Thursday, October 23, 2014

CSEA Interview: Ove Overmyer


Ove photo
Photo & story by Lynn Miller
ROCHESTER – Ove Overmyer, president of the CSEA Rochester Public Library Unit, a Monroe County Local officer and a dedicated union and social justice activist, has been awarded the 2014 Local Government Mission Achievement Award. He received the award during the union’s recent Annual Delegates meeting.
“I have to admit that being nominated and selected for this award never crossed my mind,” Overmyer said. “Those of you who know me well understand I am much more suited on the streets raising hell, behind a camera or a keyboard—but like many of you, just seeing my members flourish and succeed at work and in life is truly my just reward.”
Overmyer calls himself an “accidental activist,” becoming involved in CSEA almost two decades ago when he started working at the Rochester Public Library.
“It was a contract issue that personally affected my benefits package that spurred my interest in learning more about worker rights,” Overmyer said. “I found out that there were other folks in my bargaining unit who had the same issue, so I stepped up and joined the negotiations team to define and rectify our terms and conditions of employment. The rest is history, so to speak.”
And what a history it is. Overmyer has dedicated himself to standing up for others and making sure people are heard. It’s his personal mission to speak the truth and give a voice to the average working American.
“I found my true character when I lost myself in the service of others,” he said. “This is who I am—I am CSEA. Through my union work, I found a vehicle to actualize my core beliefs and define my identity. I believe everyone should have the opportunity to create their own destiny for yourself and for your family. If you don’t, someone else will.”
Overmyer’s service extends far beyond CSEA. Through the years he has also worked tirelessly to advocate for the rights of LGBT individuals and the poor. His calendar is full and his efforts are unending.
“I have learned that creating social change requires time, energy, reciprocity and sacrifice,” he said. “I also have to admit part of what motivates me as a working person is fear—fear of not being able to take care of my kids and being one health crisis away from a life of poverty and indignity. Positive change can’t happen unless I completely understand the issues important to the members I serve and represent. To be successful, I must try my best to get them the answers and services they need to improve their quality of life at work and at home. Whatever skills and gifts I possess, I feel compelled to donate them to bigger cause greater than myself.”
In addition to serving as a CSEA Unit President and a Local Vice President, Overmyer is a freelance journalist, a photographer and a member of a community Speakers Bureau. He serves on several community advisory boards and he is also an elected member of the Monroe County Democratic Committee.
“Every election cycle I take a week of personal time during GOTV to attend phone banks and knock on doors in my community to explain to my neighbors and fellow CSEA members why it’s important to have strong public services and a functioning representative government,” Overmyer said. “This truly American experiment called democracy begins and ends with voter participation. We cannot create a more perfect world if people do not vote. We have a great opportunity through the electoral process to build strong communities, civil partnerships, create more spending power for the working class and grow our local economies. To not be part of this process is just unthinkable.”
Although his activism keeps him very busy, Overmyer makes time for those closest to him whenever he can.
“Any free time I have is dedicated to spending quality time with my family: Darnell, Tylynn, Tyrell, Tyriss and Tysen.,” he said. “We love going to movies and to get outdoors— playing basketball, golf and tennis at local parks in Monroe County.”
Read more about the Mission Achievement Award in the November issue of The Work Force newspaper.

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