Norman Seabrook is president of the New York City Correction Officer's Benevolent Association (COBA), the largest municipal jail union in the United States with 11,000 members. He is also the quintessential New York success story. His is a story of hard work, dedication, and achievement that parallels that of many other leaders in the largest city in America.
President Seabrook became a correction officer in 1985, and quickly rose through the ranks to become part of the selective and prestigious Emergency Response Unit.
After eight years of working in law enforcement, President Seabrook identified shortcomings which led him to be proactive and eventually begin a campaign to run for the COBA Union presidency.
Having never held a post within the union he encountered challenges, but in June 1995 he defeated the incumbent and four other candidates to become President.
Seabrook attributes that victory to his mother, who told him “You can do whatever you want if you focus on others.”
At the beginning of his tenure, correction officers were the invisible men and women of law enforcement. As a result, their wage and benefit packages lagged behind those of the other uniformed services.
That changed when President Seabrook negotiated COBA's 1998 contract. It paid correction officers more than police officers were making under the contract bargained by the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association.
President Seabrook created the COBA Widows' and Children's Fund shortly after taking office. The Fund seeks to alleviate the financial burden to members' families when officers lost their lives while serving. Since its inception, the Fund has distributed a record breaking $1 million dollars to those families, including $200,000 in 2013. The COBA Scholarship Fund is another example of President Seabrook's leadership. A half million dollars has been awarded to eligible applicants, including correction officers seeking to further their own education.
With President Seabrook's leadership, COBA has also managed to enact 24 Bills into law for New York State.
The anti privatization bill, which prevented the City of New York from eliminating thousands of jobs for correction officers, is considered one of the most significant pieces of legislation in the history of the New York City Department of Correction.
As a result of these and numerous other initiatives to benefit the lives of his members and the general public, President Seabrook has been the recipient of dozens of honors and prestigious appointments, including:
In 2007, President Seabrook became the first union leader outside the state of Illinois to endorse Barack Obama for President.
In 2009, Norman Seabrook was awarded the NAACP's Benjamin L. Hooks “Keeper of the Flame Award” for his dedication to the labor community, locally and nationally.
In 2010 Norman Seabrook was cited by City Hall News as one New York City's twelve most effective labor leaders. The next year he received the “Labor Leader of the Year Award from The Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network.
President Norman Seabrook's leadership abilities and outspoken positions on issues have made him much in demand from local, state, and national media. From 2010 to 2013, he hosted his own radio program called “Real Talk, Real Time” on WWRL 1600AM. He remains a lifelong resident of the Bronx.
Through it all, COBA President Norman Seabrook has made an unwavering commitment to his members the hallmark of his leadership at the Union.