WEBSTER — At a time when union members are being attacked by corporate interests, criticized by media organizations, taken for granted by neighbors or even having their mere existence being challenged, our members at the Town of Webster are committed to staying union and staying strong.

Our members at the town’s Highway and Sewer departments note that challenges facing our union won’t keep them from delivering on their promise of serving their community with pride and distinction.

First chartered more than 40 years ago, the CSEA Town of Webster union employees have a long and storied past of providing excellent service to the sprawling Ontario lakefront community in northeastern Monroe County.

Our members at the town have been building relationships with each other, management and their community for years, and their success shows.

Since negotiating the first blue-collar contract in 1978, members have enjoyed a respectful relationship with management and have maintained a well-deserved reputation as being one of the finest workforces anywhere. With more than 60 full-time employees between our white collar and blue-collar bargaining units, our members have also managed to maintain a 100 percent membership rate for more than two decades.

CSEA activist Sue Trottier, who logged almost 30 years of employment at the Town of Webster before retiring in 2014, said developing personal relationships with co-workers and town leaders were critical to establishing a healthy workplace and a strong union.

“I can’t remember a time when a highway or sewer employee was not an active card-carrying member,” said Trottier. “We educated new employees about the value of union membership during their first orientation session. We explained that the union [as a whole]was more important than our individual selves; that to have a safe workplace and negotiate good contracts, we must speak with one voice. Once we explained the key role of our union, it just became a no-brainer for them.”

Nancy Steele, a senior clerk at the Highway Department, said our union has always had a prominent place at work.

“We developed a culture of competence that reinforced the idea that being an active member in the union and doing your part was necessary if we were going to succeed as a team,” she said. “We have always had strong

CSEA leadership here at the Town of Webster, and I am very grateful for all the challenging work that took place before I got here 18 years ago.”

Town of Webster Blue-Collar Unit President John Leckinger attributed the units’ full membership status as everyone buying into the notion of a brotherhood and sisterhood.

“Our common thread here at work is we all have each other’s back,” Leckinger said. “Our union is the helping hand you get when things get tough or unbearable. We are here for each other and we are truly stronger together. This is not a secret formula. This is common sense.”

— Ove Overmyer

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Ove Overmyer

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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