Metro Region Activists Challenged & Inspired at 2013 ADM

Metro Region President Lester Crockett addresses the delegate assembly.

Metro Region President Lester Crockett addresses the delegate assembly.

CSEA Metropolitan Region activists, led by Regional President Lester Crockett, participated in CSEA’s 103rd Annual Delegates Meeting.


Janet Ventrano Torres, President of the local at the State Division of Housing and Community Renewal, presented with a banner by CSEA President Danny Donohue and recognized as a Golden Local.

Delegates were inspired and moved to go back to their local’s and back to their communities to organize, educate and mobilize our members, families and friends for the struggles and challenges we confront as a union as as members of hardworking communities.

Strong Communities Work

Strong Communities Work is an initiative designed to educate and inspire New Yorkers to give back. CSEA members recognize and support many remarkable community organizations throughout the state that are working to feed the hungry, aid the sick, and uplift the downtrodden. In an effort to connect those organizations with members (and others) who want to do good in their communities, we have launched a new website that includes:

  • An educational blog, written by community organizations, which discusses the needs of our cities, towns, and neighborhoods and describes how others can get involved.
  • A calendar that highlights upcoming community events such as fundraisers, food drives, volunteer opportunities, charity sporting events, and so much more!
  • A Hometown Heroes feature that recognizes special individuals (members and non-members) across the state going above and beyond in helping to those in need.

Want to get involved? Consider:SCW-Web-Logo


So, why are we doing this? As a union, we believe that our responsibility to care for one another and speak up for human rights extends well beyond the walls of our worksites. We believe the public needs to know the Labor Movement is about more than wages and benefits — it’s about fairness, dignity and the forward progress of our society as a whole. And we believe that when we work together, we are stronger — whether we are negotiating a contract or helping to improve the lives of others.

Please join our league of ordinary people doing extraordinary things!

Make your Halloween less scary for workers by using fair trade and union made candy!

fair-trade-halloweenHalloween is full of thrills and chills, but shouldn’t be scary when it comes to working conditions for those who produce the candy. Help workers today by buying fair trade and union made candy.

Fair Trade
One way to help is to buy Fair Trade chocolate. Fair Trade chocolate supports worker cooperatives that are committed to fair labor practices and environmental sustainability. Fair Trade Halloween informs and empowers kids to help their peers across the globe who are forced to work long hours in harsh conditions.
There are different ways to get involved.
Sign the pledge to pass only Fair Trade chocolate this Halloween
Buy Fair Trade chocolate online


union-made-candyUnion made
Another way to help workers this Halloween is to buy union-made, American-made candy. Check out the link below to see a list of union-made candy, as identified by the AFL-CIO. As always, please check for the union label on the product packaging to ensure it is union made.
Learn more
See Labor 411’s list of union-made candy

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View CSEA’s Strong Communities Work video


Six months after Rana Plaza collapse, Bangladeshi workers, families still need help

Bangladeshi children call on The Children's Place to sign Bangladesh Safety Accord lr

Bangladeshi children call on The Children’s Place to sign Bangladesh Safety Accord (International Labor Rights Forum).

Six months after the April 24 Rana Plaza building collapse claimed the lives of at least 1,132 people, the International Labor Rights Forum and the Clean Clothes Campaign have released a report, Still Waiting: Six months after history’s deadliest apparel industry disaster, workers continue to fight for compensation, that examines the aftermath of the collapse. The report calls on numerous Western corporations whose clothing was made in the building to pay their fair share of compensation to the injured workers and families who lost loved ones.

As noted in the report, 29 apparel brands and retailers have been linked to Rana Plaza, but none of the U.S. brands are even joining meetings to develop a compensation plan. While there has been a lot of attention on Walmart’s responsibility, it’s time to turn up the heat on lesser-known companies like Children’s Place that need to hear more from consumers.
Learn more and urge the Children’s Place to pay their fair share to Rana Plaza victims
Post a message on the Children’s Place Facebook page
Post a tweet
Learn more


Federal Issues Report

Week Ending October 25, 2013

Budget Talks to Begin Next Week; “Grand Bargain” Unlikely

The 29 members of the House and Senate Budget Conference Committee will hold its first official meeting on October 30 in an attempt to reach a budget agreement by December 13 as called for in the legislation that ended the government shutdown.  House and Senate negotiators remain far apart and the $91 billion difference between the House and Senate funding levels is largely due to House insistence on maintaining cuts to vital programs and resisting new taxes.  It is not clear that the negotiations will result in any agreement beyond setting overall spending levels for the remainder of the fiscal year. The current funding bill expires January 15 and an extension is required to avoid another government shutdown.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) expects budget negotiations to focus on providing some relief from automatic spending cuts.  He said it was “highly unlikely” any “grand bargain” can be reached on tax reform and spending for social insurance and other large-scale programs. He further noted: “On sequestration, we’ve done one year… [and] it has been brutal.”

President Obama to House Leadership: Pass Immigration Reform This Year

On Thursday, President Obama addressed supporters of comprehensive immigration reform – business, labor, faith leaders, immigrant rights activists – and urged the House GOP leadership to move forward and schedule a vote this year on legislation to fix our broken immigration system.  He noted the large bipartisan vote in favor of the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform legislation (S. 744) that passed in June.  He also stressed the enormous benefits for our economy of fixing immigration policy, and the documented, overwhelming public support for reform.

Several GOP House members are reportedly working on immigration reform bills in addition to the five individual bills that passed through committees last spring (addressing border security, state and local law enforcement of immigration laws, a mandatory employment verification system, an agricultural guest worker program, and a higher-skilled guest worker program).  Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) – the only GOP member of the House group that was working on a bipartisan comprehensive bill to stay with the effort until it collapsed – is working with others in the Republican caucus on a bill that addresses legalization, border enforcement and possibly other issues.  Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) is writing a bill that would give temporary legal status to undocumented immigrants.  House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) and others have been working on a bill tentatively called the KIDS Act that would grant legal status to some DREAMers – those undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children.  Reps. Raul Labrador (R-ID) and Ted Poe (R-TX) are reportedly producing a bill that would establish a new guest worker program for lower-skilled workers that is unlikely to include the important worker protections incorporated into the W-Visa program that was agreed to by the AFL-CIO and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and included in S. 744. Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) is writing a bill that would establish a biometric entry-exit system to better track immigrants who overstay their visas.

House Passes Bill Requiring School Employee Background Checks

The House passed a bill that would set federal standards requiring teachers and other school employees to undergo criminal background checks and set minimum standards for such investigations. The Protecting Students from Sexual and Violent Predators Act (H.R. 2083), introduced by Rep. George Miller (D-CA), was passed by voice vote. Given that all states currently have standards for background checks for teachers and most for non-teaching school employees, the new higher level of review could be inconsistent with existing state standards in some cases. Moreover, concern was expressed that this could lead to confusion and costly duplication at the state level at a time of scarce school resources, and even force individual employees to bear the costs of the background checks. No action is scheduled in the Senate at this time.  

ENDA Vote Likely Before Thanksgiving

Following a bipartisan Senate committee vote in September, the full Senate is preparing for a floor vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) (S. 815).  ENDA would protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from discrimination on the job. In 29 states, workers have no legal protections against firing based on sexual orientation, and an even greater number of states (33) offer no legal protection against firing based on gender identity. 

House Passes Water Resources Bill

The House passed the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2013 (WRRDA) (H.R. 3080) by a vote of 417 to 3.  The bill is expected to be conferenced with the Senate bill, which passed on May 15 by a vote of 83 to 14.  This legislation authorizes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to carry out its mission to develop, maintain and support our nation’s vital port and waterways infrastructure needs and supports targeted flood protection and environmental restoration.  Historically, Congress has passed such legislation every two years to provide clear direction, but no bill had been signed into law since 2007. WRRDA is one of the most reform-focused measures of its kind in the last two decades.

The 2013-2014 Season is HERE!


Ed Burkhart of the Capital Region was the first to Plunge as a CSEA Team member. Here he is seen waist deep in Lake George
in early December of 2007.
(Click image to enlarge.)

View the 2013-2014 Polar Plunge Schedule

In the winter of 2007-2008, nearly 20 brave CSEA members from around the state plunged into freezing lakes and rivers for the first time after collecting pledges to benefit the Special Olympics. More than $4,000 was raised and we felt awesome about that. We vowed to keep increasing our commitment each year, with new members plunging and even more money raised.

Last year, CSEA members raised nearly $36,000!

Let’s blow 2013-2014 out of the water!

Raise $250, $500, $1500 or more and get these awesome incentive items.


The 2012-2013 President’s Polar Cap Award

Awarded at the CSEA Annual Delegates Meeting each year to the region that raises the most in donations from the start of the Polar Plunge season, through April 15, this trophy is a roaming one. Meaning, the winner gets to display it in their region ONLY while they remain the champ. Each year, rivaling regions get a chance have it live in their region until the following season.

What’s a little healthy competition among regions?

LET THE GLOVES COME OFF! (Wait, put those back on … its freezin’!)


Central Region President Colleen Wheaton accepts the President’s Polar Cap Award for the 2012-2013 season at the 103rd Annual Delegates Meeting. Presenting the award is Executive Vice President Mary Sullivan, center, and President Danny Donohue, at right.

Where is the Polar Cap Award today?
The Central Region took back the trophy from the Southern Region last season with $19,132.77 raised in 2012-2013! This was 54 percent of the total raised for all of CSEA! If all regions participated at that level, CSEA’s total would be close to $80,000!  If that doesn’t light a fire, we don’t know what will. (Ohhhh, a fire … that would be awesome on Plunge day, wouldn’t it?)

Click on each image below to enlarge and be sure to read each caption. Seeing the expressions on everyone’s faces? PRICELESS!


Ed Burkhart of the Capital Region with Sammy, his inspiration for Plunging. Sammy and his family attended the Polar Plunge to cheer on Ed, who raised $1000 last year, adding generously to the “CSEA Seals” totals. Sammy and other developmentally disabled friends directly benefit from the money raised through the Polar Plunge since it pays participation costs for the Special Olympics, keeping it free for athletes to attend and compete.


  1. PLUNGE!
  2. BE A DONATION GATHERER! Help promote your Region fundraising link and funnel donations through your Region’s Team captain.
  3. BE A SPECTATOR! Plunging parties need all the support they can get! Wear a CSEA T-shirt and cheer them on. Don’t forget to bring extra towels and blankets or hand warmers. It is always greatly appreciated by Team CSEA plunge participants.
  4. DONATE!

Fundraising victory is ours! A tradition of the Polar Plunge is to jump in zany costumes! It’s fun to attend as a spectator and cheer for the plungers. People watching is a bonus! The crazier the costume, the more fun it is!! Pictured here are some “Western Region 6” Team plungers!


Team “Southern Region 3” has gone nuts with costume fun over the years. Pictured here are a few team members jumping into the Ashokan Reservoir. FUN CSEA POLAR PLUNGE FACT: The Southern Region Team is the ONLY team to take the President’s Polar Cap Award from the grip of the Central Region. They are Freezin’ for a Reason!! Let’s see who takes it next year!


Polar Plunge events are well attended, often by thousands of plungers and spectators combined. Teams comprise corporate sponsors and employees, college fraternities and sororities, other not-for-profits, neighbors and families. The event is exciting and invigorating. The image above is from the plunge into Lake Ontario at the Rochester location. Click on the image or a closer view of the expressions on people’s faces! Wacky fun!


Taken at the Oneida Shores location in the Central Region, pictured here are the immensely successful and dominating fund-raisers known as the “Polar Peeps”! The Central Region has won three out of the four President’s Polar Cap Awards. They are the team to beat since they took the prize again last year. Notice the Peeps costume on the far left. It’s so much fun!


Just a few of the team members from the Capital Region Team, “CSEA Seals” showing off the excitement of the Plunge and the free sweatshirt each plunger received that year for raising money for Special Olympics! Oh yeah! The Capital Region is Freezin’ for a Reason!

LI_PolarPlungefor web copy

Can you see two of the many members who jumped last year in Port Washington from the Long Island Region’s “Bathing Beauties” Team? This year, a new Long Island team is plunging at the Brookhaven location! You go Long Island! Perhaps there is a President’s Polar Cap Award in your future?!?!

Federal Issues Report

Headlines include: Budget Talks to Begin Next Week; “Grand Bargain” Unlikely, President Obama to House Leadership: Pass Immigration Reform This Year, House Passes Bill Requiring School Employee Background Checks. ENDA Vote Likely Before Thanksgiving, House Passes Water Resources Bill.

Continue reading…

This Week in Albany

Week ending October 25th, 2013

Headlines Include:

  • Legislative Update
  • Political Action Department Presents at Annual Delegates Meeting
  • Local Election Spotlight (Rockland County)

Continue reading…

This Week in Albany

Week ending October 25th, 2013

Legislative Update

This week Governor Cuomo vetoed A. 3498A / S. 5743, which would have required local social service districts to provide parents with 60 days’ notice when reducing eligibility for child care subsidies. The bill, sponsored by Assemblywoman Peoples-Stokes and Senator Grisanti from the Buffalo area, addressed the concern that parents currently get less than 10 days’ notice when a county cuts subsidies.

There are still 148 bills awaiting action from the Governor.

Political Action Department Presents at Annual Delegates Meeting

The Legislative and Political Action Department presented a workshop at the 2013 ADM titled “Escape Plan – How to Survive the Race to the Bottom.” The presentation included a quiz on several policy areas with a focus on the middle class and our communities. Click here to see materials from the presentation.

Election Spotlight

This week we examine the race for County Executive in Rockland County. This is the first time in 20 years that the incumbent is not running for re-election.