2011 CSEA News Releases

December 2011

  • Dec. 28, 2011 New York State unions file federal lawsuit over retiree health increase
  • Dec. 6, 2011 Statement of CSEA President Danny Donohue on tax rate reform and economic development agreement
  • Dec. 6, 2011 CSEA urges better care options to keep individuals with mental illness out of corrections system

November 2011

  • Nov. 1, 2011 Statement of CSEA President Danny Donohue in response to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Let NY Work agenda

September 2011

  • Sept. 2, 2011 Reality of Labor Day 2011 demonstrates the necessity of public workers

August 2011

  • Aug. 30, 2011 CSEA urges members, public to clean up safely from Hurricane Irene
  • Updated Aug. 16, 2011 CSEA members ratify five-year state contract
  • Aug. 2, 2011 More than 1,000 Westchester County workers join CSEA

July 2011

  • July 17, 2011 CSEA honors workers during Probation, Parole and Community Supervision Week

June 2011

  • June 22, 2011 CSEA and Cuomo administration reach tentative deal to keep people working
  • June 22, 2011 Contract Ratification Schedule
  • June 13, 2011 CSEA official calls for vigorous oversight of OPWDD operations
  • June 9, 2011 Statement of CSEA President Danny Donohue: Layoff memo is another bad Cuomo administration choice
  • June 8, 2011 CSEA President Danny Donohue blasts state plan to close OCFS facilities
  • June 8, 2011 CSEA’s Donohue slams Gov. Cuomo’s Tier VI pension proposal

May 2011

  • May 18, 2011Statement of CSEA President Danny Donohue on NYS Unified Court System layoffs
  • May 16, 2011 Statement of CSEA President Danny Donohue on the Cuomo administration’s plans to seek Tier VI pension changes
  • May 12, 2011 Child care workers find VOICE through CSEA

April 2011

  • April 27, 2011 CSEA joins State Department of Transportation to honor fallen and build awareness
  • April 13, 2011 Statement of CSEA President Danny Donohue on Cuomo administration agreement with Council 82

March 2011

  • March 31, 2011 National labor leader to address CSEA conference
  • March 23, 2011 CSEA, New York state begin contract negotiations
  • March 14, 2011 Statement by CSEA to New York Times article alleging abuse in developmental disabilities system
  • March 10, 2011 Statement of CSEA President Danny Donohue on Wisconsin’s hateful union busting
  • March 2, 2011 CSEA, NYSUT disavow Tier VI recommendations in Governor’s report

February 2011

  • Feb. 18, 2011 Union Solidarity Rally for Wisconsin Workers; Today at 4 p.m. at CSEA Headquarters
  • Feb. 1, 2011 Statement of CSEA President Danny Donohue on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed state budget

January 2011

  • Jan. 14, 2011 Reflections on Martin Luther King Day 2011: By CSEA President Danny Donohue
  • Jan. 5 2011 Statement by CSEA President Danny Donohue in response to State of the State Address

Dec. 28, 2011
New York State unions file federal lawsuit over retiree health increase
Cuomo Administration unilateral action hits retired state employees hard

ALBANY – A coalition of CSEA, PEF, UUP, NYSCOPBA, NYSTPBA, NYSPIA, and AFSCME Council 82 unions, representing virtually all of New York State employees, have filed lawsuits in federal court challenging the Cuomo Administration’s unilateral increase in the percentage of health insurance contributions required of state retirees.

The legal challenge applies to changes made by the administration this fall and covers state employees who have retired and seen their share of health insurance premium increase beyond the level at which they retired.

Retirees have long contributed 10 percent of individual coverage and 25 percent of family coverage for their health insurance coverage in retirement based on the percentages included in the state contracts when they retired.

The changes imposed by the Cuomo Administration increase the percentage of contribution 2 percent for both individual and family coverage. The changes have severe and unexpected consequences on retired employees. The coalition of unions asserts that it is illegal for the state to increase those rates for already retired members. The unions did not negotiate such increases.

Contrary to popular perception, most public employee retirees have contributed to their health insurance and retirement costs over decades of service and receive only meager to modest benefits. For example, individuals who retired prior to 1983 receive an average pension benefit of $8,760. Those who retired between 1983 and 1990 have a retirement benefit of $13,786 annually.

Out of their fixed income, retirees must pay rising food, fuel, and gas prices along with all other living costs. A retiree on fixed income covered under the Empire Plan would pay about $150 more annually for individual coverage and about $460 more for family coverage. Costs for other health insurance options would vary according to the plan. Making matters worse, the Cuomo Administration has indicated that it will unilaterally impose a 6 percent increase for retirees who retire on or after Jan. 1, 2012, these changes will result in a 60 percent increase in contribution costs for individual coverage and a 24 percent increase for dependent coverage.

All of the employee groups appealed to the Cuomo Administration not to impose this change on retirees before its imposition. The state must now respond to the legal filing in the next month.

“CSEA is disturbed and disappointed that the Cuomo Administration can be so heartless about imposing higher costs on people who have devoted their lives to the service of New Yorkers,” said CSEA President Danny Donohue. “Nobody bargained for this and these increases will hit retirees hard – it’s not right and they don’t deserve this treatment.”

“What the Cuomo Administration is trying to do is pull the rug out from under state retirees many of whom planned their retirements based on when they felt they could afford to retire. These decisions were based on a promise and expectation of what their health insurance costs would be. Changing the rules after the fact is outright wrong,” said PEF President Ken Brynien.

“Our members selflessly work to protect New Yorkers in some of the most dangerous environments in the state. They have earned these benefits, and they are entitled to the coverage that the state agreed to when they retired,’ said NYSCOPBA President Donn Rowe. “Not only is this change unconstitutional, it’s just unfair. The Cuomo Administration should recognize its legal obligations to its retirees and not shift its financial burdens on those least able to absorb the hit.”

“The New York State Troopers PBA will continue to fight for the well-being of our retired members. It is imperative that the active members of the PBA protect those members who came before us and proudly wore the gray uniform while sacrificing so much in the name of public safety,” said PBA President Thomas H. Mungeer.

Joseph Barrett, president of the New York State Police Investigators Association (NYSPIA), stated: “It is unfortunate that, after risking their lives for the citizens of the State of New York during their careers, that same State of New York now chooses to impose unprecedented health care cost increases on its retired State Police members and the widows and widowers of its deceased members. The State’s decision to force this cost increase on our retirees in these years when they live on a fixed income is particularly disturbing.”

“The hardworking public safety professionals of New York State are particularly outraged by the Cuomo administration’s targeting of retirees,” said Council 82 Executive Director James Lyman. “Council 82’s retirees are men and women who dedicated their lives to providing a safer New York and deserve to be respected and honored for their service, rather than have the state turn its back and break its promise to its retirees.”

 

Contact Information:
CSEA: Stephen Madarasz – 518 257-1271
PEF: Darcy Wells – 518 785-1900, x274
NYSCOPBA: – Morgan Hook – 301 801-6949
NYSTPBA: Michelle Crisifulli – 518 462-7448
NYSPIA: – 518 436-0120
AFSCME Council 82: Kevin Hanes – 412 330-9930

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Dec. 6, 2011
Statement of CSEA President Danny Donohue on tax rate reform and economic development agreement

“The tax rate reform agreement put forward by Governor Cuomo and the legislative leaders recognizes the importance of fairness in stimulating New York’s economy and boosting confidence in our government. The agreement will produce practical benefits for all New Yorkers, but especially working people.

The governor and both houses of the legislature deserve a lot of credit for working cooperatively to address the challenges in front of us. Their actions will keep New Yorkers working and help put more people back to work. They also demonstrate that government can work for the good of the people.”

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Dec. 6, 2011
CSEA urges better care options to keep individuals with mental illness out of corrections system

ALBANY – The best way to prevent incarcerated mentally ill individuals from committing suicide is to provide more and better treatment options and alternatives to incarceration that keep them out of jail in the first place.

“Prisons are not where we should be treating people with mental illness and prison staff aren’t adequately trained to provide appropriate care,” said CSEA President Danny Donohue, who began his career in public service as an attendant at Central Islip Psychiatric Center. “We as a society must do more to provide adequate treatment and assistance that will make their incarceration unnecessary.”

CSEA’s message was delivered in written testimony submitted to the New York State Assembly Committees on Correction and Mental Health examining the recent increase in the number of suicides in state correctional facilities. The CSEA submission stated that more people with mental illness are treated in prisons and jails today than in state psychiatric facilities.

Correctional facilities have become “de facto” mental health care providers because of the mass closure of state psychiatric facilities over the past generation. Too many people suffering from mental illness have had nowhere else to go for treatment and care. In a vicious circle, many individuals in need of help commit crimes that land them in the corrections system. Without an adequate system of community care in place, many found individuals have found themselves walking out of mental health facilities and walking straight into correctional facilities soon after.

While some of those incarcerated have committed serious crimes, most are initially thrown into the criminal justice system for nuisance crimes, such as public drinking or urination, vagrancy or panhandling. The CSEA testimony stated that these individuals are sick, not criminals, and they deserve treatment, not punishment.

FACTS:

A report by the National Sheriffs’ Association and the Treatment Advocacy Center found that a person with serious mental illness in the United States is three times more likely to be incarcerated than hospitalized.

The largest psychiatric facility in the country is actually a jail – Rikers Island in New York City, which has an estimated 3,000 mentally ill inmates at any given time.

The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that, nationwide, 16 percent of all prisoners are mentally ill.

In 1973, there were 93,000 individuals in New York state psychiatric centers and 12,500 in New York state prisons. Today there are 3,400 in psychiatric centers and 57,000 in prison.

Studies show that people with mental illness stay in jail eight times longer than other inmates, at seven times the cost.

The asylum movement began in New York in the 1840s so that people with mental illness would not be put in jails.

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Download CSEA’s full testimony

Nov. 1, 2011
Statement of CSEA President Danny Donohue in response to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Let NY Work agenda

“The package of so-called public sector reforms put forward under the banner of the Let NY Work coalition – apparently at the urging of Gov. Andrew Cuomo – is another despicable broadside on working people. Their bile is a perversion of reality that misrepresents the facts about very complex issues facing our state.

Obviously, the Occupy Wall Street Movement has Governor Cuomo and his corporate allies worried and with good reason: Pressure is mounting because corporations evade paying their fair share of taxes through loopholes and political favoritism, while the super-wealthy look forward to an indefensible $5 billion windfall at year’s end. All this as state and local governments continue to struggle with their finances because of state budget cuts demanded by Governor Cuomo.

It’s always easier to change the subject and scapegoat rather than face up to the ugly truth. Governor Cuomo and his front group are in the wrong place on these issues, as they talk about shared sacrifice and the common good. Clearly they mean for some, not all.”

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Sept. 2, 2011
Reality of Labor Day 2011 demonstrates the necessity of public workers
A Labor Day message from CSEA President Danny Donohue

ALBANY – The truth about disasters is that they bring out the best in people and help us to see the things we often take for granted in a different light.

The devastation caused by Hurricane Irene should be clear evidence why we need smart, dynamic, caring and dedicated public workers on the job every day. The way CSEA and other public workers are responding should demonstrate the necessity of effective government because it helps real people in real places.

In the wake of Irene, it will be a long time before many communities come back to anything approaching normal life. It will take a lot of work by a lot of different people at every level of government working alongside utility workers, the private sector, relief organizations and individuals to effectively respond to the emergency and then rebuild. By necessity, government and public workers are responsible for the public safety, first response and coordination of relief activities.

The front-line workers deserve our respect and appreciation. Many of them were out in the storm trying to keep people safe, protecting the infrastructure and preventing bad situations from getting worse. Many were doing this even as their own families and homes were at risk.

There are many other public workers who are also invaluable in disaster response who work behind the scenes helping prepare and then assisting individuals, businesses and communities to recover. Their work is just as essential and they also deserve to be recognized for what they do to make lives better.

Many other public workers also worked through the storm and beyond in health care facilities and other human service activities making sure people in need could weather the storm and get needed care and protection. Service like this is too often taken for granted.

The best time to prepare for a crisis is before it happens. That doesn’t just mean days or even weeks. It can mean years with ongoing planning, anticipation of all possibilities, and investment in maintaining, replacing and building roads, bridges, dams, water and sewer systems and so much more. It also means investing in people and the know-how to do the job right.

It’s become fashionable for some in recent years to bash government and public workers. That’s misguided and counterproductive at best. Public service is about the common good. Running it down hurts us all.

Of course, we need good leadership and effective management at all levels of our government. But we also need to have an adequate, trained and equipped work force to do its necessary work, day by day, and still prepare to respond to emergencies and the next disaster, because there will always be a next disaster.

On this Labor Day 2011, there is a lot to think about in our country and our world and few easy answers. But in very simple terms, we should thank those in our public work force who keep us safe, try to help people and make our communities better. We should also recognize the importance of having them on the job.

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Aug 30, 2011
CSEA urges members, public to clean up safely from Hurricane Irene

ALBANY – CSEA – New York’s Leading Union – is urging that safety come first whether New Yorkers are responding to the aftermath of Hurricane Irene on the job or in their homes.

CSEA President Danny Donohue said union members should follow all appropriate safety guidelines as they recover from the storm, which caused widespread flooding, damage to homes, businesses and infrastructure and downed trees and power lines. The union has important resources available to provide guidance.

“As we pull together in this time of crisis, our spirit remains strong, but much of our work has just begun,” Donohue said. “It is vital that we remain vigilant in ensuring the safety and health of all New Yorkers as we recover from the storm.”

CSEA members, many of whom served as first responders during the storm, will continue to play a key role in storm recovery at homes, in their communities and at their work sites. CSEA members and other public workers have been working around the clock to remove debris, contain flooding, restore infrastructure and restore water and sewer and other essential services.

On the job, the safety and health of workers cannot be compromised. Employers are required to protect workers from the anticipated hazards associated with the flood response and recovery operations by ensuring they have the appropriate training and equipment to do the work safely and are not placed in harm’s way.

CSEA has many resources available on its website at www.csealocal1000.org to help New Yorkers safely clean up after Irene’s devastation. The union has also developed two fact sheets to help members and the public remain safe during the storm cleanup process. The following fact sheets are available for download from CSEA’s website:

<a href=”Information for CSEA Members Responding to Flood Affected Areas addresses the hazards often found in flooded areas, including contaminated floodwaters, downed electrical lines and building debris, the personal protective equipment employers are responsible for providing workers and other considerations employers should ensure that workers follow to remain safe.

Working In and Cleaning Up Flooded Buildings highlights the potential hazards of working in flooded buildings, including building structure, electrical hazards and health concerns, as well as what employers need to do to ensure workers’ safety.

“Knowing this important information can help up avoid more harm during this already difficult time,” Donohue said. “Please share this information with as many people as possible in your communities and work sites. We hope these resources will help you in giving the proper guidance and advice that is needed in these unique, difficult circumstances.”

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Aug 16, 2011
CSEA members ratify five-year state contract

ALBANY – CSEA-represented state Executive Branch employees have ratified a contract agreement with New York state that keeps people working and protects rights and benefits. Each of CSEA’s four bargaining units (Administrative, Institutional, Operational and Division of Military and Naval Affairs) individually approved the agreement.

The agreement was approved by a total vote of 16,896 yes to 11,856 no nearly a 60 percent approval with more than 28,000 votes cast.

“These are not ordinary times and CSEA worked hard to reach an agreement that we believed would be in everyone’s best interest,” said CSEA President Danny Donohue. “CSEA members agree that this contract is reasonable and responsible for the long term. CSEA will move forward as we always have.”

The five-year agreement includes strong job protection provisions to keep CSEA-represented state employees on the job delivering essential services to New Yorkers. The agreement includes money in each of the last three years. It preserves step increments and longevity increases and holds the line on health insurance, increasing employee premium contributions based on salary level while keeping co-payment changes minimal.

The CSEA negotiating team is comprised of 23 CSEA state employees selected to represent their co-workers. They were led at the table by CSEA Director of Contract Administration Ross Hanna and the union’s professional negotiating staff.

The tentative agreement was reached in June. Members of the team conducted dozens of meetings across the state to explain the details of the agreement to CSEA members. The union also provided every member with the contract language before the vote and had other information available on the CSEA website.

Some of the key provisions:

Wages:

  • No across the board salary increase in FY 2011 and 2012;
  • $1,000 (not added to base pay) starting April 1, 2013; ($775 lump sum payable April 1, 2013; $225 lump sum payable April 1, 2014)
  • 2 percent across the board increase payable April 1, 2014;
  • 2 percent across the board increase payable April 1, 2015
  • No changes in payments of step increments;
  • No changes in Longevity payments

Furloughs:

  • Five unpaid days off in FY 2011 (The value of the five days will be spread over the remaining pay periods equally);
  • Four unpaid days off in FY 2012 (The value of the four days will be spread equally over pay periods in the fiscal year – employees will be reimbursed for the value of these days starting in year five of the contract.)

Health Benefits:

  • Grade 9 employees and below – 2 percent increase in Premium (Individuals -10 percent increasing to 12 percent. & Family coverage – 25 percent increasing to 27 percent of premium cost)
  • Grade 10 employees and above – 6 percent increase in Premium (Individuals -10 percent increasing to 16 percent. & Family coverage – 25 percent increasing to 31 percent of premium cost)
  • Various incremental changes in coverage provisions, co-payments and prescription drug benefits;
  • Maintains funding for dental, prescription eyeglass and other benefits provided through the CSEA Employee Benefit Fund;
  • No change in ability to use sick leave credits to help defray the cost of health insurance premiums in retirement

The agreement would also maintain all side letter labor-management agreements currently in place between CSEA and New York state and establishes a committee to address the state’s use of temporary employees, consultants and contractors to determine how state employees can be better utilized to fill this role.

The state legislature already approved the agreement contingent on the CSEA ratification.

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Aug 2, 2011
More than 1,000 Westchester County workers join CSEA

WHITE PLAINS — More than 1,000 hourly and seasonal employees of Westchester County voted by an overwhelming ratio (7:1) to become a part of CSEA yesterday.

The workers, who began organizing to join CSEA more than a year ago, voted in a representation election held by the New York State Public Employment Relations Board in July.

The ballots were counted Monday, Aug. 1, 2011.

The campaign, called H.O.U.R. Westchester — Hourlies Organized and United for Respect — began when unrepresented Westchester County workers approached CSEA about joining the union. Westchester County CSEA leaders saw the opportunity to assist these workers and strengthen the union. The newly organized workers include some seasonal workers working at the county’s parks, pools, golf courses and an amusement park, and some year-round employees who work on an hourly basis with no benefits.

“We saw the need to protect our work and strengthen our union by bringing together all Westchester County workers,” said CSEA Westchester County Unit President Karen Pecora. “This organizing campaign is part of our broader effort to defend vital public services at a time when they are under attack.”

Throughout the campaign, the workers received exceptional support as 75 CSEA member volunteers from the Westchester County Unit joined CSEA Southern Region President Billy Riccaldo, Westchester Local President John Staino and Pecora in the campaign.

“It has been great to see such great participation and coordination, members really stepping up to join in and grow and strengthen our union,” said Staino.

“It’s really amazing to see this finally happen for this group. At a time when families are struggling, joining CSEA will make a difference for them,” said Riccaldo.

“This is so exciting for us. Many of us work side by side CSEA members, working the same jobs and same hours for less money, no benefits and no opportunities for advancement. We were treated like second-class employees,” said Jorge Vasquez, County Center Rec Attendant. “We now have a voice on the job and this means the power and respect we deserve to have our place at the negotiating table. It took a year of hard work, but we know there is strength in numbers. By coming together with CSEA, all the employees of Westchester County are made stronger.

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July 17, 2011
CSEA honors workers during Probation, Parole and Community Supervision Week

ALBANY – CSEA President Danny Donohue recognized union members across the state who work in probation services by declaring July 17 – 23 “Probation, Parole and Community Supervision Week.”

“On behalf of the 300,000 CSEA members who work in every kind of job in every part of the state, I am pleased to recognize our members who work as probation professionals,” Donohue said. “Probation, Parole and Community Supervision Week is meant to honor a segment of the work force that deserves great respect.”

Probation professionals are a vital part of every New York state county work force and play an important duel role in the public safety field. Not only do they work with the justice system to protect the public against crime, violence and abuse, but they also aid in prevention, helping rehabilitate law offenders to rejoin society in a positive way.

Unfortunately, as with all public safety work, these professionals often put their own well being at risk in effort to keep people and their communities safe. CSEA recognizes the high level of commitment and the special dedication these workers have to the public they serve.

Donohue said crime rates have increased in recent years due to the poor economy, causing an increase in the number of cases probation professionals must handle to keep the public secure. “When the economy is at its worst is when the public needs government services the most,” Donohue said.

“I urge one and all across the state to join with me and thank the men and women who work in probation,” Donohue said. “Their dedication to their jobs and to the public makes our communities safer for all of us.”

CSEA is New York state’s leading union, representing employees of the state and its counties, towns, villages, school districts, library systems, authorities and public benefit corporations. Together with a growing population of private sector members and retirees, CSEA is the largest affiliate of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), which is one of the largest affiliates of the AFL-CIO.

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June 22, 2011
CSEA and Cuomo administration reach tentative deal to keep people working
Plan balances shared sacrifice with fairness and respect

ALBANY – CSEA – New York’s leading union – has reached a tentative contract agreement with New York state on a five-year deal to avert impending layoffs of CSEA-represented state employees and keep people working. The agreement was reached after challenging negotiations with the Cuomo administration that will provide long term benefits to both to the 66,000 CSEA-represented state Executive Branch employees and New York taxpayers.

“I applaud CSEA’s leadership for their hard work to reach this deal which is a win-win for CSEA members and the State of New York,” said Governor Andrew Cuomo. “I commend the union and its leadership for making a significant contribution to help get the state’s fiscal house in order and making the shared sacrifices these difficult times require. Working together, we will turn this state around and get our economy moving once again.”

“These are not ordinary times and CSEA and the Cuomo administration have worked very hard at the bargaining table to produce an agreement that balances shared sacrifice with fairness and respect,” said CSEA President Danny Donohue.

“CSEA stepped up to help produce the labor savings that Governor Cuomo sought while the governor responded to CSEA’s concerns about job security along with a wage and benefit package that recognizes the pressures on working people,” Donohue said.

“CSEA believes our members and all fair-minded New Yorkers will see this agreement as a responsible labor-management approach to facing the challenges in front of our state,” Donohue said.

The agreement includes provisions to keep CSEA-represented state employees on-the job delivering essential services to New Yorkers. It will rescind imminent plans to issue layoff notices to CSEA-represented employees included in the 9,800 reductions previously announced by the Cuomo administration. It also provides other job security assurances for the life of the contract.

Some of the key provisions:

Wages:

  • No across the board salary increase in FY 2011 and 2012;
  • $1,000 (not added to base pay) starting April 1, 2013; ($775 lump sum payable April 1, 2013 / $225 lump sum payable April 1, 2014)
  • 2 percent across the board increase payable April 1, 2014;
  • 2 percent across the board increase payable April 1, 2015;
  • No changes in payments of step increments;
  • No changes in Longevity payments.

Furloughs

  • Five unpaid days off in FY 2011; (The value of the five days will be spread over the remaining pay periods equally.)
  • Four unpaid days off in FY 2012. (The value of the four days will be spread equally over pay periods in the fiscal year – employees will be reimbursed for the value of these days starting in year five of the contract.)

Health Benefits

  • Grade 9 employees and below – 2 percent increase in premium; (Individuals – 10 percent increasing to 12 percent and family coverage – 25 percent increasing to 27 percent of premium cost.)
  • Grade 10 employees and above – 6 percent increase in premium; (Individuals – 10 percent increasing to 16 percent and family coverage – 25 percent increasing to 31 percent of premium cost.)
  • Various incremental changes in coverage provisions, co-payments and prescription drug benefits;
  • Maintains funding for dental, prescription eyeglass and other benefits provided through the CSEA Employee Benefit Fund;
  • No change in ability to use sick leave credits to help defray the cost of health insurance premiums in retirement.

The agreement would also maintain all side letter labor-management agreements currently in place between CSEA and New York state and establishes a committee to address the state’s use of temporary employees, consultants and contractors to determine how state employees can be better utilized to fill this role.

The tentative agreement must be acted upon by the state legislature and ratified by CSEA rank and file members. CSEA will be conducting informational meetings and providing full details of the agreement to all members prior to the ratification vote which will be conducted by mail in the coming weeks.

CSEA negotiating team is comprised of 23 CSEA state employees selected to represent their co-workers. They were led at the table by CSEA Director of Contract Administration Ross Hanna and the union’s professional negotiating staff.

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June 22, 2011
Contract Ratification Schedule

July 22: Contract ballots mailed

Aug. 5: Call for replacement ballots (800-342-4146, ext, 1279 or 518-257-1279)

Aug. 12: Deadline to return ballots (5 p.m.)

Aug. 15: Ballot count; results announced

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June 13, 2011
CSEA official calls for vigorous oversight of OPWDD operations

ALBANY – A CSEA official today told lawmakers the vast majority of employees who care for people with developmental disabilities have been inaccurately portrayed in a series of New York Times articles alleging systemic abuse in the state developmental disabilities system.

Testifying at a hearing of the Assembly Standing Committee on Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, CSEA Statewide Secretary Denise Berkley, who has more than 30 years of experience in the system as a front-line, direct care worker at the Brooklyn Developmental Center, said abuse of clients under any circumstances is unacceptable and never to be tolerated. However, she said the portrayal the Times articles have put forth to the public is not representative of the system as a whole.

Berkley said her union represents 18,000 workers who care for nearly 40,000 individuals with developmental disabilities. She said only a tiny fraction of those employees have ever been brought up on disciplinary charges of any nature, let alone client abuse.

“On behalf of all the compassionate and caring individuals who care for people with developmental disabilities here in New York, I am here to tell you that we are angry and saddened,” Berkley said. “Most state developmental disabilities employees are some of the most caring and dedicated professionals you will ever meet.”

Berkley told lawmakers it takes a very special individual to work with people with developmental disabilities. She said the jobs are challenging physically and emotionally because many of the people in care have multiple disabilities, medical and behavioral issues and a wide range of special needs.

She said despite the additional pressures placed on employees due to short staffing and excessive mandated overtime, they become friends and even family with the individuals they care for.

“When they aren’t planning social activities or outings that add to the quality of life, it isn’t uncommon for workers to reach into their own pockets to buy a newspaper or other small items to bring a smile to the consumers’ faces,” she said.

Berkley said OPWDD management is ultimately responsibility for any abuse that occurs in the system. She said management must do a better job of screening potential employees and said when workers witness inappropriate behavior and report it to supervisors, those supervisors have a duty to investigate thoroughly and take appropriate action.

“Workers who blow the whistle must know that their attempts to intervene on behalf of consumers are not in vain,” she said.

Berkley said CSEA believes there should be much more vigorous oversight of OPWDD operations and private-sector, not-for-profit agencies as well by the agency charged with protecting people with developmental disabilities – The Commission on Quality Care and Advocacy for the Persons with Disabilities. Unfortunately, she said, the Commission on Quality Care has been undermined by budget cuts and limited authority in recent years.

“The Commission on Quality of Care should be the agency that investigates and provides oversight on the care that is provided to consumers,” Berkley said. “Given that, it is crucial that the Commission on Quality of Care regain the authority and the funding it once had to do the job thoroughly.”

Berkley told lawmakers no matter how dedicated or compassionate direct care workers may be, they all need a break from the responsibilities of what can be a very stressful job. As is the case in many of the state’s 24/7 facilities, employees are forced to work endless mandatory double shifts without vacations and with no hope of relief.

“There have been a number of headlines lately about employees getting excessive overtime pay. I am here to tell you that the reason for such overtime is inadequate staffing – not employee greed,” she said.

Berkley said CSEA supports limits on the amount of excessive overtime workers face routinely in OPWDD. In fact, there are some limits in the union’s state contracts now along with procedural parameters only on how overtime is offered and/or assigned. However, she said the only way to truly bring overtime down to levels that are safe for employees and those in their care is to hire enough staff so that excessive overtime becomes unnecessary.

Berkley reminded lawmakers that CSEA has a proud history of working in partnership with New York state to improve care for people with developmental disabilities and CSEA members remain committed to that goal.

“We all want better care for people with developmental disabilities,’ she said. “That starts with recognizing that the system’s greatest assets are those thousands of individual employees who go to work and do the right thing every day.”

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June 8, 2011
Statement of CSEA President Danny Donohue
Layoff memo leak is another bad Cuomo administration choice

“The Cuomo administration’s leak of information that they will begin the layoff process for state employees is another bad choice. CSEA is still negotiating in good faith to try to find alternatives to layoffs with the administration and announcing layoff plans is not helpful to that process.

Governor Cuomo adds insult to injury by leaking this information on the same day he proposed a Tier VI for the pension system that would mean the lowest paid employees in public employment would have to pay more, work longer and receive less benefit. It was also leaked on the same day closures and downsizing of juvenile justice facilities were announced, which will put more people out of work and undermine important public safety services.

Governor Cuomo’s actions speak louder than words in expressing his lack of concern for real working people who struggle to do their jobs, pay their bills and contribute in their communities.”

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June 8, 2011
CSEA President Danny Donohue blasts state plan to close OCFS facilities

“The Cuomo administration’s plans to close and downsize juvenile justice facilities operated by the state Office of Children and Family Services is another bad policy choice that will hurt real people in real places.

There is an overwhelming need for reform in juvenile justice system, starting with the replacement of Commissioner Gladys Carrion, whose misguided policies and divisive management has put clients and staff at greater risk. There are serious public policy issues regarding juvenile justice that need meaningful public debate and labor-management discussion, which have been dismissed or ignored under the current administration.

Instead, the public gets a budget-driven downsizing without any regard to the consequences. It should also be clear that Commissioner Carrion’s reckless and irresponsible policies have manipulated the population of the facilities contrary to the public interest. Governor Cuomo should know that his actions will not make things better for the youth in state custody, the dedicated staff who are trying to help them lead better lives or the people of New York.

At the same time, Governor Cuomo’s bad budget choices will mean layoffs that will be tragic for the affected people, their families and communities, and will hurt New York’s economy. Governor Cuomo cannot talk about job creation while laying people off to impress his millionaire friends. A paycheck lost is a paycheck lost.”

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June 8, 2011
CSEA’s Donohue slams Gov. Cuomo’s Tier VI pension proposal
Another grandstand play for his millionaire friends

“Congratulations to Governor Cuomo for another grandstand play for the attention of his millionaire friends at the expense of the real working people of New York,” said CSEA President Danny Donohue. “The governor’s proposal for a Tier VI pension reform for public employees is more evidence of how out of touch he is with working people and the economic pressures they face every day.”

“The governor’s onerous proposal will pick the pockets of front-line public workers and undermine their retirement security without providing any short-term savings,” Donohue said.

New York state and local government pension facts:

  • The average CSEA member pension is $14,000;
  • The New York State Employee Retirement System is already the best funded system in the country and at no immediate risk;
  • Current obligations are due to reforms necessitated by the Wall Street crash of recent years and a decade of public employers not contributing to the system while employees contributed three percent of salary;
  • Tier V reforms were enacted just two years ago and have yet to yield their savings to taxpayers;
  • Governor Cuomo’s Tier VI reforms will put unnecessary, unfair and undue burden on the lowest-paid employees in public employment.

“Governor Cuomo’s proposal can only be viewed as an attack on working people to score some cheap political points,” Donohue said.

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May 18, 2011
Statement of CSEA President Danny Donohue on NYS Unified Court System layoffs

“Today’s layoff and displacement notices to more than 600 employees of the New York State Unified Court System (367 layoffs and 241 displacements) are a direct consequence of bad choices in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s state budget. The excessive cuts will undermine our court system and cost New Yorkers a lot more in the long run but first they will wreak havoc on the lives of hundreds of dedicated people and their families. No good can come from that.

No one should believe this is a necessary action – a state budget that relied on cuts alone while giving tax breaks to millionaires is out of whack with good management.”

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Editor’s Note: CSEA represents about 5,900 employees in the NYS Unified Court System, performing a wide range of jobs in every part of the state.

May 16, 2011
Statement of CSEA President Danny Donohue on the Cuomo administration’s plans to seek Tier VI pension changes

“It is very clear from the Cuomo administration’s leaks about plans to seek Tier VI pension changes for public employees that the governor does not care about the impact of his policies on working people.

The governor is engaging in political grandstanding to impress his millionaire friends at the expense of working people and the services they provide to the people of New York.’

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May 12, 2011
Child care workers find VOICE through CSEA

ALBANY – As unions around the country are increasingly under attack, more than 250 independent child care business owners who belong to VOICE/CSEA, Local 100A, have a very different perspective on the importance of organizing a union. They became part of CSEA to ensure a decent standard in their field while working to improve the accessibility and affordability of child care for families in New York state.

CSEA President Danny Donohue, U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, State Sen. Diane Savino and officials from the State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) which regulates child care services in New York state, will join providers Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Desmond Hotel to listen and participate in this unprecedented gathering as the group adopts an action plan and establishes political and organizational goals moving them into 2012.

“With these dynamic small business people joining our union, CSEA enters a whole new era. We understand changing with the times to keep our communities strong is important. Quality child care is essential for our communities. These people are committed to ensuring it, and we are committed to helping them,” said CSEA President Danny Donohue.

“It’s fitting that this group should gather here in the Capital Region because it all began in Schenectady in 2002 when a small group of providers approached CSEA and asked for help,” Donohue said. “We didn’t know how we were going to do it, but we believed in them and we knew we had to help them fight like hell to get their union.”

VOICE/CSEA traces its roots to an executive order issued by former Gov. Eliot Spitzer in 2007 that granted child care providers the right to form collective bargaining units. With the support of an overwhelming majority of licensed and registered providers, VOICE/CSEA was later officially certified as the bargaining agent for family and group family child care providers in all 57 counties of New York outside of New York City.

On Feb. 8, 2010, VOICE/CSEA members ratified their first ever contract with OCFS. Shortly thereafter, the executive order was codified into law.

“VOICE/CSEA is a moving story of a hard-fought, long-term grassroots campaign that transformed from a small gathering of people determined to unite for change, to a statewide movement making a difference for the child care providers, children and working families of our state,” said CSEA Executive Vice President Mary Sullivan. “It’s an incredible chapter in the union movement and a glowing example of women’s empowerment.”

The VOICE/CSEA mission includes winning more respect for their profession, lobbying counties to make on-time payments and promoting fair and consistent child care regulations and enforcement.

“In every county, we discovered we faced common challenges. There were contradictory regulations that didn’t always make sense, inconsistent enforcement and rules, burdensome paperwork, inaccurate reporting and more. That’s why we launched the Voice of Organized Independent Childcare Educators (VOICE) statewide in 2003, under the umbrella of CSEA,” said Darcel Leone, a Suffolk County child care provider.

In recent years, VOICE/CSEA has expanded its work to federal initiatives designed to expand and secure funding for Child Care and Development Block grants and to improve the Child and Adult Care Food Program, legislation that Tonko sponsored. VOICE/CSEA has been involved in many other state and local county fights to secure funds for child care.

“This is the next significant of many chapters in our VOICE story. As we build our membership, we secure what we’ve accomplished and build power to reach the vision we hold for family child care, children, families and our communities across New York,” said Linda Arocho, a Schenectady County Group Family child care provider.

“As we gather here in Albany to celebrate our success and adopt an Action Plan for the future, we reflect as a group, on how we’ve grown, not only as individuals, but as providers and, most importantly, as effective advocates for our communities,” said Tioga County child care providerRose McCabe.

April 27, 2011
CSEA joins State Department of Transportation to honor fallen and build awareness

ALBANY – Thursday, April 28, 2011 is Workers Memorial Day.

CSEA President Danny Donohue will join state Department of Transportation officials for a memorial service, 11 a.m., at the outdoor courtyard, DOT Headquarters, 50 Wolf Road to honor the workers who have passed away or sustained serious injuries while doing their jobs.

Events held across the state will focus on honoring members who lost their lives due to on-the-job incidents or illness. This past year alone we mourn:

  • Nicole Gaulin, 35, an Orleans County Social Services worker, in the Town of Kendall, who passed away in a car crash while on the job, April 21, 2010;
  • Stacie Williams, 45, a patient care assistant at Nassau University Medical Center, passed away due to workplace violence stemming from a domestic incident, June 16, 2010;
  • David Page, 56, Central New York Developmental Disabilities Services office worker, passed away from a fatal motorcycle crash, July 29, 2010;
  • Anthony Ruggiero Jr., 48, a Village of Tarrytown Department of Public Works employee, passed away while working in a village manhole, Sept. 6, 2010;
  • John P. Kelly, 51, a state Department of Transportation worker from Westchester County, passed away while responding as a volunteer firefighter to the Tarrytown Village manhole incident that also claimed the life of Anthony Ruggiero Jr., Sept. 6, 2010;
  • Sandra A. Marasco, 49, program coordinator at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, passed away from injuries sustained in an automobile incident on the job, Jan. 27, 2011.

Workers Memorial Day was established in 1989 as an international day of remembrance observed on the anniversary date of legislation establishing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). This year marks the 40th anniversary of OSHA.

CSEA also marks this 40th anniversary and Workers Memorial Day as a special opportunity to continue the ongoing fight for workplace safety and health by calling attention to the CSEA Occupational Safety and Health campaign to bring awareness to an emerging threat to our nation’s road workers and urge New York state drivers: Don’t Zone Out.

“On this day, we honor the fallen and recommit ourselves to improving working conditions everywhere. CSEA has long led the way nationally in ensuring safer, healthier workplaces, but there is still more work to do,” said Donohue.

Distracted driving poses one of the greatest dangers on the road today, delaying a driver’s reaction time similarly to being legally drunk. Road crews are especially at risk for injury or death. In the U.S., there is a work zone fatality every 10 hours and a work zone injury every 13 minutes.

Since CSEA began keeping count in 1983, 45 members have been killed in work zones alone and that is not counting the many injured or lost on the job outside of work zones due to distracted driving. (For a downloadable brochure, visit the CSEA home page.)

“During the spring and summer months, there will be hundreds of crews on our roadways and bridges; on our highways, in our cities, villages and towns. One way we can honor the fallen men and women this Workers Memorial Day and continue to honor them throughout the year is by pledging to drive safely and move over when possible in work zones giving the same respect that we now give to emergency workers and traffic stops,” said Donohue.

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April 13, 2011
Statement of CSEA President Danny Donohue on Cuomo administration agreement with Council 82

“The Cuomo administration’s agreement with Council 82 represents a settlement with a very small number of specific state law enforcement officers who haven’t had a contract for six years.

CSEA will continue to negotiate in good faith at the bargaining table on an agreement that will fairly address the state’s fiscal situation, while respecting the needs of the 66,000 CSEA members who deliver a wide range of essential services to the people of New York every day.”

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March 31, 2011
National labor leader to address CSEA conference

ALBANY – National AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Arlene Holt Baker will address nearly 500 CSEA members at the Desmond Hotel in Albany, Sunday, April 3. Holt Baker will speak about the war on public service workers in advance of the AFL-CIO’s nationwide “We Are One” rallies to fight back beginning Monday, April 4.

The CSEA members from across the state will be in Albany for the union’s biennial Women’s Conference.

Holt Baker, the first African American executive vice president of the AFL-CIO and one of America’s leading women in the fight for working families, has been a tenacious grassroots organizer and an international union representative. Holt Baker comes out of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), CSEA’s International union.

This event will lead into a week of events, including several in the Capital Region, to honor the hardworking families of America and deliver the message “We Are One.” Working people, civil rights groups, students and immigrants will join together starting April 4 to stress this message of solidarity.

The April 4 date coincides with the anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in Memphis in 1968. King had gone to Memphis to support AFSCME-represented sanitation workers seeking fairness and respect.

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March 23, 2011
CSEA, New York state begin contract negotiations

ALBANY – CSEA – New York’s leading union – and New York state have begun negotiations on a new contract to succeed the agreement that expires April 1, 2011.

“CSEA-represented state employees are on the front lines delivering essential services to New Yorkers every day under increasingly difficult working conditions,” said CSEA President Danny Donohue. “Our expectation is to reach an agreement with the state that treats those rank and file workers with fairness and respect.”

“CSEA is prepared for challenging discussions with the Cuomo administration,” Donohue said. “CSEA members understand that these are not ordinary times, but collective bargaining requires both labor and management to come to the table in good faith to find common ground.”

CSEA – New York state contracts cover about 66,000 state Executive Branch employees in the Administrative, Institutional and Operational Services units and the Division of Military and Naval Affairs.

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March 14, 2011
Statement by CSEA to New York Times article alleging abuse in developmental disabilities system

Charges made by an article in the Sunday New York Times alleging systemic abuse in the state developmental disabilities system are serious and disturbing. Abuse of clients under any circumstance is not acceptable and should not be tolerated.
However, allegations are just that until proven.
In the state system there is a disciplinary process that ultimately includes a determination by an independent arbitrator. Both Labor and Management agree to abide by the arbitrator’s decision.
By law, CSEA and other labor unions have a duty of fair representation to provide individuals with a vigorous defense if they are brought up on charges. The employer is obligated to prove the charges. The neutral arbitrator can also rule on the appropriateness of the penalties.
CSEA represents about 18,000 people working with individuals with Developmental Disabilities. Most are some of the most caring and dedicated professionals you will ever meet. Keep some perspective here: Only a tiny fraction of employees are ever brought up on disciplinary charges.
We all want better care for people with developmental disabilities and CSEA members are committed to that goal.

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March 10, 2011
Statement of CSEA President Danny Donohue on Wisconsin’s hateful union busting

ALBANY – “At a time when democracy is taking hold in some of the most surprising places around the world, American freedom has been diminished by hateful actions in Wisconsin. A state that once led the nation towards a better understanding of the value of labor-management dialogue has now seen its government take questionable action in the dark of night to snuff out good-faith negotiating.

Nurses, highway workers, school bus drivers and thousands of other good, decent working Americans have been further marginalized by this deceptive action.

Let this be a call to action to the American middle class not to take any of our rights for granted. Let us all stand strong and make our voices heard.”

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March 2, 2011
CSEA, NYSUT disavow Tier VI recommendations in Governor’s report

ALBANY – CSEA and NYSUT disavow the “preliminary recommendations” of the Governor’s Mandate Relief Redesign Team calling for a Tier VI in the state and local government pension system.

Such recommendations ignore the shared sacrifice already shouldered by public employees. Tier V reform was just implemented with union help in 2010 designed to save taxpayers $35 billion. There are no immediate savings to be gained by a Tier VI reform.

No final meeting of the Redesign Team was held to review the recommendations and union representatives were not even given the courtesy of an opportunity to review the draft document before it was released to the media.

Feb. 1, 2011
Union Solidarity Rally for Wisconsin Workers; Today at 4 p.m. at CSEA Headquarters

ALBANY – In a show of support for union brothers and sisters in Wisconsin who are fighting to keep their collective bargaining rights, CSEA will join with the unions of the Capital District Area
Labor Federation for a Solidarity Rally today at 4 p.m. in front of the union’s headquarters at 143 Washington Ave., Albany.

“Wisconsin’s newly elected governor is waging one of the most vicious attacks on working people our nation has seen in generations,” said CSEA President Danny Donohue.

The rally is intended to show solidarity with tens of thousands of middle-class, working people who have taken to the streets and statehouse in Madison, Wis. to protest legislation that would eliminate collective bargaining rights for state and local public employees there.

“We are talking about a fundamental right to bargain fairly and in good faith,” Donohue said. “This is a proposal to make public service workers second-class citizens without a voice – it’s an assault on
American values and must stop here!”

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Feb. 1, 2011
Statement of CSEA President Danny Donohue on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed state budget

“There is nothing fair nor shared in the proposed state budget.

Slashing aid to our communities, to our hospitals and nursing homes, to our schools and disproportionate cuts in state operations does not represent any new direction. It will mean fewer people on the job maintaining our roads, fewer people keeping our water clean, fewer people making our neighborhoods safer, fewer people providing care to our most vulnerable citizens, fewer people driving our children to school and helping New Yorkers lead healthier lives.

CSEA has repeatedly said that we are prepared to do our part and work with the administration for a better New York.

We are not willing to see the necessary services that CSEA members provide to people in every community in the state used as a bargaining chip to maintain tax breaks for millionaires.”

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Jan. 14, 2011
Reflections on Martin Luther King Day 2011: By CSEA President Danny Donohue

The recent horrific events in Tuscon have saddened us all. However, from every tragedy lessons can be learned and the attention given by many to the contribution of violent rhetoric as cause for the shootings may be just the opening to bring civility back to our public discourse.

I am further bolstered by the genuine joy expressed by U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in her account of the awakening of her friend and colleague, U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords during a visit to the shooting victim’s hospital room.

Add to this the eloquent and poignant comments of U.S. Rep. Giffords’ intern Daniel Hernandez, who is credited with saving her life and being called a hero. He said, “We must reject the title of ‘hero’ and reserve it for those who deserve it, and those who deserve it are the first responders and the public servants and the people who have made sure they have dedicated their lives to helping others.”

What a stark contrast to those who have vilified public servants. It’s time to bring honor back to those who choose to dedicate their working lives to bringing service to others. The school bus driver, the nurse, the caseworker and the sanitation worker and all who toil every day deserve our respect for committing to helping bring quality to our lives and communities.

On this Martin Luther King Day, let’s all take a moment to reflect on what is truly important and pledge to treat each other with courtesy and consideration even when we disagree. We owe that much to the real meaning of this holiday and those who have suffered so greatly in Tuscon.

Danny Donohue is the president of the 300,000-member CSEA – New York’s leading union.

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Jan. 5, 2011
Statement by CSEA President Danny Donohue in response to State of the State Address

“The governor offered many ideas which we will consider carefully. We will agree with some and disagree with others. Where we disagree, there will be healthy debate to find ways to work together. It won’t be easy, but good government never is.”

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