CSEA fighting Thruway, Canal Corp. layoffs and cuts

Thruway Authority and Canal Corp. layoffs taking their toll
As anticipated, the Canal Corp. on Tuesday announced a drastically reduced operating schedule for the 2013 navigation season, which begins May 1. Operating hours will be reduced by up to five hours per day compared to last season’s schedule. Not only will this inconvenience boaters, it will hurt local economies that depend on canal commerce.

More on the Thruway Authority and Canal Corp. layoffs and service cuts:
CSEA Charges Taylor Law Violations in Thruway and Canal Corp. Layoffs
Read CSEA’s Improper Practice charges against the Thruway Authority
Read CSEA’s Improper Practice charges against the Canal Corp.
Read State Canal director has a change of heart: Says layoffs WILL hurt operations
Read the Statement of CSEA President Danny Donohue on Thruway and Canal Layoffs

This Week in Albany

Week ending April 26, 2013

Headlines include:

  • Help Save SUNY Downstate
  • Campaign Finance Reform Talk Continues
  • Oppose the Attack on Overtime Pay

Continue reading…

This Week in Albany

Week ending April 26, 2013

Help Save SUNY Downstate

CSEA, PEF, and UUP have joined together to launch a postcard campaign aimed at Governor Cuomo and SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher to save SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn.

The State Budget requires the SUNY Chancellor to submit a viability plan for the hospital to the Governor by June 1, 2013. We must fight to keep SUNY Downstate Medical Center a viable, strong PUBLIC teaching hospital.

If you would like to help with our postcard campaign, please contact Region 2 Political Action Coordinator Matt D’Amico at (212) 406-2156.

There will be a rally for SUNY Downstate on Thursday, May 9th. Rev. Al Sharpton will be attending a pre-rally press conference at SUNY Downstate (470 Clarkson Avenue) at 3pm. At 4:15 pm, participants will meet at Mt. Zion Church of God (203 East 37th Street) and march to the hospital at 5pm to join workers.

Campaign Finance Reform Talk Continues

Campaign finance reform continues to be a major topic of discussion in the post-budget session. Advocates, including the Governor, continue to push for the public financing of campaigns. It is estimated that public financing could cost the state over $220 million per election cycle once fully implemented. CSEA is strongly opposed to the public financing of political campaigns. Considering the state has lost nearly 60,000 public sector jobs since 2010, we should be focusing on ways to help real New Yorkers instead of funding more dinner time robo-calls and television commercials.

Oppose the Attack on Overtime Pay

Congress has proposed the “Working Families Flexibility Act” (H.R. 1406) that would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act to allow paid overtime to be replaced with employer-controlled compensatory time off. The legislation would allow employers to pay nothing for overtime work at the time the work is performed in exchange for a promise of future paid leave.

Because H.R.1406 makes overtime less expensive for employers, it would counteract the impact of the 40-hour workweek and encourage employers to demand more overtime from fewer workers at a time when the economy is already losing jobs. This bill is not about providing employees with greater flexibility, but rather about providing employers with greater flexibility to not pay overtime.

Call Congress today and tell your representative to oppose H.R. 1406. Call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask for your Senators’ and Representative’s office.

Mourn for the dead; fight for the living! Workers’ Memorial Day is April 28

WMD_2013_posterCSEA will observe Workers’ Memorial Day Sunday, April 28, to remember those who have passed away or sustained serious injuries while doing their jobs, including the following members who passed away over the past year:

  • Jacqueline Wisniewski, 33, a secretary/receptionist at Erie County Medical Center’s Adolescent Psychiatric Unit in Buffalo and a member of the Erie County Local and Unit, was killed on June 13, 2012, by multiple gun shots as a victim of domestic violence;
  • Jorge Guevara, 45, a bus driver at the Locust Valley Central School District and a member of the Nassau County Educational Employees Local, died on July 23, 2012, when the school bus he was driving was struck by an out-of-control cement truck;
  • Daniel Methven, 39, a maintenance mechanic at the Town of Brookhaven and a member of the Suffolk County Local, died Jan. 12, 2013, in a vehicle crash while driving between schools while employed on his second job as a school security guard at the Middle Island/Longwood School District in Suffolk County; and
  • Steven Paolelli, 58, a plant utilities engineer 1 at SUNY Upstate Medical University and member of the SUNY at Syracuse Local, was found dead on Jan. 20, 2013, in a boiler house by a co-worker after working alone during his evening shift.

CSEA has long led the way nationally in ensuring safer, healthier workplaces, but there is still more work to do. Check your region page for information on Workers’ Memorial Day remembrance events in your region.


Retiree News No. 1 2014

The CSEA Retiree News is published to share information and generate ideas on subjects important to retirees.

Read the CSEA Retiree News Winter 2014retiree_news_winter_2014_smaller

We Need Your Help to Save SUNY Downstate

CSEA, PEF, and UUP have joined together to launch a postcard campaign aimed at Governor Cuomo and SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher to save SUNY Downstate.

SUNY Downstate Medical Center is too important to just close or sell off. Our community relies on its services each an every day. The hospital provides critical care for our families in our neighborhood when others in the area won’t.

Additionally, its medical school educates and trains topnotch physicians, most of whom are minorities and come from New York City. It is the only public teaching hospital in all of New York City. We must preserve SUNY Downstate as a public teaching hospital and make it better than ever!

We need your help to save SUNY Downstate. Please click following links to download our postcards. Print them off, fill out your information, and send the filled out cards to Matt D’Amico at the Region 2 Office.

Matt D’Amico
125 Maiden Lane 5th Floor
New York, New York 10038

Region 2 Phone #: (212) 406-2156
Region 2 Fax #: (212) 349-4844

Postcard to Governor Cuomo

Postcard to SUNY Chancellor Zimpher

Don’t forget to attend our rally for SUNY Downstate on May 9. More information on the rally can be found here.

Last call for CSEA discount to circus next week!

Ringling CSEA-1
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Presents: “Dragons”
Di$counted prices listed below for CSEA members:

Thursday, May 2 at 7 p.m. – Opening Night Special
$17 – All Seats (excludes Circus Celebrity & VIP)

Friday, May 3 at 10:30 a.m.
$22 – Lower level seating

Friday, May 3 at 7 p.m.
$47 – VIP
$22 – Lower level seating

Saturday, May 4 at 11 a.m. & 7 p.m.
$47 – VIP
$22 – Lower level seating

PLEASE NOTE: *Saturday, May 4, at 3 p .m., Sunday, May 5, at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. are NOT discounted!

  • Must order before April 26 to receive discounted rates.
  • Be sure to mention your CSEA membership when calling in your order.
  • Child Ticket Policy: Children ages 2 & above must have a ticket to enter the event.

For more information or to buy tickets, contact:
Group Sales
Times Union Center
51 S Pearl St.
Albany, NY 12207
(518) 487-2100

CSEA officers meet with Bangladeshi activists to discuss anti-sweatshop campaign


Bangladeshi labor activist Kalpona Akter, center, and Tazreen, Bangladesh, factory fire survivor Sumi Abedin, second from right, discuss their campaign with CSEA Statewide Secretary Denise Berkley, far left, CSEA Executive Vice President Mary E. Sullivan, second from left and CSEA Statewide Treasurer Joe McMullen, far right.

Last November, a factory fire in Tazreen, Bangladesh, killed 112 workers who had been barred from leaving after the first fire alarm sounded. Sumi Abedin, one of the garment workers trapped inside, survived the tragedy by jumping from the third story of the burning building.

Abedin, along with longtime Bangladeshi labor activist Kalpona Akter, came to Albany April 22 to speak out, asking New York state to adopt a Sweatshop-Free Procurement Policy that includes fire safety measures. The activists also met with local labor leaders, including CSEA Executive Vice President Mary Sullivan, Statewide Treasurer Joe McMullen and Statewide Secretary Denise Berkley to discuss how labor unions can help.

On April 24 – two days after the activists’ visit to Albany – a building housing garment factories in Bangladesh’s Rana Plaza garment district in the city of Dhaka collapsed. As of May 9, more than 900 people were killed in the disaster and responders are still recovering bodies. The Rana Plaza building collapse is considered the world’s deadliest garment industry disaster and one of the worst industrial accidents in history.
Read Walmart, Gap Refuse to Sign Bangladesh Safety Pact
Read the joint statement from the AFL-CIO and ChangetoWin on the attempt by Walmart and Gap to undermine worker safety in Bangladesh
Read The Work Force feature: The bloody cost of cheap clothing
Watch video: Bangladeshi fire victim Sumi Abedin tells her horrific story
Read Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on Immediate Action Needed In Bangladesh
Read article from Reuters: Lawmakers press for trade response to Bangladesh factory fire
Visit the Solidarity Center and learn more about this campaign

Bipartisan Immigration Reform Bill Introduced in Senate

The bipartisan Senate “Gang of 8” reached an agreement on comprehensive immigration reform, and introduced a bill (S.744) on April 16. The bill provides a roadmap to citizenship for the 11.5 million undocumented individuals currently living in the shadows, and a new employment-sponsored visa program (W-Visa) for lesser skilled, non-seasonal, and non-agricultural workers.

Undocumented immigrants who entered the U.S. before December 31, 2011 and have been continually present will be able to apply for Registered Provisional Immigrant (RPI) status.

  • At application, they will need to pass a criminal background check and pay taxes, appropriate fees and a $500 fine. RPI status will be valid for six years.
  • At renewal, applicants will be subject to a new background check and employment requirement and pay taxes, appropriate fees and a $500 fine.
  • After 10 years, RPIs will be able to apply for green cards and adjust their status to Legal Permanent Resident (LPR). When they adjust, applicants will be subject to a new background check and an employment requirement; prove they are learning English; demonstrate they are admissible; and pay taxes, appropriate fees and a $1,000 fine.
  • After three years in LPR status, they can become citizens, subject to other requirements including mandatory E-Verify and “back of the line” provisions.

The bill also includes tougher employer sanctions and a renewed commitment to secure the border.

The W-Visa program would provide a limited number of visas during the first four years (20,000 in the first year and 75,000 in the fourth year). After that, the number of visas would increase or decrease based on a number of factors, including the findings of an independent bureau that would survey labor markets by region and industry sector to identify shortages. Wages would be set at a level that would not adversely affect the wages of U.S. workers. There would be no more than 200,000 W Visas in any year. Workers will not be tied to a single employer and will be able to self-petition for citizenship. The bill also makes changes to the H-1B, H-2B and H-2A programs.

After two days of hearings, on April 19 and April 22, the Senate Judiciary Committee will begin the complicated task of marking up the 800-plus page bill, a process that is expected to take most of May.

More information:

Immigration Bill Summary

Resources for the Congressional Recess

This Week in Albany

Week ending April 19, 2013

Our thoughts are with those affected by the events in Boston and Texas this week.

CSEA Calls for Review of New York State Lottery

This week CSEA called for a legislative hearing over the appearance of impropriety at the New York State Lottery. The call came following a published report that a top New York State Lottery official who recently negotiated a multi-million dollar contract with a private vendor is now working for the same vendor. CSEA believes the situation should be reviewed immediately by the Office of Inspector General and J-COPE.

The revelation comes as the Cuomo administration continues to promote privatizing public work.

Campaign Finance Reform Proposals Introduced

Following the recent rash of corruption scandals involving state legislators, several campaign finance reform proposals have been introduced. The Senate Democrats, Senate Independent Democratic Conference, Assembly Democrats, and Governor Cuomo all released separate plans this week.

Public financing has been a main focus of the conversations regarding campaign finance reform. Contrary to what proponents claim, public financing has not proven to be an effective tool to root out corruption in campaigns. In fact, New York City’s public financing system has shown the potential for candidates to game the system, secure funds and then use those funds for inappropriate personal expenses rather than for their intended purpose. The state is currently facing too many issues that impact its citizens to risk taxpayer money on funding political campaigns.

Cut Proposed in Social Security COLAs

President Obama’s proposed budget would shift to a formula called a ‘Chained CPI’ for Social Security that would cut yearly cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) for current and future recipients. If COLAs are reduced, seniors will lag behind inflation and everyday life will be made exceedingly difficult.

We need to invest in America’s working families, not pull the rug out from under them. That starts with making corporations and the richest 2 percent pay their fair share. And that should never, ever include cuts to Medicare and Social Security benefits that millions of us rely on every day.

Click here to email your Member of Congress and tell them to protect Social Security COLAs.

Week Ahead

The Legislature is scheduled for a three day session next week, covering Monday through Wednesday.