New York, NY – The Suffolk County Court Employees Association (SCCEA) was organized and incorporated in 1978 under the leadership of President Thomas F. McGuinness. It is a public service union that represents 102 different court titles including, but not limited to, Senior Court Office Assistants, Court Revenue Assistants, Court Officers (all ranks below Chief), Senior Court Clerks, Court Attorneys, Court Reporters, et al. Its members work in the 1st District Court, Family Court, and Supreme Court in Central Islip, as well as County Court, Surrogates Court, Family Court, and Supreme Court in Riverhead. It also has members working in Lindenhurst (2nd District Court), Huntington (3rd District Court), Hauppauge (4th District Court), Ronkonkoma (5th District Court), and Patchogue (6th District Court).
Many of us are not aware of the challenges inherent in working in the courts. Victims and defendants can be in the court at the same time, and tensions can run high. Even lesser situations require careful handling as all business is held to a high standard. To find out more about the SCCEA, LaborPress spoke to its leader, President Gerard Gwinn.
LP: Where did you grow up and how did you first learn about unions?
GG: I was born and raised on eastern Long Island and graduated from Westhampton Beach High School in 1988. I come from a family of Union workers, Police Officers and Fireman, and Tradesmen.
LP: How did your career in the Courts develop?
GG: I became a NYS Court officer in 1993 and began my career in Queens Criminal Court in Kew Gardens. I then transferred to Suffolk County in December of 1997. I was promoted to Supreme Court Officer in 2002 and again promoted to Sergeant in 2006 and have been working in County Court in Riverhead ever since.
LP: What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
GG: Being elected by my co-workers to Union President in July of 2020 has been my greatest accomplishment in my career.
LP: What does it take to work in the courts?
GG: It takes a compassionate person to work in the courts. One has to be part Officer and sometimes part social worker. A good Officer has to aware of his\her surroundings at all times and must be understanding that there are victims of crimes, families of victims and also families of defendants in the courts at all times.
LP: What do you admire about your members?
GG: I most admire my membership for the way we have stuck together through some very bad times recently. We have had many disagreements but at the end of day the SCCEA membership stood together. Going forward the SCCEA will face new challenges and take them on in Unity.