees throughout the state with tick keys and has presented as a CSEA Peer Trainer numerous workshops on tree care safety, a leading cause of accidents, injury and death. LeFebvre led a tree care safety workshop at the recent conference.
A dedicated unionist, LeFebvre has served on several CSEA committees, including the Standing Occupational Safety and Health, Article 15 and the DEC Statewide Labor/Management committees. LeFebvre also chairs our Capital Region Occupational Safety and Health Committee.
“This award is an inspiration,” LeFebvre said while accepting the award. “The Peer Trainer program does so much. When I look back on the history of our union, I think back to my contract when I first started. It was a pamphlet. Today, it’s almost a book. We have to think about all that we have, not because management gave it to us, but because we fought for it. What we have today is fought for and earned. We have to remember that.”
During the conference, LeFebvre and other presenters pointed to data that proves that by large margins, unionized workplaces across the country have fewer injuries and deaths than non-union workplaces.
“It’s important to think about these things and how our dues equate with things such as benefits, sick leave, vacation leave, personal time, holiday pay, health insurance,” LeFebvre said. “How much are these things worth? I totaled it all up, and I can tell you it’s a pretty good return on your investment!”
“How many of the things we take for granted have come from labor unions, including pensions, unemployment insurance, health care coverage and safety and health, which are so important? All of these things are priceless,” he said. “When we act as one, we have immense power.”
— Therese Assalian