This Week in Albany

Week ending April 25, 2014

Headlines include:

  • Comptroller Releases Report on Budget
  • State Receives 22 Bids for Casino Sites
  • Public Sector Job Losses Hold Back Recovery
  • At a Glance

Continue reading…

This Week in Albany

Week ending April 25, 2014

Comptroller Releases Report on Budget

Comptroller DiNapoli’s office has released its analysis of the enacted state budget.

The report raises concerns over the lack of transparency in some budgeting practices. According to the Comptroller, the budget includes $500 million in funds that can be spent solely at the Executive Branch’s discretion, as well as almost $5 billion in one-shot temporary resources. The report also highlights the billions of dollars of new debt from “backdoor borrowing” by public authorities.

State Receives 22 Bids for Casino Sites

The New York State Gaming Commission has received applications, including the required $1 million application fee, from 22 entities seeking to develop casino gaming facilities across the state.

Voters in November approved a referendum that will allow for the development of four casinos in New York.  Formal bids for casinos are due on June 30, and final determinations will be made before the end of the year.

Public Sector Job Losses Hold Back Recovery

A report released by the Center for American Progress this week showed that state and local governments lost over 625,000 jobs nation-wide between June 2009 and March 2014. According to the report, the total number of jobs added during the recovery from the Great Recession is about half the number of previous recoveries of equal length.

At a Glance

The legislature returns to session on Monday after nearly three weeks off following the passage of the state budget.

Workers’ Memorial Day 2014: Mourn for the Dead, Fight for the Living

The likelihood of people getting hurt or killed on the job is dramatically reduced when there is proper planning, adequate staffing and appropriate equipment and training

ALBANY — Monday, April 28, is Workers’ Memorial Day when CSEA and others honor the memory of workers who have lost their lives or been injured on the job. In the past year, seven CSEA members lost their lives in on-the-job incidents that didn’t have to happen. There have been six workplace fatalities involving CSEA members in the past seven months alone.

In the most recent reporting year, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported about 69,000 injury and illness cases among state and local government workers in New York. The incidence rate was higher than the national average.

“Let’s be clear: when it comes to safety and health, there’s no such thing as an accident,” said CSEA President Danny Donohue. “The likelihood of people getting hurt or killed on the job is dramatically reduced when there is proper planning, adequate staffing and appropriate equipment and training.”

CSEA will hold a memorial program as part of its Statewide Conference on Occupational Safety and Health in Lake Placid May 2-4. There are a number of other memorial programs scheduled around the state over the next two weeks:

Long Island Region
A Workers’ Memorial Day service will be held April 28 in Hauppauge at the New York State Office Building at 5 p.m. Steven Giacobello, a CSEA member in the Town of Oyster Bay Department of Public Works who was struck by a car and killed while collecting recyclables, will be remembered.

Metropolitan Region
The CSEA Staten Island Developmental Center Local will hold a Workers’ Memorial Day candlelight vigil on April 28 at 6 p.m. at 1100 Forest Hill Rd., Staten Island, Building 12A. The vigil will be in remembrance of Lizette Serrano and Marion “Tish” Anderson-Ryan, two food service workers who worked at Staten Island DDSO who were struck by a vehicle while crossing the street. The workers were heading home after staying late and using their own time to make sure individuals at the center were served a great Thanksgiving meal.

Southern Region
The Hudson Valley Area Labor Federation will hold a Workers’ Memorial Day ceremony on April 24 at 6 p.m. at the IBEW Local 363 Training Center in Harriman. CSEA members Lance Gayton, Rich Capper and Nick Farella are to be remembered. The event will be followed by the Hudson Valley Area Labor Federation Labor Legislative Forum and U.S. Reps. Sean Patrick Maloney and Nita Lowey are scheduled to attend.

The Westchester-Putnam Central Labor Body will hold its 9th annual Worker Vigil on April 29 at 5 p.m. at Renaissance Plaza in White Plains (Mamaroneck Ave. and Main St. intersection, in front of the fountain).

Capital Region
Capital District Area Labor Federation activists and local faith leaders will gather in Saratoga Springs April 26 at 4p.m. at the New England Congregational Church, 24 Circular Street, for a reading of the names of the families who have lost loved ones on the job. There will also be a performance by local spoken word poet and activist Victorio Reyes. The memory of Ron Clifford, a Greene County CSEA member who passed away will be honored.

Central Region
The Central New York Labor Council will hold a ceremony in Utica on April 24 at 5 p.m. at the Labor Monument at West Main Street in Ilion, followed by a dinner. For more information, call (315) 735-6101.

The Central New York Area Labor Federation, along with other organizations, will hold their Unity Breakfast in Syracuse on April 25 at 8 a.m. at Pensabene’s Casa Grande at 135 State Fair Boulevard in Syracuse.

The Broome-Tioga Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, along with other organizations, will hold a ceremony in Binghamton on April 26 at noon at the Commemorative Plaque on the River Trail (Wall Street) near the Martin Luther King statue. It will be followed by a volunteer cleanup and planting at the Binghamton Factory Fire Memorial at the Spring Forest Cemetery on Mygatt Street in Binghamton.

The CSEA Central Region Safety and Health Committee will hold its Annual Memorial Tree Planting and Observance in Utica on April 28 at noon outside the New York State Department of Transportation Fleet Administration and Support Building at 10 Harbor Lock Road West in Utica.

Western Region
The Department of Transportation Region 4 will be holding a Workers’ Memorial Ceremony on April 28, 10 a.m. at the FSA Shop on Clover St. in Pittsford.

The Rochester Labor Council will hold a Workers’ Memorial Day Ceremony in Highland Park, Rochester, New York at 5:30 p.m. on April 28.

The Western New York OPWDD will be holding an event in West Seneca on May 8 at 11 a.m. in front of the Western New York Developmental Center Administrative Building (just inside the facility’s entrance on East & West Road).


Today is Global Day of Action for justice for Rana Plaza victims, survivors


The scene at Rana Plaza after the April 24, 2013 building collapse.

Today, workers, consumers and other advocates around the world are joining in a global day of action to mark the one-year anniversary of the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh that killed at least 1,138 people and injured 2,500 more in the worst garment industry catastrophe in history. The building housed garment factories that made clothing for numerous Western retailers and brands, including The Children’s Place, Walmart and Benetton.

Today, workers, consumers and other advocates around the world are joining in a global day of action to stand in solidarity with garment workers in Bangladesh, many of whom continue to work in poor conditions at other factories. Demonstrations will be held outside numerous The Children’s Place, Walmart and Benetton stores around the world.

In New York, event will be held at The Children’s Place stores at Union Square in Manhattan from noon to 1 p.m., and Colonie Center in Albany at 5 p.m. (gather at the food court). For more information on these other global day of action events, visit Global Day of Action: April 24, 2014 Facebook page.

Inspectors had found cracks in the Rana Plaza building the day before the collapse and had recommended evacuation and closure. While other businesses in the building had closed, the garment factories stayed open and workers were forced to report. At one factory, managers threatened to withhold a month’s pay from workers who did not come to work.
Advocates are demanding that the retailers who used the Rana Plaza factories pay full and fair compensation to Rana Plaza victims, including the families of fallen workers and collapse survivors. Advocates will also call on Walmart to pay compensation to victims of the Nov. 24, 2012, Tazreen, Bangladesh factory fire that killed 112 workers.

While The Children’s Place and Walmart have recently announced that they were making a small contribution to the victims’ fund sponsored by the International Labor Rights Forum, it is far from what these companies owe the victims.

April 23 is Administrative Professionals Day

Administrative Professionals Day is observed in several countries to recognize the work of secretaries, administrative assistants, receptionists and other administrative support professionals, including thousands of CSEA members.

Originally called Professional Secretaries Day, the name was changed in 2000 to reflect the expanding responsibilities and wide-ranging job titles of the modern administrative work force.

Thousands of CSEA members work in administrative support positions, keeping numerous state agencies, local government offices, health care facilities and school districts organized and operating smoothly.

Taylor Law enacted April 21, 1967


Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller, seated, signs the Public Employees Fair Employment Act, known as the Taylor Law, in 1967. Left to right: CSEA President Joseph Feily; Rockefeller aide and former CSEA counsel Harry Albright; state Budget Director T. Norman Hurd; Lt. Gov. Malcolm Wilson; Attorney General Louis Lefkowitz; Ersa Poston, chair of the state Civil Service Commission and incoming CSEA President Theodore Wenzl. Photo courtesy of New York State Archives.

April 21, 1967 brought one of the greatest benchmarks in CSEA history — the Taylor Law, which changed CSEA forever by giving public employees in New York the legal right to collective bargaining.

Appointed by Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller, George Taylor of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania led a commission that created a new public employee labor relations law. The bill replaced the Condon-Wadlin Act, a repressive law that prohibited strikes by public employees, carried strict penalties for violations of the law and excluded collective bargaining.

The Taylor Bill prohibited strikes as well, but lessened the consequences and shifted penalties from the individual worker to the union. The bill also provided a charter of rights for employees for the first time and established a state employment public relations board to judge fairness of such matters. Most importantly, the new bill included a provision allowing for collective negotiation at both state and local levels.

Rockefeller signed the Public Employees Fair Employment Act into law on April 21, 1967. The new law, which became known as the Taylor Law, became effective in September 1967 and changed CSEA forever. The bill gave the union the bargaining power that it truly needed to improve conditions for its members.

This Week in Albany

Cuomo Starts to See Pushback

What at first appeared to be an easy reelection campaign for Governor Cuomo looks like it is starting to get a bit more competitive. The Governor has been a major figure in the press recently as public pushback against his abrasive style has stepped up.

According to people involved with the Moreland Commission on Public Corruption, the Cuomo administration inserted itself into its day-to-day operations throughout the process, even stopping subpoenas from being issued to the state Democratic Party and other Cuomo allies. Following the passage of a small ethics package in this year’s state budget, Governor Cuomo decided to shut down the commission before any of its work was completed.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s office has taken possession of the records obtained by the commission after publicly rebuking the Governor for prematurely shutting the panel down.

Due to the publicity generated by his handling of the Moreland Commission and by the recently passed budget, major newspapers across the country have published editorials or opinion pieces against the Governor. The New York Times editorial board chastised the Governor for his handling of ethics reform, while the Washington Post published an article critical of the Governor for pushing budget policies that benefit the wealthy and big corporations instead of the middle class.

New York Unemployment Rises in March

Unemployment in New York rose 0.1% to 6.9% in March, remaining higher that the national unemployment rate of 6.7%.

Miner Resigns State Party Post

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner has resigned from her position as state Democratic Party co-chair. Miner, who was hand-picked by the governor for the post, has been known for consistently battling with Cuomo over issues such as funding for upstate cities.

This Week in Albany

Week ending April 18, 2014

Headlines include:

  • Cuomo Starts to See Pushback
  • New York Unemployment Rises in March
  • Miner Resigns State Party Post

Continue reading…

April 20 is the 100th anniversary of the Ludlow Massacre


Ruins of the Ludlow Colony near Trinidad, Colorado, following an attack on striking miners and their families on April 20, 2014.

April 20 marks the 100th anniversary of the Ludlow Massacre, one of the most brutal attacks on organized labor in North American history.

On April 20, 1914 – Easter Sunday – about two dozen striking coal miners and their families, including two women and 11 children, were killed at a Ludlow, Colo. mine owned by John D. Rockefeller Jr. The miners were attempting to organize into the United Mine Workers of America to improve poor working – and living – conditions. Labor and community organizer Mother Jones had helped coordinate the miners’ strike and was jailed for her role in the months before the massacre.

The striking workers and their families were staying in a tent colony after being evicted from their company-owned houses when the tents were pelted with machine gun fire and ultimately torched by the state militia.

What became known as the Ludlow Massacre quickly evolved into a national rallying cry for labor unions. The public, meanwhile, condemned the violence and called for reforms.

The investigation into the incident eventually paved the way for child labor laws and an eight-hour workday.

Despite these improvements, many of the issues that led to the strike, including income inequality, worker safety and attacks on the right to bargain collectively, are still relevant a century after the Ludlow massacre and labor, community and faith leaders are still fighting for justice.

Poverty is just one issue undermining people and communities in New York

Food-for-thought-logoIf you’re attending the CSEA Statewide Conference on Occupational Safety and Health in Lake Placid on May 2-4, please do the following:

  • Bring a non-perishable food item to be donated to local food pantries that serve hundreds of families in the North Country area.
  • Come prepared to join the discussion about how to fight poverty in New York.

Why this is so important
New York is the wealthiest state in the nation, but we also have the greatest income inequality. People need good jobs and policies that promote economic growth – not more tax giveaways to wealthy corporations and the rich.

  • More than 3 million New Yorkers live in poverty.
  • More than half the children in many parts of the state go to bed hungry each night.
  • Hunger and poverty are not just in New York’s cities. These are serious problems in every community in our state.

This is not acceptable.

New York needs some serious change in direction, and some people need immediate help.

Learn more about hunger in New York state
Download the Food for Thought flier
More about the Statewide Conference on Occupational Safety and Health

CSEA is bringing people together to build stronger communities and a better New York for all.