December 23, 2013
It seems an inconsequential development in the grand scheme of things; a week’s vacation time lost to a young custodian working in the Farmingdale school district. But a revision in that school district’s contract that reduced vacation time for people working there was what motivated Nick LaMorte to become a CSEA activist. “I wasn’t too happy when I found out our vacation allowance was cut by a full week,” recalled LaMorte. “I didn’t think there was much I could do about it at first but then one of my colleagues suggested greater union involvement might provide some recourse.”
LaMorte took that suggestion to heart and began the journey that led him to his present post as CSEA Long Island Region President, where he is charged with ensuring that the rights of members are maintained and their work receives its due respect, mediating disputes of every kind and advocating for the membership to governmental officials and community leaders in both Nassau and Suffolk county. He negotiated his first labor contract as chairman of the
Farmingdale School District custodial unit negotiating committee in the early seventies and worked his way up the civil service ladder on the job and in the union ranks, eventually becoming Nassau Educational Local 865 Vice President and representing workers in 26 school districts.
LaMorte was elected president of that local in the mid-seventies and served two terms. In the late eighties, he was named chair of the Special Statewide School Committee, representing the interests of 35,000 school district employees. LaMorte ran for president of the Long Island Region a couple of years later but lost a close election race. He threw his hat in the ring again in the next election cycle and this time was elected Long Island Region President.
LaMorte has been re-elected several times since then and is currently in his fifth term. He has repeatedly reached out to help the community during his tenure. As a member of the Long Island United Way he has served as co-chair for the State Employees Federated Appeal, an annual fund raiser to benefit the needy in Nassau and Suffolk, and is on the board of the Suffolk Child Care Council as well as the Suffolk County Girl Scouts. LaMorte serves on the board of the Long Island Federation of Labor, which named him labor leader of the year in 1995. He was on the New York State
Executive Board of the AFL-CIO and continues to serve as Chairman of the Long Island Labor/Religion Coalition. In addition, the Long Island Progressive Coalition presented LaMorte the Paul Gutierrez Award for Contributions to Human Dignity.
LaMorte has been named by the Long Island Press to their Power List and became the first man honored by the advocacy group Women on the Job, in recognition of his many years of dedication to the principle and practice of equality in the workplace and equal pay for equal work. He is a proud graduate of Hofstra University, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in secondary education with a major in biology, and an alumnus of the Harvard Trade Union Program.
But LaMorte does not want his office full of awards, citations and certificates to define him. He describes himself instead as “a custodian from Farmingdale who fights hard to defend and advance the rights of ordinary working people.” CSEA represents workers who provide essential public services to just about every community in Nassau and Suffolk, as well as many school districts and libraries there. The union has more than a quarter million members in New York State and better than 50,000 on Long Island.