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2012 news releases

December 2012

  • Dec. 4, 2012 Judge rules CSEA can sue state over higher health insurance costs for retirees

August 2012

  • Aug. 23, 2012 CSEA announces limited state legislative endorsements
    “Many lawmakers who have long enjoyed CSEA support will not have it this year”

  • Aug. 21, 2012 CSEA hails federal court injunction upholding contracts
    Ruling in Nassau lawsuit has broad impact on labor-management agreements

July 2012

  • July 19, 2012 Child care providers, parents confront county with action
  • July 16, 2012 CSEA honors workers during Probation, Parole and Community Supervision Week
  • July 6, 2012 CSEA to summer vacationers and traveling public: Heed expanded move over law/amber lights. “Don’t Zone Out!”

June 2012

  • June 22, 2012 Statement by Danny Donohue, Candidate for AFSCME International President, on AFSCME Election Vote Count
  • June 6, 2012 CSEA hits lack of security in youth facilities
    Aide brutally beaten by youths

May 2012

  • May 21, 2012 CSEA response to incorrect allegations in New York Post
  • May 7, 2012 Statement of CSEA President Danny Donohue in response to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s reforms to protect people with special needs and disabilities

April 2012

  • April 25, 2012 CSEA renews commitment to on-the-job safety and health
    Nearly 1,000 activists to attend educational program in Lake Placid
  • April 23, 2012 CSEA message to New York state drivers: “Don’t Zone Out”
    This week is National Work Zone Awareness Safety week

March 2012

  • March 29, 2012 CSEA ramps up campaign over Tier 6 “Dark Deal”
  • March 28, 2012 CSEA challenges reckless Close to Home initiative as new information emerges about criminal background of youth slated for move into nonexistent New York City programs
  • March 27, 2012 CSEA President slams “self-serving” budget agreement
    Cuomo, Senate and Assembly leaders again put politics ahead of people

  • March 19, 2012 Tier 6 political deal has serious consequences
    Statement from CSEA President Danny Donohue

  • March 15, 2012 CSEA slams Gov. Cuomo, state legislative leaders for putting politics before people
    Union leader criticizes Cuomo’s scorched earth tactics, legislators’ self-interest

February 2012

  • Feb. 27, 2012 Statement of CSEA President Danny Donohue to Partnership for New York City pension letter
  • Feb. 15, 2012 Donohue, CSEA leadership team returned to office
    Vows to lead workers forward
  • Feb. 13, 2012 Statement of CSEA President Danny Donohue on Big Business Tier 6 misrepresentations
  • Feb. 2, 2012 CSEA slams state juvenile justice policy in wake of brutal NYC cop shooting
    Reckless and reprehensible state youth detention releases put public safety at risk

January 2012

  • Jan. 30, 2012 CSEA and Health Research, Inc. reach tentative agreement on contract for 1,500 workers
  • Jan. 17, 2012 Statement of CSEA President Danny Donohue on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed state budget
  • Jan. 10, 2012 Youth aides taking a beating in state facilities
    More than half of workers at Central New York facility out
    due to injuries suffered in attacks

  • Jan. 4, 2012 Statement of CSEA President Danny Donohue regarding Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2012 State of the State address

Dec. 4, 2012 Judge rules CSEA can sue state over higher health insurance costs for retirees

ALBANY – A CSEA lawsuit claiming the state illegally raised health insurance costs for retired state employees will move forward after a federal court judge denied a state motion to dismiss the case.

CSEA and a coalition of other unions sued the state and the Unified Court System (UCS) in December 2011 on behalf of retirees who retired between 1983 and 2011. The lawsuit claimed that the state and UCS violated the contracts that were in effect between CSEA and the state/UCS on the date when each retiree retired, as well as the Contracts Clause of the United States Constitution, when the state and UCS raised retiree contributions from 10 percent to 12 percent for individual coverage and from 25 percent to 27 percent for family coverage effective Oct. 1, 2011.

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 unions asserted that it is illegal for the state to increase costs for already retired members. The unions did not negotiate such increases.

“Nobody bargained for these increases. Not the union and certainly not the retirees living on fixed incomes who are being hit hard by the higher costs,” said CSEA President Danny Donohue. “We’re encouraged that a judge has agreed what the state did may be legally wrong. We are certain what they did is morally wrong.”

U.S. District Judge Mae A. D’Agostino denied the motion to dismiss CSEA’s complaint, ruling that, based on the facts alleged in the union’s complaint, each individual retiree has an individual contract with the state or UCS locking in the percentage contribution that was in effect at the time of each retiree’s retirement. CSEA claimed that this percentage is locked in for the life of each retiree.

Judge D’Agostino ruled the union’s arguments had satisfied the legal standard to allow the case to proceed to the discovery phase of the litigation.

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Read the decision

Aug. 23, 2012 CSEA announces limited state legislative endorsements
“Many lawmakers who have long enjoyed CSEA support will not have it this year”

ALBANY – CSEA will endorse a limited number of candidates in New York state legislative races this fall.

The limited endorsements come following extensive review within CSEA. For two years, lawmakers rubber-stamped state budgets that undermined state operations, and shortchanged localities and schools and they forfeited oversight responsibility on important public policy issues. They also imposed a property tax cap that is causing fiscal chaos in local government and school district budgets.

Additionally, lawmakers made a dark deal with Gov. Andrew Cuomo last spring trading support for onerous and unnecessary public employee pension tier changes in exchange for favorable legislative redistricting.

“Many lawmakers who have long enjoyed CSEA support will not have it this year because they abandoned the working people of this state,” said CSEA President Danny Donohue. “CSEA is holding lawmakers accountable for their actions. The CSEA endorsement has to be earned or else it has no meaning.”

CSEA’s limited endorsements are only going to candidates who stand with working people.

CSEA’s endorsement normally brings financial contribution, statewide get-out-the-vote expertise – mailings, phone calls, printing, grassroots volunteers, and other benefits – along with internal union resources and activities to reach the extensive CSEA membership in every part of the state.

“CSEA members will aggressively campaign for our endorsed candidates,” Donohue said. “Just as important, beyond this election we will work to mobilize members to be even more involved in the legislative process – regularly communicating with elected officials and challenging them when they don’t do what’s right for working people.”

CSEA also released its endorsements for federal races, topped by support for U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.

“Senator Gillibrand has been an outstanding advocate for New York and a voice of reason within the U.S. Senate,” Donohue said. “Our congressional endorsements also reflect support for candidates and challengers who will stand up for reasonable and responsible government that works for all Americans.”

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2012 CSEA Endorsements

NYS Congressional

United States President: Barack Obama

United States Senate: Kirsten Gillibrand

CD 1: Timothy Bishop
CD 2: No endorsement
CD 3: Steve Israel
CD 4: Carolyn McCarthy
CD 5: Gregory Meeks
CD 6: Grace Meng
CD 7: Nydia Velazquez
CD 8: Hakeem Jefferies
CD 9: Yvette Clarke
CD 10: Jerrold Nadler
CD 12: Carolyn Maloney
CD 13: Charles Rangel
CD 14: Joe Crowley
CD 15: Jose Serrano
CD 16: Eliot Engel
CD 17: Nita Lowey
CD 18: Sean Patrick Maloney
CD 19: Julian Schreibman
CD 20: Paul Tonko
CD 21: Bill Owens
CD 22: No endorsement
CD 23: Nate Shinagawa
CD 24: Dan Maffei
CD 25: Louise Slaughter
CD 26: Brian Higgins
CD 27: Kathy Hochul

NYS Senate

SD 4: Ricardo Montano
SD 11: Tony Avella
SD 12: Michael Gianaris
SD 13: Jose Peralta
SD 15: Joseph Addabbo Jr.
SD 18: Martin Malave Dilan
SD 20: Eric Adams
SD 21: Kevin Parker
SD 23: Diane Savino
SD 27: Brad Hoylman
SD 28: Liz Kruger
SD 33: Gustavo Rivera
SD 34: Jeffrey Klein
SD 40: Justin Wagner
SD 55: Ted O’Brien
SD 60: Michael Amodeo

NYS Assembly

AD 3: Dean Murray
AD 5: Alfred Graf
AD 6: Phil Ramos
AD 9: Joseph Saladino
AD 12: Andrew Raia
AD 14: David McDonough
AD 25: Nily Rozic
AD 31: Michele Titus
AD 32: Vivian Cook
AD 34: Michael DenDekker
AD 35: Jeffrion Aubry
AD 38: Michael Miller
AD 39: Francisco Moya
AD 42: Rhoda Jacobs
AD 43: Karim Camara
AD 47: William Colton
AD 49: Peter Abbate Jr.
AD 52: Joan Millman
AD 54: Rafael Espinal
AD 59: Alan Maisel
AD 60: Inez Barron
AD 66: Deborah Glick
AD 76: Micah Kellner
AD 77: Vanessa Gibson
AD 78: Jose Rivera
AD 79: Eric Stevenson
AD 81: Jeffrey Dinowitz
AD 85: Marcos Crespo
AD 86: Nelson Castro
AD 87: Louis Sepulveda
AD 90: Shelley Mayer
AD 91: Steve Otis
AD 92: Thomas Abinanti
AD 93: David Buchwald
AD 94: Andrew Falk
AD 97: Ellen Jaffee
AD 98: Annie Rabbitt
AD 99: James Skoufis
AD 101: Claudia Tenney
AD 103: Kevin Cahill
AD 104: Frank Skartados
AD 106: Didi Barrett
AD 107: Cheryl Roberts
AD 109: Pat Fahy
AD 110: Phil Steck
AD 111: Angelo Santabarbara
AD 113: Carrie Woerner
AD 118: Marc Butler
AD 127: Al Stirpe Jr.
AD 128: Sam Roberts
AD 135: Mark Johns
AD 141: Crystal Peoples-Stokes
AD 149: Sean Ryan

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Aug. 21, 2012 CSEA hails federal court injunction upholding contracts
Ruling in Nassau lawsuit has broad impact on labor-management agreements

CENTRAL ISLIP – CSEA is hailing a federal court blocking an attempt by Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano to unilaterally reopen union contacts. The lawsuit, filed by CSEA in June, protects the rights and benefits of 6,000 CSEA-represented Nassau County employees, but also has broad national implications for labor-management relations.

U.S. District Judge Arthur Spatt granted an injunction against a recent Nassau County law that would give the county executive the authority to unilaterally reopen contracts, modify health benefits and furlough employees to provide fiscal savings. The judge upheld CSEA’s contention that law would violate the contracts clause of the U.S. Constitution and render agreements meaningless.

“This ruling should send a strong message that politicians can’t just ignore contracts because it’s more convenient than acting in good faith,” said CSEA President Danny Donohue, who was the plaintiff in the union lawsuit.

“There are many ways that labor and management can find common ground and work together if there is a willingness to seek solutions,” Donohue said. “Unfortunately, too often today’s polarized politics are about scapegoating public workers and quick fixes that poison working relationships.”

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July 19, 2012 Child care providers, parents confront county with action

Hauppauge, N.Y. – Thursday, July 19, 2012 at 6 p.m. in front of the Suffolk County H. Lee Dennison Building in Hauppauge, VOICE/CSEA is bringing together union members and leaders, child care providers, parents and Suffolk County community members in a coordinated action to urge Suffolk County officials to work with them to address the current child care crisis and protect child care subsidies for working families.

More than 1,200 children and families lost child care subsidies on Friday, July 13, 2012. Losing child care subsidies and access to quality child care has both an immediate and lasting economic and social impact on our communities.

The recent changes in subsidy eligibility have had a devastating impact on lives and work in our community.

“This is unacceptable for those children who need safe, quality early learning and care to support healthy development and success in kindergarten and beyond; and their parents, who without child care subsidies, have to leave their children in illegal, unregulated care or leave their jobs,” said Darcel Leone, Family Child Care Provider, Lake Ronkonkoma. “The county executive can do the right thing and restore subsidies to 185 percent of the federal poverty level.”

“Reductions in parent eligibility impact those of us who care for children receiving subsidies: registered family, licensed group, and informal child care providers; daycare centers and school age programs. When parents can’t afford regulated child care, good providers and programs that employ community members have to lay off workers and even close, making our already bad local economy even worse,” said Trudy Trujillo, Group Family Child Care Provider, Central Islip.

They say the reality is job loss for parents, child care providers and their staff assistants and credit downgrades for small child care businesses and parents. Children often end up in illegal or
underground, unsafe care. Children lose access to food and nutrition programs and educational opportunities. Employers and businesses suffer too when their employees don’t have reliable child care.

“My family came together to help me in the beginning, but it’s come to the point where I can’t afford child care anymore. I’m having trouble paying my bills and then my car broke down and I had to buy a new one. So, between the car, daycare and rent, there is nothing left over for food
and living. I even tried to call for food stamps but got denied; yet here I am having trouble feeding my kids. This program meant so much, because this is how families can work and know they can leave their kids in a safe place and get the proper care while they are out there trying to work and make a living and be able to afford it because, if you have a private babysitter you don’t know they’re safe. It is peace of mind to know that they are in regulated care. Plus, they were a part of the food program which ensures proper nutrition. Now, my kids are bouncing from family member to family member and there have been times that I have had to leave work because something doesn’t work out and my job has been jeopardized,” said Jennifer Hernandez, a parent.

“Research shows families are less likely to advance and get out of poverty when the cards are stacked against them and that that investing in child care leads to economic stability and growth for our communities. The bottom line is that investing in child care benefits the local economy. Child care subsidies keep parents working, advancing and off welfare rolls,” said Damaris Samolinski, Family Child Care Provider in Islip.

“We must keep parents earning and children learning to turn this economy around, not send working parents straight to the unemployment line and onto welfare rolls,” said CSEA Long Island Region President Nick LaMorte. “These early years are the most critical for a child’s brain development. What happens before kindergarten shapes and influences our future work force.”

“Access to quality child care is fundamental to ensuring an educated work force and bright, productive future child care subsidies offer stability of care and access to quality care that many lower income parents can’t afford. Families rely on child care subsidies to ensure that although they are struggling to get ahead; their children still get the best start in life. Child care providers care for children from the first few weeks or months of life. They have profound and far-reaching effects on the children’s development and their ability to succeed in school. A nurturing and interactive relationship is essential to a child’s fundamental building blocks,” said Keishya Coltrain, Group Family Child Care Provider, West Babylon.

“When we began to work with child care providers back in 2002, I was immediately impressed by the dedication and sense of calling each one brings to her work each and every day. Through VOICE and CCPT, we represent over 20,000 home-based child care providers in 57 counties outside New York City. CSEA and our 300,000 members across the state are also committed to work to restore parent eligibility and secure funding for child care subsidies at all levels of government – here in Suffolk and every county across the state, in Albany, and Washington, D.C.,” said LaMorte.

There is a ripple effect in the economy when parents lose child care subsidies.

“I was working at my mom’s daycare, but I lost my job because of the cuts. Now, I have a part-time job someplace else but while working for my mom, I was going to school full time and my mom was helping me pay for going to Nassau Community College. I’m hoping things will turn around and work out because as it stands right now, the way things are for us, I don’t think I can go back to school next semester,” said Nizza Tasayco of Brentwood.

“Our government officials and leaders need to work with us to do more. It’s that simple,” said LaMorte.

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July 16, 2012 CSEA honors workers during Probation, Parole and Community Supervision Week

ALBANY – CSEA President Danny Donohue today recognized union members across the state who work in probation services by declaring July 15 – 21, 2012 as “Probation, Parole and Community Supervision Week.”

“On behalf of the 300,000 CSEA members across New York state, I am pleased to recognize our members who are 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 have an important dual role in the public safety field. Not only they work with the justice system to protect the public from crime, violence and abuse, but they also aid in prevention, helping rehabilitate law offenders to rejoin society in a positive way.

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 realizes the high level of commitment and the special dedication these workers have to the public they serve.

The downturn in the economy has caused the crime rate to increase in recent years, causing an increase in the number of cases probation professionals must handle to keep the public secure. “When the economy is at its worst, the public needs government services the most,” Donohue said.

“Like a lot of public services, the work probation professionals perform goes unnoticed by the general public because we don’t see it every day,” Donohue said. “But make no mistake about it, 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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July 6, 2012 CSEA to summer vacationers and traveling public:
Heed expanded move over law/amber lights.
“Don’t Zone Out!”

CSEA – New York’s leading union – is ramping up its “Don’t Zone Out” distracted driving campaign this summer to increase public awareness about New York’s “move over law” and help save lives.

A January 2012 extension of the “move over law” now requires motorists to move over for amber lights on roadways as well as for red and blue police and fire vehicles. According to CSEA-represented highway work crews, people seem to have gotten the message to move over for police and fire but not yet for road crews; mowers; help trucks; tow trucks and disabled vehicles.

Motorists must change lanes when possible, as they approach vehicles flashing red or blue or amber lights. When it is not possible to move over or there is only one lane, drivers must slow down. Penalties are steep: Violating this law is punishable as a moving violation with 3 points on your driving record and a fine of $275 plus court surcharges and a possible jail sentence of up to 15 days.

Since 1983, 45 CSEA members have lost their lives on the job while working in work zones and in the U.S, nearly 600 workers lost their lives while on the job in work zones in 2010 alone (Source: Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) 2010 ARF, NHTSA.)

“In an instant, lives can change forever because of distracted driving,” said CSEA President Danny Donohue. “That’s just as true for the driver as it is for the workers and their families. The “move over law” greatly reduces risk and if obeyed, it will save lives and anguish.”

Summer is peak travel time for vacationers and also a time of busy roadwork.

Launched in 2010 CSEA’s “Don’t Zone Out” campaign promotes work zone safety with the goal of eliminating distracted driving and making the roads safer for everyone.

Here are some “Don’t Zone Out” guidelines drivers can follow while traveling:

  • Move over and slow down for all vehicles on the side of the road; red, blue and amber flashing lights.
  • Be especially alert while driving through work zones;
  • Observe posted work zone speed limits;
  • Focus on driving – not other activities that could distract you
  • Put the phone down
  • Never send or read text messages while driving
  • “Don’t Zone Out!” Help spread the word. Tell other drivers and your community about staying alert in work zones.
  • Join the Don’t Zone Out Facebook community and help build awareness: www.facebook.com/DontZoneOut

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June 22, 2012
Statement by Danny Donohue, Candidate for AFSCME International President, on AFSCME Election Vote Count

A long, hard campaign has come to an end. From day one, this campaign has been about democracy, transparency and accountability.

Throughout our campaign, our stated goal was to shift the union’s focus away from Washington D.C. to the local level where AFSCME members face critical battles to defend their standard of living and the vital public services they provide.

We believe more of AFSCME’s resources should be devoted to winning the fight on the ground in battlegrounds all across this nation. Our councils and local unions desperately need added support from our national union.

We concede this union election. But, we’re not conceding the need to fight for a better union.

At this convention, Lee Saunders has echoed our goals. AFSCME members are counting on him to live up to those commitments. All of us, together, as one union, we’re going to rebuild, renew, unify and fight the enemies of public services and public workers.

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June 6, 2012
CSEA hits lack of security in youth facilities
Aide brutally beaten by youths

ALBANY – In the wake of a brutal gang assault by residents on a worker at the Brookwood Secure Center in Columbia County, CSEA is amping up its call for better safety measures to protect staff at youth detention
centers run by the state Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS).

“This is further evidence that the state’s current policy for dealing with juvenile offenders not only isn’t working, it’s putting staff at risk,” said CSEA President Danny Donohue. “The state is sending people into a war zone every day, unprotected, and the casualties are mounting.”

The attack last Friday left a direct care Youth Division Aide (YDA) with a broken arm, a possible broken eye socket and stitches to his face after being jumped from behind by four residents who beat him with a garbage can, a telephone and plastic chairs.

The residents were arraigned on charges of second-degree assault and sent to the Columbia County Jail. They threatened further violence against staff would be forthcoming.

Violent attacks on staff by youths in their care have increased at an alarming rate under current OCFS policies.

Earlier this year, the union filed a complaint with the state Department of Labor’s Public Employee Safety and Health (PESH) Bureau after discovering that 19 staff at the Taberg Residential Center in Oneida County, including the facility director, were out of work due to severe injuries suffered in attacks by residents there. Their injuries included two broken collarbones, a concussion, a broken ankle and a dislocated shoulder.

The resulting investigation led to improvements at that facility, including the temporary assignment of additional management staff and increased worker training. However Taberg and Brookwood are symptomatic of a larger problem. According to a report issued by the state Department of Civil Service on state employee Workers’ Compensation claims, YDAs have the second highest on-the-job injury rate of all state job titles.

The state is moving to shift juvenile offenders from upstate facilities into nonexistent New York City-based programs. Existing providers are ill-equipped to deal with this population. State officials have yet to provide details as to how they intend to provide appropriate security, supervision, resources and support.

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May 21, 2012
CSEA response to incorrect allegations in New York Post

ALBANY – Allegations floated by unnamed sources in the Cuomo administration published in this morning’s Inside Albany column in the New York Post claiming that CSEA is attempting to undermine the proposed Justice Center legislation by tying it to unrelated issues are total fiction. Any claim that there is linkage is nonsense.

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May 7, 2012
Statement of CSEA President Danny Donohue in response to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s reforms to protect people with special needs and disabilities

ALBANY – “CSEA is anxious to review the actual legislation and the entire report in close detail but our initial impression is positive. This new initiative appears to have a broad mission to ensure consistent
quality of care and maintain independent oversight of human services in both the public and not-for-profit sectors.

CSEA is particularly encouraged to see that the report recognizes the importance of a strong, well-trained and committed direct support staff.

We all want better care and services for people in need and CSEA members are committed to that goal.”

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April 25, 2012
CSEA renews commitment to on-the-job safety and health
Nearly 1,000 activists to attend educational program in Lake Placid

ALBANY – Nearly 1,000 CSEA safety and health activists will renew their commitment to on-the-job safety at the union’s biennial Statewide Conference on Occupational Safety and Health in Lake Placid, April 27- 29.

“As union members are fighting to protect our jobs, benefits and pensions, it can be all too easy to put workplace safety and health on the back burner,” said CSEA President Danny Donohue. “But safety on the job is one of CSEA’s top priorities and something we have to fight for every day. That’s especially true today, with misguided politicians trying to take away protections workers have fought long and hard to achieve.”

The union members will join the other unions of the AFL-CIO and mark Workers Memorial Day on Saturday, April 28, with a ceremony remembering workers who have passed away while doing their jobs. 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).

CSEA members whose lives will be honored at this year’s Workers Memorial Day event are:

  • Nicole Gaulin, 35, a caseworker at the Orleans County Department of Social Services, who passed away April 21, 2010, from injuries sustained in an automobile accident while on the job;
  • Stacie Williams, 45, a patient care assistant at Nassau University Medical Center, passed away June 16, 2010, due to workplace violence stemming from a domestic incident;
  • Anthony Ruggiero Jr., 48, a Village of Tarrytown Department of Public Works employee, passed away Sept. 6, 2010, while working in a village manhole;
  • John P. Kelly, 51, a state Department of Transportation worker at the department’s Region 8 Eastview Residency in Westchester County, passed away Sept. 6, 2010, while responding as a volunteer firefighter to the Tarrytown village manhole incident that also claimed Ruggiero;
  • Sandra A. Marasco, 49, a program coordinator at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo and a member of CSEA’s Health Research, Inc. Local, passed away Jan. 27, 2011, from injuries sustained in an automobile accident while on the job;
  • Stephan Mueller, 47, a laborer at the City of Glen Cove in, passed away Sept. 17, 2011, from injuries sustained from being repeatedly stung by hornets;
  • John Lattimore, 62, a state Department of Transportation worker in the Capital Region, passed away Oct. 20, 2011, from injuries sustained during a bridge inspection; and
  • Robert DelVecchio Jr., 35, a highway worker at the Town of Mamaroneck, passed away Nov. 11, 2011, after being struck by a recycling truck at the town’s sanitation and recycling center.

CSEA has long led the way nationally in seeking safer, healthier workplaces. The union was instrumental in the 1980 passage of the landmark Public Employees Safety and Health Act, extending OSHA protections to public employees. More than 24 states still do not have similar specific protections for public employees today. The union intensified its fight for safer work sites in 1992 after a disgruntled client murdered four CSEA members working at the Schuyler County Department of Social Services. CSEA’s leadership and persistence, led to the historic Worksite Security Act, which brought about an enforceable Workplace Violence Prevention standard that has made many of New York’s workplaces safer for workers and the public.

Despite the union’s achievements, Donohue said there is still more work to do.

“Despite the strides we have made, going to work is still too dangerous for too many people,” Donohue said. “We still wait for the year when we no longer have to “mourn for the dead” on Workers Memorial Day.”

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April 23, 2012
CSEA message to New York state drivers: “Don’t Zone Out”
This week is National Work Zone Awareness Safety week

ALBANY – April 23-27, 2012 is National Work Zone Safety Awareness Week and April is Distracted Driving month designated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. There is no better time to remind drivers of recent changes to New York state law.

Earlier this year, CSEA successfully lobbied in support of a recent amendment to the state ‘move over law” to include amber lights, expanding the law to protect road workers. Motorists are now required when possible, to not only changes lanes when they approach an incident where there is a vehicle with flashing red lights (such as police or fire) but also for amber lights (road workers). When it is not possible to move over or there is only one lane, drivers must slow down. The penalty is a moving violation, can carry three points and up to $150 fine.

“In an instant, distracted driving can kill and change lives forever,” said CSEA President Danny Donohue.

With the recent upswing in smartphones, gadgets and communications devices in cars there has been an increase in injuries and deaths due to distracted driving. The University of Utah released a study proving reaction time while driving distracted is similar to being legally drunk. Since record keeping began in 1983, 45 CSEA members have lost their lives on the job in work zones.

WHAT THE PUBLIC CAN DO

  • Move over for amber lights
  • Obey posted speed limits
  • Put the phone down and drive
  • Never send or read text messages while driving
  • In work zones, be alert. Focus on your driving
  • Help spread the word.
  • Join the Don’t Zone Out Facebook community and help build awareness: www.facebook.com/DontZoneOut

“The roadwork season is upon us. Scores of our members will be out on roads, bridges and highways. Our men and women are at serious risk for injury or death at the hands of drivers who ignore the law and blast through work zones unaware that lives are at stake, including their own,” said Donohue. “Every driver in New York needs to know the dangers of distracted driving and what to do to make a difference.”

Originally launched in 2010, the CSEA “Don’t Zone Out” public safety awareness campaign for safer roads carries a very simple message to New York state drivers: Be careful driving through roadway work zones: “Don’t Zone Out.”

On April 27-29, CSEA will hold its Statewide Conference on Occupational Safety and Health in Lake Placid. Here, the 300,000 member labor union is renewing its commitment to its “Don’t Zone Out” public safety awareness campaign to help end distracted driving. A new “Don’t Zone Out” Facebook community of nearly 1,500 people helping to spread the message continues to grow and this summer, CSEA is partnering with minor league ballparks across the state through special ???Don??™t Zone Out??? themed nights with giveaways and a powerful video message: “Let’s all get home safe/Don’t Zone Out.”

Nationwide, in 2008 distracted driving killed almost 6,000 people and injured another 15,000. In 2010, the number fell to 3,000 deaths.

In a recent release, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood gave credit to efforts across the country to end distracted driving such as the “Don’t Zone Out” campaign. He said, while there is still much more to do, we are making historic progress when it comes to improving safety on our nation’s roadways. He said through building awareness, we’re saving lives, reducing injuries, and building the foundation for what we hope will be even greater success in the future.

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March 29, 2012
CSEA ramps up campaign over Tier 6 “Dark Deal”

ALBANY – CSEA has launched a new front against the big political giveaway the governor, state senators and Assembly members approved for themselves and political appointees.

“Under the cover of darkness, Governor Cuomo, state senators and Assembly members voted an outrageous perk to themselves and their highly paid political cronies within the Tier 6 legislation,” CSEA President Danny Donohue said.

Legislators and political appointees being paid more than $75,000 annually are all in line to cash in for thousands of dollars every year! The expanded 401(k)-style program lavishes an extra 8 percent of salary, over and above their lucrative pay – literally thousands of dollars – into their individual investment funds. This after Cuomo and lawmakers claimed that New York couldn’t afford decent pensions for low and middle-income front-line public workers any more.

While front-line workers now need 10 years of service to vest in their modest pension program, the politically favored few can literally take the money and run after just one year of service – so it’s like getting a cash bonus windfall they didn’t earn. Even under Tier 5, short-term political appointees would not have qualified for pension benefits until they had at least 10 years of service in the system. Now they benefit after just one year, undermining claims of reform in the public interest.

“The average pension for a CSEA-represented employee is about $14,000 annually after decades of service, but this boondoggle means the politically favored will minimally receive $6,000 annually every year, after one year of service,” Donohue said. “That is totally unacceptable and we can only hope that the public will be as outraged at Governor Cuomo and the State Senators and Assembly members as we are.”

CSEA has TV, radio and print ads beginning in every media market in the state and is prepared to actively take this issue into every community. The union announced last week that it is suspending its political endorsements and contributions as a direct consequence of the governor’s political deal with the legislature that put politics before people.

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March 28, 2012
CSEA challenges reckless Close to Home initiative as new information emerges about criminal background of youth slated for move into nonexistent New York City programs

ALBANY – CSEA today restated the dangers of fast tracking Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Close to Home proposal for shifting juvenile offenders into nonexistent New York City programs as new information has come to light about the criminal background of those individuals who would be moved.

Thirty three percent of residents currently at Limited Secure facilities and 20 percent at Non-Secure facilities operated by the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) had committed violent felony offenses, including aggravated assault and dangerous weapons possession, according to figures CSEA received in response to a Freedom of Information request.

The governor’s initiative will not save any money and the agency has provided little detail about their plans. New York City does not have existing programs to handle this population. The proposal is part of the budget agreement, and has the state funneling money to New York City to help cover costs while walking away from its own responsibility for dealing with youthful offenders.

The budget agreement also includes the legislature giving away oversight authority for state agencies to the sole discretion of the Executive Branch.

“There are real public safety concerns that need to be addressed here,” CSEA President Danny Donohue said. “It makes no sense whatsoever to put felons – violent, repeat offenders – back into the very neighborhoods where they got in trouble in the first place, without any evidence that they will be properly supervised. You can’t just rubber-stamp an undertaking as serious as this without having facts about exactly how and if it will work, but legislators seem to be blindly buying into the administration’s ‘don’t worry, just trust us,’ approach.”

CSEA has long argued the need for change in OCFS facilities, but the agency has repeatedly and recklessly failed to provide adequate staff, training and resources and has ignored deteriorating conditions that have put staff and residents at risk. Additionally, many of the youth in care act out violently and, but for their age, most would be in adult prisons for the crimes they committed. Some also have serious mental health and substance abuse issues that successive OCFS administrations have failed to address, even in secure settings. Many of the youth have been sent by the courts to state facilities after multiple offenses and after less restrictive programs have failed to change their behavior.

In addition to its apparent deficiency, it is also highly likely that the Close to Home initiative will result in many dedicated and highly qualified state workers who put themselves on the line every day, losing their jobs, further undercutting Cuomo administration claims that the state budget will be positive for job creation.

“The rapid and reckless dumping of violent individuals back onto the streets is dangerous and irresponsible and will continue to put unsuspecting communities at risk,” Donohue said. “This will be another Renee Greco times 100.”

Donohue was referring to the murder of Buffalo-area direct care worker Renee Greco by a youth who had been inappropriately released by OCFS to community care. He pointed to that and the shootings of Rochester police officer Anthony DiPonzio and, more recently, New York City police officer Kevin Brennan as grim reminders of the tragic consequences that result from moving troubled youth into the community without adequate resources and supervision.

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March 27, 2012
CSEA President slams “self-serving” budget agreement
Cuomo, Senate and Assembly leaders again put politics ahead of people

ALBANY – CSEA President Danny Donohue today blasted the new state budget agreement as another backroom deal that puts politics before people.

“Governor Cuomo, Senator Skelos and Assembly Speaker Silver have a self-serving sound bite agreement that ignores the horrendous consequences it will inflict on working New Yorkers,” said CSEA President Danny Donohue.

Donohue pointed out that eliminating 400 beds in the mental health system, turning violent youth over to nonexistent programs in New York City, shortchanging localities and some hocus-pocus with the school funding formula will not improve the quality of life for all New Yorkers. These are just some of the ways New Yorkers will be adversely affected by a budget that’s long on public relations and short on actual detail.

“They can color it anyway they want, but the legislature has also given away its oversight authority for state agencies to the executive and that’s just not good government,” Donohue said.

“New Yorkers should understand that the governor’s claims of job creation are just a lot of self-congratulatory political nonsense because devastating cuts in state agencies will lead to real job loss in communities across the state and will undermine services that real New Yorkers depend on every day,” Donohue said. “The governor needs to understand that the loss of a job is the loss of a job – it’s devastating and it’s on his head.”

The budget’s funding impact on localities, schools and health care facilities are also likely to lead to job losses.

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March 19, 2012
Tier 6 political deal has serious consequences
Statement from CSEA President Danny Donohue

ALBANY – “CSEA will immediately suspend all state political endorsements and contributions. This unprecedented action is a direct result of the political deal between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state
legislative leadership, Senate Republicans and Assembly Democrats, trading the future retirement security of working New Yorkers for legislative redistricting lines.

This action is necessary to give our union the opportunity to re-evaluate our political relationships and make judgments about the criteria we use in determining who has earned and deserves
our support. It is also important to consider how our support is valued.

CSEA will also use this time to consult with our brother and sister unions and other allied community organizations about how we can collectively address the disrespect and disenfranchisement of working people by our state’s elected officials.

New Yorkers should understand that lawmakers’ actions did not result from meaningful debate and good judgment – it resulted from political expediency – and it will have harmful consequences to people and communities now and for a long time to come.

CSEA will seek better ways to hold elected officials accountable and ensure that the voices of working people will be heard and addressed in New York state.”

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March 15, 2012
CSEA slams Gov. Cuomo, state legislative leaders for putting politics before people
Union leader criticizes Cuomo’s scorched earth tactics, legislators’ self-interest

ALBANY – CSEA President Danny Donohue slammed Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state legislative leadership, Senate Republicans and Assembly Democrats for a politically expedient deal that trades the future retirement security of working New Yorkers for legislative redistricting lines.

“Tier 6 shoved down the throat of state legislators fixated on their own self-preservation, will be devastating to 99 percent of New Yorkers,” Donohue said. “This deal is about politicians standing with the 1 percent – the wealthiest New Yorkers – to give them a better break while telling nurses, bus drivers, teachers, secretaries, and laborers to put up and shut up.”

Last December, Cuomo pushed for a tax break for the wealthiest New Yorkers that exceeds the pensions of most working people.

There are no immediate savings from the Cuomo Tier 6 plan. Potential savings over decades will only come at the expense of working people. While hard-pressed localities will see no relief in the short term from Tier 6, they will be affected by loss of state services, downsizing and consolidation of vital facilities, along with other aid reductions and a further erosion of their middle class as workers get squeezed or have their jobs eliminated. CSEA pointed out that facts had little bearing on the governor’s agenda.

Donohue criticized the governor’s scorched earth pursuit of his political ambition for giving new meaning to the term “bully pulpit.”

“Regardless of the governor’s glib talking points, New Yorkers should understand that this deal did not result from meaningful debate and good judgment – it resulted from political expediency – and it will have harmful consequences to people and communities now and for a long time to come,” Donohue said. “No good will come from this.”

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Feb. 27, 2012
Statement of CSEA President Danny Donohue to Partnership for New York City pension letter

“The Partnership for New York City’s corporate masters just got a tax break in December that’s bigger than the pensions most working people earn.

Times may be tough but it’s a bit much that corporate CEOs tell future nurses, school bus drivers, highway workers and others to just accept a 40 percent pension reduction.

Elected officials need to keep in mind that retirement security IS an investment in New York.”

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Feb. 15, 2012
Donohue, CSEA leadership team returned to office
Vows to lead workers forward

CSEA President Danny Donohue, one of the most influential and well-respected leaders in the American labor movement, has been returned to office without opposition.

“These are some of the toughest times CSEA has faced in our 102 year history, but there is only one way to go and that is forward,” Donohue said. “I want to thank CSEA members for their confidence in my
leadership.”

CSEA – New York’s leading union – is the largest affiliate of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). The union has grown stronger and larger under Donohue’s presidency, achieving unprecedented organizing success in the public and private sectors and today boasts a membership 300,000 strong. Donohue’s vision led to CSEA recently becoming the representative for more than 25,000 independent childcare providers across the state, under a new model of union representation. Donohue also significantly strengthened the union’s role and influence in both the AFL-CIO and AFSCME, where he serves with distinction as an International Vice President.

In tough economic times, Donohue continues to fight for fairness for middle-class New Yorkers, while protecting public services and the benefits workers have fought so hard to get. The union’s most recent contract with New York state, negotiated in a challenging fiscal environment, kept union members working while protecting their rights and benefits.

Born in Brooklyn, Donohue began his career in public service as an attendant at Central Islip Psychiatric Center. He burst into CSEA’s leadership ranks in 1975 when he won a write-in campaign to become local president there. He became increasingly active in CSEA at region and statewide levels, including becoming Long Island Region president at a very young age.

Donohue was the first Long Islander elected to a CSEA statewide office when he won a five-way race for executive vice president in 1988. In 1994 he became CSEA’s 23rd statewide president.

Expanding CSEA’s outreach and community presence has been a hallmark of his leadership. Donohue’s down to earth personality is his greatest asset, allowing him to connect with rank and file union members and elected officials.

“There is no force in New York more powerful than CSEA when we work together,” Donohue said. “But no CSEA member should take anything for granted. We have to communicate and support each other. There is a responsibility on the part of leaders to provide information, create understanding and build solidarity, but there is also a responsibility on the part of each individual member to stay informed and involved. No one should expect things to just get better unless you are willing to participate.

Also returned to office for four-year terms without opposition were CSEA Executive Vice President Mary E. Sullivan and Statewide Secretary Denise Berkley. Treasurer Joseph McMullen was re-elected.

Sullivan was first elected executive vice president of the union in 1994. Sullivan began her professional career as a social worker and staff trainer in the Herkimer County Department of Social Services. She was CSEA’s first local government division member to serve in statewide office. Sullivan is an International Vice President of AFSCME. In 2009 she was elected president of the Capital District Area Labor Federation, which represents 120,000 union members and their families across 11 counties.

Berkley was first elected CSEA statewide secretary in 2008. Berkley’s union activism began at the Brooklyn Developmental Center. A longtime union activist, Berkley remains committed today to the ongoing struggle for social, racial and economic justice for workers and communities.

McMullen, who has served as treasurer since 2007, is responsible for overseeing CSEA’s budget and ensuring the union’s fiscal responsibility. McMullen is a trained electrician who worked at the State University of New York at Oneonta for 30 years.

Lester Crockett, a longtime activist and leader from the New York State Insurance Fund was elected Metropolitan Region president. Crockett filled the position since last fall following the retirement of George Boncoraglio.
Capital Region President Kathy Garrison was re-elected to her fourth term.

Long Island Region President Nick LaMorte, Southern Region President Billy Riccaldo, Central Region President Colleen Wheaton and Western Region President Flo Tripi were all returned to office without opposition.

The election also filled seats on the union’s 122 member statewide Board of Directors.

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Feb. 13, 2012
Statement of CSEA President Danny Donohue on Big Business Tier 6 misrepresentations

“The Business Council (the lobby for big business in New York state) Unshackle New York (another front for big business interests) and billionaire New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg are all taking shots at state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli for standing up for working people in the Tier 6 debate. DiNapoli has raised legitimate concerns that a 401(k)-style pension option will lead to greater economic instability.

Once again, the corporate interests and the 1 percent are at it trying to demonize anyone who stands up for fairness and consideration of what’s right.

Here are the facts:

  • Historically 83 cents out of every pension dollar has come from investments not taxpayers;
  • The problem is not excessive benefits – it’s Wall Street greed – When investments tanked, they got bailed out and New Yorkers had to make up the pension shortfall;
  • We’ve all seen enough damage to retirement security tied to 401(k) plans.
  • Changing the public employee retirement system to put all the risk on employees will encourage even responsible companies to erode heir pension plans;
  • Wall Street stands to make a windfall on administrative fees if Tier 6 is enacted

It’s a good thing for all of us when retired workers stay in New York and spend their modest pension benefits here after decades of service.”

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Feb. 2, 2012
CSEA slams state juvenile justice policy in wake of brutal NYC cop shooting
Reckless and reprehensible state youth detention releases put public safety at risk

ALBANY – In the wake of the brutal shooting of a New York City police officer by a former resident of a state operated juvenile detention center, CSEA today slammed a state Office of Children and Family Services plan to escalate the release of juvenile offenders from upstate facilities and place them in community programs.

Officer Kevin Brennan was critically injured Jan. 21 after being shot in the back of the head inside a Brooklyn public housing project. The suspected shooter, Luis (Baby) Ortiz, had been released by OCFS from the Goshen Secure Center in Orange County. Police said Ortiz, who had violently assaulted an aide while at the facility, was also wanted for the New Year’s Day murder of 34-year-old Shannon McKinney in front of a Brooklyn supermarket.

It appears that Ortiz was released by the NYS Office of Children and Family Services when his time was served, even though he was in the county jail on assault charges after an altercation with staff and could have had his time extended by the agency.

CSEA is concerned that city agencies and not-for-profit providers won’t be up to the task of dealing with youthful offenders. There is also concern that shifting jobs from the state may open the door to corruption and patronage. The union’s biggest concern is the lack of an adequate plan as to how the proposal would work. There is little detail in the OCFS budget proposal for radically downsizing state youth detention facilities and shifting custody to ill-prepared alternative agencies.

“You can’t just announce an undertaking as large as this and offer no plan or any details whatsoever as to how you intend for it to work,” said CSEA President Danny Donohue. “Still, the public is being asked to blindly buy in with this ‘Don’t worry, just trust us,’ mentality.”

Donohue said the dedicated and highly qualified workers who put themselves on the line every day, often being beaten and battered by youths assigned to their care, are being rewarded by having their jobs eliminated and their futures jeopardized.

Donohue said residents at state juvenile detention centers are put there because they belong there. Many act out violently and, but for their age, most would be in prison for the crimes they committed. Some have serious mental health and substance abuse issues that successive OCFS administrations have failed to address, even in secure settings. Many of the youth have been sent by the courts to state facilities after multiple offenses and after less restrictive programs have failed to change their behavior.

“There are real public safety concerns that need to be addressed here,” Donohue said. “It makes no sense whatsoever to put these felons – violent, repeat offenders – back into the very neighborhoods where they got in trouble in the first place.”

CSEA has been calling for a more responsible approach to New York state’s juvenile justice system for years, warning about dangerously deteriorating conditions at state juvenile detention facilities, including one at which 19 staff, including the facility director, have recently been victims of violent attacks by youths in their care.

News reports recently revealed that 18 out of 33 youth division aides (YDAs) currently employed at the Taberg Residential Center in Oneida County are out of work due to severe injuries suffered in attacks by residents. Their injuries include two broken collarbones, a concussion, a broken ankle and a dislocated shoulder. To cover for their injured co-workers and provide the round-the-clock supervision residents require, the remaining aides must work double shifts, making their physically and emotionally draining jobs even more stressful and more dangerous.

Taberg is symptomatic of a larger problem. According to a report issued by the state Department of Civil Service on state employee Workers’ Compensation claims, YDAs have the second highest on-the-job injury rate of all state job titles.

Violent attacks on staff by youths in their care have increased at an alarming rate under current OCFS policies that include shifting the agency from a correctional model to a so-called “sanctuary model” which centers on reducing or eliminating restraints and providing more therapeutic care. In current OCFS policy, violent youth are not held accountable for infractions that would increase their length of stay in OCFS facilities. Additionally, the Goshen Secure Center has been found in violation of the Public Employee Safety and Health Act by the New York State Department of Labor for not addressing condition that have led to an increase in workplace violence incidents at the facility.

Despite attempts by the union and the aides it represents to work cooperatively with OCFS officials to make the sanctuary model a success, front-line workers were never given the staff, resources and support, to make it work.

CSEA also blames OCFS for creating a myth of empty facilities – deliberately running down resident population at certain facilities by manipulating the transfer of youths to other facilities in order to justify closing the now under populated facilities and move youths into the community, whether community programs were ready to meet their needs or not. Current community-based programs are entirely inadequate to handle the challenges presented by youths being dumped into them. That has led to tragic consequences CSEA believes city officials should seriously consider before buying into the idea of bringing troubled youths into their communities.

“City officials, including Mayor Bloomberg, who welcome this proposal as some kind of jobs bill, better be careful what you wish for,” Donohue said, noting that existing facilities don’t have the resources necessary to deal with the complex array of problems the young offenders will present. “This will be another Rene Greco times a hundred.”

Donohue was referring to the murder of Buffalo-area direct care worker Rene Greco by a youth who had been released by OCFS to her care. He pointed to that and the shootings of Brennan and Rochester police officer Anthony DiPonzio as grim reminders of the tragic consequences that result from moving troubled youth into the community without adequate resources and supervision.

These tragic incidents are only some of the glaring examples of what results when violent youth are inappropriately released into the community.

“OCFS has consistently shown a complete disregard for the safety of staff, residents or members of the community, ignoring the concerns of CSEA, community members and law enforcement officials,” Donohue said. “This rapid and reckless dumping of violent individuals back onto the streets is dangerous and irresponsible and will continue to put unsuspecting communities at risk.”

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Jan. 30, 2012
CSEA and Health Research, Inc. reach tentative agreement on contract for 1,500 workers

ALBANY – CSEA and Health Research, Inc. have reached a tentative agreement on a new four-year agreement. The agreement, which extends through March 31, 2015, maintains health benefits at the current level and continues step increases and longevity payments with minor modifications to the schedules.

“The agreement maintains all the provisions and benefits our members told us were important to them,” said CSEA President Danny Donohue. “That is quite an accomplishment in times such as these.”

Health Research, Inc. is a not-for-profit organization structured to receive and administer grants for research on all forms of cancer and communicable diseases, AIDS and bio-terrorism.

Among the highlights:

Wages

  • 0 percent increase on base salary for fiscal year 2011;
  • 0 percent increase on base salary effective April 1, 2012;
  • Negotiations will be reopened to determine salary increase for 2013; and
  • 1 percent minimum increase on base salary effective April 1, 2014 (may be more based on 2013 wage reopener).

Other highlights:

  • Downstate adjustment continued at current level;
  • Tuition reimbursement funding continued at current level for life of contract;
  • Pre-tax transportation account extended to workers throughout the state (previously NYC only) and now includes parking expenses

The agreement covers approximately 1,500 CSEA-represented employees in a wall-to-wall unit that includes clerical, administrative and scientific staff at various locations throughout New York state. Primary centers
include the Corning Tower in Albany and Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo.

The agreement is subject to ratification by the CSEA membership.

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Jan. 17, 2012
Statement of CSEA President Danny Donohue on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed state budget

ALBANY – “Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposed budget lays out some complex challenges in many areas. CSEA remains concerned that the governor seems out of touch with the day-to-day challenges that public workers in both state and local government face as a result of his budget priorities. Too many necessary services in every part of the state are deteriorating because people are working short staffed and at risk without adequate equipment, training and backup.

“CSEA has no hesitation in saying that the proposal for a new public employee pension tier is an assault on the middle class and a cheap shot at public employees. It will provide no short-term savings and will mean people will have to work longer, pay more and gain less benefit. Simply put, the Tier VI provisions would be onerous on working people and undermine middle class security and the governor ought to be more concerned about that.

“The governor’s proposal of a 401K style option as part of Tier VI would certainly be attractive to highly paid political appointees who could max out their contribution, have it matched by the public employer and take it with them as they come and go. It’s a lot different for front-line career employees who have to worry about whether being at the mercy of Wall Street ups and downs will provide them with adequate retirement security 30 years from now.”

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Jan. 10, 2012
Youth aides taking a beating in state facilities
More than half of workers at Central New York facility out
due to injuries suffered in attacks

ALBANY – The head of New York’s largest public employee union said workers in state juvenile detention facilities are literally taking a beating at the hands of youths assigned to their care.

CSEA President Danny Donohue warned about increasingly dangerous conditions in the facilities, including one where 19 staff, including the facility director, have recently been victims of violent attacks by youths in their care. The union leader said the workers are also victims of a complete lack of support or concern for their safety from officials at the state Office of Children and Family Services, which runs the facilities.

“For years, CSEA has consistently and loudly warned about the danger front line workers at OCFS face and it’s time someone listens before anyone else gets hurt,” Donohue said.

Currently 18 out of 33 Youth Division Aides (YDAs) employed at the Taberg Residential Center in Oneida County are out of work due to severe injuries suffered in attacks by residents. Their injuries include two broken collarbones, a concussion, a broken ankle and a dislocated shoulder. To cover for their fallen co-workers and provide the round-the-clock supervision residents require, the remaining aides must work double shifts, making their physically and emotionally draining jobs even more stressful and more dangerous.

Taberg is symptomatic of a larger problem. According to a report issued by the state Department of Civil Service on state employee Workers’ Compensation claims, YDAs have the second highest on-the-job injury rate of all state job titles. CSEA blames the injuries at Taberg on insufficient staffing and training needed to deal with the influx of residents from the Tryon Girls Residential Center in Fulton County, which shut down last year. The union said the arrival of female residents has changed the make-up of the previously all male facility, increasing the risk for violence against staff there.

Violent attacks on staff by youths in their care have increased at an alarming rate in recent years since OCFS began shifting from a correctional model to a so-called “sanctuary model” which centers on reducing or eliminating restraints.

OCFS officials have repeatedly ignored the union’s concerns that front line workers aren’t being given the resources and support, including adequate staffing levels and proper training, necessary to make the sanctuary model work. Donohue said there is no evidence that OCFS has any plan to ensure that the appropriate resources will ever be provided and CSEA is concerned that continued cutbacks in state operations will make conditions even more dangerous.

“For too long, OCFS has shown a complete disregard for the safety of its staff,” Donohue said. “We cannot afford to continue policies that compromise public safety and put youths and staff at risk. We need a commitment to provide the leadership and resources necessary to ensure the safety and well being of youths, staff and the community.”

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Jan. 4, 2012
Statement of CSEA President Danny Donohue regarding Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2012 State of the State address

“Governor Andrew Cuomo presented a challenging vision of New York’s future and CSEA fully expects to be actively engaged in discussion and debate with the administration over the details.

I am frankly surprised that the governor gave such high priority to a new pension tier with emphasis on immediate impact. A Tier V was only recently enacted and will not provide the state and localities with any significant savings for many years. A Tier VI would be no different and would only mean that working people would have to work longer, pay more and benefit less – hardly in keeping with the governor’s goal of strengthening the middle class.

Finally, it was disappointing that the governor’s appropriate recognition of first responders to the recent series of natural disasters seemed to focus on the uniformed services without real appreciation for the wide range of front-line state and local government employees who were essential in New York’s addressing the emergency. Many of these workers put duty first to respond while their families faced risk and devastation. So many of these workers are at risk from state and local cutbacks and property tax capping.”

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Pilgrim Psychiatric Center Named Top Performer

Pilgrim Psychiatric Center was named as a top performer for inpatient psychiatric care by the Joint Commission for the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO). “Your staff has demonstrated impeccable work ethic, great commitment and dedication,” wrote Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in a congratulatory note. “You have made us proud and I urge you to welcome the challenges ahead and continue striving for success.”

March 2013 Work Force

Read the March 2013 Work ForceMarch_WF_thumb

Prepare for the NYS secretary and keyboard exams

test_takingThis CSEA members-only test prep workshop is offered to help our members prepare for the NYS Secretary 1 & 2 and Keyboard Specialist 2 exams being given by NYS on April 27 & 28, 2013.
Download a flier with more information

Educational Article Archive

A Foreword from Communications Specialist Mark Kotzin:

In my travels throughout our Region, I regularly consult with union editors about what they can do to enhance their newsletters, websites, or blogs, and what they should write about. I always tell them that their newsletter/website/blog content should contain an even mix of three things: inspiration, information and education.

Inspiration can come from our elected leaders or activists who are impassioned about what we are doing and what we aspire to as part of our union. When someone is passionate about something, it can have an infectious quality, making other people want to experience what fires people up. We hope that we can inspire some of our members to get involved by providing them messages of inspiration from their leadership.

Information is what we as union leaders and activists want to share with our members so that they know what is happening. It is the issues we are dealing with, the fights we are fighting, and the solutions we are bringing to the workplace problems our members are presented with. It is when we are meeting; what is happening at our meetings; how we are spending our dues money; and what’s generally going on with our union.

Education is the third cornerstone of any successful membership outreach. Unfortunately, this piece is often overlooked, because many leaders and activists take it for granted that our members know as much as they do about the inner workings of our union, and how members can get involved. This is rarely the case, so to build our union and motivate members to participate, we must reach out to our rank-and-file members who do not know even the basics about our union representation, structure and opportunities, and develop a regular agenda of member education.

To help editors with the educational piece of our mission, we’ve assembled the following collection of general educational articles on topics that apply to most workplaces and most union members. Please feel free to reprint them as is, or to edit them to best conform to your individual needs.

Note: We anticipate adding to this archive as time permits. If you’ve got topics you’d like to see written about in future articles, please e-mail your suggestion.



Articles about CSEA’s Structure & Operations

Articles about Contract Negotiations & Other Struggles

Articles about our CSEA Staff Services

Articles focusing on specific times of the year:


Why Pay Union Dues?

Everyone knows there’s no such thing as a free lunch, and most people admit it’s worth paying for things that return a direct benefit or value, but sometimes it’s challenging to justify why we as union members should pay dues, especially when the return on our investment is not always direct and hard to put a price on.

Often intangible and unseen, but still important!

We can all appreciate the value of negotiated wages and benefits, but much of what we get in return for our dues is intangible. Job security and contractual protections, for example, are not something we can touch or assign a specific cash amount to, but almost everyone agrees they add a significant value to our livelihoods.

At any given time, our union also spends a large amount of resources advocating (sometimes behind the scenes) on behalf of a small segment of our overall members — those facing contract struggles, privatization of our work, budget cuts, or those who are facing disciplinary actions. This means that many of our members don’t see our union advocating with us on a day-to-day basis. What’s important to remember is that — like a good insurance policy — our union is there and offers us protection if and when we need it. Those resources don’t come for free.

In fact, much of our dues goes to pay for our union’s professional staff – several hundred across the state and at our Albany headquarters. While many activist members may know their Labor Relations Specialist or other Region staff professionals, we have so many other staff professionals who may not regularly interact with members in our workplaces, yet they are still hard at work on our behalf. Unfortunately, out of sight is often out of mind, but these workers and their valued services (more on these to follow) shouldn’t be taken for granted.

Would it surprise you to hear that many of our members think their union dues are too high? Probably not, because we frequently hear complaints, but not from our activists. Those who take the time to get involved in our union become much more aware of the value of the many benefits and services we get from our union dues. CSEA also compares our dues structure to what other unions charge and we believe our rates to be among the most competitive for the range of benefits and services we deliver.

Fiscally responsible

You should also know CSEA takes the stewardship of our money very seriously, and has many safeguards and regulations in place to make sure our money is spent responsibly and in accordance with all laws and accepted accounting standards. One thing we do not stand for and will actively investigate and prosecute is financial mishandling of our members’ dues monies. To this end we:

  • Ensure all our Treasurers are properly trained through mandatory Treasurer’s Training;

  • Our elected officers are bonded to insure that the union is held harmless in the unlikely event of any financial transgressions;

  • Have a written Financial Standards Code that must be followed by union officials;

  • Have an internal Judicial Board that investigates and prosecutes allegations of misconduct;

  • Submit financial reports to the Federal Labor Department as required;

  • Have a mandatory audit process at every level to ensure that budgets are in compliance with our financial standards and all laws; and

  • Require changes to our dues structure to be voted on by your elected Delegates, to ensure your voice is heard in our union democracy.

We want you to understand what your dues money pays for — tangible or not — so you can be aware of the value you receive for the money you pay. So here is a brief listing of the many things you get back in exchange for your union dues, followed by a breakdown of how every dollar is spent.

Protection: When And If You Need It
As stated previously, your CSEA membership provides protections you may never need, but you have the security of knowing are there if you do. Those protections include: a grievance process to fight contract violations; a union attorney free-of-charge for arbitrations; the ability to file Improper Practice Charges to fight state labor law violations; due process for disciplinary matters; local attorneys on retainer for job-related legal matters; staff assistance developing strategic campaigns to fight issues that threaten jobs such as budget cuts, consolidation, and contracting-out; and a binding, legal contract giving you guaranteed rights and protections as an employee.

Local, Professional Staff Representation
Our CSEA Region staff professionals work out of the union’s Satellite Offices in Binghamton and Canton and the Region Office in East Syracuse. They work closely with your elected Unit and Local officers to mentor, train, and help deliver the union’s service to you in a timely and professional manner. They are available at all times to assist your leaders with your labor relations needs. Those professionals include: Labor Relations Specialist; Occupational Safety & Health Specialist; Communications Specialist; Political Action Coordinator; Organizer; Region Director; and additional support staff.

Outstanding Member-Only Benefits
Probably one of the most noticeable ways you can see your CSEA membership paying you back is through your available union benefits. These benefits and discounts, gained through the mass buying power of thousands of union members across New York and millions across the nation, combine to give you more value for your union dues dollar than any other union. CSEA has a Member Benefits Department that works hard to add even more benefits and helps get the word out about the ones you currently enjoy. Among those benefits are: career development services, a discount buying service; travel discounts; college scholarships; optional insurance plans; and more!  Log-in to the members-only area of CSEA’s website at www.cseany.org for a more complete listing.

A Statewide Support Network
The union employs a centralized professional staff in Albany to support our activists and the staff professionals working with you in our Regions. CSEA’s size makes it possible to provide a level of professional staff services not traditionally available from other labor unions. Support services such as: a Safety and Health Department with a certified Industrial Hygienist and other Safety specialists; a Research Department with budget analysis services to back up your negotiations; a Field and Member Services Department to keep an eye on your issues and assign appropriate staff, as well as assist with member mobilization efforts; a large, in-house Legal Department to handle cases, answer questions, file suits on your behalf; our Communications Department to help promote CSEA’s messages to the public and to keep in touch with you; an in-house Print Shop to handle our printing needs; our Information Technology Department helping keep CSEA on the forefront of technology and linking CSEA’s Headquarters, Region, and Satellite Offices; an Education & Training Department to help train CSEA’s leaders, activists and members to run a better union; and our powerful and respected Political Action Department which helps promote pro-public employee legislation, works to get rid of anti-union public officials, and assists in strategic campaigns to pressure our Legislators to keep public services public, give us fair wage increases, and stop management from trying to balance their budgets on our backs.

A National Support Network
Beyond the Albany connection lie your ties to millions of union members across the nation, through CSEA’s affiliation with AFSCME, one of the largest affiliates of the AFL-CIO. This international union network not only gives us more clout and a stronger voice in New York State, it also gives us: the support of more than 500,000 AFSCME members across New York State; professional staff assistance from AFSCME staff where required or requested; protection from being raided by other unions in the house of labor; Federal political clout on national issues that could effect your job or livelihood, such as the fight to save Social Security; and access to national benefit programs like the AFSCME Advantage Credit Card, The UnionPlus Mortgage Program, Career Counseling and Personal Legal Services Plan.

Money Back Locally
Nearly a quarter of your dues money is returned to your CSEA Local to be spent on you. That money can be used for negotiating expenses, membership meetings, member/officer training, office supplies, information days, social gatherings, and other direct benefits to you. A portion of that is also rebated back to individual Units for similar expenditures.

Overall Breakdown
Overall, you can see that the money you contribute in dues comes back to you in many different ways. For every dues dollar, here is approximately how it is spent:

  • Direct services – .30
    These include professional staff for negotiations, enforcing contracts, legal assistance, health & safety, organizing, member benefits promotion, etc.

  • AFSCME/AFL-CIO affiliation – .24
    To keep our union strong, we belong to AFSCME, which makes us members of the AFL-CIO and gives us access to money-saving programs, professional staff services, federal issue advocacy, and the solidarity of our union brothers and sisters across the country.
  • Support services – .20
    These include expenses to maintain our CSEA offices, record keeping, printing, information technology, etc.

  • Local/Unit Rebates – .16
    A portion of your dues money is returned to your Local/Unit to fund grassroots activities.

  • Member education – .03
    This includes training for officers and activists, running elections for union offices, annual delegates meetings, region conferences, “lunch ‘n learn” programs, etc.

  • Public relations – .04
    This includes subscriptions to our union newspaper and other publications, as well as TV, radio, newspaper and internet advertising to promote the image of our members and to oppose public policy issues harmful to us.

  • Political Action – .03
    Because our bosses are elected officials, we have to be involved in politics, as messy as that can get, to make sure we don’t get the short end of the stick when big corporations and the wealthy and politically-connected are seeking to make gains at our expense. That means lobbying to defend our interests and support legislation that improves our work and home lives, supporting politicians who will support us, and opposing those who scapegoat working people.

We hope that this somewhat lengthy explanation makes it easier for you to understand the value you receive from your union dues. If you have any further questions about how your dues money is spent locally, you should talk to your Local or Unit treasurer, who should be able to answer them or direct you to the appropriate source of information.


Building our union: Why and how we should do it

How the “that’s what I pay dues for” mentality breaks down our effectiveness and what it really means to be a member-run union

Many of our rank and file members have never understood how CSEA is structured to function as a member-run union. Because of that, they frequently expect our union’s elected officers and professional staff to run the union for them, because “that’s what we pay dues for.” This false understanding of our structure severely limits our ability to function effectively for all our members.

Power from the People

The power of CSEA does not come from our elected officers, or our paid professional staff. It comes from our rank-and-file members — those who pay dues, who stand united on common issues and concerns, and who take the time and initiative to get involved. Sure, paying union dues helps CSEA administer many benefits, programs and services for our members, but it does not change our basic member-run structure. Our members still lead our union, and maintain a responsibility to participate to the best of their abilities.

Yes, we do have an excellent team of staff professionals to offer guidance, advice, mentoring and training to our elected officials and members. And yes, CSEA does invest a lot of time, money and education to help our elected officers be the best and most effective representatives they can be, giving them the tools they need to effectively represent their members.

But in order to truly be effective, CSEA needs our members to do their part as well. One of the popular analogies we like to use is that it’s hard to do battle if it’s only the generals charging up the hill, without their armies behind them.

Our union is not only member-run, but we are also New York’s most democratic union. We allow all dues-paying members in good standing to take part in the union in so many ways: by electing our representatives at every level of the union – from statewide, to locals/units, to those who serve on our Board of Directors; by running for union office; by voting on our contracts; by electing those who vote on changes to our Constitution & ByLaws; by conducting our business in an open and transparent manner; by serving on union committees; by constantly seeking volunteer involvement; by attending union meetings; and by participating in union functions or activities.

Fighting The Enemies of Solidarity

Like most unions built on the foundations of worker solidarity and unity, we are only as strong as our weakest link. Without participation from the membership, we cannot as easily achieve our common goals. We must constantly work as hard as we can to build and strengthen our union. To do so, we fight several common enemies:

  • Lack of awareness: When our members don’t know what we’re all about, what we can do by working together, when we meet, and about opportunities to participate, we lose some of our effectiveness. A few ways to combat this are new employee union orientations, regular meetings, union information days, and increased communications (see below).

  • Apathy: If our members don’t feel that they get anything from our union, they are naturally hesitant to take part. We must work to keep the union relevant to all members, so that we can get workers involved and active.

  • Time constraints: We all lead busy lives. It takes time to hold meetings and to get the work of the union done. The more people who volunteer a little time, the less time it takes overall to get things done. All we ask is that you do what you can in the time you have available. We’re all volunteers here, and we can use all the help we can get.

  • Disenfranchisement: In CSEA we strive to be inclusive, NOT exclusive. We must always reach out to all workers who are affected by our issues and not just the ones close by. Better workplace mapping and increased communications (see below) can help in this regard.

  • Poor communications: We can be as strong and effective as we want, but if we fail to communicate properly with our members and other stakeholders, we limit our ability to function and motivate people to participation. With increases in technology come new ways to communicate — from e-mail to web sites, from bulletin boards to newsletters — we must utilize every available means to get our union’s message out to our members and others we communicate with.

Tools for Building Our Union, Our Future

Union building pays off in many ways, from strengthening us at the negotiating table, to improving our working conditions and our workplace morale. It can even have personal benefits, giving activists a newfound sense of purpose, enhancing their leadership skills, and even affording them a new social outlet. The union can serve many people in many ways; it just takes a continuous effort to keep building steam. With that in mind, here are a few suggestions for building our union and boosting our effectiveness:

    • Increase Outreach – Map our workplaces and know who works where. Try and get volunteers from all locations to participate and make sure notices are posted everywhere. Have contact people at every work location.

    • Increase regular communications – Start a union newsletter or web site. Make sure your bulletin boards are regularly updated with fresh, relevant information. Hold regular meetings – face-to-face communications is always more effective. Collect personal e-mail addresses for quick news updates.

    • Increase member/leader education – Hold new employee orientations, setup union Information Days and take part in trainings offered by the union’s Education & Training Department. For specialized needs, schedule a specialized training at or near your workplace.

  • Increase contact with union staff professionals – our union does not stop at the Local or Unit level. If our professional union staff are made aware of issues, they can assist with accessing resources from our entire organization, and help to mobilize members to help their brothers and sisters in our struggles. Remember to call on your union staff, invite them to your meetings, and bring them into your worksites when appropriate.

Working together, all of us united, we can help build our union, and our future.


Member vs. Agency Fee Payor: What’s the big difference?

Many people don’t understand the difference between a CSEA dues-paying member and an agency fee payor. In fact, many people represented by the union mistakenly believe they are full-fledged members of CSEA, when in fact they are not. Let’s examine the difference.

As a union, CSEA has a duty to represent any worker holding a title in our bargaining unit. Due to state law, everyone protected by the union must pay for their representation, either by paying union dues, or an equivalent amount called an “agency fee.” The agency fee law makes it so that the union doesn’t have people ‘freeloading’ off of other members; getting the benefits of our excellent representation, without having to pay for it. It’s only fair.

So just by getting a job in a CSEA-represented title, you’re automatically an agency fee payor, represented by CSEA, but that DOES NOT automatically make you a dues-paying member. In order to become a full member of this union, with all the rights and privileges associated with membership (more about those in a moment), you actually have to sign a dues authorization or membership card and submit it to CSEA. Once you do that, you’re in – you’ve become an official dues-paying union member – and it doesn’t cost a penny more!

What signing that card does mean for you is that you open yourself up to more rights and benefits than you had before. Chiefly, and most important to the majority of workers we talk to, is the right to vote on your union contract, and to vote for your union officers. You can even run for union office yourself, once you’re a dues-paying member. Agency fee payors CANNOT participate in these opportunities. We often ask agency fee payors, why would you allow yourself to pay the same as dues, but not have a voice in your contract and how your union is run? You’re paying for it anyway; you might as well take advantage of our full union democracy.

By becoming a full dues-paying member, you also gain access to all of CSEA’s member-only benefits. These are benefits offered outside of the realm of the union contract, only for union members. Many are offered through our affiliations with AFSCME and the AFL-CIO, and also due to our immense buying power as a labor union with nearly 300,000 members statewide. Such benefits include: all of our optional group insurance plans (often with the convenience of payroll deduction); the AFSCME Advantage MasterCard; loan programs; discount shopping programs; a subscription to CSEA’s monthly newspaper; and more. You can find out more about our members-only benefits by visiting CSEA’s website at www.cseany.org.

How do you know if you’re NOT a dues-paying CSEA member? Unfortunately, it’s not so easy to tell. One good clue is that you don’t receive the CSEA monthly newspaper, The Work Force. Also, your paycheck may have a code next to your union deduction that designates “Agency” instead of “Dues” or something similar. Many times, people don’t find out their true status until it’s time for a union vote, and their name does not appear on an official membership list. By then, it’s usually to late to sign up to participate in that election. If you’re not sure, you can always contact CSEA’s Membership Department at 800-342-4146, ext. 1331.

So maybe you’ve never been approached to sign a membership card before. Maybe you said you’d get around to it, and just haven’t found the time. Maybe you were a member, but went on a leave for more than six months and allowed your membership to lapse. Whatever the reason, it’s never too late to sign up. To get an official membership application, ask your nearest Unit or Local Officer, call CSEA at 800-559-7975, or download one from www.csealocal1000.org. The rest is up to you.


Why Union Community Service?

As public service workers, we are already integrally involved in our communities, and many of our members are individually involved in community organizations, charities and service groups. But the same thing that brings us together in the workplace — the concept of strength in numbers — is the same thing that can and should make us a driving force in our communities by developing union-sponsored community service programs and initiatives.

Not only do these things bring us together for the common good, and serve a useful function in our community, but it also puts a better, more human face on CSEA and our members, so that when we look for public support in our contract and other struggles, people who we’ve helped are more likely to return the favor. When it comes to seeking public support, we cannot underestimate the value of good will generated by our past visible community efforts.

Joining together in Community service also gives our members another means to participate in a union activity. You may have co-workers who would never find it interesting to come to a membership meeting or volunteer for some worksite union activity. Those same co-workers, however, might get energized over participating in a union-sponsored community service project. As we’re always seeking more ways to involve more members, this is another great way to reach out and build our union.

And it’s not as hard as you might think. It could be as simple as setting up a workplace drive to collect food, toys, clothing or even blood. It could be as advanced as putting together a walk-a-thon, run-a-thon, bike-a-thon, bowl-a-thon or phone-a-thon to raise money for local charities. Or it could be having your CSEA members donate their time and talents to do neighborhood cleanup or improvement projects, or plant flowers, or build houses! The possibilities are only limited by the amount of time and energy your union and your co-workers are willing to invest. Other union Locals have done these types of events very successfully.

And we don’t have to wait for the holidays to do our event. In fact, due to the large number of charity events and community service initiatives that go on during the holiday season, we actually stand a better chance of gaining volunteers and getting visibility for our efforts if we do our project at any other time of the year.

Whatever the event, it should be your Local’s own effort. If you would like assistance in coming up with an event idea, please talk to a representative of our Region Member Services Committee — they’ll be glad to help. On e good idea is to tie in your Community Service Project with a program or charity that your members are already involved in or skilled at (see below for a listing).

Ultimately, our success with Community Service Projects depends on two factors — getting our members to participate and publicizing what we’ve done. Our CSEA Region Communications Specialist has the expertise to assist your Local or Unit with both, getting the word out through fliers, postcard mailings, and even our Region Web site, and helping you contact the media to get coverage of our efforts. Call him at 800-559-7975 ext. 4227, for assistance.

Find charities/programs with natural CSEA “Tie-Ins” such as:

  • Children’s hospitals where we represent workers;

  • Camp/youth programs operated by municipalities we represent;

  • Social Service-related charities;

  • School programs where we represent district support staff;

  • Office for Aging programs;

  • Veteran’s Affairs programs;

  • Literacy programs held at libraries run by our members;

  • Child safety program with DSS or Health Department workers.

Or, try to “tie-in” the talents/skills that our members have through their jobs,
for example:

  • Have tradespeople work on construction projects, i.e. Habitat for Humanity;

  • Have bus drivers volunteer for Meals on Wheels;

  • Have groundspeople volunteer to work on community beautification projects;

  • Have phone operators work on telethon-type events.


InfoDays: Bringing Our Union to YOU

With life getting busier by the day, it seems that fewer and fewer people have time to attend Union meetings or functions, or to read about the union in our CSEA newspaper, so our leaders are faced with a very real challenge — how can we get the word out to our members about all the benefits and services available through CSEA membership?

Here’s one way… if we can’t bring the members to the union, we bring the union to the members — with a CSEA Info Day.

The concept of an Info Day is very basic. CSEA will set it up at your workplace (with permission from management) or a nearby location, where our CSEA Region staff professionals and the benefit providers who provide us services can set up tables explaining what services/benefits they provide. This is an excellent opportunity to pick up materials and ask questions of those who know best about our benefits and services.

We try and plan these opportunities to coincide with lunchtimes, shift changes or break periods, so that you don’t have to miss work in order to attend. Additionally, food is often provided by the Local or Unit sponsoring the event, and there are usually door prizes and free giveaways available.

Some of the usual benefit providers who attend include:

 

  • A CSEA Member Benefits Specialist

  • A CSEA Employee Benefit Fund representative (for those with EBF vision and dental programs)

  • Your CSEA Communications Specialist

  • Your CSEA Political Action Coordinator

  • Your CSEA Occupational Safety & Health Specialist

  • Your CSEA Labor Relations Specialist

  • A CSEA Organizer

  • A CSEA/AFSCME P.E.O.P.L.E. Program representative

  • A CSEA/NYS Labor-Management Committee representative (for State employees)

  • Pearl Carroll & Associates – Our exclusive provider for CSEA optional insurance plans and free Retirement Counseling services

  • A representative from Empire/Davis Vision (offering discount vision care services)

  • Representatives from your Health Benefit providers

  • A representative from your Credit Union

  • And many, more!

 

 

CSEA is happy to set up Information Days for any group of members. The union even has a guidebook available to assist in planning your event. Talk to your local CSEA Leadership, or have them call your CSEA Communications Specialist at 800-559-7975 to discuss bringing YOUR union to YOU.


Why Have A Union Newsletter?

Because we are a member-run union, in order to make our union function successfully, we must do everything we can to communicate regularly with our members and keep everyone informed, and hopefully more involved. We realize that in order for members to participate in our union functions, they must know when they are and what’s going on.

The best way to communicate is always face-to-face, so that people can get their questions answered and our union officers know that their message is being heard and understood, but we know that it’s often impractical to speak face-to-face with everyone, especially in larger workplaces. We also know that it’s tough to get people to attend meetings with everyone’s busy schedules, so one of the best ways we can get our message out through mass distribution is through a newsletter.

The union newsletter can serve multiple purposes. It can give messages of inspiration from our leaders, and provide our members with an insight as to their elected officer’s visions of how they believe the union should function.

It can also give information about what’s going on, what the union is currently involved in, accomplishments of union officers or members, and other general facts such as meeting dates, committee reports, and so on.

Finally, we can use the union newsletter as a tool for education. Much of what we do as a union is somewhat involved and technical, and many rank-and-file workers find themselves confused over the processes we have to go through for things like grievances, arbitrations or contract negotiations. The newsletter can help educate our members about the behind-the-scenes operations of our union, and also let them know how they can participate.

Inspiration, information, education. Three goals we can aspire to achieve through our newsletter. We can only reach those goals, however, if our members get the newsletter and take the time to read it. They will only do this if they feel the news includes them or their workplace, and is relevant to them. In order to do this, we need to know what YOU want to read about. Would you like to read worker profiles, articles about what happens at conferences, committee meeting reports, or just more general educational articles? If you let us know that you’ll read it, we’ll take the time to write it.

Lastly, you should know that putting together a newsletter can be a time-consuming process, and it’s being done by workers just like you. It goes faster, however, and becomes more representative of all our work locations and job titles if we have more people working on it. So if you like what you see, or you want to volunteer to help make it better, give our Newsletter Editor a call and offer up your help. We’ll be glad you did!


What Do YOU Want from YOUR Union?

We say it a lot, but we’re not sure how many members actually get the fact that this is THEIR union. We really are a member-run union, and our success or failure hinges upon the involvement and participation of the people who we represent.

So it’s really up to you what you get from YOUR union. Are you someone who likes getting involved and helping make changes that will positively impact our workplaces? Or are you someone who doesn’t want to get involved, and you’re okay with the status quo? Maybe you’re happy with how your union functions, or maybe you think it’s time for a change.

Either way, as your union officers, we can’t fix what we don’t know is broken. Put another way, we can’t do this all by ourselves. Some people have the strange notion that we get paid to represent them. Would it surprise you to learn that your union officers are all volunteers and don’t get any compensation, except for the occasional reimbursement for travel or other union expenses?

Our union will always be stronger if we have participation. This could be members stepping up to serve on committees, run for union office, or simply registering their opinions as to what we should be doing as a union. We may be many things – dedicated, persistent, committed to fighting for our members, but there’s one thing we’re not – psychic.

If you truly want our union to be the best it can be on behalf of all our members, then we need you to let us know how you feel about the direction your union is headed. Give us an idea of how we’re doing as officers. We’re not looking for accolades and awards here, we just want to know what you think we’re doing right, and what we can do better. And if, by chance, you might want to volunteer to join us in helping make our union better, why we’d be more than happy to have you aboard!


What YOUR Union Expects of YOU

CSEA members often have great expectations of their union representatives, but many don’t realize that their union representatives have equal expectations of them.

As a member-run union, YOU are CSEA, not just your elected officers and our professional union staff. In order to function effectively, we need you to do what you can to be a good union member. Unfortunately, most members have never gotten a good explanation of what that means, so here, in no particular order, is what you should do (please do as many as you can) to be a good union member:

  • Learn how our union is structured and who to contact with concerns or workplace issues. You need to know who to call if you need disciplinary protection or if your rights are being violated. Keep this information posted in your worksite.

  • Read your union contract. You can’t know your rights are being violated if you don’t know what they are.

  • Read our union newspaper. We try to include news from all over that’s relevant to all our members.

  • Visit www.csealocal1000.org – We regularly update the union’s web site with important information. Register with a member account, and you have access to member-only areas with valuable information.

  • Read your union mail. We try not to send mail that isn’t important, so please take the time to read whatever we send you.

  • Attend your union meetings if you can. We know it’s often hard to make time for union meetings, but if you can’t, you should provide your leadership alternate contact information. At minimum, take it upon yourself to find a union officer or someone who did attend a meeting and find out what occurred.

  • Volunteer if you can. Since 99 % of our union representatives are volunteers who step up to help their fellow workers, we are always looking for shop stewards, grievance representatives, committee members and future officers and leaders. If you can give some of your time, CSEA will provide the training to give you the tools to do the job right.

  • Vote on your contract. To give our union power, we must show our strength when it comes to voting on our contract. A weak turnout for a contract ratification vote signals a weak or apathetic membership, and can hamper our efforts to build our power and get better contracts in the future. You should also be aware of what’s going on during the negotiations process, and be supportive of your Negotiating Team as they work to get you a fair contract.

  • Vote for your union officers. Our union democracy is only strong when our members vote for their leadership at every level. These are the individuals who give you a voice at the statewide level and who work with our staff to get the work of the union done. We need to elect qualified members to properly represent us.

  • Join the CSEA/AFSCME P.E.O.P.L.E. Program. PEOPLE is our union’s federal lobbying arm that helps us fund the important national political battles that impact CSEA members and their workplaces. From fighting for increased funding for public facilities, to stopping the privatizing of Social Security, we can only do this if we all chip in a few dollars a paycheck to give us a say on the national political scene.

  • Hold your union representatives accountable. Our union is only as strong as its weakest link, and in the rare case where representatives are not performing to the best of their ability, the union needs to know, so problems can be avoided. If you are dissatisfied with your union representation, advise your union leaders or staff so that we can work together to make a better union.

  • Hold your elected public officials accountable. We must keep an eye on candidates for public office who support our issues as union members, and who support the work we do as public workers, and exercise our privilege to vote in every election. When union members band together to vote for or against a candidate, it shows that we collectively have power that we don’t have as individuals.

  • Run for union office if you want to help make a difference. If no one steps up to fill our leadership positions, we end up with people who do it because no one else will. That’s no way to run a union, and we’re all about giving our leaders the tools and education to help be effective.

  • Take advantage of the many union trainings CSEA offers to give you the knowledge and skills to help properly advocate for your co-workers.

  • Ask new employees to join the union. If new workers come to the workplace, they don’t know that they’re not union members, and may never join unless asked. Give them information about who their union representatives are, try to set up a CSEA orientation for them, and give them a membership card to join.

  • Advocate for your fellow co-workers by reporting workplace issues. Your union representatives can’t handle your concerns or workplace problems if we aren’t aware of them. We cannot function effectively if everyone looks the other way or adopts an “I’ll let someone else do it for me” attitude. If you are aware of a workplace issue or safety concern, you have a responsibility to pass it along the union chain of command to make sure it can be addressed.

  • Be willing to stand up for someone else’s cause. Most CSEA members only get involved when they themselves are the ones being impacted. In order for the great power we gain from “Solidarity” to be effective, we must all be willing to step into the fight, even if we are not personally impacted. That also means you shouldn’t cross picket lines of other unions, and you should avoid supporting known anti-union employers.

  • Buy American! If everyone who complained about the loss of good-paying American jobs overseas would restrict himself or herself to buying American-made products and services, there would be a lot fewer job losses to complain about.

  • Mentor your younger co-workers in union activity. If you get involved with the union, share your successes with your co-workers and get them involved, so that we can build our future leadership and a sense of relevance for the union.


What YOU Can Expect From YOUR Union

As a CSEA member, you have certain rights that you can expect from your union membership. Here is an overview of some of those rights:

You have the right to join our union (or not). When you first come to work for a CSEA-represented organization, you should be informed of that right and invited to join the union by signing a dues authorization (membership) card. Due to the State’s Agency Fee law, you pay the same rate regardless, but signing that card gives you the ability to participate in union elections and gain valuable member-only benefits. If no one ever asked you to join the union, you can certainly take it upon yourself to ask your union leadership for a card to sign, or go online to www.csealocal1000.org to download a membership application.

You have the right to be fairly represented. If your contract is violated, or you feel that your legal rights are being infringed upon, you have the responsibility to report that to your union leadership, often your certified grievance representative or shop steward, to initiate an investigation. Your union officers then have the responsibility to follow up in a timely manner to ensure the appropriate legal response (if there is one). If you feel that your leadership is not satisfactorily handling your concerns, you do have the right to go up the CSEA chain of command to seek satisfaction.

You have the right to be treated with honesty and respect. These are part of the values that make up our CSEA mission statement, and what we strive for every day.

You have the right to inclusiveness. Every group and every idea is welcomed and we strive for full participation from the membership, no matter where you work.

You have the right to certain legal representation. If you are being disciplined or interrogated in relation to a disciplinary action, you have the right to have a union representative accompany you into any such hearing or investigation. If your disciplinary case is accepted for Legal Assistance by CSEA’s Legal Department, you have the right to a union attorney to represent you free of charge. You do not have rights to union representation for criminal cases.

You have the right to speak out, without fear of retribution. You have legal protections offered by Federal labor law when speaking out about workplace concerns or issues. If you fear retribution, make sure your representatives are aware, so that the appropriate legal protections can be implemented.

You have the right to open communications. Our union only works effectively if our leadership communicates with our membership and vice versa. Our leaders have an obligation to make sure you know how we operate and what’s going on, so that you can be informed and participate when necessary.

You have the right to accountability and fiscal responsibility. Our union will be accountable for our actions and decisions, and we will conduct our business in a fiscally sound manner.


How does CSEA pick the candidates it backs in national, state and local elections?

A CSEA endorsement tells you instantly that a candidate stands on your side on issues that affect your life and your livelihood. CSEA only endorses candidates who clearly will fight for the needs of the CSEA membership and candidates who win CSEA endorsements wear them as a hard-won badge of honor.

CSEA’s endorsement process is comprehensive, beginning with Political Action Committees (PAC’s) comprised of CSEA members appointed by their unit and local presidents with executive board approval. CSEA has PACs at the unit, local, region and statewide levels. In each case, the voting records and public statements of candidates who request the union’s endorsement are reviewed at the appropriate level. Candidates are invited to meet with the PAC to answer questions regarding their position on matters of specific interest to CSEA members. This process involves member input at every level.

All candidates for office have the same opportunity to earn a CSEA endorsement regardless of party affiliation. When considering a candidate for endorsement, the PACs examine a wide variety of factors, but the most important factor is the candidate’s record or position on issues of importance to CSEA members.

The union’s endorsement also means more than financial contributions to the candidates who we support. Our endorsement comes with the expectation that our members will be politically active to support our chosen candidates with activities such as literature drops, phone banking, printing assistance and more. We encourage all our members to get politically active, because we realize that by participating in the elections, we are often helping our members select their new “boss.”

The endorsement of the union means that CSEA believes the candidate will best listen to our voice and serve the interests of our members as well as the taxpaying public. Our endorsement is simply a recommendation – we are NOT telling our members how to vote. As New York’s most democratic union, we urge you to make your own informed decisions and to get out to vote on Election Day.


Our Union Contract

Protection…  Security…   A Voice in our Workplace…

These are some of the needs provided by our union contract. At the most basic level, it’s a legal document between management and the union that locks in our benefits, guarantees our wages, and gives us protections that have the force of law behind them. It’s also a living document, being re-negotiated each time a former contract expires, and at times being subject to legal reinterpretations.

There is not much that’s more important to our every day working lives than our contract. It sets our terms and conditions of employment, and lets us know what is generally expected of management and workers. It helps define how we can be treated, and instills a general sense of fairness that doesn’t exist in non-union workplaces. Because this is such an important document, it is of the greatest importance that our members: 1) know what the contract says and speak out when their contractual rights are being violated and 2) get as involved as possible in the negotiations process and support our union negotiating team.

So how does our contract come about? It’s a collaborative effort between many parties. Our elected CSEA leadership, in cooperation with our professional union staff negotiators and with our members’ input and involvement, negotiate the contract on behalf of all our members. At every point in the negotiating process, we welcome and encourage member involvement/participation. Members are appointed by our Unit President to serve on the Negotiating Team and sit at the table with our chief negotiator and decide what gets negotiated on our side. We also survey our membership to find out your negotiating priorities, and try to keep open good lanes of communication during the process to make sure the needs of our membership are met. When it comes to a contract offer, only our members have the final say, voting to accept or reject any deal reached.

Negotiations is a two-way process, however, and we must stick together, and sometimes fight together, especially in difficult economic times, to win the contract we deserve. We work with our Region Staff professionals to develop strategic campaigns, to mobilize, and to build pressure on management to win a fair contract. We also work within our CSEA Region structure to reach out to other Locals and Units for assistance in our fight, so we don’t have to go it alone.

The resulting contract is a binding document that offers us protection, security, and a voice in our workplace. Once it is in place, our CSEA Labor Relations Specialist works with our elected leadership, appropriate union staff, and management to enforce the terms of our contract, and make sure that our rights are preserved and protected.


Impasse In Contract Talks: What Does It Mean?

Under New York State labor law, when public sector contract negotiations come to a standstill, the union and management have a process they turn to which is designed to bring both sides to an agreement, called the Impasse procedure. This process is often misunderstood, so here’s how it works and what you can expect going through it.

First, Impasse can be declared by either party or jointly by both labor and management. It usually doesn’t come as a surprise, because both parties usually have a good sense at the bargaining table when they cannot make further movement on their key proposals or issues, and they believe that outside assistance might be helpful in moving them closer to an agreement. After a declaration of Impasse is filed with the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB), it sets into motion a three-stage procedure, as follows.

In the first step, Mediation, a neutral Mediator is appointed by PERB to meet with both parties to try and bring them to an agreement. It commonly takes about a month to get a Mediator assigned after Impasse is declared. Once appointed, it can take a few weeks for the Mediator to schedule a session with both parties. In Mediation sessions, the Mediator will normally sit down separately with both parties, and then bring them together to discuss options to get them past their stalemate. Most Mediators will allow themselves up to three meetings to try and reach an agreement, but that’s not set in stone, and there are no set timelines. In some instances, a Mediator may issue a non-binding Mediator’s Report or recommendations, but that’s the exception rather than the rule. It’s not unusual to expect Mediation to take 3 to 6 months to complete. In Central New York, the majority of contract impasses are settled at some point in this Mediation stage.

In the event that an agreement is not reached in Mediation, the process moves on to the Factfinding stage. In Factfinding, PERB appoints a neutral Factfinder to meet with both parties. It is a somewhat more formal process, where both parties meet with the Factfinder and then submit written briefs (similar to legal briefs) and research documentation supporting their positions and proposals. At the end of this stage, the Factfinder will make a written recommendation that is given to both sides. This report is not binding and can be rejected by either side. The Factfinder’s report is usually released publicly once both parties have had an opportunity to review it. This process can also take several months to complete.

If Factfinding fails to produce a tentative agreement between the parties, the process moves on to the third stage of Legislative Imposition, where the governing body for the municipality would impose a one-year contract to cover the first year following the last contact that expired. If it gets to this stage, the Legislature can only impose a wage settlement, which nine times out of ten ends up being zero percent. Everything else remains as it was under our previous contract. We rarely ever get to this stage — most contracts get settled long before this. By the time a contract stalemate gets to this point, we’re usually more than a year working under an expired contract, which means we’re right back at the negotiating table starting from scratch for subsequent contract years.

It’s important to note several key points about the Impasse process. First, at any stage during the process we can still meet with management and even negotiate if there’s progress to be made. If, at any point, our Negotiating Team feels they have a legitimate offer to present, they’ll bring it back for your vote. The important thing to remember is that as a dues-paying CSEA member, YOU have the final say on whether your contract is approved or not.

Also, CSEA does not have the option of going to “binding arbitration” to have a third-party impose a settlement upon management. In public sector negotiations, this option is only available to law enforcement personnel.

Another key point is that during this process, we do not expect our members to sit idly by waiting for information or something to happen. Our goals are to keep you involved in your contract negotiations process, and quickly informed of what’s going on. To that end, CSEA has developed a proven mobilization process that includes increasing communications and putting together a strategy for member involvement that helps build visibility, public awareness and political pressure to reach our negotiating goals. As your chief negotiator, your CSEA Labor Relations Specialist (LRS) can work with your local union leadership and other union staff professionals to put our strategic mobilization plan into effect.

Also, you should know that once Impasse is declared, any ground rules previously agreed to with management about going to the press or publicizing what’s going on in negotiations are immediately invalid. We will utilize the media to get our message out, and there are no news “blackouts.” We strive to keep our members fully informed.

Finally, you need to know that the declaration of Impasse and the process that follows should have NO impact upon your current terms and conditions of employment, until a new contract is agreed upon and ratified by both parties. Under the Triborough Amendment of the Taylor Law, all the provisions of your previous contract, with the exception of salary increases and any language tied to a “sunset” date, will continue unchanged. You are still protected and have binding legal rights under your expired contract, and you should make sure you let your union officers know if anyone tries to change working conditions because the contract has expired or Impasse has been declared.

This article just covers the basics of the Impasse process. Questions about your particular negotiations should be directed to your union officers or your CSEA LRS.


Mobilizing to Fight Our Battles

As a member-run union, CSEA is only as strong as the number of workers we can gather to fight around an issue that concerns us. We call the process of gathering those workers mobilization.

Effective mobilization has its basis in grass-roots activism, and works best when members are excited, impassioned, scared or otherwise impacted in some way by the issue that’s at hand. When it comes to the issues we most frequently battle over — contracts, layoffs, budgets and privatization — we tend to gain involvement from members who are concerned that they might not be able to maintain their wages or benefits, or that they might lose their livelihoods. That fear can be a powerful motivator. Of course, it’s not the only one. As public servants, our members are very mindful of just how valuable their services are to the community and their recipients, and what impact cuts, layoffs or privatization could have on those who depend on their services.

No matter what the motivator, our success in mobilizing depends on being able to harness the collective energy of our members, and get them involved, active, and organized in a strategic manner to successfully fight our battles.

Whatever the issue or fight, our ultimate goal is always the same: to effect change by putting pressure upon those who have the decision-making power on the issue (usually our elected officials). To accomplish this, we depend on direct and indirect political action. Direct political action means our members contacting politicians themselves to get our point of view across. Indirect political action means trying to gain the support of the public and other stakeholders, who can then bring their own pressure to bear on our elected leaders. It is always better to go into battle with outside (public) support, because no matter what we say, the politicians will largely take us for granted because they believe us to be self-interested as union members and workers. On the flip side, we cannot afford to relax our direct efforts, because if we did, those same politicians would then assume we don’t care.

To successfully mobilize and build political support, we have several goals:

    • Organize our workers around the issue – To get members organized, we must first educate them about how the issue impacts them, and how they can get involved to make a difference. If people are motivated and feel they can effect change, they will take the time to get involved, especially if we can make it easy for them to do so. We then strategically plan actions over an anticipated timeline to involve members, building gradually from smaller to larger-scale events, to try and keep the members active in their own fight.

    • Increase member communication/visibility – It helps to build solidarity and unity by keeping up regular communication with members about the issue we’re fighting. It also helps them understand where we are at any given time in the process. It’s also important to publicly show our union solidarity by wearing items like stickers, buttons or tee-shirts to give our members a sense of unity and not fighting alone. These types of things can also boost member morale when fights get long and drawn out (as they sometimes do).

    • Increase external communication/visibility – To gain their support, we must first educate the public about the issue. Before we do so, it is crucial to try and measure existing public sentiment on the issue by looking at what’s been reported in the media, and perhaps doing surveys of our own. By looking at the issue from the public’s point of view, we can often craft an educational message that our services matter to them and that the fight we’re fighting is also their fight. We should reach out to service recipients for their support. We then use various communications methods, including but not limited to car signs, posters, brochures, advertising, demonstrations, news releases, and so on to bring the matter to greater public awareness and hopefully gain support.

  • Take Political Action – There are many ways to reach out to politicians. Often we try and hold small group meetings with key activists and key politicians, but it is the direct contact from members and the general public that will really make the difference. That’s usually done through letter writing, phone calls, e-mails and postcards, but don’t be afraid to think outside the box and setup events like public forums where politicians are invited to hear from members of the community who agree with our position on our fight. Of course, it almost goes without saying that we reach out with special attention to those politicians who’ve earned our political support and endorsement in the past, which usually guarantees us that they’ll be receptive to listening to our point of view.

To reach those goals, we utilize a time-tested process of strategic mobilization, putting all these parts together and gradually building involvement, strength, power and unity over time. If we can accomplish that, we have successfully mobilized the membership, and we’re well on the way to waging (and winning) our battles!


Know Your CSEA LRS

What is a “LRS” and what do they do for me?

In CSEA, the acronym “LRS” is how our leaders commonly refer to our staff Labor Relations Specialists. Within our union, the LRS is the key staff person who assists our leaders and members on a one-on-one and daily basis to mentor, provide guidance and assistance in accessing a variety of benefits, other union staff and services the union has to offer. The LRS does not work for management, he or she is a member of CSEA’s paid professional staff and works for you and reports to our Region Director. His or her main areas of responsibility are as follows:

 

  • Contract Negotiations: At negotiations time, your LRS serves as the union’s chief negotiator. As such, he or she: advises and educates unit leadership and members about the negotiating process; arranges for any needed trainings; helps develop and implement a negotiating strategy and a strategic campaign to support negotiating goals, including the creation of a “Contract Action Team” to provide and promote membership awareness and involvement; speaks on behalf of the negotiating team at the bargaining table; is the staff person authorized to sign contracts on behalf of the union; and oversees the contract ratification process.

 

 

  • Enforcement of Contractual/Legal Rights: Once negotiated, makes sure that the contract is followed by assisting with the filing of grievances. Assists leadership with filing other legal processes, such as notices of claim, improper practice charges and lawsuits to make sure that members’ legal rights are protected. Often assists with disciplinary matters, filing requests on behalf of members to CSEA’s Legal Department to request legal assistance.

 

 

  • Labor-Management Relations: Your LRS can help serve as a liaison between workers and management, and can facilitate better, more frequent communications through a labor-management dialog, either formal or informal.

 

 

  • Leadership Support and Encouragement: When your leaders have questions about the law, contract interpretation, legal filings, CSEA policy, or where CSEA stands on an issue, they can get their questions promptly answered by calling your LRS.

 

 

  • Access to Union Services: Functions as your leaderships’ primary liaison to obtain other specialized union staff services and support such as political action, communications, occupational safety and health, research, legal, member benefits, education and training, insurance, health benefits, field mobilization and organizing, to name a few.

 

 

  • Union-building: Assists and advises leaders in developing internal organizing strategies to build our union and increase member involvement/awareness.

 

 

Your CSEA LRS generally works out of the union’s Region Office in East Syracuse, or one of our satellite offices in Binghamton or Canton. While they spend much of their time on the road meeting with members and leaders, they all have voicemail at their offices, and remain ready and available to work with your unit or local leadership as the need arises.


Meet our Union’s Staff Professionals

CSEA has a number of highly-specialized, trained and professional paid staff who work for the union, both in our Albany Headquarters and our Region and Satellite Offices, whose jobs are to support our members and leaders in the daily business of running our union. In this article, we’ll spotlight a few key staff professionals, based out of our Region Offices.

Our Labor Relations Specialist (LRS) is the chief point of contact for our union officers and activists to access all the rest of CSEA’s available benefits and services. He/she works one-on-one with our officers on a regular basis to help mentor, guide and assist them in all their labor relations needs. He/she serves as our chief negotiator when it’s contract negotiations time, and is responsible for enforcing the terms and conditions of our existing contract, helping fight unfair disciplinary actions, unilateral changes in working conditions, or violations of our contract rights. He/she is also available to act as a resource for Labor-Management relations, helping represent us in meetings with management, and keeping our leaders advised of changes to labor laws that impact us.

Our Communications Specialist, Mark Kotzin, is our union’s spokesperson across Central New York. He works with staff, officers, activists and members to help get our messages heard by the media, the public, our elected officials, and even our own members. He is responsible for helping obtain positive media coverage of union issues/events, and coordinating media interviews of union officials. He’s also responsible for all internal and external communications, whether it’s putting together Letters to the Editor, flyers, informational pickets, brochures, Info Days, newsletters, contract campaigns, press releases, updates for our Region web site or articles for The Work Force, Mark can help with all our union communications needs.

Our Political Action Coordinator, Rick Noreault, helps us strengthen our voice at work. By participating in the political process at every level, from statewide to locally, we help shape the policies and laws that govern our workplaces, and ultimately help elect our own bosses. That’s why CSEA has a Political Action Department. In our Region, all political activities are conducted with the assistance of our Political Action Coordinator. He can help CSEA leaders and activists get involved in the political process in several ways, whether it’s endorsing politicians who will listen to our issues, running voter registration drives, or getting political support to support our issues and fight our battles.

Our Occupational Safety & Health Specialist, Josh Kemp is the person to turn to regarding all matters of workplace safety or health. He works with our leaders to identify and address safety hazards, from minor problems to life-threatening dangers. He can conduct work site walk-throughs to assess existing or potential hazards. He can also help decipher safety laws and regulations designed to protect you, assist Safety & Health Committees and Local/Unit officers and activists in making sure work areas are safe, and can assist in filing safety complaints or conducting training for workers on safety issues. In the event of any serious injury or workplace fatality, he should be among the first people notified to coordinate the union’s quick and thorough response.

Our Region Director, Joe Maratea, heads our Region Office operations, and supervises our entire staff of Regional Labor Relations Specialists. He works closely with our Region leadership, as well as our entire Region staff, to coordinate Regional strategy and resources on all our daily local operations. He also serves in an advisory capacity to our Region leadership team to help set our Region agenda and priorities. On the statewide level, he interacts with the directors of CSEA’s other five Regions and our Director of Labor Relations to coordinate our responses and resources on statewide initiatives.

Our Region Office support staff is headed up by Office Manager Roslie Tallman, who supervises two clerical workers and a receptionist at the Region Office in East Syracuse and two clerical workers at our Satellite Offices in Binghamton and Canton. Aside from maintaining our physical office spaces, the office support staff provides clerical support for all our staff and they handle hundreds of phone calls, faxes, and pieces of mail on any given day.

With the exception of our Political Action Coordinator, our Region Director and our Office Manager, the rest of our staff are members of our two staff unions. Our regular office hours for the Region Office are Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. All staff have access to a voicemail system, to ensure prompt delivery of messages and a timely response. They can be reached at the Region Office by calling (315) 433-0050, or by fax at (315) 433-0915.


Why don’t I see more of CSEA in my workplace?

Rank and file union members often ask this question, mistakenly thinking that because they rarely see a CSEA professional staff representative in their workplace, they are not properly represented by the union. It’s time to correct that misconception.

Look around at your co-workers. Look for your nearest union steward or elected union officer. Then look in the mirror. The faces you see? THEY are all CSEA. YOU are all the union.

Sometimes our members who are not actively involved in the union are unaware that CSEA is a member-run union, and that our power to effect change in the workplace comes from our ability to organize our members around an issue, so we become a more powerful force.

Yes, our union’s professional staff plays a vital role in the process, but under our union’s structure, they are not the front-line people who handle most of your daily issues and workplace concerns. That’s what your network of elected union officers, trained stewards and grievance representatives are there for. They are your co-workers, volunteering to help run our union, and backing you up.

Our professional union staff, many located out of our Region Office or our two Satellite Offices, work closely with your workplace representatives, providing advice, mentoring and access to the many other staff professionals and services available through your membership in New York’s leading union.

So the next time you hear a co-worker ask “why don’t we ever see anyone from CSEA around here?” please ask them to look in the mirror, and remind them that they just did.


Reflecting on Dr. King

As we celebrate African American History month, it would do us well as union members to reflect on the contributions of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to our society, and the important ties he had to organized labor.

While many know that Dr. King was a crusader and activist for civil rights, many people are unaware that Dr. King was also a premier activist for workers rights, and a supporter of the labor movement. While many remember his assassination, how many remember that he was killed while in Memphis to support the cause of striking AFSCME sanitation workers?

Consider these statements King delivered to the AFL-CIO Convention in December, 1961:

“History is a great teacher. Now, every one knows that the labor movement did not diminish the strength of the nation but enlarged it. By raising the living standards of millions, labor miraculously created a market for industry and lifted the whole nation to undreamed levels of production. Those who today attack labor forget these simple truths, but history remembers them.

“…Our needs are identical with labor’s needs — decent wages, fair working conditions, livable housing, old age security, health and welfare measures, conditions in which families can grow, have education for their children and respect in the community. That is why Negroes support labor’s demands and fight laws which curb labor. That is why the labor-hater and labor-baiter is virtually always a twin-headed creature spewing anti-Negro epithets from one mouth and anti-labor propaganda from the other mouth.”

We must remember that Dr. King’s dreams for equality, civil and workers rights, and social and economic justice are still very much issues that the Labor Movement is taking on. We should remember Dr. King’s words and deeds, and use his example to continue the work that needs to be done on behalf of workers of every race, creed, color or nationality. We should continue to fight strong on behalf of workers, and remember the legacy of those who have come before us who sacrificed much for the gains we now enjoy, especially those like Dr. King, who paid with the ultimate price. We must honor his struggle and his dream, and keep striving to overcome.


Honoring The Fallen

On April 28of every year, our union brothers and sisters across the nation observe Workers’ Memorial Day, our annual remembrance of those workers who gave their lives on the job. This is a day we cannot, and must not forget.

Maybe it doesn’t seem relevant to you at your workplace, but think of how the co-workers of those we lost this year must feel. For them, their families and loved ones, the pain is still fresh, the grief is still there, and Workers’ Memorial Day has a very strong and meaningful place in their lives.

There, but for the grace of God, and maybe our union’s continued attention to workplace safety issues, go you and your co-workers. It’s scary and sobering to acknowledge it, but, many times, it could have just as easily been you or the person working next to you.

Unfortunately, we did lose (fill in info about on the job fatalities in the past year). We mourn his/her/their loss along with all those others we’ve lost across the nation.

How can we observe this occasion? Several ways. It can be as simple as an announced official moment of silence, or a more involved memorial ceremony at your workplace where names of those we lost are read aloud.

Finally, as we approach this Workers’ Memorial Day, we must not only remember those we’ve lost, but do all we can to stop any more workers from being injured or killed. Everyone can take part by identifying and being aware of existing or potential safety hazards at their workplace, and reporting them to your union Safety and Health Committee representative. Don’t have a committee? Volunteer to start one – your Local or Unit Officers would welcome your interest.

As always, if you have a situation that poses an immediate threat to you or your co-workers, please call our Region Occupational Safety and Health Specialist Lynnet Witherell at the CSEA Central Region Office at 800-559-7975. Let’s all be careful out there.

 


 

Celebrating American Labor

As we approach the end of summer, we’re constantly reminded in the newspapers that Labor Day is coming.

Unfortunately, it’s not because there are a lot of articles highlighting the accomplishments of American workers, and their contributions to our society — it’s from the many ads promoting the big sales retailers have linked to our holiday.

Let’s take back Labor Day from the retailers and celebrate it as a holiday for workers, to recognize their hard work and dedication, and to remind them that their work matters.

We cannot really lessen the commercialism that has taken some of the meaning away from our holiday or stop the big sales and other promotions from occurring. What we can do is use that very commercialism to further recognize the value of American labor. How? Simple — by buying American and Union made. This will help us keep businesses in our country and help keep jobs here too.

This Labor Day let us all recommit to help turn the American economy around. We must remember that our purchases – each and every one of them – do matter, and we must make a commitment to buy goods and services that are made or provided in the USA.

Yes, we will probably have to pay a bit more, but the high quality products and services we get in return, along with the knowledge that we’re helping to save American workers’ jobs, should more than make up for any price differentials.

On behalf of the American Labor Movement, that, contrary to some reports, is still alive and strong, CSEA wishes every American worker a happy Labor Day – especially those who belong to unions. Enjoy your day – you deserve it.

 


 

Your Vote Counts!!!

As we approach the General Elections in November, it is timely to discuss the importance of the ‘union vote.’

We should point out that there really is no one “union vote.” CSEA is not in the business of telling people how to vote. We do not demand that our members vote for any individual along any party affiliation. Instead, we make carefully thought out recommendations on the candidates who a large group of members feel will best represent the working people who belong to this union. We give those candidates our endorsement and our support, which are often the key to getting them elected. We ask our members to carefully consider our endorsement, and make their own choices when they get to the voting booth. The ‘union vote,’ quite simply, results from the block of workers who educate themselves on the issues, consider the union’s recommendations, and take the time to vote. We don’t think of ourselves as a ‘special interest’ – we think of ourselves as workers banding together to improve our lives and livelihoods.

We’ve heard that our members don’t pay any attention to our endorsements, because they feel we only endorse along party lines, and don’t give attention to candidates who are not liberal democrats. That is simply not true. This union, and especially our Region, has gone to great lengths to make sure we give a fair chance at earning our endorsement to all candidates who request it. Those who have earned our endorsement cross all party lines and affiliations.

So we urge every member who reads this to take the time to familiarize yourself with the union’s endorsements, and make an educated choice on election day. For a listing of all the union’s endorsed candidates for elected office in each region, please consult the November edition of the CSEA Work Force or check our website at www.csealocal1000.org. For information on the union’s endorsement process, you can also call Political Action Coordinator Rick Noreault at 800-559-7975.

We can’t stress enough how important it is for you to vote. We exist in a participatory democracy that only works if we, the people, exercise our right, privilege and duty to take part by voting. Also, as a union of mainly public employees whose ultimate bosses are elected officials, there is a direct impact between whom we elect to office and our working conditions. We cannot afford to neglect or ignore this important opportunity to give ourselves a stronger voice in our own working conditions. And at times where many races come down to a few votes difference, every vote does count – especially yours.

 


2010 News Releases


December 2010

  • Dec. 29, 2010 PEF and CSEA appeal to common sense to avoid layoff of 902 state employees
  • Dec. 28, 2010 CSEA marks a century of community contributions
  • Dec. 10, 2010 Statement of CSEA President Danny Donohue on Gov. David Paterson’s legacy of failure
  • Dec. 6, 2010 CSEA president calls on Gov. David Paterson to rescind layoff plan

November 2010

  • Nov. 22, 2010 CSEA FOIL reveals Paterson administration’s continued top level hiring

October 2010

  • Oct. 28, 2010 CSEA: Gov. David Paterson layoff statement irresponsible
  • Oct. 26, 2010 Statement of CSEA President Danny Donohue to Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s call for state employee layoffs this year
  • Oct. 19, 2010 Media advisory
  • Oct. 15, 2010 Albany to host CSEA’s Centennial Annual Delegates Meeting Oct. 18-22
  • Oct. 15, 2010 CSEA citywide conference brings huge economic benefits to Albany

September 2010

  • Sep. 20, 2010 CSEA files Improper Practice charge over Gov. Paterson’s layoff threats

August 2010

  • Aug. 25, 2010 Labor Day 2010 has special meaning as CSEA marks its centennial year

July 2010

  • July 29, 2010 Comptroller DiNapoli Endorsed by CSEA
  • July 26, 2010 Statement of CSEA President Danny Donohue on Gov. David Paterson’s continuing threat of state layoffs
  • July 16, 2010 CSEA honors workers during Parole, Probation and Community Supervision Week
  • July 15, 2010 CSEA questions impact of OCFS-DOJ settlement on juvenile justice facilities

June 2010

  • June 24, 2010 CSEA President Danny Donohue slams SUNY power-grab
  • June 21, 2010 Statement of CSEA President Danny Donohue on Comptroller Candidate Harry Wilson’s call for NYS Retirement System changes
  • June 16, 2010 CSEA calls for secure future for juvenile justice system
  • June 14, 2010 Statement of CSEA President Danny Donohue in support of New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s stand for the integrity of the NYS Retirement Fund
  • June 7, 2010 CSEA Centennial book is a must-read for all New Yorkers
  • June 1, 2010 Statement of CSEA President Danny Donohue on Gov. David Paterson’s latest counterproductive threats

May 2010

  • May 28, 2010 Statement of CSEA President Danny Donohue on the federal court ruling on furloughs
  • May 25, 2010 Statement of CSEA President Danny Donohue on OCFS promotion of sex party for youth offenders
  • May 19, 2010 Report Echoes Union’s Warning that Reckless OCFS Policies Endangering Workers
  • May 12, 2010 Federal court grants TRO stopping state furloughs
  • May 12, 2010 Statement of Danny Donohue in response to Paterson administration Chief of Staff Larry Schwartz
  • May 7, 2010 An Open Letter to the People of New York
  • May 7, 2010 State Employees From Brooklyn to Buffalo to Rally Against Furloughs in Statewide Day of Action
  • May 5, 2010 Statement of CSEA President Danny Donohue to Gov. David Paterson’s state employee furlough plan

April 2010

  • April 27, 2010 Statement of CSEA President Danny Donohue in response to Gov. David Paterson’s plan to tie budget bills to state furloughs

  • April 27, 2010 CSEA renews commitment to
    mourn for the dead, fight for the living

  • April 13, 2010 CSEA takes first action in challenging Gov. Paterson over state pay delay
  • April 8, 2010 CSEA Members Deserve Better than Gov. Paterson’s incompetence

March 2010

  • March 4, 2010 CSEA Class Action Settlement a Huge Victory for Westchester County Retirees
  • March 3, 2010 CSEA offers alternative to state’s costly use of temporary workers

February 2010

  • Feb. 24, 2010 CSEA Wins Court Order Preventing Layoff Planned For Today; Charges Governor Broke No-Layoff Agreement
  • Feb. 8, 2010 Public Employees Seek Better Choices for New York

January 2010

  • Jan. 26, 2010 Response of CSEA President Danny Donohue to Gov. David Paterson’s latest misrepresentation on state use of temp workers
  • Jan. 19, 2010 Statement of CSEA President Danny Donohue on Gov. David Paterson’s proposed state budget
  • Jan. 15, 2010 Statement of CSEA President Danny Donohue in response to the Paterson administration’s attack on CSEA over the union’s revelation of $62 million being spent on temp agency workers
  • Jan. 14, 2010 Outrageous – Gov. Paterson exploiting temporary workers, wasting tax dollars

Dec. 29, 2010
PEF and CSEA appeal to common sense to avoid layoff of 902 state employees

ALBANY – Members and leaders of the New York State Public Employees Federation (PEF) and the Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA) made a final appeal to common sense in New York state government as Gov. David Paterson prepared to leave office while laying off 902 dedicated state employees as his final act.

Representatives of the unions held a candlelight vigil on the steps of the state Capitol to criticize the misguided action and make a last-ditch appeal to have common sense prevail. Similar vigils took place outside
state offices in Hornell, Endicott, Elmira, Utica and Poughkeepsie. Union leaders said Gov. Paterson is proceeding with layoffs of mostly PEF and CSEA members out of political spite. The layoffs will create personal tragedy for the families involved, while harming New York’s economy and wreaking havoc on state operations.

“The staffing levels at many state agencies already are down to bare bones,” said PEF President Kenneth Brynien. “Not only are these individuals facing incredible hardships, their families are suffering, taxpayers will be affected through the loss of services, and local economies will suffer as well. Gov. Paterson should be ashamed that the final act of his administration will be to punish union members and their families because he wanted to score cheap political points. This historic action has been caused by Gov. Paterson and can be stopped by Gov. Paterson,” Brynien said.

“Gov. Paterson will make yet another nonsensical statement that the union leadership left him no choice but to proceed with layoffs,” said CSEA President Danny Donohue. “By now, the public should be painfully aware
that’s just not true. Gov. Paterson has missed every opportunity to choose a better way. These unnecessary layoffs will link the Paterson administration forever with a legacy of failure,” Donohue said.

The Paterson layoff scheme is using a loophole in a no-layoff agreement his administration made with PEF and CSEA in July 2009, in exchange for pension system reform the administration claims will save taxpayers more than $35 billion. The administration is meeting the letter, but not the spirit, of the no-layoff agreement by keeping the laid-off employees on the payroll until the final day of the Paterson administration. Union analysis of the layoff shows they will produce minimal direct savings to the state budget, while actually harming the economy and undermining revenue-producing state services.

By forcing the issue of layoffs in a six-week period and cherry-picking PEF and CSEA represented positions, the Paterson administration has created turmoil and disruption throughout numerous state agencies.

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Dec. 28, 2010
CSEA marks a century of community contributions

ALBANY – As CSEA concludes its centennial year, the union’s spirit of public service and community support continues to be a vibrant force. Despite the challenges of hard times, CSEA members all across the state continued to give generously and do good for their communities, not just during the holiday season, but throughout the entire year.

From the earliest days of CSEA’s existence, members have enthusiastically supported charitable and service organizations responding to human need, natural disaster and community improvement. In 2010, CSEA members across New York gave of themselves to participate in and support every conceivable cause from well-known organizations such as the American Red Cross, the American Cancer Society and Special Olympics to local community fund-raisers and ad hoc events. Many CSEA groups sponsored their own charitable activities to help their local communities.

CSEA members are also the backbone of local United Way campaigns and the State Employees Federated Appeal (SEFA), contributing millions of dollars to participating organizations.

In October, CSEA members who traveled to Albany for the union’s 100th Annual Delegates Meeting reaffirmed their commitment to community service. Several hundred delegates participated in hands-on community service activities during a designated Day of Service. The projects included an Empire Stroll to raise money for the CSEA Disaster Relief Fund; projects at the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York, the Louise Corning Albany Senior Services Center and the Hudson-Mohawk River Humane Society. Other delegates participated in a disaster preparedness program presented by the American Red Cross and volunteered for the Special Olympics of New York State Polar Plunges.

“Most CSEA members dedicate their lives to serving people on the job,” said CSEA President Danny Donohue. “But we also care about making our communities better places to live and we volunteer and contribute in every possible way.”

“For more than 100 years, CSEA has been focused on making New York a better place. No one should underestimate the selfless impact that CSEA members make in every corner of the state,” Donohue said.

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Dec. 10, 2010
Statement of CSEA President Danny Donohue on Gov. David Paterson’s legacy of failure

ALBANY – “This is a terribly sad time for New Yorkers, and especially for the nearly 900 state employees who will now face the loss of their jobs and an uncertain future because of Governor David Paterson’s failure.

As I stated the other day when calling on the governor to rescind this misguided action, everyone but the governor and some other politicians seem to understand that laying people off is bad for the economy. It takes away paychecks that would be spent in local communities, loses taxes that would otherwise be paid and eliminates front-line employees who actually deliver necessary services that help generate revenue.

It is also a cruel and unnecessary action in this holiday season that will hurt innocent families. No one should ignore the human misery that the governor’s plan will cause to real people.

The layoff plan is nothing but political spite for CSEA holding the governor to a negotiated contract and his no-layoff pledge, as his administration mishandled every opportunity for cooperation and alternative approaches.”

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Dec. 10, 2010
CSEA president calls on Gov. David Paterson to rescind layoff plan

ALBANY – CSEA President Danny Donohue is calling on Gov. David Paterson to rescind plans to issue layoff notices scheduled to go out to nearly 900 state employees later this week.

The union leader said there is no good reason for the governor to proceed with layoffs and the misguided plan is contradicted by news reports that he is lavishing $17 million in discretionary spending on pet projects, coupled with the continued filling of high salaried, top level jobs in state agencies.

“Everyone but the governor and some other politicians seem to understand that laying people off is bad for the economy,” Donohue said. “It takes away paychecks that would be spent in local communities, loses taxes that would otherwise be paid and eliminates front line employees who actually deliver necessary services that help generate revenue.”

“It is also a cruel and unnecessary action in this holiday season that will hurt innocent families,” Donohue said. “No one should ignore the human misery that governor’s plan will cause to real people.”

A CSEA analysis shows that the state savings will be minimal when accounting for required layoff costs and lost taxes.

“The layoff plan is nothing but political spite for CSEA holding him to a negotiated contract and his no-layoff pledge as his administration mishandled every opportunity for cooperation,” Donohue said.

CSEA reached a no-layoff agreement with the Paterson administration in July 2009 in exchange for the union’s commitment not to oppose the enactment of a new Tier V for the state retirement system. The pension reform took effect Jan. 1, 2010, and the administration claimed it would save New Yorkers $35 billion in the long term.

Throughout the past year, the Paterson administration has sought to renege on its no layoff commitment and has repeatedly demanded unilateral concessions from CSEA. While insisting that state’s economic challenges required employee givebacks, the administration ignored all union ideas, big and small for saving money and improving government operations. All the while, the administration continued to fill top-level positions despite a state hiring freeze while taking no other emergency measures.

Donohue also pointed out that the administration’s layoff plan may follow the letter of the law on the no-layoff agreement, but it certainly violates the spirit of the agreement.

“The governor should think long and hard about whether he wants to end his administration with 900 employees following him out the door on Jan. 1 and leaving a lasting legacy of failure,” Donohue said.

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Nov. 22, 2010
CSEA FOIL reveals Paterson administration’s continued top level hiring

ALBANY – A CSEA Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request has shown that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has added 36 top-level management/confidential positions to the state payroll since July 1, 2010, despite a state-hiring freeze. Eighteen of the 36 positions have a base salary in excess of $100,000 per year.

“At a time when the Paterson administration is seeking to lay off rank and file state employees, there is no way this administration can justify this action,” said CSEA President Danny Donohue.

“CSEA believes that necessary work is being undermined in numerous state agencies and it is essential to have qualified employees in place, but in light of the governor’s layoff threat it is outrageous that the administration continues to hire top level personnel.”

CSEA has repeatedly pointed out that the Paterson administration’s layoff attempt is counterproductive and will cost taxpayers while making the state’s economic situation worse.

CSEA has pending FOIL requests regarding hiring at other state agencies.

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Oct. 28, 2010
CSEA: Gov. David Paterson layoff statement irresponsible

ALBANY – “Governor David Paterson’s announcement of plans for 898 state employee layoffs to begin before the end of his term on Dec. 31, 2010 is simply an irresponsible statement by the governor that is not supported by the facts and reality of the situation,” said CSEA President Danny Donohue.

  • Layoffs do not save taxpayers money when the costs are tallied up;
  • Eliminating jobs – whether in the public or private sector – will hurt the economy – eliminating any job is especially bad in difficult economic times.

CSEA also points out that state operations have been so decimated by the Paterson administration that there are no way further cuts can be accomplished without harming the public.

Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Alexander “Pete” Grannis was fired last week for having the courage to speak the truth about the impact threatened layoffs would have on the integrity of his department’s responsibility to protect the environment and New Yorkers. CSEA believes Grannis was simply one individual commissioner giving voice to what all the others know but have not been willing to state publicly. He paid the price for honesty.

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Oct. 26, 2010
Statement of CSEA President Danny Donohue to Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s call for state employee layoffs this year

“CSEA is shocked that the Attorney General, the state’s top law enforcement officer, would advocate breaking the law. Shame on Attorney General Cuomo. He knows full well that the no layoff agreement that the Paterson administration made with CSEA and PEF is legally binding and has already been upheld by the court.

The Attorney General is undermining his own credibility even before he has even been elected governor. He obviously has a lot to learn about managing the state work force, let alone following the law.”

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Oct. 19, 2010
Media advisory

ALBANY – Nearly 1,500 CSEA delegates and guests from across New York are continuing the union’s Centennial Annual Delegates Meeting this week in Albany.

Wednesday, Oct. 20 will mark a very special program commemorating the CSEA Centennial beginning at 1:30 p.m. at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center, which will include multi media presentations and recognition from a number of elected officials and others. The program will be followed around 3 p.m. by the serving of a commemorative centennial cake baked by Villa Italia Bakery in Schenectady. The cake, which will recognize CSEA’s presence across New York, will be on display in the lobby area outside the convention center in the Empire State Plaza throughout the day.

Media Note: Media wishing to cover the public activities of the CSEA Centennial Annual Delegates Meeting should check in to receive credentials at Meeting Room 7 outside the convention center or contact CSEA Director of Communications Stephen Madarasz at 518 598-4705.

Oct. 15, 2010
Albany to host CSEA’s Centennial Annual Delegates Meeting Oct. 18-22
Nearly 1,500 participants will mark the union’s Century of Service

ALBANY – CSEA – New York’s leading union – will mark a century of service to New Yorkers at its 100th Annual Delegates Meeting in Albany Oct. 18-22. Nearly 1,500 delegates, staff and guests will participate in the event which the Albany County Convention and Visitors Bureau estimates will have $1.2 million in economic impact on the local area.

CSEA was founded on Oct. 24, 1910 in the state Capital when a small group of state employees came together to stand up against political patronage and promote merit and fitness in state employment. It was the first formal organization of state employees. Today, CSEA represents nearly 300,000 members in every part of New York in the public and private sector. Earlier this year, CSEA issued a book about the union’s history titled A Century of Service: The Story of CSEA’s First 100 years.

“There is no better place for CSEA to mark our Centennial Anniversary than Albany – the place where our union began in 1910,” said CSEA President Danny Donohue. “CSEA is a unique organization because we literally have members who live in every community in New York. But CSEA’s history over the past 100 years is closely linked with Albany as the site of the state Capitol and so many benchmark events. This is a very special place and our delegates will recognize it as we hold this historic meeting.”

On Monday, Oct. 18, the union will open the week’s activities with a health fair in the Empire State Plaza concourse. More than 40 organizations and health care providers will host information tables in the concourse which will be open to the general public.

Later that same day, delegates will participate in a program focused on the future of the labor movement by well-known labor and social justice activist Bill Fletcher, Jr. in the Hart Theatre of The Egg, at 2 p.m. Fletcher is currently the director of Field Services and Education at the American Federation of Government Employees.

On Tuesday, Oct. 19, delegates will participate in a number of community service projects, including an Empire Stroll to raise money for the CSEA Disaster Relief Fund; hands-on projects at the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York, the Hudson and Mohawk River Humane Society and the Louise Corning Senior Services Center, in addition to participating in a disaster preparedness program by the American Red Cross of Northeastern New York and a presentation by Special Olympics of New York State.

Wednesday, Oct. 20, will mark a very special program commemorating the CSEA Centennial beginning at 1:30 p.m. at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center. The program will include an array of multimedia presentations and recognition from a number of elected officials and others. The program will be followed around 3 p.m. by the serving of a commemorative centennial cake baked by Villa Italia Bakery in Schenectady. The cake, which will recognize CSEA’s presence across New York, will be on display in the lobby area outside the convention center throughout the day.

Following a business session on Thursday, Oct. 21, the Annual Delegates Meeting will conclude with a special program on Friday morning, Oct. 22.

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Media Note: Media wishing to cover the public activities of the CSEA Centennial should check in to receive credentials at Meeting Room 7 outside the convention center or contact CSEA Director of Communications Stephen Madarasz at 518-598-4705.

Oct. 15, 2010
CSEA citywide conference brings huge economic benefits to Albany

Contact Information:

Stephen Madarasz, CSEA Director of Communications
stephen.madarasz@cseainc.org / (518) 598-4705 cell

Michele Vennard, ACCVB President/CEO
mvennard@albany.org / (518)434-1217 x300

ALBANY, NY – The Albany County Convention & Visitors Bureau (ACCVB) is pleased to welcome CSEA, New York’s leading union, to Albany for their CSEA 100th Annual Delegates Meeting. The meeting, which takes place Oct. 18 – 22, 2010, at the Empire State Plaza will bring approximately 1,400 attendees to the City of Albany along with major economic benefits.

The local economic impact from the CSEA Annual Delegates Meeting is over $1.2 million, a reflection of direct spending in hotels, restaurants, travel to and from Albany, as well as other direct expenditures, including food, venue rentals, ground transportation, entertainment and more. Additional ancillary spending for the meeting’s special events totals over $300,000. The meeting is responsible for over 4,000 room nights and is utilizing eight hotels for the citywide convention, including 74 State, Best Western Wolf Road, Crowne Plaza, Hampton Inn Downtown, Holiday Inn Express Downtown, Holiday Inn Wolf Road, Ramada Plaza and The Desmond.

“There is no better place for CSEA to mark our Centennial Anniversary than Albany – the place where our union began in 1910,” said CSEA President Danny Donohue. “CSEA is a unique organization because we literally have members who live in every community in New York. But CSEA’s history over the past 100 years is closely linked with Albany as the site of the state Capitol and so many benchmark events. This is a very special place and our delegates will recognize it as we hold this historic meeting.”

CSEA was the first known organization of state employees when it was founded at the state Capitol in 1910. Since then, it has grown to represent nearly 300,000 workers in every part of New York, including a growing private sector division. CSEA itself employs about 350 people statewide, with more than 200 working out of the statewide headquarters located in Albany. This is the first time the CSEA Annual Delegates Meeting has been held in Albany since the 1950s.

“This is a great opportunity for us to showcase our vibrant Capital City to New York State residents. Our state capital is large enough for a big-city feel but small enough that CSEA meeting attendees can feel connected throughout the city,” said Michele Vennard, CEO/President of the Albany County Convention & Visitors Bureau. “It takes a great amount of effort to coordinate such a large city-wide meeting, and we are pleased to welcome the CSEA 100th Annual Delegates Meeting to Albany to see the benefits from those efforts.”

Overall travel and tourism visitor expenditures in Albany County in 2009 were $797,865,000. Hospitality employment in Albany County accounts for over 16,000 jobs and returns over $60,000,000 in local taxes. The Albany County Convention & Visitors Bureau continues its work to attract groups and visitors to Albany County to benefit the local economy.

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The Albany County Convention & Visitors Bureau, Inc. was established in 1976 to promote the civic and commercial progress of the community through increased development of conventions and tourism. ACCVB currently represents more than 300 member businesses and assists each year in hundreds of regional meetings. ACCVB also operates the Albany Heritage Area Visitors Center, Henry Hudson Planetarium and the Albany International Airport Information Center. For more information, call 518-434-1217 or 800-258-3582 and/or visit www.albany.org.

Sep. 20, 2010
CSEA files Improper Practice charge over Gov. Paterson’s layoff threats

ALBANY – CSEA – New York’s leading union has filed an Improper Practice Charge with the Public Employment Relations Board over Gov. David Paterson’s continued threat of state layoffs despite a binding no layoff agreement for the duration of his term.

The state entered into the agreement with CSEA in June 2009 promising in plain English, no layoffs or threat of layoffs in exchange for CSEA’s agreement not to oppose Tier V pension reform. The pension reform was signed into law in December 2009. The Paterson administration claims it will save taxpayers more than $35 billion over time.

Gov. Paterson has continued to regularly threaten layoffs. CSEA alleges that the Governor’s behavior is a blatant violation of the Taylor Law.

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Aug. 25, 2010
Labor Day 2010 has special meaning as CSEA marks its centennial year

ALBANY – CSEA – New York’s leading union – is marking Labor Day 2010 with an important recognition of its centennial anniversary. CSEA was the first known organization of state employees when it was founded at the state Capitol in 1910. Since then, it has grown to represent every kind of worker in every part of New York, including a growing private sector division.

“A benchmark event like a centennial anniversary provides an opportunity to look back at where we’ve come from and how we got to where we are today,” said CSEA president Danny Donohue. “More importantly, it provides a chance to look forward and try to become better.”

“CSEA has never been bigger, better, stronger at any point in our history, but the challenges we face today have never been greater,” Donohue said. “We wouldn’t be here for 100 years if not for the ability to grow, change and adapt to new circumstances and that must shape our future moving forward.”

“People who bash CSEA don’t know CSEA,” Donohue said. “The vast majority of our members are dedicated to doing the best work possible and adding value to their communities on and off the job. The strength of CSEA is in our members and they are some of the greatest resources in all New York. No one should take that for granted.”

Donohue has issued an op-ed article about CSEA’s history for Labor Day 2010 use. It complements a CSEA book released earlier this year. A Century of Service: The Story of CSEA’s First 100 years chronicles the history of CSEA and growth of New York decade by decade through the 20th century and into the present day. The limited-edition book can be ordered online through the CSEA e-store. There is a link from the home page of the CSEA website at www.csealocal1000.org. Soft cover editions are $20.99, while hardcover editions are $34.99 plus tax. The prices include shipping and handling. Order yours today while they last!

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Editors, Please Note: Danny Donohue’s op-ed article about CSEA’s centennial can be accessed at www.csealocal1000.org, along with a timeline of the union’s first 100 years. Photos and other graphic materials from throughout CSEA’s Century of Service are also available via the CSEA Communications Department at 518 257-1270.

July 29, 2010
Comptroller DiNapoli Endorsed by CSEA
Donohue: “He will lead us forward to meet the needs of today and tomorrow”

ALBANY – CSEA – New York’s leading union – has formally announced its endorsement of New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. CSEA President Danny Donohue said the decision is based on DiNapoli’s demonstrated honesty and competence as comptroller since 2007, coupled with his unblemished record as a public leader.

“Tom DiNapoli is an outstanding and capable leader who has demonstrated character and ability throughout his career in both the private and public sectors,” Donohue said. “No one should doubt his unflinching integrity and commitment to doing what’s right for all New Yorkers – we can’t afford to have anything less in these times.”

“I know and work with the members of CSEA each and every day and it is a distinct honor to receive this endorsement,” said Comptroller DiNapoli. “I share many of the values for which this organization stands: honesty, accountability and fiscal responsibility. Together with Danny Donohue and all of CSEA’s membership, I will work to ensure that our state and local governments make every dollar that we spend count and that our pension fund remains one of the strongest in the nation.”

Beyond the New York State Comptroller’s responsibilities as fiscal watchdog over the state’s finances and the management practices of state agencies, the position has particular importance to CSEA members. As the sole trustee of the state pension system, the state comptroller’s judgment and decisions have enormous implications over the retirement security of more than 300,000 retired and active CSEA members.

“CSEA was instrumental in helping to establish the state retirement system in 1920 and since that time, the state comptroller’s stewardship has always matterd to us,” Donohue said. “As we prepare to begin our second century we have total confidence that Tom DiNapoli will maintain the traditions of New York’s best comptrollers, while leading the system forward to meet the needs of today and tomorrow.”

Donohue pointed out that another important factor in CSEA’s decision to back DiNapoli is the unwavering support for him from CSEA members who work in the Comptroller’s office. “It speaks volumes about Tom as an individual and a manager that the people who know him best are urging this endorsement,” Donohue said.

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July 26, 2010
Statement of CSEA President Danny Donohue on Gov. David Paterson’s continuing threat of state layoffs

ALBANY – “Governor Paterson knows full well that he has a binding agreement with CSEA that has been upheld by the courts precluding layoffs before 2011. He should also know that talk of layoffs under these circumstances is counterproductive, impractical and bad for New Yorkers all around. They may also constitute bad faith bargaining.

It is also important to note that the governor continues to stretch credibility when he insists the state work force must be reduced while his administration refuses to target positions for downsizing through the early retirement incentives. The fact is that the state work force is already stretched too thin to adequately do the job. The governor can’t have it both ways.

CSEA has tried repeatedly to work constructively with the Paterson administration, but its continuing assault on the state work force undermines the very basis of good labor-management relations. All New Yorkers would be better served if Governor Paterson would stop his inflammatory public statements and instead work with the legislature and other parties to solve the state’s challenges.”

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July 16, 2010
CSEA honors workers during Parole, Probation and Community Supervision Week

ALBANY – CSEA President Danny Donohue today recognized more than 2,000 union members across the state who work in probation services by declaring July 18 – 24, 2010 as “Parole, Probation and Community Supervision Week.”

“On behalf of the 300,000 CSEA members across New York state, I am pleased to recognize our members who are probation professionals by declaring this week as Parole, Probation and Community Supervision Week,” Donohue said. “This week is in honor of a work force that deserves much respect.”

Probation professionals are a vital part of every New York state county work force and have an important duel role in the public safety field. Not only do probation professionals work with the justice system to protect the public from crime, violence and abuse, but these workers also deal with the social aspect of 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 realizes the high level of commitment and the special dedication these workers have to the public they serve.

“I urge one and all to join with me and thank the men and women who work in probation,” Donohue said. “They make our communities safer for the betterment of everyone.”

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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July 15, 2010
CSEA questions impact of OCFS-DOJ settlement on juvenile justice facilities

ALBANY – The announcement of a settlement between the New York State Office of Children and Family Services and the U.S. Department of Justice establishing federal oversight of four of the state’s juvenile detention facilities came as a surprise to CSEA, which represents more than 2,000 employees working in the agency.

CSEA has long been critical of OCFS policies and operations that fail to provide adequate staff, training and other resources to run an effective system.

“It’s not entirely clear to CSEA what the news about the settlement will mean for the system or the employees who work in the affected facilities because the OCFS administration has not discussed it with us,” said CSEA President Danny Donohue.

It is clear however that Commissioner Gladys Carrion’s continued tenure at OCFS is not in the best interests of anyone in New York,” Donohue said. “It is incomprehensible that Commissioner Carrion remains in her position considering her record of putting staff, clients and communities at risk while engaging in shameless self-promotion.”

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June 24, 2010
CSEA President Danny Donohue slams SUNY power-grab

“Today’s news release by SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher is a gross distortion of the support for the SUNY Empowerment Act. It wrongly conveys the impression that there is broad labor support for the legislation.

As the representative of more than 12,000 State University employees and tens of thousand more working people who rely on the SUNY system as the last bastion of affordable higher education in New York, CSEA rejects the chancellor’s claim.

There is no broad labor support when the major union representing SUNY employees is not in agreement!

Today’s tactic is intended to steamroll actions that need much fuller examination and debate.

The Chancellor’s statement is part of a power grab intended to outsource more work to private contractors and further undermine the very concept of real public higher education in this state.

Members of the state legislature should be more concerned with the future of their constituents and their children than further empowering a top heavy SUNY bureaucracy and its too-cozy relationship with self-serving private contractors and vendors.

June 21, 2010
Statement of CSEA President Danny Donohue on Comptroller Candidate Harry Wilson’s call for NYS Retirement System changes

“It’s no surprise that Harry Wilson’s prescription for the New York State Retirement system is to further enrich financial fat cats while sticking it to working people. Wilson’s ideas about moving to a defined contribution system are what we’ve come to expect from the corporate world. Maybe hedge fund managers can afford to gamble with their extra millions but the financial security of working people should not be left to the ups and downs of the market.

The great strength of a defined benefit pension system is that it ensures fairness and dignity for people who have earned it through years of hard work.”

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June 16, 2010
CSEA calls for secure future for juvenile justice system

ALBANY – CSEA representatives today presented a detailed and often-graphic account of deteriorating conditions in state operated juvenile detention facilities under embattled State Office of Children and Family Services Commissioner Gladys Carrion.

CSEA also called for a formal commitment from New York state to secure the future of the juvenile justice system.

Union representatives detailed the growing danger and lack of support in facilities under Carrion’s misguided and permissive policies. Carrion has inexplicably retained the support of Gov. David Paterson despite her sanctioning of social events for youth in detention, including one event that turned into a sex party at the Goshen Secure facility last year involving an alleged prostitute and a 15 year-old girl.

“CSEA believes Commissioner Carrion should long ago have been removed from her position,” said CSEA Deputy Director of Contract Administration Mary Rubilotta in testimony before the Senate Task Force on Juvenile Justice. “Obviously neither Commissioner Carrion nor Governor Paterson has any shame or standard of decency.”

Rubilotta stated that Commissioner Carrion has shown complete disregard for the safety of her staff and the community:

  • Last year, the OCFS workplace injury and illness incident rate increased dramatically, from 14.7 percent to 19.6 percent. The agency’s injury costs increased more than any other agency in the state executive branch, up 61 percent over the previous year from $1.6 million to $2.5 million;
  • The death of direct care worker Rene Greco in Lockport last year and the shooting of police officer Anthony DiPonzio in Rochester are prime examples of OCFS disregard for public safety; and
  • Carrion has created a myth of empty facilities – facility populations have been run down because the commissioner has manipulated the transfer of youth to other facilities. The commissioner has also engaged in inappropriate communication with Family Court judges last year when she urged them to avoid the OCFS system – action that represents a dangerous breach of her authority.

In addition to CSEA-represented OCFS employees providing testimony to the Task Force, Rubilotta presented some perspective from CSEA employees at facilities across the state:

“Commissioner Carrion is attempting to change the entire model that our system is built upon, but we do not have the resources to implement that model. They cut staffing and they don’t want to fund more mental health professionals, and the current staff are not getting any more mental health training to deal with these kids. The impact is that the kids are not getting what they need with her new program and it makes the place dangerous, because the kids have no control and we have no control over them, because she doesn’t want them restrained,” said one.

“Before the sanctuary model, there used to be some control and consequences to bad behavior. Kids would move in line and get their food, orderly. Now, if a kid throws juice at you and calls you an “f-in bitch,” it’s OK. There are no consequences,” said another.

“These kids are leaving here worse because they realize there is zero accountability.

The kids are smart. They know they can cause a staffer to be indicated in child abuse, it will take years to clear their name. What the kids say is gospel. We have to fight to clear our name,” said a third.

“CSEA wants to work cooperatively to create a juvenile justice system that will serve everyone better,” Rubilotta said. “No one should ignore CSEA’s history in helping to change the developmental disabilities system in the late 1980s and early 1990s.”

But CSEA will not accept models and policies that compromise public safety and put youth and staff at risk, she added.

“The youth in OCFS charge should have a system that offers them structure and hope,” she said. “The dedicated staff deserve to be treated with respect and the people of New York deserve responsible and effective public policy.”

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Editors, please note: Full testimony is available on the CSEA website: www.csealocal1000.org.

June 14, 2010
Statement of CSEA President Danny Donohue in support of New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s stand for the integrity of the NYS Retirement Fund

“CSEA fully supports New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s position against any attempt to undermine the integrity of the New York State Retirement Fund.

There are few, if any, issues of greater concern to CSEA members than protecting the retirement system. CSEA is proud that Comptroller DiNapoli has demonstrated strength and character in clearly and forcefully rejecting pressure to let the fund be used for political purposes.”

CSEA is applauding DiNapoli for his clear rejection of attempts to pressure him into using the state pension fund to help balance the state budget.
“There have been a number of outrageous and unfounded rumors and erroneous press reports that I will allow a raid of the pension fund to balance the state budget,” DiNapoli said in a statement.

“Let me be very clear: The pension fund will not be used to balance the budget.”

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June 7, 2010
CSEA Centennial book is a must-read for all New Yorkers
ALBANY – CSEA – New York’s leading union – has unveiled one of the most significant
projects of the union’s centennial year. A Century of Service: The Story of CSEA’s First 100 Years,
a book that chronicles the history of CSEA and growth of New York decade by decade through the 20th
century and into the present day, is now available.
It is the story of CSEA, as it has never been told before.

“The history of CSEA is not as well understood or appreciated as it should be??????????¦until now,” said
CSEA President Danny Donohue. “This book is a must-read for CSEA members and every other New
Yorker.”

The story of CSEA is extraordinary in many ways. It is a story about individuals, but it is also a
story about collective action – people working together. Most importantly, it is a story about aspiration:
From the very start on Oct. 24, 1910, the story of CSEA has been about people wanting to do better and
believing it could help make New York a better place. That’s still true today.

When CSEA came into existence, America was just becoming a world power; Theodore
Roosevelt was the dominant political figure of the time; women did not have the right to vote; people of
color were at best second class citizens; cars were just being mass produced and radio broadcasting was
in its infancy.

Since then, we have come through two world wars, a Great Depression; Communism rose and
fell; endless other wars and conflicts; terrorism; we’ve endured cycles of boom and bust; social,
cultural, sexual and technological revolution. Throughout it all, CSEA has grown, changed, adapted and
yet still remained true to its core values.

The coffee table-style book features thousands of photos and other images that complement the
historical narrative. It also includes colorful firsthand comments, anecdotes and other perspective from
key New Yorkers of significance and scores of CSEA leaders and activists.

CSEA has been working on A Century of Service: The Story of CSEA’s First 100 Years for more
than 10 years. Initial efforts focused on organizing all of CSEA’s historic materials and establishing official
archives at the M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections & Archives at the University at Albany. The
work proceeded with guidance from Grenander’s director, Brian Keough, and assistance from graduate students
employed by the university’s Center for Applied Historical Research under the supervision of Associate
Professor of History Ivan Steen.

“This wonderful book would not be possible without the tremendous work done to preserve CSEA’s
historical records at the University Libraries,” said Keough. “CSEA is committed to documenting their long
and rich history by supporting the preservation and access to historical records, which is critical to ensuring the
survival of New York’s heritage from the past century.

“Scholars, teachers, students, and the public can now learn and examine the millions of pages of
historical documents and publications, as well as thousands of hours of audio and video that are now accessible
in the CSEA archive,” Keough said.

“As New York’s oldest and largest public employee union, CSEA has played, and continues to play, a
major role in New York State’s history,” Steen said. “A product of years of research, this lavishly illustrated
volume documents the one hundred years of CSEA’s development from a professional organization to a labor
union. This is an important contribution to the history of public sector unionism.”

Following the work to preserve and order CSEA’s archival material, the union began interviewing key
individuals inside and outside the organization about their role in the union’s history. Nearly 100 video
interviews were conducted and have since been archived at the university and will be soon be available on the
Internet. These activities and materials formed the basis for the book, which was put together by the CSEA
Communications Department.

The limited edition book can be ordered online through the CSEA e-store. There is a link from the
home page of the CSEA website, www.csealocal1000.org. Soft cover editions are $20.99, while hardcover
editions are $34.99 plus tax. The prices include shipping and handling.

Order yours today while they last!

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June 1, 2010
Statement of CSEA President Danny Donohue on Gov. David Paterson’s latest counterproductive threats

“It is unfortunate that Governor David Paterson continues to engage in threats and counterproductive rhetoric instead of focusing on securing a budget that will work for all the people of New York.

It’s also interesting that the governor is making his threats against dedicated state employees at the same time that Kelly Services is advertising for temporary jobs to work in state agencies despite a state hiring freeze and other drastic measures being put forth.”

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May 28, 2010
Statement of CSEA President Danny Donohue on the federal court ruling on furloughs

ALBANY – “Today’s decision is a victory for the rule of law in New York and should make it clear that no governor can run roughshod over people’s rights.

Governor David Paterson cannot disregard his responsibility to all the people of New York to ensure services and responsible government. CSEA can only hope that the governor will recognize that his incompetent and arrogant approach to New York’s budget crisis has been entirely counterproductive.

CSEA members are working harder every day under increasingly difficult working conditions. We have offered numerous ideas to help address the crisis, which have been contemptuously dismissed by the Paterson administration.

It is time for Governor Paterson to stop using public employees as scapegoats, work to bring people together and develop a comprehensive approach to the overall budget problem that will be in the best interest of all New Yorkers.”

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May 25, 2010
Statement of CSEA President Danny Donohue on OCFS promotion of sex party for youth offenders

“The latest reports about an outrageous sex party for residents at the Goshen Secure facility run by the New York State Office of Children and Family Services reinforces what CSEA already knows: Commissioner Gladys Carrion must go.

Carrion’s policies have and continue to offend the sensibilities of taxpayers and staff alike and create unacceptable risk in the state operations she oversees.

The fact that the Paterson Administration continues to allow her reckless disregard for decency, public safety and misuse of state taxpayer money is a disgrace and undermines any shred of credibility they might have left.”

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May 19, 2010
Report Echoes Union’s Warning that Reckless OCFS Policies Endangering Workers

ALBANY – State Office of Child and Family Services Commissioner Gladys Carrion’s policies are endangering workers at the agency, according to a report released by state Assemblyman Rory Lancman. CSEA President Danny Donohue said the report echoes an alarm the union has been sounding for years.

“In her zeal to push through her so-called “sanctuary model,” Commissioner Carrion has shown complete disregard for the safety of her staff,” Donohue said. “CSEA has consistently and loudly warned about the
danger in which she has placed our members and we commend Assemblyman Lancman for amplifying our concerns.”

According to the report, workplace injuries at OCFS are higher than at any other agency in the state Executive Branch, with workers’ compensation claims at the agency rising 42 percent between 2007 and 2009. The report
also suggests a correlation between increased violence on staff and the agency’s shift from a correctional model to Carrion’s sanctuary model, which centers on reducing or eliminating restraints and creating a more
therapeutic environment in which staff build relationships with residents.

Donohue said agency officials, including Commissioner Carrion, have repeatedly ignored CSEA’s concerns that front line workers aren’t being given the resources and support, including adequate staffing levels and proper training, necessary to make the sanctuary model work.

Donohue called Lancman’s report a much-needed dose of reality, in light of a rash of recent news articles painting delinquent youths as innocent victims of the system, while vilifying staff that care for them. He said
the articles were part of Carrion’s dangerous campaign to close state youth detention facilities and quickly move youths into the community, whether community programs are ready to meet their needs or not. He said
current community-based programs are entirely inadequate at the present time for handling this population and there is no evidence that OCFS has a plan for ensuring that the appropriate resources can and will be provided.

The union leader said CSEA remains willing to work cooperatively with OCFS to create a juvenile justice system that will serve everyone better – youth, staff and the community. He said that system must ensure there is adequate staff and necessary training to carry out the new therapeutic approach and include a restraint policy that protects youth and staff from abuse.

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May 12, 2010
Federal court grants TRO stopping state furloughs

ALBANY – In a major victory for working people, the U.S District Court for the Northern District of New York has granted a temporary restraining order preventing Governor David Paterson from proceeding with his planned furloughs of state employees.

“CSEA is proud that the court agreed with our contention that this action would cause irreparable harm to our members and undermine state services,” said CSEA President Danny Donohue. “Governor David Paterson’s plan was ill advised and demonstrates action that was not in the best interest of New Yorkers. CSEA believes that the Governor’s plan would have created even more chaos and crisis.”

The restraining order also enjoins the governor from submitting further extender appropriation bills that include provisions requiring furloughs or exclude the payment of contracted-for salary raises.

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May 12, 2010
Statement of Danny Donohue in response to Paterson administration Chief of Staff Larry Schwartz

“Who cares what Larry Schwartz thinks? My only regret is that the Paterson administration may still be in office for another seven months … that’s seven more months of incompetence and chaos!”

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May 7, 2010
An Open Letter to the People of New York

There’s been a lot of irresponsible rhetoric thrown at state workers about the state’s budget problems lately and it’s important to set the record straight about some basic facts.

State employees didn’t cause the state’s fiscal crisis and slamming them won’t solve it.

New York state operations (the portion of the budget covering state executive branch agencies and facilities) accounts for about 8 percent of the total state budget. State employee paychecks are a tiny fraction of that and a very small part of the deficit problem.

Governor Paterson is wrong when he says state employees have done “nothing” to help address the state’s fiscal crisis. It’s insulting to state employees who are working harder than ever trying do their jobs with less help, fewer resources and scorn from the governor himself. State operations have been cut by nearly $2 billion in the past 18 months, leaving many agencies stretched to the breaking point. They are only operational because of the dedication of CSEA members and other state employees.

Let’s be clear: CSEA members do the work – maintaining roads, taking care of individuals with developmental disabilities and mental illness; protecting the public health; enforcing the law; issuing drivers licenses and vehicle registrations and providing the support services that make every state agency work. The average CSEA member’s state salary is about $40,000 and our average pension is under $16,000 annually. CSEA challenges the governor to work a shift in any CSEA member’s shoes to understand what sacrifice is.

Since the summer 2008, CSEA has offered the governor money-saving ideas.
Some ideas have been considerable: A Canadian prescription drug option that we have put forth and have helped implement in nearly 40 municipalities across the state is already saving localities tens of millions of dollars. Projections for the state savings are more significant – several hundred million dollars.

CSEA also uncovered excessive state use of temporary employees hired at premium costs through temporary employment agencies. Many of the temp workers have been working in state jobs for years and the Paterson administration has spent more than $62 million of taxpayer money on these temp workers in the past 18 months.

The governor undermines any credibility he might have on the severity of New York’s budget situation when he dismisses meaningful ideas about cost savings.

Instead, he continues to turn to the media to attack CSEA’s refusal to make unilateral concessions simply because he demands them. CSEA will not reopen contracts. Any business person should understand that a contract is a contract and once you open one you can never again bargain in good faith. There are always ways to find common ground, but Governor Paterson has repeatedly undermined cooperation.

The governor also seems to conveniently forget that last year, CSEA came to an agreement on pension reform that the governor claimed would save the state taxpayers more than $35 billion over time. He agreed to no layoffs of state employees for the remainder of his term and he insisted on a targeted job buyout plan. That plan, solely administered by the Paterson administration, has failed to meet expectations attracted fewer than 100 high paid management/confidential employees, including political appointees.

CSEA has been around for 100 years. We have worked with every New York governor dating back to Charles Evans Hughes. We have succeeded for a century because we care about making our state a better place to live, work and grow. Besides what we do on the job, we are also the backbone of the communities where we live, contributing in every conceivable way.

Governor Paterson has a right to be wrong, but CSEA has a right to respond when he is. We will continue to do whatever it takes to protect the interest of CSEA members and the services we provide for the people of New York.

In Solidarity,
Danny Donohue

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May 7, 2010
State Employees From Brooklyn to Buffalo to Rally Against Furloughs in Statewide Day of Action

ALBANY – Members of the New York State Public Employees Federation (PEF) and members of the Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA) will hold simultaneous rallies outside state offices across New York to protest the governor’s furlough proposal.

State employees representing every state agency will spend the lunch hour drawing attention to the effect the governor’s proposal would have on state services and the state’s economy.

Monday, May 10, 2010
Noon

  • West Capitol Park, Albany
  • Ellicott Square Building, 295 Main Street, Buffalo
  • Sen. George Winner’s Office, 228 Lake Street, Elmira
  • DOT Office Building, 107 Broadway, Hornell
  • Rochester Psychiatric Center, 1111 Elmwood Ave., Rochester
  • State Office Building, 333 East Washington St., Syracuse
  • State Office Building, 44 Hawley St., Binghamton
  • State Office Building, 207 Genesee St., Utica
  • DOT State Office Building, 4 Burnett Blvd., Poughkeepsie
  • Federal Building, 90 Church Street, Manhattan
  • Bronx Psychiatric Center, 1500 Waters Place, Bronx
  • Downstate Medical Center, 445 Lenox Road, Brooklyn
  • Hauppauge State Office Building, 250 Veterans Memorial Hwy., Hauppauge
  • Dulles State Office Building, 217 Washington St., Watertown

The governor’s plan would reduce state employees’ pay by $312 million ($39 million for each furlough day), which would take more than half-a-billion dollars out of the state’s economy. That loss of revenue has the potential to result in the loss of 17,000 jobs, mostly in the private sector.

PEF and CSEA have identified alternative budget solutions that would more than meet the savings the governor is trying to achieve.

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May 5, 2010
Statement of CSEA President Danny Donohue to Gov. David Paterson’s state employee furlough plan

“Governor David Paterson is mistaken in his belief that creating more chaos and crisis is leadership. CSEA is prepared to respond to the governor’s actions but believes he should be focused on resolving the state’s budget mess not bashing his own state employees in the media.”

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April 27, 2010
Statement of CSEA President Danny Donohue in response to Gov. David Paterson’s plan to tie budget bills to state furloughs

“Nuts”

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April 27, 2010
CSEA renews commitment to mourn for the dead, fight for the living

ALBANY – CSEA – New York’s Leading Union – will renew its commitment to on-the-job safety and health in two important events this week. The union will first join the other unions of the AFL-CIO and mark Workers Memorial Day on Wednesday, April 28 in ceremonies all across New York. Workers Memorial Day is the date that unions of the AFL-CIO and others around the world honor workers who have lost their lives or have been injured on the job. The date is the anniversary of legislation establishing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Later this week, more than 1,000 CSEA safety and health activists will gather in Lake Placid, April 30 – May 2, for the union’s biennial Occupational Safety and Health conference. A belated Workers Memorial Day program will be held on Friday afternoon, April 30, at 4:30 outside the Lake Placid Crowne Plaza Hotel.

Five CSEA members lost their lives due to on-the-job incidents or illness in the past two years. More than 170 CSEA members have lost their lives on the job or from illness linked to job-related hazards since CSEA began tracking these circumstances in 1983.

The recent CSEA members whose lives will be honored at Workers Memorial Day events are:

  • Nicole Gaulin, 35, an Orleans County Social Services worker, in the Town of Kendall. Fatal car crash while on the job, April 21, 2010;

  • Nancy Lou Dell-Olio, 62, Amityville School District, School Monitor. Fell down a flight of stairs while accompanying a group of students, Nov. 5, 2009;
  • Gary L. Farrell, 48, NYS DOT, Alder Creek Sub-Residency, Highway Maintenance Worker I. Struck by a vehicle while flagging in a work zone, Nov. 2, 2009;
  • Sharon M. LaDuke, 57, Village of Potsdam, Sr. Clerk/Registrar. Mesothelioma, May 29, 2009;
  • Kevin Forsyth, 46, NYS DOT, Niagara County, Highway Maintenance Supervisor 1. Struck by a motorist while setting up cones in a work zone, July 23, 2008.

“Workers Memorial Day is an opportunity to ‘mourn for the dead and fight for the living,’ to paraphrase the words of the great labor organizer Mother Jones,” said CSEA President Danny Donohue. “On-the job deaths and injuries can be avoided with better understanding, preparation, training, equipment, procedures and a stronger commitment to addressing workplace safety and health.

“The fact that more than a thousand CSEA activists will be focused on safety and health issues this weekend should send a message about its importance in CSEA and the need for constant vigilance,” Donohue said.

CSEA, which is marking its centennial anniversary in 2010, has long made safety and health a priority. The union was instrumental in the 1980 passage of the landmark Public Employees Safety and Health Act, extending OSHA protections to public employees. More than 20 states still do not have similar protections for public employees today.

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April 13, 2010
CSEA takes first action in challenging Gov. Paterson over state pay delay

ALBANY — CSEA – New York’s leading union – has taken the first formal steps in challenging Gov. David Paterson’s decision to delay contractual pay raises for nearly 70,000 CSEA-represented state Executive branch employees.

CSEA has filed a formal contract grievance with the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations under the provisions of the CSEA-NYS collective bargaining agreement. The action is the appropriate starting place to challenge the governor’s delaying action and does not preclude additional legal response.

As the governor’s action affects all members of the bargaining units on a statewide basis, CSEA filed the grievance at Step 3 of the grievance process. GOER has 15 working days to respond to the CSEA grievance. Should GOER not respond favorably to CSEA, the union would have the option of moving the grievance to triage and then arbitration.

CSEA has every expectation of prevailing against the governor’s arbitrary and unilateral action.

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April 8, 2010
CSEA Members Deserve Better than Gov. Paterson’s incompetence

CSEA President Danny Donohue has just issued the following statement:

“Gov. David Paterson’s unilateral delay of a fairly negotiated raise for CSEA represented state employees is wrong and the governor knows it. It will leave CSEA with little choice in our course of action moving forward.

“What makes it even worse is that the governor met with CSEA and PEF officials yesterday and has now immediately moved forward.

“The Paterson administration continues to careen from crisis to crisis without any comprehensive plan to address the state’s financial mess with a coordinated strategy. It is more evidence of his administration’s incompetence.

“CSEA members continue to do their best to serve the people of New York under deteriorating conditions and they deserve better than what the governor is putting forward.”

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March 4, 2010
CSEA Class Action Settlement a Huge Victory for Westchester County Retirees

CSEA, New York’s leading union, has won a settlement on behalf of 1,600 retired Westchester County employees that freezes their prescription drug costs for life for themselves and their dependents.

“This is a huge victory for our retirees,” said CSEA Statewide President Danny Donohue. “They live on fixed incomes and never expected they would be forced to pay more for their health care.”

Under the terms of the class action settlement that was approved Tuesday by Supreme Court Judge Joan Lefkowitz, prescription co-payments are forever frozen for class members and their dependents, with generic drugs at $4, brand name drugs at $8 and non-preferred brand name drugs at $15. There are safeguards in place so that most prescriptions will not exceed $8. Various other co-payments and deductibles are also frozen forever.

The county will also pay each class member or surviving dependent $700, and the county will also pay CSEA attorney fees and litigation expenses in the amount of $65,000. The costs of the immediate payouts are approximately $1.1 million.

The settlement stems from a suit CSEA filed in 2004 claiming the county improperly diminished the health insurance benefits of workers who retired between January 1993 and May 2004.

CSEA argued that the 1993 through 2004 contracts, unlike other CSEA contracts with the county, prohibited the county from changing those retirees’ benefits. Lefkowitz, in a decision in July 2008, agreed with the union, ruling, “plaintiffs’ health insurance benefits in the prior collective bargaining agreements survived those agreements and may not be diminished without their consent.”

The county then appealed and it was expected that the matter would continue to be litigated for another two years as it worked its way through the appellate courts. On March 2, 2010, however, Lefkowitz approved the settlement, which now must be implemented within the next 20 to 90 days.

As a side agreement, the county agreed that other CSEA unit retirees, who previously had no clear contractual or legal protection, were entitled to at least the insurance level of active employees.

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March 3, 2010
CSEA offers alternative to state’s costly use of temporary workers

ALBANY – “Temporary should mean temporary and not employment that extends for years.”

That was the message CSEA delivered to state lawmakers today as the union continued its fight to end the Paterson administration’s exploitation of temporary workers and undermining of state workers.

Testifying at a hearing on the state’s use of temporary employees before the New York State Assembly Standing Committee on Governmental Employees, CSEA Legislative and Political Action Director Fran Turner said it’s time for state agencies to come clean about their real work force needs and that the need for temporary workers be addressed by a pool approach with deployment and retrenchment.

“Over the last 20 years, the state of New York has created a shadow work force made up largely of temporary and provisional employees who have been hired to replace positions left vacant as a result of downsizing and contracting out,” Turner told lawmakers. “Former Governor Pataki and even the current administration have paraded these reductions in the state work force as fiscal savings to the state. However, the facts are that state agency staff shortages have created mandatory overtime problems, an over reliance on temporary and provisional appointments, recruitment and retention problems and safety and quality of service issues throughout state agencies.”

The union recently uncovered more than $62 million tax dollars being used to hire temporary workers through employment agencies in nearly every state agency, despite a state hiring freeze and a staggering fiscal deficit.

These workers, who receive no benefits and have no rights, have been used for years to hide the fact that the state work force has been depleted to such an extent that the agencies are no longer able to deliver promised services to the citizens of this state. What’s more, the Paterson administration is paying a premium for these workers with the bulk of the money going to the temp agencies.

Turner said CSEA recognizes the fact that state agencies at times have assignments that are extremely short in duration and might be better suited for employees who are not permanent. The union proposed the creation of a temporary state work force pool that could be used to fill such positions.

Turner said the pool could be used when permanent workers were on vacation, medical leave, or other extended absence. She said it would mitigate the cost of using private companies while ensuring that temporary workers were not being abused with no benefits and less pay than permanent employees.

More than 12 state agencies and facilities have spent millions on temporary workers hired through temporary service agencies since April 2008. The worst offender is the state Department of Health, which has spent more than $13 million taxpayer dollars on temporary services, followed by the State University system at $9 million, Office of General Services at $5.6 million, state Education Department at $4.7 million, Law Department at nearly $3.4 million and the Department of Transportation at more than $3 million.

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Feb. 24, 2010
CSEA Wins Court Order Preventing Layoff Planned For Today; Charges Governor Broke No-Layoff Agreement

ALBANY – CSEA has won a temporary restraining order, preventing layoffs the state had planned for today at Bernard Fineson Developmental Disabilities Services Office in Queens and other downstate Office of Mental Retardation and Office of Mental Health facilities.

Supreme Court Judge Thomas J. McNamara put the layoffs on hold pending the outcome of a lawsuit the union filed this morning claiming the layoffs were in clear breach of Gov. David Paterson’s agreement, reached with the union last July, not to lay off employees through Dec. 31, 2010. CSEA had agreed not to stand in the way of recently enacted Tier V Retirement legislation in exchange for the governor’s promise of no layoffs.

“It’s a shame we have to go to court to get the governor to keep his word,” said CSEA President Danny Donohue.

Besides preventing the layoff of approximately 18 workers today, the order also prohibits the state from slashing in half the hours and pay of a half-dozen OMRDD and OMH workers also affected by the planned reduction in force.

CSEA represents nearly 300,000 public and private employees throughout New York State, including 25,000 members who provide mental health and developmental disabilities services.

Feb. 8, 2010
Public Employees Seek Better Choices for New York

ALBANY – 1,500 members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) met in Albany today to talk to legislators about a fair way to put the state’s economy back on track, protect jobs and pay for the essential services that the people of New York rely on.

“Today we’re telling legislators that although times are tough, there are better choices they can make that will balance the budget and provide the vital services New Yorkers need,” said AFSCME International President Gerald W. McEntee. “Elected leaders are on the verge of destroying vital public services and putting more people out of work. They’re jeopardizing the health and safety of the people and our communities. Today we’re telling them to focus on raising revenue, not making another round of disastrous budget cuts to health care, education and local governments.”

Governor Paterson is proposing dramatic cuts to education, health care and aid to local governments that will cause more problems for the people and the economy. His proposals would hurt New York state, the citizens who live here and the workers who deliver essential public services. AFSCME believes there are better choices to balance the budget and get our state back on track.

“CSEA members know better than anyone that these are tough times. We’re on the front line delivering services that New Yorkers depend on,” said Danny Donohue, president of the nearly 300,000-member CSEA, AFSCME’s largest affiliate. “We’re clearing the roads, helping people in need, taking care of children, the elderly, people who are sick and others in need of daily assistance.

“We have no tolerance for politicians who take cheap shots at dedicated public employees,” Donohue said. “It’s not right and New Yorkers deserve better.”

AFSCME has made many sacrifices to help the state in these hard times. AFSCME members have been asked to do more with less and we have. But New Yorkers need vital services and there are better choices. AFSCME and its affiliates support equitable proposals to raise revenue for the state, rather than further slashing health care, education and aid to local governments.

“DC 37 is fighting, along with our political allies and our AFSCME brothers and sisters, to educate the governor, the mayor and the public about the devastating impact of trying to close a budget gap by laying off thousands of loyal, productive public employees,” said Lillian Roberts, executive director of New York City’s largest public employee union, District Council 37, AFSCME. “Our elected officials need to stop and analyze what happens when they dump thousands of moderate income workers onto the unemployment rolls. When you factor in the costs of unemployment
insurance, food stamps, family health care at public institutions and other public services they’ll need as well as the loss in tax dollars do layoffs really save anything? And, who ends up paying for all of these services? Taxpayers. Layoffs are a quick fix that don’t solve anything. They only make matters worse.”

AFSCME New York represents 420,000 public services workers across the state, made up of members from CSEA Local 1000, DC 37, DC 1707, Council 35, Council 66, and Council 82. Guest speakers included AFSCME International President Gerald W. McEntee, State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, and Senate Conference Leader John Sampson.

Jan. 26, 2010
Response of CSEA President Danny Donohue to Gov. David Paterson’s latest misrepresentation on state use of temp workers

“CSEA is thankful that Governor David Paterson’s position is only temporary.

“The governor continues to flaunt New York state law and arrogantly disregard good management, sound public policy and basic human decency in his exploitation of temporary workers. Now, he’d like to have the public believe that’s a good thing?

“The excessive use of temporary workers at premium prices through temp agencies is at its heart dishonest. The governor is not leveling with the public about the essential positions that are needed for state agencies to adequately do their jobs and it does not present the true cost involved.

“Meanwhile, the Department of Civil Service is complicit in this scheme. They need to answer why they continue to look the other way while legal hiring practices are ignored and workers are held in temporary positions for years on end.

“The Paterson administration is doing a disservice to New Yorkers and in the process undermining their own authority to hold private sector lawbreakers accountable for labor violations. On top of it all, the governor ought to be ashamed of the way he is cheating these temporary workers who are victims.

“CSEA is baffled about why the governor wants to quibble about our facts – he should just fix this disgraceful mess.”

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Jan. 19, 2010
Statement of CSEA President Danny Donohue on Gov. David Paterson’s proposed state budget

“Governor David Paterson’s unwillingness to address the misuse of $62 million in taxpayer money on temporary state workers should be evidence that there are still better budget choices to be made. Hiring and shortchanging temporary workers in dozens of state agencies for years on end is a misguided priority and a violation of the law. Before the governor asks union-represented state employees for concessions, he needs to change his own administration’s practices that undermine working people.

CSEA will address these issues and so many others in the course of the weeks ahead with the objective of protecting jobs and services and their impact on the quality of life for New Yorkers.”

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Jan. 15, 2010
Statement of CSEA President Danny Donohue in response to the Paterson administration’s attack on CSEA over the union’s revelation of $62 million being spent on temp agency workers

“It’s mind-boggling that the Paterson administration would try to dismiss CSEA’s legitimate issue about the wasteful, exploitive and excessive use of temporary employees by attacking the messenger.

Of course CSEA will address the flaunting of civil service requirements and union contracts, that’s our responsibility. But it’s just one outrage among many in this situation.

The administration is cheating the workers, some of whom have been stuck in temporary status for years while paying millions to the temp agencies. These workers deserve better.

Just as important, the Paterson administration is not being honest with taxpayers about how tax dollars are being spent and is clearly not focused on securing better value. New York taxpayers deserve better.

Tired, old insults questioning CSEA’s motives won’t change the facts. The governor ought to know that actually trying to manage his work force is better than trying to score cheap political points.”

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Jan. 14, 2010
Outrageous – Gov. Paterson exploiting temporary workers, wasting tax dollars

ALBANY – CSEA is blowing the whistle on the Paterson administration’s exploitation of temporary workers and undermining of state workers. CSEA has uncovered over $62 million tax dollars being used to systematically hire temporary workers through temporary personnel agencies in place of state workers in almost every state agency.

These workers, who receive no benefits and have no rights, have been used for years to hide the fact that the state work force has been depleted to such an extent that the agencies are no longer able to deliver promised services to the citizens of this state. What’s more, the Paterson administration is paying a premium for these workers with the bulk of the money going to the temp agencies. Taxpayers should question this clear lack of leadership and this misuse of the public trust.

CSEA brought this matter to the attention of the administration months ago and there has been no response. The governor has proclaimed the need to create jobs in the state and to spur economic development and yet is not willing to address this misuse of workers or the overburdened state agencies who have been unable to fill positions. It is a underhanded way to avoid the civil service law and to deceive the taxpayers as well.

The “winter of reckoning” should start with the governor looking at his own administration’s failure. “I don’t even think the governor knows the workload of his own work force,” CSEA President Danny Donohue said. “This is apparently another example where Governor Paterson wants to be judged by what he says, not by what he does.”

More than 12 state agencies and facilities have spent millions on temporary workers hired through temporary service agencies since April 2008. The worst offender is the state Department of Health, which has spent more than $13 million taxpayer dollars on temporary services, followed by the State University system at $9 million, Office of General Services at $5.6 million, state Education Department at $4.7 million, Law Department at nearly $3.4 million and the Department of Transportation at more than $3 million.

CSEA is preparing legal action immediately to stop the exploitation of these workers and to uphold the integrity of the civil service law. CSEA is committed to organizing these workers and upholding the standards that every worker of the state should have.

Any temporary worker assigned to New York state through a private contractor should contact CSEA at 1-800-342-4146, ext. 1401.

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2011 News Releases

Back to 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:

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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Workforce Issues Budget Testimony

Read CSEA’s Workforce Issues budget testimony

Communications

When CSEA needs to better communicate with the media, the public, or even our own members,  assistance is available from Communications Specialist Jessica Ladlee.

Whether it’s speaking to the media, utilizing social media and web sites to get out our messages, photographing union events, putting together Letters to the Editor, fliers, demonstrations, information days, newsletters, contract campaigns, press releases, or  articles for CSEA’s statewide newspaper The Work Force, Jessica is available to help.

If you have a communications need, contact Jessica at the region office at (800) 757-CSEA.