This Week in Albany

Week ending October 31, 2014

Headlines Include:

  • Election Day
  • Election Spotlight – State Comptroller
  • Pension Buy-Back for Veterans Bill Delivered
  • Attorney General Debate

Continue reading…


This Week in Albany

Week ending October 31, 2014

Election Day

Election Day is on Tuesday. Polls open at 6AM and close at 9PM.

It is critical that we turn out and elect candidates who support our values. Click here to see CSEA’s list of endorsed candidates.

Don’t forget to vote!

Election Spotlight – State Comptroller

In the final “Election Spotlight” before Election Day we take a look at the race for New York State Comptroller, where incumbent Democrat Tom DiNapoli is facing off against Republican challenger Bob Antonacci.

Pension Buy-Back for Veterans Bill Delivered

A bill (A. 6974-B Paulin / S. 7839 Larkin) that would allow all military veterans to buy-back up to three years of pension credit for their military service has been delivered to Governor Cuomo. The bill was one of CSEA’s top priorities in the 2014 legislative session.

The Governor must decide whether to sign or veto the bill before Veterans Day. Call the Governor at 1-877-255-9417 to urge him to ensure that the brave men and women who have risked their lives in the service of our nation be entitled to receive this benefit in recognition of their service.

Attorney General Debate

The only debate between the candidates for State Attorney General took place in Hamburg this week. The debate between incumbent AG Eric Schneiderman and his Republican challenger John Cahill was heated at times as the candidates discussed the role of the office.

CSEA has endorsed AG Schneiderman in the race due to his vigorous enforcement of the state’s labor laws and his ability to hold major financial institutions accountable for their actions.

Statement of CSEA President Danny Donohue

ALBANY — “It’s interesting that as Election Day approaches, Rob Astorino is now casting himself as the champion of public employees in stark contradiction of the historical record.

Actions during the campaign and his time in public office speak louder than his opportunistic words. As Westchester County Executive, Astorino has vilified county workers, cut services and laid off employees. CSEA represented county workers in Westchester remain without a contract.

Working New Yorkers should also remember that Astorino celebrated his candidacy this summer with a fund-raising event featuring the governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker – hardly a way to make friends and influence working people.

Campaigns are the silly season, but no one should be foolish enough to believe political rhetoric without some reality check.”

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CSEA, labor and community organizations join faith communities in getting out the vote

vote-button-1CSEA, labor, faith and community organizations are coordinating to get New Yorkers to vote on Nov. 4 in numerous local, state and Congressional elections. Many of the races are close, and the outcome will affect New Yorkers’ daily lives for years to come. Faith leaders are making a special effort to get out the vote in their faith communities in this election.

CSEA is also urging lawmakers to support #RaiseUpNY, legislation that would raise the minimum wage to at least $10.10 per hour and keep pace with the cost of living. Join us in the fight by contacting your elected leaders and tell them to pass #RaiseUpNY.

Download the All Souls to the Polls flier
Learn more about #RaiseUpNY

2014 News Releases


Read CSEA’s recent news releases

November 2014

  • Nov. 25, 2014 CSEA push for accountability after park worker fatality yields state PESH violations, safety improvements

October 2014

  • Oct. 30, 2014 Statement of CSEA President Danny Donohue
  • Oct. 2, 2014 Tough fights, hard work, equal justice for all earn Schneiderman the CSEA endorsement

July 2014

  • July 31, 2014 CSEA announces endorsement of NYS Comptroller Thomas DiNapoliDonohue: “He’s done the job well and continues to work for the people of New York”

June 2014

  • June 30, 2014 Statement of Danny Donohue on Supreme Court decision in Harris v. Quinn
  • June 19, 2014 Historic agreement between governor, legislature promises a better future for individuals struggling with developmental disabilities, mental illness
    Framework for improving services and a role for the experienced state work force
  • June 17, 2014 Court decision overturns Orange County nursing facility transfer
    CSEA: No shortcuts on issues affecting people and communities
  • June 11, 2014 CSEA court employees overwhelmingly approve new contract
    Intense focus by CSEA negotiating team produces strong turnout, support

April 2014

  • April 24, 2014 Workers’ Memorial Day 2014: Mourn for the Dead, Fight for the Living
  • April 11, 2014 CSEA, OCA reach contract agreement for 5,700 court system employees
    “Challenging” negotiations yield positive results for labor and management
  • April 10, 2014 CSEA slams court overturning salary cap on executive pay at not-for-profit human services agencies cashing in on public contracts at taxpayer expense
  • April 8, 2014 CSEA message to New York state drivers: “Don’t Zone Out”
    This is National Work Zone Awareness Safety week

March 2014

  • March 31, 2014 Statement of CSEA President Danny Donohue on 2014-15 State Budget

February 2014

  • Feb. 24, 2014 Local groups: “No more tax breaks for the super-wealthy”Point to NY’s worst-in-the-nation income inequality as need for investment, not tax benefits for rich
  • Feb. 21, 2014 Local groups rally to say “No!” to Gov. Cuomo’s proposed tax cuts for wealthyPoint to NY’s worst-in-the-nation income inequality as need for investment, not tax benefits for rich
  • Feb. 11, 2014 Frontline workers detail the stark reality of the real “new” New York
    Urge lawmakers to enact a budget that puts revenues to better use in our communities

January 2014

  • Jan. 21, 2014 CSEA response to the governor’s proposed state budget
  • Jan. 21, 2014 Court strikes down Westchester County Health Care Corp. attempt at separate civil service system

Nov. 25, 2014
CSEA push for accountability after park worker fatality yields state PESH violations, safety improvements

BEAR MOUNTAIN – An investigation into the tragic workplace death of CSEA member and state parks worker Lance Gayton, who died in 2013, has resulted in the New York State Department of Labor issuing five serious violations to the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP).

CSEA, the union representing Gayton and the majority of state parks workers, has worked cooperatively with representatives from the Department of Labor’s Public Employee Safety and Health Bureau (PESH) to ensure both a full investigation of the incident that led to Gayton’s death and accountability from OPRHP officials in the wake of this preventable tragedy.

“Had proper training, equipment and resources been provided, this tragedy would have been prevented and Lance’s family would not be without their husband and father,” said CSEA Southern Region President Billy Riccaldo. “A safe workplace is a right, not a privilege. Our CSEA Occupational Safety and Health Department representatives have been working closely with PESH and our CSEA local leaders to ensure OPRHP comes into compliance with the violations that resulted from Lance’s death, and stays in compliance.”

Gayton, 61, of Highland Mills, died Aug. 7, 2013 after an incident that occurred while working alone in Harriman State Park. Gayton was at the Youmans Flats Garbage Transfer station on Seven Lakes Drive using a front loader to place a 3,500-pound Wimmer hydraulic hammer upright when the hydraulic hammer fell, striking Gayton and pinning him to the ground. A short time later, a co-worker discovered Gayton and called for help. Gayton was later pronounced dead at Good Samaritan Hospital in Suffern.

The violations issued to OPRHP in Albany describe violations of the Public Employee Safety and Health Act of 1980. The five violations, rated by PESH as serious, resulted from issues including failure to train workers on proper use of the hydraulic hammer, failure to properly identify and inspect the alloy steel chain slings used to lift the hammer, unauthorized modification of the front loader by welding D-rings to the loader bucket, and the unsafe practice of allowing an employee to work under or beneath the front loader bucket and the hydraulic hammer.

PESH first issued the violations Sept. 11, 2014. At a follow-up meeting held in early November, PESH officials determined that OPRHP had come into compliance.

“Everyone that goes to work expects to be safe and to return home,” said CSEA Palisades Parks Local President Danny Corigliano. “This accident was a wake-up call. Lance was very well-respected, a gentleman and a role model. We are working diligently with PESH and OPRHP to ensure the violations are resolved and that the park remains in compliance.”

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See the PESH violations

Oct. 30, 2014
Statement of CSEA President Danny Donohue

ALBANY — “It’s interesting that as Election Day approaches, Rob Astorino is now casting himself as the champion of public employees in stark contradiction of the historical record.

Actions during the campaign and his time in public office speak louder than his opportunistic words. As Westchester County Executive, Astorino has vilified county workers, cut services and laid off employees. CSEA represented county workers in Westchester remain without a contract.

Working New Yorkers should also remember that Astorino celebrated his candidacy this summer with a fund-raising event featuring the governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker – hardly a way to make friends and influence working people.

Campaigns are the silly season, but no one should be foolish enough to believe political rhetoric without some reality check.”

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Oct. 2, 2014
Tough fights, hard work, equal justice for all earn Schneiderman the CSEA endorsement

NEW YORK — Saying he has vigorously pursued equal justice for all, CSEA President Danny Donohue formally announced the union’s endorsement of Eric Schneiderman for re-election as New York State Attorney General.

“Eric Schneiderman has taken on the tough fights and worked hard to fairly represents the interests of all New Yorkers,” Donohue said. “Holding major financial companies accountable for misdeeds, securing safer streets, addressing the heroin epidemic, protecting consumers from fraud and standing up against wage theft are just some of the ways Eric Schneiderman has earned CSEA’s support.”

Donohue made the announcement at the union’s 104th Annual Delegates Meeting in New York City, where Schneiderman was a featured speaker.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said, “I am incredibly honored to have the support of the nearly 300,000 members of CSEA, including many of the dedicated men and women I work alongside in the AG’s office every day. CSEA has always been a strong advocate for their members and working people. I’m proud of the work we have done with the labor community and with CSEA’s help we will deliver the message to voters all over New York. We will spend the next four years fighting to ensure there is one set of rules for everyone, no matter how rich or powerful.”

“It is a great recommendation that the people who work with Eric every day and know him best are his staunchest advocates within CSEA,” Donohue said. “It says a lot about Eric as a person and a leader.”

CSEA’s endorsement means the union will use all of its internal channels to communicate the reasons for its support of Attorney General Schneiderman to the CSEA membership. The union will also use its extensive phone bank and other get-out-the-vote capabilities to build member and public support and help produce results on Election Day.

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July 31, 2014
CSEA announces endorsement of NYS Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli
Donohue: “He’s done the job well and continues to work for the people of New York”

ALBANY — CSEA – New York’s leading union – has once again formally announced its endorsement of New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. CSEA President Danny Donohue said the decision is based on continued confidence in DiNapoli’s demonstrated honesty and effectiveness as comptroller since 2007, coupled with his unblemished record as a public leader.

“Tom DiNapoli has done the job well and continues to work for the people of New York,” said Donohue. “The State Comptroller’s office works with complete professionalism providing fiscal guidance and oversight to local governments and state agencies alike. Under Tom’s leadership, the OSC has demonstrated resourcefulness, cooperation and integrity.”

“Every day, I work alongside members of CSEA, and it is an honor to receive their endorsement,” said Comptroller Tom DiNapoli. “I share many of the values for which this organization stands: integrity, hard work and accountability. Alongside President Danny Donohue and CSEA’s 300,000 members, I will continue our work protecting taxpayer dollars from waste, fraud and abuse, while ensuring that our pension fund remains one of the strongest in the nation.”

CSEA has long viewed the state comptroller with singular importance to CSEA members. As the sole trustee of the state pension system, the state comptroller’s judgment and decisions have enormous implications over the retirement security of more than 300,000 retired and active CSEA members. CSEA was instrumental in helping to establish the state retirement system in 1920.

“In a challenging time, Tom and his staff have produced outstanding results for the state pension fund, providing financial security for public workers – allowing them to continue to live and pay taxes in New York – along with strong benefit for taxpayers,” Donohue said. “He has done a difficult job fairly and responsibly for all concerned. We should all have complete confidence in Tom DiNapoli’s leadership going forward.”

Donohue said that another important factor in CSEA’s decision to back DiNapoli is the unwavering support for him from CSEA members who work in the Comptroller’s office.

“It continues to speaks volumes about Tom as an individual and a manager that the people who know him best are urging this endorsement,” Donohue said.

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June 30, 2014
Statement of Danny Donohue on Supreme Court decision in Harris v. Quinn

“Despite widespread speculation, the Supreme Court’s decision in Harris v. Quinn is a very narrow ruling by a divided court with primary impact on a specific situation in Illinois.

It does not have significant, obvious impact on CSEA-represented public employees and others in New York state.”

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June 19, 2014
Historic agreement between governor, legislature promises a better future for individuals struggling with developmental disabilities, mental illness
Framework for improving services and a role for the experienced state work force

ALBANY — An agreement between the governor and the legislature to ensure better mental health and developmental disabilities services, including a future role for state employees who deliver them, is a welcome outcome as the legislative session draws to a close.

The agreement represents a firm commitment to ensure reinvestment in appropriate services prior to any reconfiguration. It also affirms the importance of state services and the value of utilizing dedicated and experienced state employees to meet critical needs.

CSEA has long argued that it is unacceptable for New York state to simply close facilities and downsize the state work force while failing to address severe gaps in services or help people in dire need who often become the burden of local taxpayers.

The agreement was brokered by Sen. Thomas Libous and Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo with the governor’s office following the Senate’s passage of the Freeze Unsafe Closures Now (FUCN) Act. The act was headed toward passage in the Assembly as well, when talks were convened to address broader objectives.

CSEA believes the agreement is a reasonable and responsible alternative that will help improve services in the short run and provide a framework to develop a long term plan that will be in the best interests of all New Yorkers, especially those with developmental disabilities and individuals and families struggling with mental illness.

“New York’s mental health and developmental disabilities policies, priorities and access to care all require serious improvement,” said CSEA President Danny Donohue. “This agreement settles any debate about how we should move forward to address needs and recognizes that it is essential that state services have a role in a better tomorrow.”

The CSEA leader commended Libous and Lupardo and other members of the legislature for their outstanding focus and determination to achieve a better result.

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June 17, 2014
Court decision overturns Orange County nursing facility transfer
CSEA: No shortcuts on issues affecting people and communities

GOSHEN – The best interest of Valley View nursing facility residents and the Orange County community are upheld in a state Supreme Court decision overturning an Orange County legislative resolution to transfer the county’s Valley View Nursing facility to a newly created local development corporation.

Justice Elaine Slobod ruled that the legislative resolution passed by a simple majority violated state law requiring a 2/3 super majority vote. The case was brought by a group of residents and Valley View employees who are members of CSEA.

CSEA has long argued that the transfer of public nursing facilities to the control of local development corporations, which have no accountability to the public, represents an abandonment of responsibility by public officials. Other courts have upheld such action by county officials under different circumstances.

“The trend to transfer public health care facilities to local development corporations is a quick fix that lets elected officials wash their hands of responsibility for addressing the long-term well being of the most vulnerable people in our communities,” said CSEA President Danny Donohue.

“This court ruling recognizes that important decisions affecting the well-being of people and communities should not have shortcuts.”

The CSEA leader noted that it is disappointing that the county has already indicated that it intends to appeal the ruling.

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June 11, 2014
CSEA court employees overwhelmingly approve new contract
Intense focus by CSEA negotiating team produces strong turnout, support

ALBANY — CSEA-represented employees of the Unified Court System have voted 2-to-1 in favor of a new contract amid strong member turnout.

“This was a very difficult negotiation and I am proud that CSEA members ignored outside noise and focused on the facts about this agreement,” said CSEA President Danny Donohue. “The CSEA negotiating team worked hard at the bargaining table to protect the rights and benefits of CSEA members. They kept that focus in presenting the agreement details to our members and it made all the difference in the vote count.”

The six-year agreement runs from April 1, 2011 through March 31, 2017 with the following highlights:
• Two (2) percent across-the-board salary increase in October 2014;
• Two (2) percent across the board salary increase in April 2015;
• Two (2) percent across-the-board salary increase in April 2016;
• $750 Bonus (pensionable) payable March 31, 2017;
• Transition from a two to a three-tier longevity system beginning in April 2016 with changes in the payment amounts and other reforms;
• Maintaining benefits provided through the CSEA Employee Benefit Fund and
• A variety of changes in work rules and other contract provisions.

The agreement also establishes a contingency for the possibility of up to a two-day payroll lag in both the 2015-16 and 2016-17 fiscal years to avoid layoffs in the event that the UCS budget is not approved by the state legislature and the governor as submitted.

The agreement must now be acted on by the state legislature.

CSEA represents 5,700 employees who work in the Unified Court System statewide. They perform a wide range of duties, from clerk and administrative work, to court officers and reporters.

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See agreement PLEASE NOTE: CSEA Member ID sign-in required


April 24, 2014
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).

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April 11, 2014
CSEA, OCA reach contract agreement for 5,700 court system employees
“Challenging” negotiations yield positive results for labor and management

ALBANY — Following a long and challenging set of negotiations, CSEA – New York’s leading union – and the New York State Office of Court Administration have reached agreement on a contract for 5,700 employees of the Unified Court System.

“This was a very difficult negotiation that demonstrates a fair agreement can be reached when both labor and management work in good faith,” said CSEA President Danny Donohue. “The result addresses management’s need for long-term reform of the compensation structure while maintaining the rights and benefits of the CSEA members who work hard every day.”

“I am very proud of the CSEA negotiating team for their focus and determination to get the job done responsibly,” Donohue said.

The six-year agreement runs from April 1, 2011, through March 31, 2017 with the following highlights:

  • Two (2) percent across-the-board salary increase in October 2014;
  • Two (2) percent across the board salary increase in April 2015;
  • Two (2) percent across-the-board salary increase in April 2016;
  • $750 Bonus (pensionable) payable March 31, 2017;
  • Transition from a two to a three tier longevity system beginning in April 2016 with changes in the payment amounts and other reforms;
  • Maintaining benefits provided through the CSEA Employee Benefit Fund;
  • A variety of changes in work rules and other contract provisions.

Changes in health insurance were already made in 2011.

The agreement also establishes a contingency for the possibility of up to a two-day payroll lag in both the 2015-16 and 2016-17 fiscal years to avoid layoffs in the event that the UCS budget is not approved by the state legislature and the governor as submitted.

Chief Administrative Judge A. Gail Prudenti said, “The Unified Court System is pleased that it has reached this agreement with CSEA, which will provide salary increases over the next three years for approximately 40 percent of the court system’s work force. We believe the agreement balances the state’s ongoing fiscal constraints with the desire to provide increased compensation and benefits for the court system’s hardworking employees. Moreover, it addresses a number of CSEA’s longstanding concerns, including the return to work process, seniority and expediting the disciplinary process for alleged time and leave violations. We look forward to ratification and implementation of this agreement.”

CSEA will move quickly in the next few weeks to seek approval of the tentative agreement by the union’s rank and file court employees. If approved, it must also be acted on by the state legislature.

CSEA members, who work in the Unified Court System statewide, perform a wide range of duties from clerk and administrative work to court officers and reporters.

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April 10, 2014
CSEA slams court overturning salary cap on executive pay at not-for-profit human services agencies cashing in on public contracts at taxpayer expense
ALBANY — State Supreme Court Judge Thomas Feinman’s ruling defies common sense,
transparency and public accountability.

It is only right and responsible that New York State have some right to set limits on executive compensation on agencies that, for all intents and purposes, are providing public services with taxpayer money.

The justification for outsourcing the delivery of public services to not-for-profit contractors is based on the premise that they can do the job less expensively than the public sector. They achieve this by paying their employees substandard wages, often without benefits, while their executives live high on the hog with exorbitant pay and perks.

It’s not right. It does not help to deliver quality services to people in need or the public. Neither does it serve our society to have an underclass of workers who can barely make ends meet, while their bosses literally write their own check at taxpayer expense.

Judge Feinman has now helped those bosses to thumb their nose at the public.

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April 8, 2014
CSEA message to New York state drivers: “Don’t Zone Out”
This is National Work Zone Awareness Safety week
ALBANY -CSEA – New York’s leading union – is stepping up its efforts to remind the motoring public about the dangers of distracted driving this month. The union’s Don’t Zone Out campaign re-launch coincides with National Work Zone Safety Awareness Week (April 7-11) and the designation of April as Distracted Driving month by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. There is no better time to remind drivers about caution on the roadways.

Tragically, six CSEA members have lost their lives in on-the-job circumstances over the past six months. Four of the six involved traffic hazard incidents. Since record-keeping began in 1983, nearly 50 CSEA members have lost their lives on the job in highway work zones.

Distracted driving is a serious problem and for CSEA, it’s personal. Too many road workers lose their lives or are injured each year.

These incidents are not only tragic, they are preventable. Additionally, they change lives forever, not just for the workers, their friends and families, but also for those who are involved.

“In an instant, distracted driving can kill and change lives forever,” said CSEA President Danny Donohue.

“The roadwork season is upon us. Scores of our members will be out on roads, bridges and highways. Our men and women are at serious risk for injury or death at the hands of drivers who ignore the law and blast through work zones unaware that lives are at stake, including their own,” said Donohue. “Keep in mind that most traffic zone deaths involve the traveling public; So when you pay attention, the life you save may be your own.”

CSEA is promoting the Don’t Zone Out message through a variety of traditional and social media channels and is also working with all of the minor league baseball teams in New York to get the word out throughout the season.

CSEA’s baseball Get Home Safe – Don’t Zone Out promotion is being coordinated with the Long Island Ducks, Brooklyn Cyclones, Hudson Valley Renegades, Tri City Valley Cats, Binghamton Mets, Syracuse Chiefs, Auburn Doubledays, Batavia Muckdogs, Rochester Red Wings, Buffalo Bisons and Jamestown Jammers.

Since CSEA’s “Don’t Zone Out” campaign began in 2010, many other awareness campaigns across the country have also been established. As a result, distracted driving related deaths and injuries were dramatically decreased. Nationwide, in 2009 distracted driving reportedly killed almost 6,000 people. In 2012, the number fell to 3,000 deaths, but the recent rash of incidents involving CSEA members should remind everyone that the message must always be reinforced.

Nearly two years ago, CSEA also successfully supported an amendment to the state “move over law” to include road workers. Motorists are required, when possible, to change lanes when they approach an incident where there is a vehicle with flashing red lights (such as police or fire) but also for amber lights (road workers) as well. When it is not possible to move over or there is only one lane, drivers must slow down. The penalty is a moving violation, can carry penalties of 5 points on your license, up to $400 fine plus court surcharges and a possible jail sentence.

WHAT THE PUBLIC CAN DO

  • Move over for amber lights, or police lights
  • Obey posted speed limits
  • Put the phone down and drive
  • Never send or read text messages while driving
  • In work zones, focus only on your driving
  • If someone calls you while you’re driving, ignore it
  • Help spread the word
  • Join the Don’t Zone Out Facebook community and help build awareness:
    www.facebook.com/DontZoneOut

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March 31, 2014
Statement of CSEA President Danny Donohue on 2014-15 State Budget
“The state budget says a lot about priorities and it’s not good. Who do Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the legislative leaders really care about?

Under their plan, schools will continue struggle to maintain teachers and programs. Counties, towns and villages will continue to struggle to maintain essential services. Critical programs for the poor, hungry and sick will be cut. But bankers, millionaires and billionaire campaign contributors are getting a huge windfall.

The governor and legislative leaders’ priorities have made it clear who they serve. No political gimmicks like election year property tax rebate checks and a lot of sound bite nonsense can change what they’ve done at the expense of working New Yorkers.”
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Feb. 24, 2014

Local groups: “No more tax breaks for the super-wealthy”

Point to NY’s worst-in-the-nation income inequality as need for investment, not tax benefits for rich
ALBANY — Area leaders, including Assembly member Patricia A. Fahy (D-Albany), today joined a statewide coalition of labor, faith and community organizations to push back against Gov. Cuomo’s proposed tax breaks for the wealthy and well connected. The groups held a noontime rally at the Emmanuel Baptist Church in Downtown Albany calling on local legislators to oppose billions in tax cuts that would undermine people, services and communities while benefiting the wealthiest New Yorkers.

Highlighting the stories of area residents who have been directly impacted by past budget cuts, the NYInequality coalition is seeking to persuade local lawmakers to fight back against giving the wealthiest another tax windfall, especially since New York ranks first in the nation for income inequality. Already, communities have suffered cuts to schools, first responders and other essential services.

“When half the children in our major upstate cities are living in poverty, how can the Governor possibly justify giving more than half of his projected $2 billion surplus to the state’s millionaire and billionaires through dramatic reductions in the estate tax and tax breaks for big Wall Street banks,” said Ron Deutsch, Executive Director for Fiscal Fairness.

“It’s wrong to prioritize tax breaks for billionaires and bankers over the needs of our communities. We need to focus the state’s limited resources on badly needed school aid and basic services in the places where the economy has been hit the hardest,” said Blue Carreker, Campaigns Manager, Citizen Action of New York.

Other speakers at the event included Beth Glassanos, Coordinator of Advocacy, Outreach & Volunteerism at FOCUS Churches of Albany, who works hard every day in an impossible mission to stretch food pantry resources to meet the needs of the hungry in the Capital Region.

“Each week, we see the stark face of hunger in America. But funding for emergency food programs through the NYS HPNAP program is not rising to meet demand,” said Glassanos. “We are told that there is not enough money in the budget; not enough money to help feed the hungry. But then why do we hear that billions of state dollars are being allocated for tax breaks for a small number of the wealthiest New Yorkers and for Wall Street bankers? “

Rev. Valerie Faust, Senior Pastor of Rhema Power Ministries, Inc. and Assembly member Fahy both shared the concerns of parents and teachers who fear their children are no longer being provided with the education they need to succeed and CSEA Capital Region President Kathy Garrison addressed the impact of bad budget choices on communities.

“There has been a “dumbing down” in education for years and we need Gov. Cuomo to help to reverse it in upstate NY by including the $1.9 Billion dollars in the budget to go towards improving the education of our children,” Faust said. “We don’t want our Governor to adopt the philosophy of the late John D Rockefeller who said, “I don’t want a nation of thinkers, I want a nation of workers.” We want the gap between rich and poor school districts to close and all school and educators be treated fairly.”

“Despite increases in funding for education over the last two years, upwards of 70 percent of schools have less operating aid now than in FY 2008-09, so class sizes have grown as school districts continue to cut a wide range of educational programming,” said Fahy. “Restoring education funding will continue to be a priority for me this session and I’m proud to stand with the NYInequality coalition in moving this issue along with job creation forward.”

“The Governor’s plan to create a “New” New York only creates greater inequality for working families,” said Garrison. “People who need essential services will wind up paying the price for giving additional tax breaks to the wealthiest New Yorkers, because less funding means the services they depend on will be reduced or eliminated.”

Also speaking at the event were Rev. Frances Wattman Rosenau, Associate Pastor, Westminster Presbyterian Church and Tony McCann, member, NYSUT Board of Directors and retired Shenendehowa schoolteacher.

The governor’s proposal includes tax cuts to wealthy estates, the elimination of the bank tax and a so-called property tax “freeze.” Estates worth up to $5.25 million would be tax exempt, up from $1 million, and the top tax rate will drop from 16 to 10 percent at a total cost of $750 million per year. The bulk of this windfall will go to fewer than 200 of the state’s wealthiest families. A property tax “freeze” that will cost the state $1.8 billion over three years would give the largest level of relief to wealthy homeowners while diverting valuable resources from struggling schools and local governments. The budget proposal will reduce taxes for the largest banks in New York, as well as lowering the Corporate Franchise Tax to 6.5 percent, the lowest it’s been since 1968. Combined, the cuts for corporations and banks could cost working New Yorkers $350 million.

There is no plan to offset the lost revenue of these or other proposed tax breaks.

Coalition groups, which include AFSCME, AQE, Citizen Action of NY, Labor Religion Coalition, New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness, CSEA, NYSUT, NY Working Families Party, A Strong Economy for All, the AFL-CIO and the Human Services Coalition, are calling for reinvestment in jobs and education to spur economic growth and an end to corporate tax loopholes.

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Feb. 21, 2014
Local groups rally to say “No!” to Gov. Cuomo’s proposed tax cuts for wealthy
Point to NY’s worst-in-the-nation income inequality as need for investment, not tax benefits for rich
ALBANY – NY Inequality, a coalition of labor, faith, education and community organizations, will rally Monday Feb. 24 at noon at the Emmanuel Baptist Church in Downtown Albany to say “No!” to Gov. Cuomo’s plan to give billions of dollars in tax cut giveaways to banks and the wealthiest New Yorkers while schools and communities suffer under austerity budgets and continuing layoffs.

The event is part of a statewide pushback against bad budget priorities that will undermine people, services and communities, and widen New York’s income inequality gap even further. Similar events were held last week in the Bronx, Binghamton and Rochester and others are planned for Utica and the Hudson Valley.

The groups are opposed to planned tax cuts that disproportionately benefit the rich, including a windfall for wealthy estates, a so-called property tax “freeze,” and tax cuts for banks. All tolled, the tax cuts will cost ordinary New Yorkers some $2 billion.

Participants pledge to mobilize their members to contact local legislators, urging them to oppose the tax cuts and support a budget that works for people and communities. Speakers will highlight stories from area residents about how New York’s growing inequality is harming this community.

WHEN: Monday, February 24 at Noon

WHERE: Emmanuel Baptist Church, 275 State Street, Albany

WHO: AFSCME, AQE, Citizen Action of NY, Labor Religion Coalition, New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness, CSEA, NYSUT, NY Working Families Party, A Strong Economy for All, the AFL-CIO and the Human Services Coalition.

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Feb. 11, 2014
Frontline workers detail the stark reality of the real “new” New York
Urge lawmakers to enact a budget that puts revenues to better use in our communities

ALBANY – Sexual predators moved into community group homes, individuals with serious mental illness dumped from treatment centers into county jails, inadequate resources to deal with escalating poverty are just some of the consequences of recent bad budget choices in the real “New” New York. That was the testimony four frontline, CSEA-represented public service workers delivered to state lawmakers holding hearings in Albany on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed state budget.

The experienced workers, who have nearly 120 years of service to New Yorkers, detailed horror stories from their daily routines and urged legislators to understand the impact of bad policy and make better choices about how New York uses its resources.

“We keep hearing the slogan “People First,” but the administration does not live up to that promise where I work,” said Kathy Button, a longtime employee of the New York State Office of People with Developmental Disabilities. “Bad choices undermine the quality of care in a race to cut costs without regard to what they mean for people and communities.”

Button pointed to the recent closure of the Monroe Developmental Center as a wrong-headed choice. The closure has led to the transfer of sexual predators from secure settings into community-based group homes where they are also mixed in with the general population of individuals in care, The situation raises serious public safety questions along with concerns about the administration’s management of the agency.

“We are also in a vicious circle of short staffing, mandated overtime and occupational injury that leaves workers and individuals at risk,” she said.

“People with serious mental illness can’t even get the help they need in psychiatric centers because of the lack of resources and there’s even less help available in the community,” said Abraham Benjamin, who works as a treatment aide at the Bronx Psychiatric Center. “We have people on the inside who could benefit from programs but they are just not being offered. It seems like the objective is to just discharge people to keep costs down.”

Once discharged and on the streets without follow-up help and care, too many individuals with mental illness get arrested for nuisance crimes and end up in jail at local taxpayer expense because there is nowhere else for them to go.

“I have many individuals with mental health problems in my caseload,” said Ron Briggs, an experienced probation officer in Fulton County. “These folks get into trouble because the help they need is just not available. They don’t belong in jail and it’s wasting taxpayers’ money when that’s where they end up.”

People not getting the help they need as New York’s income inequality gets worse is the everyday reality that Glen Tuifel experiences as a worker at the Nassau County Department of Social Services. “Our caseloads are growing with desperate people in real pain and the lack of state support is making a bad situation worse,” Tuifel said. “It is just not acceptable that we are seeing growing poverty in our metropolitan areas and in some communities half the children are going to bed hungry every night.”

Tuifel and the other CSEA members urged lawmakers to look beyond the state’s sound bites and slogans to understand what is really happening to people, necessary services and New York’s communities as a result of bad choices, pointing out that New York should not be in a race to the bottom.

“We need a budget that puts state revenues to better use in our communities,” they said.

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Jan. 21, 2014
CSEA response to the governor’s proposed state budget

CSEA will have plenty to say about the proposed state budget in public hearings and other forums once we have had an opportunity to thoroughly review what’s really in it and not.

For now, it’s important to note that New York’s wage gap between the wealthiest and everyone else is among the widest in the nation and it’s getting worse. New York’s families continue to struggle, but not a mention of that in the budget address.

Bad policy choices, like big tax breaks to those who don’t need it and more corporate welfare, have contributed to our state’s unacceptable income inequality. Yet the budget presented today ignores the reality and presses on with more of the same bad choices.

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Jan. 21, 2014
Court strikes down Westchester County Health Care Corp. attempt at separate civil service system
WHITE PLAINS – Calling it a victory for merit, fitness and accountability, CSEA leaders today praised a state Supreme Court decision affirming that the Westchester County Health Care Corp. (WCHCC) Board of Directors acted without lawful authority when members moved to create their own civil service system with its own set of rules.

Acting Supreme Court Justice Robert A. Neary ruled today that the Board of Directors acted in excess of its authority last year when it moved to form a civil service commission separate from the Westchester County Commissioner of Human Resources, and ordered the resolution forming the independent commission to be vacated. CSEA sued jointly with the New York State Nurses Association; both unions represent workers at Westchester Medical Center.

“This decision is hugely significant for a work force that has been subject to relentless attempts at eradicating a system of merit and fairness at Westchester Medical Center,” said CSEA President Danny Donohue. “After years of ignoring civil service rules and failing to work cooperatively with the county, someone in management at the hospital figured they could do one better by creating a suspect system despite it being clear that they lacked the authority to do so. The public is always better served when there are standards and accountability in place.”

When Westchester County Health Care Corp. was formed in 1997 as a public benefit corporation to take over the hospital from county control, enabling legislation specificied that workers would be subject to civil service law but did not explicitly give authority to the hospital to create its own civil service system.

“The Court is persuaded by the Petitioners’ argument that had the legislature intended that the WCHCC be allowed to self-administer their own civil service or merit system, they would have been granted that authority explicitly in the enabling legislation,” Neary wrote in his decision.

Read the decision




2013

Members Deliver Books In Staten Island

Over the weekend, several Region 2 CSEA activists, including Abraham Benjamin, Althea Green, Faye Wilke-Fields, and Sheila Conroy, joined the United Federation of Teachers, AFT – American Federation of Teachers and the New York City Central Labor Council, to team up with First Book, distributing more than 40,000 books to a long line of deserving children in Staten Island.

First Book is a nonprofit organization that provides high-quality, new books to programs and schools serving children in need. First Book serves all ages, from birth to age 18. Low income families don’t always have access to books. Studies show that access to books affects behavioral, academic and emotional outcomes. Partnering with First Book is another way we can support our communities and create a better future for all kids—regardless of income.

 

November 2014 Work Force

11_2014_thumbRead the October Work Force
Read the 2014 Annual Delegates Meeting Officer Reports
See previous Work Force editions

 

Rajczi receives statewide organizing award

scottrajczinadrafloydaward

Southern Region President Billy Riccaldo, left, congratulates Scott Rajczi.

Congratulations to Dutchess Education Local President Scott Rajczi, who received the Nadra Floyd Organizing Award at the recent CSEA Annual Delegates Meeting in New York City.

Rajczi, an ardent supporter of organizing efforts in general, earned the award because of his hard work organizing school security guards in the Poughkeepsie School District.

This Week in Albany

Week ending October 24, 2014

Headlines include:

  • Gubernatorial Candidates Debate
  • 2015 Social Security COLA Announced
  • Election Spotlight – Attorney General
  • Volunteer to Make a Difference

Continue reading…


This Week in Albany

Week ending October 24, 2014

Gubernatorial Candidates Debate

The candidates for Governor met for an hour long debate this week outside of Buffalo. The candidates, Andrew Cuomo (Democrat), Rob Astorino (Republican), Howie Hawkins (Green), and Michael McDermott (Libertarian) focused on economic development, ethics, and corruption. Mr. Astorino attacked Governor Cuomo’s handling of the Moreland Commission while Mr. Cuomo defended its final results.

This was the only scheduled debate among the candidates.

2015 Social Security COLA Announced

The Social Security Administration announced a 1.7% annual cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, for the nearly 64 million Americans who receive federal retirement or disability benefits. The increase would result in about a $22-a-month increase for the average retiree. This increase goes into effect on December 31, 2014.

Previously, State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli announced that state pension recipients would see a 1% COLA. This COLA went into effect in September.

Election Spotlight

This week our focus shifts from State Senate races to the statewide election for Attorney General.

Volunteer to Make a Difference

You will make a difference in races throughout the state if you volunteer even just a few hours of your time between now and Election Day. Get in touch with your region political action coordinator to help!

Region 1
Susan DelGiornio – (631) 462-0030

Region 2
Matt D’Amico – (212) 406-2156

Region 3
Chris Ludlow – (845) 831-1000

Region 4
Bryan Miller – (518) 782-4400

Region 5
Rick Noreault – (315) 433-0050

Region 6
Chris Rackl – (716) 691-6555