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This Week in Albany

Week ending January 29, 2016

Headlines include:

  • Budget Update
  • At a Glance

Continue reading…

This Week in Albany

Week ending January 29, 2016

Budget Update

Fran Turner, Director of the Legislative & Political Department, gave a budget briefing to regional Political Action Committees this week. In the video below, Fran lays out CSEA’s major priorities and concerns with Governor Cuomo’s 2016-17 Executive Budget proposal.

CSEA members can view the video here.

CSEA will be testifying at the joint Senate and Assembly budget hearing on Workforce Development on Wednesday. A copy of our testimony will be available in next week’s “This Week in Albany.”

During budget hearings held this week, legislators heard from local government and school leaders about the need for more state assistance to municipalities and schools. Legislators also heard extensive testimony on the health care needs of the state and environmental concerns.

At a Glance

Legislators will be in session for two days next week, and will hold budget hearings on the areas of housing, taxes, mental hygiene, workforce development, and public protection.

The first amendments to the Governor’s budget proposal are expected to be released next week as well. The 2016-17 state fiscal year begins on April 1.

Region President Riccaldo weighs in on Rockland contract deal

Southern Region President Billy Riccaldo comments on Rockland County Unit ratification:

“This agreement is something we will build on as we undertake negotiations for the next contract. The approval of the contract does not take away from the frustrations and anger our members have had over the unfair layoffs, outsourcing and abrupt closure of Summit Park that our Rockland County Unit members have faced during the Day administration. We will continue to demand fairness and transparency on our members’ behalf, and work toward a future agreement that brings our workers back where they should be after so many years of selfless sacrifice.”

Rockland County Unit members vote YES on contract

For immediate release: January 28, 2016

POMONA  — The 1,300 workers belonging to CSEA Rockland County Unit 8350, the Civil Service Employees Association, have ratified a new labor agreement with the County of Rockland by a 3 to 1 margin.

According to CSEA Labor Relations Specialist Larry Sparber, the union’s chief negotiator, the new contract agreement, when ratified by management, will be retroactive to Jan. 1, 2014 and run through July 31, 2016. The agreement calls for a one-time addition of four vacation days; a pensionable $750 lump sum payment in March 2016 (with a prorated payment for less than full time employees); a $.35 cent hourly increase effective Jan. 1, 2016 and an additional $.30 cent hourly increase effective July 1, 2016); and improvements to workers’ vision plan. Members have not had a raise since 2010.

“A majority of members felt this contract was a good starting point that we can build on in years to come,” Sparber said. “Our members have made many sacrifices in recent years to help the county through its financial crisis. There is no question that frustrations remain , but our members ultimately felt this contract was a step in the right direction.”

The contract deal will now go before county legislators for approval.

CSEA is the largest union representing employees working for the County of Rockland and is New York State’s leading union, representing employees of New York State and its counties, towns, villages, school districts, library systems, authorities and public corporations. Together with a growing population of private sector members, family daycare providers and 50,000 retirees, CSEA forms a union 300,000 strong. It is also the largest affiliate (and Local 1000) of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) which, in turn, is one of the largest affiliates of the AFL-CIO.

Edge on Ice

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Working on or near traveled roads is one of the most dangerous environments for CSEA members. CSEA members are primarily responsible for clearing the roads across the state in winter weather. CSEA’s 2015 Edge on Ice safety campaign reminds drivers of the valuable, necessary public service to the community by raising awareness and making the roads safer for everyone. In addition to the number of hazards of winter roadwork itself, more than ever road workers are dealing with distracted and impaired drivers.

Get an inside look: watch videos, before, during and after the storm…


Returning to Work: Challenges and Opportunities

rtw_oveBy Ove Overmyer

When employees experience a break in service due to an extended illness, pregnancy or injury, it is often accompanied by undue stress, uncertainty and anxiety. Returning to work, whether it is with some restrictions or with no limitations whatsoever can be an incredibly daunting hurdle for even the most seasoned professional.

Most studies conclude having a well-functioning union and positive stewardship is one of the best ways to fight stress in the workplace. A union gives workers a vehicle to deal with most of the issues that workers refer to as the leading causes of their stress.

If you are lucky enough to have effective union stewardship in your workplace, chances are the employee returning to work has a very good chance to make a complete and smooth transition back to the working world. In this article, we will introduce some helpful guidelines to assist you in your effort to help fellow union members successfully return to work.

First of all, union stewards must maintain credibility by being honest with your fellow members, co-workers and management. A steward who misleads or skirts the truth won’t remain credible for very long. An accurate assessment of the workers mental and physical well-being is in everyone’s best interest– even if the documentation says otherwise.

Be as knowledgeable as you possibly can about the collective bargaining agreement and terms and conditions of employment, work rules and policies, supervisor and manager responsibilities and the issues impacting all the workers you represent.

Be a reliable source of information. If you are asked a question and you don’t know the answer, say “I don’t know” – then get the information and get it back to the member as soon as possible. And when you say you are going to do something, always follow through.

An effective union steward should always be accessible to fellow members and management. Many times that means talking with members after regular working hours and being there for them when they are in crisis. Being a good listener always helps too.

Be supportive and thoughtful of workers returning to work. When you are approached with complaints about a fellow employee who is having difficulty returning to work, offer them understanding, resources, encouragement and guidance in addressing their situation.

When you build relationships of trust and solidarity over time, you will probably be more successful when asking union members and management to support a co-worker returning to work. You can motivate others leading by example. Take the initiative to talk to members one-on-one. It is a more personal and effective way to share important information about the work site, especially when a co-worker is re-entering the workforce.

Ask your employer to consider return-to-work strategies

Many return-to-work (RTW) programs suggested by the United States Department of Labor were originally designed to reduce workers’ compensation costs for employers. However, they can do much more– they can improve productivity and worker morale across the workplace; they can save employees time and money and they can protect employees and employers from loss of talent. If you do not have these programs in place at your worksite, you should recommend making it an agenda item at your next labor-management meeting.

Examples of effective RTW strategies include offering the opportunity to work part time from home, telecommuting, modifying work duties, modifying schedules, and implementing reasonable accommodations to provide employees with the tools and resources they need to carry out their specific job responsibilities.

In many workplaces, in both the public and private sector, flexible work arrangements, accessible technology and office automation have increased the capabilities of employees and made it easier for them to do their jobs in alternative ways.

This allows the employee to protect their earning power while at the same time boost employer productivity. Furthermore, in many instances, the ability to return to work after injury or illness plays an important role in the employee’s actual recovery and healing process.

Another recommendation to help ease the transition for a co-worker returning to the job site is starting an Employee Resource Group (ERG). These groups can help encourage employees to work together to address health-related problems and issues that impact each other and their workplace.

And finally, communication, flexibility, understanding and a good support network are often the most important aspects to consider when managing a fellow union member’s return to work– and helping them find the right combination to the work-life balance equation.

Overmyer is the Western Region Communications Specialist for the Civil Service Employees Association, AFSCME/CSEA Local 1000. He lives in Rochester, New York.



This Week in Albany

Week ending January 22, 2016

Headlines include:

  • School Tax Cap
  • Court of Appeals Has a New Top Judge
  • Legislative & Political Action Budget Briefing
  • Constitutional Convention Webinar
  • At a Glance

Continue reading…

This Week in Albany

Week ending January 22, 2016

School Tax Cap

According to Comptroller DiNapoli’s office, property tax levy growth for school districts will be capped at 0.12% for the 2016-17 fiscal year. This means that school districts outside of New York City and the “Big Four” city school districts (Yonkers, Syracuse, Rochester, and Buffalo) will have roughly $308 million less in levy growth than they had in 2015-16.

Villages and library districts are facing a similar 0.12% tax cap this year, while counties, towns, fire districts, and many cities are facing a 0.73% cap.

While Governor Cuomo repeatedly refers to the property tax cap as a two percent cap, the reality is that the cap has been much lower in recent years and municipalities and school districts are further restrained in the level of services they can provide.

Court of Appeals Has a New Top Judge

Janet DiFiore, the former Westchester County District Attorney, was confirmed as the Chief Judge of the State Court of Appeals by the State Senate this week. DiFiore replaced Jonathan Lippman, who was required to retire at the end of 2015 when he turned 70.

Legislative & Political Action Budget Briefing

The Legislative & Political Action Department will be holding a budget briefing video conference with region Political Action Committees next Tuesday. The briefing will be recorded and will be made available for viewing on our website. Stay tuned for more information.

Constitutional Convention Webinar

Thank you to everyone who participated in Wednesday’s first-ever CSEA webinar and helped to make it a great success. Please stay tuned to “This Week in Albany” for information when new webinar sessions are scheduled and become available.

At a Glance

The legislature will conduct joint legislative budget hearings on the topics of health/Medicaid, local governments, elementary and secondary Education, and environmental conservation next week in addition to being in session for two days.

CSEA will testify at the Workforce Development joint budget hearing on Wednesday, February 3.

2016 NYSHIP Dependent Eligibility Verification


The Special Amnesty Period, which allowed NYSHIP enrollees a specified period of time to remove ineligible dependents (without penalty) has ended.

The Next Step: Verification of Dependents

  • Requires all enrollees with family coverage to provide proof that each spouse/dependent is eligible for coverage under NYSHIP.
  • Failure to provide proof could result in losing dependent coverage effective January 1, 2016 and being held responsible for repaying claims paid under NYSHIP for those dependents as early as the date the dependent was first added to coverage.  Other penalties could also be imposed.

Verification of Dependents will be conducted in three phases:

 The first phase will be for dependents of Participating Agencies (Local Government) enrollees.

Phase 1 Verification Period

  • Employees of Participating Agencies (Local Government) must provide proof (verification) of ALL dependents
  • Submission of proof beginning February 29 – April 15, 2016

The second phase will be for dependents of Retirees and Participating Employers (Authorities, etc.) enrollees.

 Phase 2 Verification Period

  • Retirees and Participating Employers (Authorities, etc.) employees must provide proof (verification) of ALL dependents
  • Submission of proof beginning May 2 – June 17, 2016

The third phase will be for dependents of Active New York State enrollees.

Phase 3 Verification Period

  • Active New York State employees must provide proof (verification) of ALL dependents
  • Submission of proof beginning July 5 – August 19, 2016