New Paltz CSEA members give Santa a hand

New Paltz 2016 toy drive

Making the drop-off at Family of New Paltz.

NEW PALTZ — CSEA members at SUNY New Paltz have a long-running toy drive that ensures local children in need have happy holidays. This year, however, a spike in local need resulted in the union members being faced with a last-minute challenge to collect nearly a hundred more gifts to be distributed through non-profit Family of New Paltz.

But CSEA members never quit, on the job and off.

SUNY New Paltz Local Anthony Adamo put out the call to other CSEA locals and units, while he and members of the local’s Toy Drive Committee stepped up their efforts to collect as many toys as possible. Word spread through social media and text messaging and, before long, Santa’s sleigh (which in this case bared a resemblance to a CSEA member’s pickup truck) was overflowing with gifts for the children of New Paltz.

“We just want to thank everyone who went above and beyond to help us meet this challenge, “ said Adamo, who credited his committee members for their continued hard work and thanked the CSEA locals, units and activists across the Southern Region that stepped up to help. “Not only did our brothers and sisters from across the Southern Region step up, we also had the chance to build stronger ties with local small businesses. They went above and beyond in finding what we needed, and we in return were able to shop local.”

Adamo said his committee members are behind the toy drive’s continued success: Ron Darnley, chair; Fred DeStefano, local executive vice president; Sue Peone; Steve Holohan; and Gary Buckman Jr.

New Paltz toy drive 2016

Just a few of the over 500 toys and 1,000 stocking stuffers that were generously donated.

The community typically requires around 300 toys, but that number was raised to over 400 when Family of New Paltz learned of additional need. Getting the needed presents in time came down to the wire, Adamo said, but the local wound up with over 500 toys and 1,000 stocking stuffers to donate.

He sent special thanks to the Southern Region officers, Southern Region staff, Dutchess Education Local 867, Westchester Medical Center Unit 9201, and Jack Auster of Taconic Parks Local 108.

In the local business community, Adamo mentioned the help of Tops Supermarket in New Paltz, Rite Aid, LaBella’s Pizza, Convent Deli, Just A Buck New Paltz, Warehouse Outlet Enterprises Inc., and the employees and community members of SUNY New Paltz.

-Jessica Ladlee


Christmas Eve Fire Guts Irondequoit DPW Building

img_2340Irondequoit (Dec. 25, 2016) — A massive Christmas Eve fire in a Rochester suburb overnight did what is being described as millions of dollars in damage to the Irondequoit Department of Public Works building. CSEA represents five collective bargaining units and hundreds of employees who work for the Town of Irondequoit– one of them being the Department of Public Works. According to town officials, no injuries were reported during or after the fire.

Florence Tripi, CSEA Western Region President said, “Our hearts go out to the families and town residents who are affected by this tragedy. We are thankful no one was injured or harmed while fighting this fire. CSEA stands ready to assist our town partners and employees in every possible way.”

This morning Town Supervisor Dave Seeley told local reporters firefighters found a fire in the roof when they got there at about 10:30 p.m. on Saturday. The fire quickly spread and all five Irondequoit fire departments were called to the scene. Firefighter units from neighboring towns were also called in to assist. The building houses the town’s fleet of highway department vehicles including snow plows and sanitation trucks.

Approximately 25 vehicles are stored in the building and some of them were lost in the fire. Bob Riley, the Commissioner of Public Works for the Town of Irondequoit, said that seven plow trucks and a majority of the sanitation fleet have been damaged beyond repair. The building is adjacent to the town hall and library, but the flames were contained to the DPW facility.

Seeley says the equipment and building are insured but he was mainly concerned about the safety of the firefighters who remained on the scene into the morning.

The DPW building is a 100 year old structure. “It’s terrible to have to see this happen, but more terrible to have to see our firefighters spend their Christmas Eve doing this,” Seeley told a local news station. “Many of our firefighters are actually highway department employees so it’s ironic that they’re working here. They certainly know the building and this building means a lot to them.”

Seeley is requesting all town employees scheduled to work on Tuesday report as usual.

-Ove Overmyer


Town of Irondequoit DPW building in the aftermath of the Christmas Eve blaze. Several service vehicles were destroyed in the fire. Photo by Ove Overmyer, CSEA ©2016.

This Week in Albany

Week ending December 16, 2016

Legislative Update

Discussions about a special session continued this week as lawmakers work to find common ground between Senate and Assembly proposals and the Governor.

There are still 25 bills that passed both houses this year that have not yet been delivered to the Governor, including CSEA’s CPS caseload standards bill. Stay tuned for more information when this bill gets delivered.

Federal Update

A continuing resolution was passed by Congress last Friday shortly before federal spending was set to run out. Several Democratic Senators had said that they wouldn’t vote for the spending plan without an extension of benefits to certain coal miners, but the Senators didn’t end up shutting down the government over the issue. The spending plan funds the government until April 28th.

This week, President Obama signed a large health care bill, known as the “21st Century Cures Act” into law. The law increases resources to combat the heroin and opioid crisis, as well as increased funding for cancer and other research, as well as provisions to address mental health services.

More information on these and other important federal issues can be found here.

Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays from the Legislative and Political Action Department. Stay safe while traveling and be sure to make room for snow removal vehicles so they can get the edge on ice.

“This Week in Albany” will return on January 7th unless important issues arise in the interim.



CSEA announces 2016 McDonough Scholarship recipients

graduation_capCSEA recently presented our annual Thomas H. McDonough Memorial Scholarship for Continuing Studies to six children of union members (one in each region).

Named for McDonough, a previous CSEA executive vice president, the $1,000 scholarship is awarded to students who are already enrolled in a higher eduction program.

Congratulations and good luck to all of the recipients, who are listed below:

Long Island Region:
Melissa Rorech, whose parent, Anastasia Kruk, is a communications operator I at Nassau County.

Metropolitan Region:
Mario Papa, whose parent, Mario Papa Sr., is an electrician at Staten Island Developmental Center.

Southern Region:
Neil Patel, whose parent, Prakash Patel, is a motor equipment mechanic at the New York State Department of Transportation.

Capital Region:
Susanne Prendergast, whose parent, Theresa Prendergast, is a teaching assistant at the Catskill Central School District.

Central Region:
Megan Barney, whose parent, Ray Barney, is an account clerk at St. Lawrence County Department of Social Services.

Western Region:
Zachary Taylor, whose parent, Shawna Taylor, is a case supervisor at Niagara County.

Federal Issues Update

AFSCME Legislative Weekly Report

Week ending December 9, 2016

  • FY 2017 Funding Approved Through April; Most Programs Slightly Cut
  • Senate Passes Bipartisan Water Bill With Flint Aid
  • ACA Repeal Vote Slated for January; Would Hit State Budgets Hard
  • Obama to Sign Sweeping Bill to Speed Drug Approvals, Boost Research, Fund $1 Billion to Combat Substance Abuse
  • Labor Department Nominee Prizes Bottom Line Over Working Families
  • Bipartisan Senate Bill Introduced to Protect “DREAMers”

Continue reading…

This Week in Albany

Week ending December 9, 2016

Economic Development

This week, Governor Cuomo announced over $700 million in “economic development” funding that will be distributed as part of the annual Regional Economic Development Council process.

While the State continues to spend billions on programs with a questionable return on investment, CSEA will continue to fight to ensure that New York properly funds the services that our communities depend on.

At a Glance

The State Senate and Assembly have been discussing the possibility of holding a special session next week to address a number of issues, including possibly the first pay raise for legislators since 1999. Governor Cuomo has publicly released a list of reforms he would like to see taken up if the legislature does hold a special session, but no session has been officially called yet.

Federal Update

Congress has been working to reach an agreement on a continuing resolution to keep the government funded until April 28. The bill generally maintains current government funding, with additions including $872 million for healthcare measures and $170 million to deal with water contamination issues.

At the time of this writing, the bill had passed the House but faced a potential roadblock in the Senate. Several Senate Democrats have said that they will not vote for the bill unless it contains a longer-term extension of healthcare and retirement benefits for miners whose benefit fund is running out of money.

Current funding for the government expires on Saturday.

In other federal news, President-elect Donald Trump announced Andrew Puzder as his choice for secretary of Labor. Puzder, who is the CEO of a fast-food company that includes Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr., has a long record of opposing provisions to help workers. Puzder is skeptical of raising the minimum wage, opposes the Obama administration’s efforts to expand eligibility for overtime pay, has criticized paid sick leave policies, and supports increased automation in his industry.

Constitutional Convention Poll

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CSEA Activists Honored at Labor Dinner


Kim Whitlock

Rochester—On December 8, the Rochester & Genesee Valley Area Labor Federation, AFL-CIO held it’s Annual Delegates Awards Dinner at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center. Hundreds of delegates and labor allies from an 11 county area attended the event which featured a keynote address by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and author David Cay Johnston.

CSEA was well represented at the awards ceremony—two political action committee members received special recognition for their efforts this election cycle. Kimberly Whitlock, a Rochester State Employees Local 012 activist who works as a Worker’s Compensation Examiner, and Sean Gibbons, a Monroe County Local 828 Pure Waters Laboratory Assistant were honored for their outstanding achievement, commitment, dedication and extraordinary efforts for 2016. Western Region President Flo Tripi, who also serves as Vice President of the R&GVALF, was one of the presenters at this year’s event.

Here is a list of the 2016 honorees:

The Working Families Advocate of the Year

  • Adam Bello

The Mother Jones Award for Sacrifice Above and Beyond

  • Steve Panton, RGVALF
  • Shirley Sobczak, Workers United RRJB

Outstanding Achievement in Political Action

  • Kimberly Whitlock, CSEA
  • Sean Gibbons, CSEA
  • The Rochester, NY Building and Construction Trades Council, AFL-CIO

The Jim Schmidt Community Solidarity Award

  • CWA Local 1170

The Labor Coalition Advocate of the Year 

Workforce Development Institute

  • Bob Trouskie & Lynn Freid

The Jon Garlock Labor Educator of the Year Award

  • Mary Denise Schneider, CWA 1141

Apprentice Organizer of the Year

  • Christopher Roesch, NALC 210

Retiree of the Year

  • Betty Beverly, UAW 1097
  • Martin Horowitz, APWU Local 215

Rochester Labor Council, AFL- CIO Labor Day Parade Award

“Best Message”

  • Justice for Farm Workers

Rochester Labor Council, AFL- CIO Labor Day Parade Award

“Best Float”

  • Teamsters Local Union #118

Rochester Labor Council, AFL- CIO Labor Day Parade Award

“Most Spirited”

  • Senator Joe Robach and the Monroe County Wolverines

The Rochester Labor Council, AFL- CIO Lifetime Achievement Award

  • Denise Young, USW, PEF & Metro Justice

Federal Issues Update

AFSCME Legislative Weekly Report

Week ending December 2, 2016

  • Federal Funding Expires December 9; Stopgap Expected Through April 2017
  • Trump Cabinet Picks Threaten Workers, Civil Rights, Health Care, Education
  • Nominee for Health Secretary Wants to Gut Medicare and Medicaid
  • Overtime Expansion Delayed
  • House Adopts Sweeping Bill to Speed Drug Approvals, Boost Research, Combat Substance Abuse
  • Congressional Leadership Elections

Continue reading…