Important arbitration win in Westchester County

Arbitration ruling calls for layoff of former CSEA president to be overturned

In an anxiously awaited decision, an arbitrator has overturned the termination of a CSEA union president who was targeted for layoff because of her union duties.

Arbitrator Jay M. Siegel determined County officials laid off Westchester County Unit President Karen Pecora, a secretary in the Parks Department, not because of budgetary reasons or lack of work, but because she was on leave from her county job to serve as union president.

“It seems beyond mere coincidence that the only individual to actually be laid off from this area in the Parks Department in the past few years is the individual on union leave,” Siegel wrote in his decision. “To make matters worse for the county, it chose to target the grievant’s position while then re-employing two retirees to fill the voids left by these retirements. This wreaks of bad faith.”

“I am thrilled that the hearing officer saw what really happened here,” Pecora said. “I feel vindicated that the truth came out and the right thing was done. I look forward to returning to my former position.”

“This proves that laying off Karen was a political move to get rid of a union leader who fights for her members,” said CSEA Westchester County Local President John Staino. “Karen would not be intimidated and this ruling will allow the county CSEA to continue to fight for its members.”
CSEA Southern Region President Billy Riccaldo agreed the decision sets an important precedent.

“This confirms that Karen Pecora was singled out for termination because she was the union president,” Riccaldo said. “This is a significant victory and sends a message that labor-management relations should be based on fairness and respect.”

Current CSEA Westchester County Unit President Kwabena Manu said the decision is a clear win for the labor movement.

“This decision is a major victory for the CSEA Westchester County Unit,” Manu. “It points out very clearly that unions will continue to be a part of the American system.”

Siegel ruled Pecora must be reinstated to her job with back pay and benefits.



Article Highlights Failures of New York Tax Incentives

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.

Over nine years, the state of New York gave businesses roughly $10 billion, or almost $1,400 from each household, in a jobs program that eliminated 175,000 jobs at an average cost of $57,000. And that’s just state-level subsidies, not those from industrial development agencies.

Read the article at

CSEA President Danny Donohue statement on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s announcements on Greater Binghamton Health Center, Elmira and St. Lawrence Psychiatric Centers

“Governor Cuomo’s announcements about Greater Binghamton Health Center, Elmira and St. Lawrence Psychiatric Centers are welcome news for people and families struggling with mental illness and those local communities.

It is clear that many people, including members of the state legislature, such as Senators David Carlucci, Thomas Libous, Thomas O’Mara, Patty Ritchie and James Seward, Assembly members Aileen Gunther, Donna Lupardo, Barbara Lifton, Addie Russell, Clifford Crouch, Christopher Friend and Philip Palmesano helped deliver a strong message about unmet needs.

There are still far too many areas of mental health care, services 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.”

It’s official – New York now leaves people with serious and persistent mental illness on their own

ALBANY — New York state is leaving people with serious and persistent mental illness on their own under a new initiative that requires them to fend for themselves.

The state Office of Mental Health is planning to move patients with serious mental illness out of state psychiatric centers and into Single Residency Occupancy (SRO) units throughout the state.
SROs are private apartments where individuals would live on their own with minimal supervision from mental health professionals.

“We’ve criticized the state on many occasions for not doing enough to care for the mentally ill,” said CSEA President Danny Donohue. “But now they’re officially leaving people with very serious illness on their own.”

Patients currently in state psychiatric centers are among the most seriously ill. Many exhibit severe behavioral problems that can pose a serious risk to communities. In psychiatric centers, staff and treatment are available 24 hours a day. In SROs, however, individuals may only be visited by a mental health professional as little as once or twice a week.

“That’s like giving a Band-Aid to someone who needs a tourniquet,” Donohue said.
The union suspects the reasons behind the new initiative are financial rather than medical. It comes as the Cuomo administration is proposing to close state psychiatric centers from Long Island to Buffalo, and the union is skeptical that so many patients could somehow have been rehabilitated so suddenly.

CSEA believes there are better options for the state to invest in community care, including state operated group homes and other supervised living arrangements where adequate treatment, staff and other support is available.

According to a Request For Proposals obtained by the union, OMH plans to open 75 SROs in Central New York, 150 in the Hudson River Region, 100 on Long Island, 300 in New York City and 75 in Western New York.
State inpatient facilities scheduled to close, downsize or merge next year include Greater Binghamton Health Center, as well as Elmira, Mid-Hudson, Manhattan, Rochester, Saint Lawrence, Rockland Children’s, Sagamore Children’s and Western New York Children’s Psychiatric Centers.

Winter Entertainment Deals


The Harlem Globtrotters are at the Times Union Center February 2, 2014 at 1 p.m. Click on the map below for Special CSEA discounted seating and pricing.

Harlem Globetrotters2014 HG CSEA MAP









basketballCSEA is again partnering with the Syracuse University Men’s Basketball program to offer our members special savings on certain home games this season.  Members taking advantage of this offer can purchase upper level seats for $20 each! …more


CSEA is also partnering with Siena basketball to bring special savings!  PrintSaintSation-Final

Purchase tickets via this link or call (and escape booking fee) Joe LaVare
Director of Ticket Sales, Siena College-Office of Fan Relations Ph: 518-487-2237 or email him at

Federal Issues Report

Week ending December 13, 2013. Headlines include: Bipartisan Budget Deal Reached, Immigration Reform Advocates Do Final Push Before House Leaves D.C., 365,000 Americans Select Health Care Plans Under the Affordable Care Act, Bill Introduced to Create Federal Paid Leave Program, and Nina Pillard and Patricia Millett Confirmed as  D.C. Circuit Court Judges.

Continue reading…

Federal Issues Report

Week Ending December 13, 2013

Bipartisan Budget Deal Reached

Senate Budget Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) and House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan (R-WI) reached a two-year budget agreement in advance of the budget conference’s December 13 deadline. The House quickly approved the plan and it now moves to the Senate for expected approval next week.

Overall, the agreement is an opportunity to move past the annual budget crises of the past several years and hopefully prevent another harmful government shutdown in January. It provides much needed, although modest, relief from destructive across-the-board “sequestration” cuts planned for the current Fiscal Year 2014 and the following FY 2015. Overall federal spending for  FY 2014 – including aid and grants to state and local governments – would increase from $967 billion to $1.012 trillion, providing an additional $22 billion for domestic programs over last year. Importantly, the deal avoids benefit cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, a major GOP priority in the talks.

However, the legislation falls short in critical ways. It fails to extend current federal unemployment benefits that millions of unemployed workers and their families depend on for basic needs, leaving 1.3 million workers and their families facing the abrupt termination of these lifeline benefits in a few weeks, although Democratic leaders vow to revisit the issue in early January. It also increases pension contributions by federal workers and fails to raise new revenues needed to pay for additional federal spending and avoid even more sequester cuts now and in the future.

The deal also provides a three-month “patch” to avert the scheduled cuts in reimbursements to physicians who treat Medicare patients in order to give Congress additional time to finalize a permanent solution for doctor payment rates. The budget also extends for an additional two years the 2% cut in all Medicare provider payments required by the Budget Control Act.  And, it eliminates cuts in FY 2014 ($500 million) and FY 2015 ($600 million) for Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) allotments, which provide states with critically important federal funds for safety net hospitals and health systems (i.e., those hospitals that treat a high volume of the uninsured or low-income populations). Unfortunately, the DSH cuts are scheduled to double in 2016 to $1.2 billion.

Due to the budget agreement’s failure to raise taxes on wealthy individuals and corporations, it requires even more sacrifices from federal workers by increasing their pension contributions. Newly hired federal employees hired after December 31, 2013 with less than five years of past federal service would be required to contribute an additional 1.3% of their salary toward their pensions. And, the addition of a new “self plus one” category in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) will further increase health care costs for families of three or more.

During House consideration of the bill, the Democratic leadership pushed for a vote to extend the federal unemployment insurance program. That effort failed on a party-line vote of 227 to 195. The House then passed the budget agreement, by a vote of 332-94. The Senate will likely vote on the budget agreement next week. Assuming it passes, appropriators will prepare a funding bill with individual program funding levels for Congress to approve after the holidays but prior to January 15 when the current funding bill expires.

Immigration Reform Advocates Do Final Push Before House Leaves D.C.

During the House of Representatives’ final week at work before its extended holiday recess, immigration reform advocates and congressional proponents accelerated the pressure on the House GOP leadership to move forward on allowing a vote on legislation to fix our broken immigration system. On Thursday, dozens of House members stood on the steps of the Capitol, declaring that passing immigration reform is a moral imperative and that the votes exist to pass a bill today. On the same day, hundreds gathered at the Fast for Families tents on the National Mall to rally for immigration reform and recognize those who fasted for 22 days. A growing number of senators and representatives continue to fast in solidarity with fasting immigration reform advocates. On Wednesday evening, Reps. Joe Garcia (D-FL) and Jared Polis (D-CO) went to the House floor in hopes of having a dialogue with their GOP colleagues who have publicly opposed immigration reform that includes a roadmap to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the shadows in our country. Unfortunately, none of these reform opponents showed up. The battle for immigration reform will continue over the holidays and into 2014.

365,000 Americans Select Health Care Plans Under the Affordable Care Act

As progress has been made in resolving technical issues on the federal online portal, some 365,000 Americans have selected health care plans through the Affordable Care Act through November, according to a new report. Since October 1, 1.9 million have received an eligibility determination but have not selected a plan. An additional 803,077 were determined to be eligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

Bill Introduced to Create Federal Paid Leave Program

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) introduced a bill, The Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act (H.R. 3712/S. 1810) to require employers to provide paid family and medical leave. Current law, The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), provides unpaid, job protected leave for serious health-related events, but many workers are not covered by the FMLA or cannot afford to take unpaid leave. The FAMILY Act would cover all workers, regardless of the size of their employer, and create an independent trust fund within the Social Security Administration to collect contributions and provide benefits. It would be funded by matching employee and employer contributions of .2% of wages. Benefit levels would be modeled on existing successful state programs in New Jersey and California that would equal 66% of a worker’s typical monthly wages up to a capped monthly amount indexed for inflation.

Nina Pillard and Patricia Millett Confirmed as  D.C. Circuit Court Judges

The Senate confirmed Patricia Millett and Cornelia “Nina” Pillard to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Both votes were largely along party lines. Millett was the first nominee to be confirmed under the “nuclear option” which altered Senate rules to require only a majority vote for Senate approval of federal judges (excluding Supreme Court nominees) and presidential nominations. Nina Pillard is expected to be a strong advocate for working families, having served previously as an attorney for the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund. A vote on a third D.C. Circuit nominee, U.S. District Judge Robert Wilkins, is expected to occur soon.

The Senate also approved several other non-judicial and Administration nominees that had been held up, including Rep. Mel Watt (D-NC) to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

This Week in Albany

Week ending December 13, 2013

Another Tax Commission Releases Report

Just weeks after the Tax Reform and Fairness Commission released its recommended reforms to the state tax code, another Governor-appointed tax commission released its findings.

The commission’s recommendations included reducing corporate income taxes, eliminating the estate tax for most wealthy New Yorkers, and encouraging local government consolidation and shared services.

CSEA President Danny Donohue said, “It’s easy to promise more tax giveaways to the rich and powerful when they come at the expense of local government taxpayers and the community services they depend on. No one should be fooled by the election year rhetoric in Governor Cuomo’s Tax Commission recommendations – this is more of the same policy that will just increase the misery index for people and communities in the real “new” New York.”

Report Highlights Failures of Outsourcing Public Services

In the Public Interest, a group dedicated to studying privatization and responsible contracting, has released a report highlighting the failures of outsourcing public services to private, for-profit corporations. The report brings to light failures of transparency, accountability, competition, and shared prosperity by private contractors who take over public services.

Click here to read the report.

Federal Budget Agreement Reached

House and Senate leaders have announced a federal budget agreement that will avert a government shutdown for the next two years. The House of Representatives passed the agreement by a vote of 332-94. All New York Representatives voted in favor of the proposal except for Reps. Louise Slaughter (D-NY 25), Yvette Clarke (D-NY 9), and Nydia Velazquez (D-NY 7) who all voted no. The bill will now be sent to the Senate for approval.

The budget agreement repeals some of the pending sequester cuts scheduled for various domestic programs and replaces them with more targeted cuts. The specifics will not be available for several weeks.

The agreement will not continue extended unemployment benefits for over 1 million Americans who will lose their benefits on December 31, 2013 and does not address benefits or eligibility for Medicare or Social Security.

This Week in Albany

Week ending December 13, 2013

Headlines include:

  • Another Tax Commission Releases Report
  • Report Highlights Failures of Outsourcing Public Services
  • Federal Budget Agreement Reached

Continue reading…

Flu Season Requirements for NYS Healthcare Facilities

The New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health published a fact sheet outlining the various requirements for healthcare facilities in New York to manage seasonal flu.  Follow this link to download the New Flu Season Requirements for NYS Healthcare Facilities Fact Sheet.