Calendars available at Region Office

2014-calendar-offerCopies of the 2014 CSEA wall calendar are available for pick-up at the Southern Region Office, 568 State Route 52, Beacon, for members interested in obtaining a copy.

Local and unit presidents interested in picking up multiple copies to distribute to their members can contact Geri or Jessica at the Southern Region Office at (845) 831-1000 to arrange for copies to be set aside.

Show your CSEA pride by displaying our union calendar at your work site or at home!

Bangladesh factory owners to face homicide charges in 2012 fire; more progress needed

The owners of a Tazreen, Bangladesh, garment factory that was destroyed in a November 2012 fire that killed 112 workers will face homicide charges, along with several other factory employees. A Bangladesh court recently issued arrest warrants for the individuals. Despite this progress, many Western retailers still sidestep their blame in safety lapses at the Bangladeshi factories.

It’s the first time Bangladesh has sought to prosecute factory owners in the lucrative garment industry, which is the world’s second largest after China. A series of deadly disasters — including the 2012 fire and the April 24, 2013, Rana Plaza factory collapse that killed more than 1,100 workers — has exposed how harsh and unsafe working conditions are in the industry that employs 4 million Bangladeshis and provides clothing to major Western retailers. CSEA and others in the U.S. labor movement have been vocal in urging for improved working conditions.

But despite this progress, much more work needs to be done for real improvement. A Dec. 31 New York Times article details the relationship between a Spanish clothing company and the Rana Plaza factory that produced clothing for the company. Despite sending inspectors to the Bangladeshi factory before the collapse, the company – and other Western retailers – continue to sidestep its blame for the safety lapses.

Read Bangladesh Factory Owners to Face Homicide Charges
Read Clothing Brands Sidestep Blame for Safety Lapses

New York abruptly reverses action over Empire Plan mental health contract

ALBANY — A stunning set of state actions have raised concerns about the integrity of the bidding process over the contract to provide mental health coverage for state employees and other public service workers covered under the Empire Plan. There are also concerns about the transition to the new administrator by Jan. 1, 2014.

The state has reversed course on the awarding of the contract to administer the Empire Plan’s Mental Health/Substance Abuse program twice in two months, with the most recent reversal being disclosed on Christmas Eve (Dec. 24).

Value Options was selected for a five-year contract to succeed Optum Health earlier this fall by the State Department of Civil Service. However, the day before Thanksgiving (Nov. 27), Civil Service advised that they were going to reissue the Request for Proposal (RFP) in January 2014 and Optum Health would remain as the administrator for 2014. On Dec. 24, with a week to hire staff and get all programs in place, Civil Service has recommended and the state comptroller’s office has approved that Value Options be the administrator for 2014.

“There is something not right here,” said CSEA President Danny Donohue. “There’s either some serious incompetence or political interference going on.”

-30-

CSEA agreement means Country Manor residents can celebrate holidays at home

Herkimer County seniors will be able to celebrate the holiday season at home, thanks to a last minute deal between CSEA and Advanced Healthcare Management that saves the Country Manor Adult Care Facility from being closed.

The county legislature had threatened to shut down the nursing home at 5 p.m. on Dec. 27 unless CSEA and the new owner were able to reach agreement over future operations at the facility by that deadline.

“We’re happy to have been able to spoil the legislature’s Grinch-like plan to put seniors out on the street during the holidays,” said CSEA Central Region President Colleen Wheaton.

Read more

CSEA agreement means Country Manor residents can celebrate holidays at home

HERKIMER — Herkimer County seniors will be able to celebrate the holiday season at home, thanks to a last minute deal between CSEA and Advanced Healthcare Management that saves the Country Manor Adult Care Facility from being closed.

The county legislature had threatened to shut down the nursing home at 5 p.m. on Dec. 27 unless CSEA and the new owner were able to reach agreement over future operations at the facility by that deadline. CSEA accused the legislature of playing politics with the lives of residents of the home and began talks with Advanced Healthcare Management to keep legislators from closing the home down.

“We’re happy to have been able to spoil the legislature’s Grinch-like plan to put seniors out on the street during the holidays,” said CSEA Central Region President Colleen Wheaton.

The agreement between CSEA and Advanced Healthcare Management provides for all current employees to continue employment with the new owner at their current salaries. Advanced Healthcare Management has also agreed to recognize CSEA as the collective bargaining agent for the workers and the union said negotiations will begin shortly over workers’ terms and conditions of employment.

Despite believing the home should remain public, CSEA knew allowing the legislature to close it down would be devastating to residents and agreed to discussions with the new owner in hopes of reaching an agreement that preserves the quality and continuity of their care.

-30-

January 2014 Work Force

jan_14_wf_thumbRead the January 2014 Work Force
Editor’s Note: This edition of The Work Force went to press before the governor announced that the state would keep open and continue inpatient services at St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center, Elmira Psychiatric Center and Greater Binghamton Health Center. Full coverage of these developments will be featured in the February Work Force.

See previous Work Force editions

 

Federal Issues Report

Week ending December 20, 2013. Headlines include: Senate Passes Budget Agreement Without Unemployment Benefits Extension, Federal Background Check Legislation Pending for School Employees and Child Care Providers, Affordable Care Act Saves Medicare Beneficiaries $8.9 Billion on Prescription Drugs.

Continue reading…


Federal Issues Report

Week Ending December 20, 2013

Senate Passes Budget Agreement Without Unemployment Benefits Extension

The Senate passed the Bipartisan Budget Agreement by a 64 to 36 vote, with nine Republicans joining all the Democratic and Independent senators voting in favor. The agreement provides much needed, although modest, relief from destructive across-the-board “sequestration” cuts planned for current and FY 2015. The President has said he will sign the bill into law.

Now, Congress is working to assign funding levels for all federal programs. This is an enormous task to complete by January 15, when the current funding bill expires. It is possible Congress will pass a short-term, interim bill to provide a little more time to complete their work.

Despite the efforts of congressional Democrats and some moderate Republicans, the budget agreement does not include an extension of the Federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program, which expires on December 28. However, Senate proposals have emerged that would revive the current program of federal extended unemployment benefits early next year.

Affordable Care Act Saves Medicare Beneficiaries $8.9 Billion on Prescription Drugs

According to a new report, some 7.3 million seniors and people with disabilities saved $8.9 billion on prescription drugs due to the enactment of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The groundbreaking health care law also made preventive services available without cost-sharing; from January to November 2013, approximately 26 million people with traditional Medicare took advantage of at least one free preventive service. Before the ACA, Medicare beneficiaries had to pay part of the cost for many preventive health services, which for many created a significant barrier to staying healthy. These improvements to Medicare strengthen the financial and health security of a program that has helped generations of Americans. These improved benefits would be lost if proposals to increase beneficiaries’ costs were adopted.

This Week in Albany

Week ending December 20, 2013

Some Facilities Will Remain Open Under Amended OMH Plan

The Greater Binghamton Health Center, Elmira, and St. Lawrence Psychiatric Centers will remain open with reduced capacities under an amended “Regional Centers of Excellence” plan. It is unclear how these changes will impact the rest of the Office of Mental Health’s plan.

CSEA President Danny Donohue said that while this is welcome news for families in these communities, there are still many areas of mental health care and policy that need improvement in every part of New York.

“CSEA can only hope that this is an opportunity for broader and more meaningful action,” President Donohue said.

Tax Incentives Have Failed in New York

Recently, two separate commissions appointed by Governor Cuomo released reports regarding taxes in New York State. One of the commissions, led by Peter Solomon and H. Carl McCall, utilized outside experts to prepare a report to analyze and evaluate business tax credits in New York. The analysis found that tax credits generally benefit a only a small number of businesses, and that there has been no conclusive evidence from research studies since the 1950s that business tax incentives have an impact on net economic gains to states. Despite this fact, the second commission chaired by former Governor Pataki and H. Carl McCall recommended providing even more tax credits to businesses.

Futhermore, David Cay Johnston, a nationally known economics journalist, published an article detailing how New York State has given tax incentives to businesses that actually eliminated jobs. According to Mr. Johnston, New York has given businesses roughly $10 billion over the past nine years but has seen a loss of 175,000 jobs.

Click here to read Mr. Johnston’s article.

This Week in Albany will return on January 3, 2014.

Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year.

This Week in Albany

Week ending December 20, 2013

Headlines include:

  • Some Facilities Will Remain Open Under Amended OMH Plan
  • Tax Incentives Have Failed in New York
  • Happy Holidays

Continue reading…