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National Office Staff Employee Spotlight: May Silverstein

We have an amazing National Office staff that our membership can be very proud of. They work each day — and currently are working remotely — committed to providing our members with the very best service and representation in organized labor. Today we’re excited to highlight one of the newest members of our NATCA family: Labor Relations Staff Attorney May Silverstein. Thank you for all you do, May!

Where are you from, or what places have you lived?
Silverstein: I am a rarity in that I am originally from Washington, D.C., and was born at Washington Hospital Center. At the age of four, my family moved to Fairfax, Va. During college, I moved to Ithaca, N.Y. Following college, I have lived in New York City, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C. before finding my home in Silver Spring, Md., about a mile outside of the city.

Where did you go to school, or what other education do you have?Silverstein: After graduating from high school a year early, I attended community college at Northern Virginia Community College before transferring to Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, where I concentrated in labor economics and collective bargaining. I took approximately four years off from school after completing my undergraduate education. During that time, I worked as a Strategic Researcher at the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and a Research Analyst in Collective Bargaining at the AFL-CIO. I then attended the Catholic University of America’s Columbus School of Law, with a concentration in labor and employment law, and a merit scholarship.

How did you come to work at NATCA?
Silverstein: I came to NATCA just ahead of the pandemic, starting my employment on January 7, 2020. I knew of NATCA’s reputation for being a fantastic union and staff-friendly to boot. I was thrilled to bring my skills, specifically those in federal labor law that I acquired as a six-year attorney with the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU), to NATCA. I have not looked back since!

Do you have family members who are involved in unions?
Silverstein: My parents were always big believers in unions, as both my maternal and paternal grandmothers were active in their unions — the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers (AFT), and International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union (ILGWU), respectively. While my parents did not belong to unions themselves, they are supportive of the labor movement, and proud of my efforts within it!

What’s the most rewarding part of being a member of NATCA’s staff? What’s the most challenging?
Silverstein: By far the most rewarding aspect of the job is working with our intelligent, sophisticated, and amazing members! I love helping them find their voices, and negotiating benefits on their behalf. The most challenging aspect is getting the Agency to a “yes” during negotiations, but, with some strategy and creativity, it is a challenge that can be met head-on!

Do you have any hobbies or any other activities you enjoy outside of your work for NATCA?
Silverstein: Outside of NATCA, I serve as the Treasurer for the D.C. Chapter of the Society of Federal Labor & Employee Relations Professionals (SFLERP), which is composed of professionals engaged in federal labor relations in all three segments, including management, organized labor, and neutrals, and promotes cooperative labor relations. Also, although a self-admitted dog person, I am the Secretary/Pro Bono Legal Counsel for A Cat’s Life Rescue, facilitating trap, neuter, and release (TNR) efforts, medical care for feral cats, and cat adoptions. When I am not performing my NATCA job duties or working with local nonprofits, I am re-learning to play bass guitar, rocking obedience and agility training with my 1.5 year old rescue mutt and best friend Roxanne, going on hikes, and challenging myself to make soft pretzels.

Has there been a favorite moment for you while at NATCA?
Silverstein: My favorite moments since coming to NATCA have been forming a rapport with our awesome and impressive regional leaders, and getting to know my equally amazing and impressive colleagues. Prior to quarantine and remote work, I loved getting the opportunity to attend the Train the Trainer class with the NATCA National Training Committee where I refined some skills and was inspired by our regional leaders.