July-Aug 2015 Work Force

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CSEA, community members team up to fight Poughkeepsie school layoffs

poughkeepsieschoollayoffs (2)CSEA members working in the Poughkeepsie City School District have some important allies in city activists and other community groups joining them in fighting job cuts.

As of July 1, 10 workers will lose their jobs in the local school district. Those cuts in the district’s already understaffed maintenance and custodial crews could soon mean filthy schools and increased safety risks to students and staff as remaining workers will be unable to get needed work done in a timely manner.

CSEA leaders including Southern Region President Billy Riccaldo, Dutchess Education Local President Scott Rajczi and Dutchess Local President Liz Piraino joined Poughkeepsie Councilwoman ShaRon McClinton, representatives from Community Voices Heard and other city activists for a press conference on June 25 where they detailed the existing challenges workers face and the tough times ahead.

District residents are urged to continue to speak out against these dangerous job cuts. A school board reorganization meeting is scheduled for July 2 at 5 p.m. at the district offices at 11 College Ave., Poughkeepsie.

Read more about the press conference and the safety hazards these cuts will create in this Poughkeepsie Journal article.

CSEA member honored for 60 years of service

LilaEtri

CSEA member Lila Etri, in black, with members of her family.

CSEA member Lila Etri is an institution in the Newburgh Enlarged City School District. For the past 60 years, she has been the backbone of North Junior High School (now known as the NFA North Campus) as the main office secretary. Now district officials have renamed the school auditorium to honor her six decades of dedication.

Etri retired at the end of this school year, but future students will be reminded of her as they enter through the doors of the Lila Ruth Etri Auditorium. School board members recently approved the honor, and NFA North Campus Principal Matteo Doddo, Etri’s family and her CSEA and teacher co-workers were on hand to dedicate the auditorium.

Federal Issues Report

AFSCME Legislative Weekly Report

Week ending June 26, 2016

Headlines include:

  • Affordable Care Act Victory in the U.S. Supreme Court
  • Senate Approves Fast Track Legislation; Stage Set for Fight to Defeat TPP
  • Senate and House Move Labor, Education and Health Bills with Deep Cuts
  • Senate Panel Advances Transportation-Housing and Urban Development Spending Bill
  • AFSCME and Allies Storm Hill to Advocate for 9/11 Health and Compensation Act
  • House Continues Attacks Against Affordable Care Act

Continue reading…


This Week in Albany / End of Session Report

Week ending June 26, 2015

Headlines include:

  • Legislative Session Ends
  • Supreme Court Issues Decisions

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This Week in Albany / End of Session Summary

Week ending June 26, 2015

Legislative Session Ends

After extending session for a week to come to an agreement on outstanding issues, the legislature finished session late Thursday night by voting on an omnibus bill containing many major provisions. The following is a summary of this “big ugly” bill.

Property Tax Cap

The property tax cap was extended until June 15, 2020 as long as rent regulations remain in effect. New exemptions for capital expenditures for BOCES and for PILOTs (Payments in Lieu of Taxes) were added.

Property Tax Rebate Check

The bill created a new property tax rebate program where qualifying homeowners will receive a rebate check from the state.

The following conditions must be met to qualify for the rebate check:

  • Have income of $275,000 or less (adjusted gross income with losses limited to $3,000 per year);
  • Property must be a primary residence;
  • The property must be located in a school district that is compliant with the tax cap (for a city school district, the city must be tax cap compliant). No credit will be given to homeowners in New York City.

For 2016, taxpayers living in the Metropolitan Commuter Transportation District outside of New York City (Rockland, Nassau, Suffolk, Orange, Putnam, Dutchess, and Westchester counties) will get a credit of $130. Taxpayers outside of the MCTD will get $185.

For 2017-19, the rebate amount will equal the STAR tax savings multiplied by a percentage depending on income.

The tax savings for 2017-19 would be the amount of STAR tax savings multiplied by the percentages below:

For 2017:

  • Qualified Gross income not over $75,000 – 28%
  • Qualified Gross Income over $75,000 but not over $150,000 – 20.5%
  • Qualified Gross Income over $150,000 but not over $200,000 – 13%
  • Qualified Gross Income over $200,000 but not over $275,000 – 5.5%
  • Qualified Gross Income over $275,000 – no credit.

For 2018:

  • Qualified Gross income not over $75,000 – 60%
  • Qualified Gross Income over $75,000 but not over $150,000 – 42.5%
  • Qualified Gross Income over $150,000 but not over $200,000 – 25%
  • Qualified Gross Income over $200,000 but not over $275,000 – 7.5%
  • Qualified Gross Income over $275,000 – no credit.

For 2019:

  • Qualified Gross income not over $75,000 – 85%
  • Qualified Gross Income over $75,000 but not over $150,000 – 60%
  • Qualified Gross Income over $150,000 but not over $200,000 – 35%
  • Qualified Gross Income over $200,000 but not over $275,000 – 10%
  • Qualified Gross Income over $275,000 – no credit.

For example, a qualified homeowner with an income of $74,000 whose STAR savings (as listed on your school tax bill) was $400 would receive a check of $112 in 2017.

For a taxpayer receiving the enhanced star exemption (senior citizens), the credit equals the enhanced STAR exemption multiplied by the following percentages.

2017: 12%
2018: 26%
2019: 34%

This rebate will be provided through a check that will get mailed each year the program is in effect, with the first checks due to be issued by October 31, 2016.

The bill also extends the circuit breaker for New York City for 4 years. This program provides up to a $500 credit for homeowners and renters in New York City.

Education

The statewide cap on charter schools remains at 460, however the legislature redistributed 50 unused charter school slots from outside the City of New York to the City. Mayoral control of New York City schools is extended for one year.

The bill provides a onetime distribution to the City of Yonkers School district of $25 million to plug a budget deficit. This program will require Yonkers to submit a comprehensive financial plan that provides for continuity of current educational services.

Rent

The bill extends rent regulations for four years (until June 15, 2019) and provides increased protections for tenants and increased penalties for tenant harassment. The bill also provides for an increase in the deregulation threshold from $2500 to $2700 and adjusts this level moving forward.

421-a

The 421-a tax abatement for developers in New York City developing property for affordable and mixed use housing is extended until December 31, 2015. New provisions will be put into place for four years, including new “affordability options” for 421-a properties, if an agreement is reached between real estate developers and unions regarding the rate of pay for construction workers. If no agreement is reached, these provisions will expire on January 15, 2016.

What Was Left Out

CSEA was successful in keeping several harmful provisions out of the end of session omnibus bill. These include:

  • The Education Investment Incentives Tax Credit that would have diverted much needed state revenue from public schools to benefit the interest of only a privileged few, weakening the very foundation of our public education system.
  • Pension forfeiture for public employees. CSEA was successful in stopping a resolution that called for a constitutional amendment to strip public employees of their pensions if convicted of a crime. The legislation unfairly targeted all public employees instead of only elected officials. The Assembly passed a modified version of the bill that would apply only to elected officials and persons appointed by the Governor. The Senate did not pass a matching bill. This legislation would have to pass in two consecutive legislative session and then go to a public referendum before it could come into effect.

Supreme Court Issues Decisions

The Supreme Court of the United State issued two major decisions this week.

The first was a ruling that upheld the latest high profile challenge of President Obama’s signature healthcare law. The King vs. Burwell ruling will allow the government to continue to provide tax subsidies for low and middle income Americans who buy insurance nationwide, even in states that did not create an official insurance exchange of their own. In a 6-3 decision, the court ruled that subsidies are valid even in states that did not set up their own exchanges.

The second decision legalized gay marriage nationwide by ruling that the U.S. Constitution bars states from denying marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The landmark, 5-4 decision split the court along the usual ideological lines, with Republican appointee Justice Anthony Kennedy joining the court’s liberal wing to back same-sex marriage rights and the court’s remaining GOP appointees dissenting.

CSEA with state legislature fights to maintain quality care options for families

The state legislature has approved legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo and Senator Tom Libous to ensure the continued access and delivery of quality state operated care for individuals with developmental disabilities. CSEA strongly supported this legislation which now goes to the Governor for his approval.

“CSEA has always maintained that effective treatment for the developmentally disabled should include an array of services that include both community and state run programs,” said CSEA President Danny Donohue. “However, OPWDD is intentionally eliminating state services, thereby restricting a client’s options for the services they can receive. CSEA has heard from parents throughout the State that their loved ones will not have the same access and quality of care that is currently offered. CSEA would like to thank Assemblywoman Lupardo and Senator Libous for their hard work on getting legislation passed that would compel OPWDD to show a true commitment to individuals with developmental disabilities.”

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Federal Issues Report

AFSCME Legislative Weekly Report
Week Ending June 19, 2015

Headlines include:

  • House Approves Revised Fast Track, Bill Goes Back to the Senate
  • House Funding Bill Slashes Resources in Labor, Education and Health
  • Senate Democrats Demand Budget Negotiations
  • House Votes to Weaken Funding for Affordable Care Act
  • House Committee Restricts State and Local Taxing Authority
  • Internet Sales Tax Bill Gains Key Bipartisan House Support
  • Broken Immigration System Continues to Harm Working Families

Continue reading…


This Week in Albany

Week ending June 19, 2015

Headlines include:

  • Legislative Session Update
  • Fast-Track

Continue reading…


This Week in Albany

Week ending June 19, 2015

Legislative Session Update

The legislature was unable to reach long-term agreements on several issues this week, including rent regulations. The two houses decided to extend rent regulations and other housing provisions until next Tuesday so that negotiations can continue. Both houses will be back in Albany on Tuesday.

CSEA was successful in getting several priority bills passed by both houses of the legislature this week, including:

S.4094 – Libous / A.7332 – Lupardo
This bill would compel OPWDD to show a true commitment to individuals with developmental disabilities by allowing them a list of options that would include state-operated choices in all areas of the state.

A.7721 – Peoples-Stokes / S.5130 – Martins
This bill would require not-for-profit corporations who receive at least fifty percent of their budget from government sources to address the alarming problem of violence in the workplace.

S.4141-B – Golden / A.6045-B – Abbate
This bill would provide that when a member files retirement papers and then dies during the processing period, the NYS Employees Retirement System and the NYS Police & Fire Retirement System could process that member’s paperwork as if they were still alive.

S.3913-A – Griffo / A.2480-A – Brindisi
This bill would impose a Class D felony on anyone in a secure treatment facility for sex offenders who assaults an employee of that facility.

A.1034 – Gunther / S.3621-A – Funke
This bill would include the assault of non-nursing direct care staff within the offense of assault in the second degree. Similar protections already exist for nurses.

A.5370-A – Glick / S.281-A – Lavalle
This bill would clarify that the SUNY health science centers are included in the maintenance of effort provision pursuant to Chapter 260 of the Laws of 2011. Under that law, the state is required to pay for all mandatory costs at SUNY and CUNY schools, including union-negotiated salary and benefit increases.

S.5867 – Marchione / A.7915 – Magnarelli
This bill, put forward by Comptroller DiNapoli, would increase oversight and effectiveness of Industrial Development Agencies (IDAs) throughout the state.

Fast-Track

Last week, the House of Representatives voted on a bill to grant fast-track authority to President Obama. This bill was tied to a measure called the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program, which is a training program for workers who lose their jobs due to trade agreements. TAA was voted down to keep Fast-Track from moving forward.

This week, the House of Representatives passed a standalone Fast-Track bill by a vote of 219-208.The New York Delegation’s vote was unchanged from last week. The bill now goes to the U.S. Senate for a final vote.

President Obama still wants the TAA to move forward, but the measures are now moving independently from one another through Congress.

Under “fast track” authorization, Congress cedes their authority to make any changes to a trade agreement. Once it is negotiated by the President, Congress is only authorized to take an up or down vote without being able to change any of the language.