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January 2015 Work Force

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This Week in Albany

Week ending December 19, 2014

Headlines include:

    • Casino Siting Decisions
    • State to Ban Hydrofracking
    • Legislative Update
    • At a Glance
    • Happy Holidays

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This Week in Albany

Week ending December 19, 2014

Casino Siting Decisions

In 2013, voters approved a ballot referendum to allow for the creation of casinos in upstate New York. This week, the New York State Gaming Facility Location Board recommended the approval of three casino projects.

In the Caskills/Hudson Valley region, the Board selected the Montreign Resort Casino project located in Thompson, Sullivan County. A second casino was considered for the region, but the Board found that the competition between the two sites would be counterproductive.

In the Capital Region, the Board selected the Rivers Casino & Resort at Mohawk Harbor in Schenectady.

The third recommendation went to the Lago Resort & Casino project in Tyre, Seneca County.

Though widely expected to go through without issue, the Board’s recommendations must now be approved by the State Gaming Commission before any construction can start.

State to Ban Hydrofracking

The Departments of Health (DOH) and Environmental Conservation (DEC) have released their long-awaited recommendations on whether the controversial natural gas extracting technique known as hydrofracking should be allowed in New York.
Acting Health Commissioner Howard Zucker said that while more information is needed on potential health effects of the process, there are enough red flags for the Department to recommend that fracking not proceed in the state at this time.

Furthermore, DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said that even if DOH had found the method to be safe, the likely economic benefits of fracking would be much less than originally thought. Because of restrictions proposed by the DEC and local bans, less than 37% of the Marcellus Shale region would be available to frack.

The DEC will publish legally binding findings early next year to ban fracking in New York.

Legislative Update

For the past several years, CSEA has been advocating for legislation that would require local social service districts to give at least 60 days’ written notice before lowering eligibility levels for child care subsidies. After negotiations with the Senate and Assembly, the Governor agreed to sign the legislation but only if the number of days was lowered from 60 to 30. The Governor has approved the legislation, but a chapter amendment lowering the number of days must be passed by the legislature and signed by the Governor in early 2015.

While the number of days is lower than originally advocated for, it will still greatly benefit parents and providers. Existing law only requires 10 days of notice to parents when their child care subsidy will be reduced. This new law will allow parents to make alternate arrangements for child care and will give child care providers time to plan for the loss of a child that they are caring for.

At a Glance

Governor Cuomo will make the first “State of the State” speech of his second term on Wednesday, January 7. In the speech, the Governor will lay out his policy priorities for the upcoming year and give some insight into how he plans to use the state’s multi-billion dollar windfall from settlements with financial institutions. The Governor’s budget will be released on Tuesday, January 27.

Happy Holidays

This Week in Albany will return on January 9. Have a safe and happy holiday season and New Year.


Excelsior Award goes to CSEA member Mike Paz

2014ExcelsiorAward-MichaelPaz-1The New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) and Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA) have announced Michael Paz of Newburgh Enlarged City School District in Section I as the winner of the 2014 Excelsior Award.

The award was developed through a partnership between NYSPHSAA and CSEA to recognize a CSEA member in a NYSPHSAA school who has helped promote and foster athletic spirit in their local school district. The award also honors an individual who has displayed extraordinary dedication and support of high school athletics in any role as a parent, coach, booster or staff member volunteering or performing above and beyond their daily job in a school. CSEA has been a sponsor of NYSPHSAA’s 32 high school state championships since 2003 and both organizations developed the award four years ago.

“We are excited to honor Michael this year with the Excelsior Award,” said Executive Director Robert Zayas. “Michael has proven to display extraordinary dedication to his school and especially his athletic program.”

The dedication and commitment to his school started 34 years ago when he began as a maintenance worker.  In addition to maintenance, Michael has been the equipment manager for the past six years. Paz has taken his commitment to the community as well and is the head instructor at various summer camps that are held around Newburgh each year in addition to working as the liaison to the City of Newburgh Parks and Recreation/Town of Windsor for 15 years. The latter position significantly helps the school’s athletic teams with practice and game schedules throughout the year.

“Mike Paz has shown extraordinary dedication to the students of Newburgh through his longtime involvement in high school athletics,” said CSEA President Danny Donohue. “His loyalty and commitment to Newburgh athletics demonstrates the positive role so many CSEA members play in building strong communities. It is only fitting that Mike was honored at the same state championship football game in which Newburgh’s Goldbacks were competing.”

Michael is also chairman and member of several committees. He is the acting Chief Inspector for Pro Boxing and Pro Wrestling in New York State, Chairman of the Danny Ray Washington Scholarship Committee, member of Ralph Petrillo Senior Scholarship Award Committee, and a member of the basketball program’s golf fundraiser committee.

“Wow,” said Michael. “I feel like I won the Heisman trophy or MVP. It is an honor to receive this award and I appreciate all the support of my family, friends and the Newburgh School District.”

Michael and his family were presented the Excelsior Award, a handsome glass trophy, at the Carrier Dome during the NYSPHSAA Football Championships on November 29th where he was honored at midfield following a video presentation.

“I have found Mike’s dedication to our students and community to be among the best I have ever witnessed,” said Jason Semo, Newburgh Athletic Director. “Mike is respected by the entire student body, coaching staff and community. His commitment to athletics and level of sportsmanship is admired by all that visit Newburgh.”

“I would like to thank Margaret Kiernan from my local CSEA unit, my Athletic Director, Jason Semo, and the Newburgh School District. I would also like to thank Joe Altieri and the staff of the NYSPHSAA for making my visit the visit such a fantastic time for my family, friends and myself. The student athletes make all of my work the most fun, so again thank you for the honor.”

Previous year’s winners of the Excelsior Award were Jimmy Colgan (2013), Gary VanAsselt (2012), and Lisa Vanderburg (2011).

Congratulations Michael!

Federal Issues Report

AFSCME Legislative Weekly Report
Week ending December 12, 2014

Headlines include:

  • House Passes Bill to Fund Fiscal Year 2015; Senate Passage and President’s Signature Expected Soon
  • White House Hosts Summit on Early Childhood Education; Launches Invest in Us Campaign
  • Senate Panel Examines Need to Strengthen Social Security for Women
  • Strong Partisan Differences in Senate Panel on Obama’s Immigration Executive Action

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This Week in Albany

Week ending December 12, 2014

Headlines include:

  • Time Running Out for Special Session
  • Federal Funding Bill

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This Week in Albany

Week ending December 12, 2014

Time Running Out for Special Session

Governor Cuomo said this week that any special session to increase the pay of legislators would need to include ethics reforms and the creation of a system of public financing for political campaigns, a demand that has met resistance in the legislature. CSEA has long opposed using taxpayer dollars to fund partisan political campaigns.

Legislators must vote by the end of December for a pay raise raise to go into effect for 2015.

Federal Funding Bill

Just a few hours before the federal government would have shut down, the House of Representatives narrowly passed a $1.1 trillion spending bill that will fund most of the government until September 2015. The Senate now has two days to act on the bill.

If passed by the Senate the bill will fund all federal agencies, except for the Department of Homeland Security, until September. Funding for Homeland Security, which controls the agencies responsible for the implementation of President Obama’s immigration policies, will be up for debate in early 2015.

The bill includes several provisions that caused support to drop among Democrats, including provisions that will weaken regulations for Wall Street and increase political contribution limits to national party committees from $32,400 per donor to $324,000 per donor. The bill also reduces funding for the Environmental Protection Agency and the Internal Revenue Service.

Additionally, the spending bill will allow multi-employer pension plans to make benefit cuts to current retirees if the pension fund is in danger of becoming insolvent. Multi-employer plans are common in industries that have many small employers like construction, trucking, and coal-mining. While this policy sets a dangerous precedent, it does not impact the Common Retirement Fund in New York State.

In our communities

All around our Region, and especially around the holidays, CSEA is constantly involved in community events, generously giving back in many ways. Here are some of the most recent events that CSEA members throughout our Region have participated in:


Local808BellRinging2014Chemung Local 808 Salvation Army Bell Ringing

CSEA Local 808 member Barbara Richardson, who works at the Elmira Housing Authority, recently brought family members Danielle Richardson and her children Mia and Roland, to help the Horseheads Kiwanis Club ring the bell at the Arnot Mall to raise money for the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Drive. Photo provided by Retiree Local 902 activist Joe Coletta.



Massena Memorial Hospital Local 887 Winter Clothing Drive

MassenaHospDonationCSEA Local 887 members working at the Massena Memorial Hospital recently joined with their NYSNA counterparts, the union representing the hospital’s nurses, to collect more than $500 worth of gloves, hats, mittens and scarves  that they donated to the Massena Neighborhood Center to distribute to community members in need. Pictured are Wayne Lincoln, Kerrie French, Clyde Leffler and Gary Phillips.

SUNY Binghamton Local 648 Toys for Tots

SUNYBingToysForTotsCSEA SUNY Binghamton Local 648 members held their 20th annual John Mangino Memorial Golf Tournament, raising $3666 that they donated to the Binghamton Toys For Tots program to purchase toys for underprivileged children. They also collected the toys that were shown to be donated. Pictured are: Sherri Hall and Terry Hall , Co-Chairs of the tournament, Steve Ward, the Binghamton police officer with Toys for Tots, and Local 648 President David Lee.

Herkimer County Local 822 – Walk for Veterans

This past summer, Herkimer County members participated in the Sitrin Stars & Stripes Run/Walk at the SUNYIT campus, raising $1,200 for HerkimerStars&StripesWalkSitrin’s Military Rehab Program which provides treatment for wounded warriors who have musculoskeletal injuries, orthopedic diagnoses, post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injuries, amputation, spinal cord injuries, substance abuse issues and other combat related conditions. Shown are: Charlene Woods, Christine Sherwood, Local 822 President Beth Hall, Diana Tober, Lorraine Rumrill, Matthew Crim and his two daughters.

Region 5 Veterans Committee – Food Pantry donation

RonWittFeedOurVetsDonation2014Here’s a photo of Region 5 Veterans Committee Chair Ron Witt, at left, presenting a check for $190 to the Feed Our Vets Food Pantry in Utica. Witt and activists attending the NYC Veterans Parade collected the money. They also donated bottled water, soda, juice boxes, and snacks. The money was going to be used to buy turkey for holiday meals.  Feed Our Vets is the only food pantry established specifically for veterans. Accepting the donation are Joe Ancona and Steve Amaral.




Do you have CSEA community involvement you’d like to see listed here? Please let us know.

Federal Issues Report

AFSCME Legislative Weekly Report

Week ending December 5, 2014

Headlines include:

  • Work Continues on Bill to Fund the Government
  • House Passes Bill that Provides Retroactive, Mostly Business Tax Breaks
  • Attacks Have Begun on President Obama’s Executive Actions on Immigration Reform
  • President Obama Announces Plan for Law Enforcement Body Cameras
  • NLRB Nominee Passes Significant Hurdle

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