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This Week in Albany

Week ending January 27, 2017

Budget Hearings

CSEA Director of Legislative and Political Action Fran Turner testified before the Joint Legislative Budget Hearing on Workforce Development this week.

CSEA’s testimony focused on lack of state investments in state agencies, including the continued attrition of necessary positions, understaffing, and closing of beds that have led to extreme overtime for many workers, especially in the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) and the Office of Mental Health (OMH).

The testimony also raised concern over the Executive Budget’s proposal to force local governments to share services and/or consolidate, and stressed that CSEA will continue to oppose increasing health insurance premiums for retirees and future retirees.

Click the following links for more information, including CSEA’s budget summary, written testimony, and a video of the Workforce Development hearing.

The legislature also held a budget hearing to discuss higher education issues this week. This hearing largely focused on the Governor’s free tuition proposal for SUNY/CUNY schools.

CPS Bill Passes Senate

A bill to establish caseload standards for Child Protective Service (CPS) workers (S.3146 – Golden) that is strongly supported by CSEA passed the Senate this week.

Governor Cuomo vetoed this legislation last year after it passed both houses, but CSEA will continue to push this legislation and work with the Executive and legislature to accomplish its goals in the budget process.

Peralta Joins IDC

Queens Democratic Senator Jose Peralta became the eighth member of the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) this week, strengthening the Republican/IDC majority coalition in that chamber.

At a Glance

The legislature will be in session for two days next week and will hold budget hearings on local governments, public protection, and economic development.


2017-18 New York State Budget

CSEA Testimony

CSEA Legislative & Political Action Director Fran Turner testified at the Joint Legislative Budget Hearing on Workforce Development on January 25. The entire testimony can be viewed below. Director Turner’s testimony begins around 1:28:40.


CSEA’s written testimony can be viewed here.


This Week in Albany

Week ending January 20, 2017

Trump Takes Office

Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States on Friday, while Mike Pence became the 48th Vice President.

President Trump’s speech focused on the promises he made during the campaign, including his promise that America will get better for everyone.

Executive Budget Released

Governor Cuomo released his $152.3 billion State budget proposal this week.

Major proposals in the budget include:

  • Governor Cuomo has reintroduced a proposal that would increase health insurance costs for future state retirees. Under the proposed plan, State contributions to the costs of health insurance premiums for retirees would be reduced for state employees that retiree on or after October 1, 2017. The proposal would create a tiered system of State contributions based on years of service and pay grade. CSEA fought to defeat this proposal last year and will do the same this year.
  • The Governor’s budget ignores the needs of the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD). The proposed budget fails to invest in needed services, including CSEA’s care pilot programs, and puts even more stress on a workforce that already works the most overtime out of any state agency.
  • The budget also continues to reduce services in the Office of Mental Health by calling for the closure of an additional 140 beds across the state. There are currently no details as to where these beds will be taken down.
  • The Governor has proposed a local government consolidation scheme that would require every County Executive or County Manager outside of New York City to prepare a plan for consolidating and eliminating services, which will be put to voters in the November 2017 election. CSEA will continue to oppose the Governor’s attempts to force the consolidation of local government services.
  • Aid and Incentives to Municipalities (AIM) funding for local governments will be held flat, as it has been since 2011-12.
  • The Executive Budget would extend the Millionaire’s Tax for an additional three years, but would raise the income threshold to $2,155,350 from the current $2 million. The proposal would keep in place the “middle class” tax cuts agreed to in the 2016-17 budget.

CSEA President Danny Donohue’s statement on the budget proposal can be read here.

CSEA will be testifying at the Joint Legislative Budget Hearing on Workforce Development on Wednesday, January 25. That testimony, along with an in-depth summary, will be made available on the Legislative & Political Action Department’s website next week. Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available.

Depew Dissolution Vote

This week, voters in the Erie County Village of Depew voted against the dissolution of their village by nearly a three to one margin. Similar efforts in the Villages of Medina and Brockport have also been defeated in Western New York in recent years.

Time and again voters have shown that they value the services provided by their local governments and have rejected dissolution and consolidation efforts.

2017 School Property Tax Cap Announced

State Comptroller DiNapoli announced that the property tax cap for school districts will be 1.26% for the next school year. While this is a slight increase from last year, the tax cap continues to hurt the ability of local governments to provide the services that are demanded by the public.

 


2016 News Releases

October 2016

  • Oct. 19, 2016 Statement by CSEA President Danny Donohue on PEF’s tentative contract agreement with New York state

August 2016

  • Aug. 30, 2016 CSEA President Danny Donohue’s 2016 Labor Day Message: At-risk children need our attention

July 2016

  • July 10, 2016 CSEA honors workers during “Pretrial, Probation and Parole Supervision Week”

June 2016

  • June 14, 2016 Statement of CSEA President Danny Donohue on the Orlando massacre
  • June 1, 2016 Statement of CSEA President Danny Donohue on signing of Veterans Equality Act

April 2016

  • April 14, 2016 Slow Down to Get Around can help save lives, including your own!

March 2016

  • March 29, 2016 Statement of CSEA President Danny Donohue on U.S. Supreme Court split decision on Friedrichs case
  • March 23, 2016 CSEA endorses McGrath in 9th Senate District race
  • March 17, 2016 CSEA sues New York State Thruway Authority over unilateral action increasing retiree health care costs

February 2016

  • Feb. 11, 2016 CSEA President Danny Donohue will continue to lead
    New York’s leading Union

January 2016

  • Jan. 13, 2016 Statement of CSEA President Danny Donohue
    on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2016 State of the State and Budget Message

Oct. 19, 2016
Statement by CSEA President Danny Donohue on PEF’s tentative contract agreement with New York state

“Congratulations to our brothers and sisters at PEF on their tentative agreement with New York state. CSEA will continue to work with the governor’s administration to reach a contract agreement that best serves CSEA’s members.”


Aug. 30, 2016
CSEA President Danny Donohue’s 2016 Labor Day Message: At-risk children need our attention

ALBANY — Every day, across New York state, thousands of kids are at risk of abuse and neglect.

Their situation is made worse because the people responsible for their protection – child protective services workers – are overwhelmed by caseloads that threaten the social safety net. Continuing economic challenges for working New Yorkers and an unprecedented heroin epidemic are contributing to the strain. In some places, caseloads can run up to nearly 70 active cases per month.

That is simply dangerous and nearly impossible to handle. But don’t take my word for it. That was the conclusion of a 2006 report by the state’s Office of Children and Family Services. It found that smaller caseloads have a direct benefit for children under supervision.

These at-risk kids deserve better than the attention they’re receiving under current circumstances.

Caseworkers know this and agonize over the working conditions that too often leave them only bad or worse choices. They have difficult work to do under the best of situations, but rarely have the luxury of that reality. They know that one bad decision can have horrific consequences. They also know there can be unacceptable outcomes through no fault of their own. It’s the worst kind of stress.

Last spring, both the Senate and the Assembly acted to address the needs of these kids. Legislation capping caseloads and moving New York in the right direction was approved by both houses. It follows the conclusions of the OCFS report by capping active cases to 15 per month and requiring adequate staffing to ensure appropriate follow-up, investigation and site visits to assess the well being of children in a variety of circumstances.

Now it’s up to Governor Andrew Cuomo to sign it and give these kids a chance at a better life. It’s the right thing to do for the children and our communities. CSEA joins with many other responsible organizations and elected officials in urging the governor to sign and set the standard.

-30-


July 10, 2016
CSEA honors workers during “Pretrial, Probation and Parole Supervision Week”

ALBANY — CSEA is proud to join the recognition of the essential work of criminal justice workers, including thousands of CSEA members, during Pretrial, Probation and Parole Supervision Week, July 17-23.

“On behalf of all CSEA members across New York state, I am pleased to recognize our probation and other criminal justice professionals,” CSEA President Danny Donohue said. “The work they do is so vital to ensuring the safety of the public, and the rehabilitation of individuals seeking to re-enter society. We couldn’t be more proud of their contributions to our communities.”

Pretrial, Probation and Parole Supervision Week is an annual event honoring a respected segment of the work force that often goes unrecognized. Probation professionals are a vital part of every New York state county work force and have an important dual role in the public safety field. Not only do they work with the justice system to protect the public from crime, violence and abuse, but they also provide important rehabilitation and support services to the individuals they supervise. Probation officers often manage unusually large workloads, making the job both stressful and demanding.

“Probation professionals help supervise and counsel offenders so they can face up to the challenges of getting their lives on track,” Donohue said. “They help them focus on constructive goals, which is good for the individuals and our communities. This is demanding and worthwhile work.”

As with all public safety work, these professionals often put their own safety at risk for the benefit of the community. CSEA realizes the high level of commitment, compassion and the special dedication these workers demonstrate every day.

CSEA is New York state’s leading union, representing employees of the state and its counties, towns, villages, school districts, library systems, authorities and public benefit corporations. Together with a growing population of private sector members and retirees, CSEA is the largest affiliate of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), which is one of the largest affiliates of the AFL-CIO.

-30-


June 14, 2016
Statement of CSEA President Danny Donohue on the Orlando massacre

“Events of this past weekend in Orlando, Fla. are more evidence that we still live in a world with too much hate, intolerance and violence. Our polarizing politics contribute to it, and it is time to stop. It begins with each us, in our heart. Gandhi said it best when he urged people to be the change you seek.”

-30-


June 1, 2016
Statement of CSEA President Danny Donohue on signing of Veterans Equality Act

ALBANY — “CSEA achieved a major legislative goal late last night when Governor Cuomo signed the Veterans Equality Act (S. 7160 – Larkin / A. 9531 – Paulin) into law.

This action addresses a long-standing inequity among military veterans serving in the public service and recognizes the importance of respecting all. I am proud that CSEA veterans were in forefront of efforts to ensure this fairness. The unwavering efforts of Senate Majority Leader John
Flanagan, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Senator William Larkin and Assemblywoman Amy Paulin were essential to this tremendous benefit for our veterans becoming law.”

-30-


April 14, 2016
Slow Down to Get Around can help save lives, including your own!

ALBANY – On a city street or an interstate highway, Slow Down to Get Around when work crews are out doing their job. CSEA – New York’s leading union — has broadened its public awareness efforts for roadwork safety to help save lives and limit injury.

“It’s a simple message for everyone to take care,” said CSEA President Danny Donohue. “Distracted driving can cause harm and even death for people working on the roads and cause enormous pain for their families, but it can also destroy the life of the driver who causes the incident by failing to pay attention. It’s not worth all of the consequences.”

CSEA began its Don’t Zone Out campaign in 2010. In conjunction with many other public awareness efforts about the dangers of distracted driving, the campaign is having a positive effect in New York and nationally.

Sadly, CSEA has also seen the tragic deaths of several sanitation workers in roadway incidents in recent years. This has prompted the union’s new effort to reinforce safety awareness with the Slow Down to Get Around message. CSEA is also seeking to have sanitation vehicles included in New York’s amber light Move Over Law. Responsible management that emphasizes proper training, use of safety equipment and following proper procedures is key to safety but the motoring public can also help.

“It’s not asking a lot for all of us to slow down and concentrate on driving when the road crews are out,” Donohue said. “Reducing speed and paying attention can be the difference between life and death.”

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

  • Move over for amber lights;
  • Obey posted speed limits;
  • Put the phone down and drive;
  • Never send or read text messages while driving;
  • In work zones and where there are crews working, slow down and be alert. Focus on your driving;
  • Help spread the word;
  • Learn more at www.cseany.org

Nearly 700 CSEA safety and health activists will renew the union’s road safety commitment at its Statewide Conference on Occupational Safety & Health April 15-17 in Lake Placid. Additionally, CSEA is once again partnering with minor league baseball teams across the state this spring and summer to deliver the message about the dangers of distracted driving.

-30-


March 29, 2016
Statement of CSEA President Danny Donohue on U.S. Supreme Court split decision on Friedrichs case

This is only a short-term victory for decency through a divided court. It should be alarming the plaintiffs plan to file a motion for rehearing, which is permitted within the next 25 days.

For the past generation, there has been a real, sustained and escalating attack on the rights of working people to earn a decent living and have a voice in their working conditions. The Friedrichs case is symptomatic of this trend toward a lack of economic fairness and imbalance that is like a cancer on our society. Friedrichs sought to overturn a long-standing law of the land for the self interest of some individuals, but only at the expense of the greater community good.

The mere fact that this case made it through the Court system as far as it did is a warning to all of the strength of the negative forces in our society today that would for selfish reasons, disregard the well-being of our neighbors and communities.

That should be another warning that CSEA members must work even harder to strengthen the connection between working people, work site by work site.

-30-


March 23, 2016
CSEA endorses McGrath in 9th Senate District race

ALBANY — CSEA – New York’s leading union – has endorsed Chris McGrath in the special election for the New York State Senate 9th District.

“Chris McGrath leads by example in his life and in his community,” said CSEA President Danny Donohue.”CSEA members on Long Island enthusiastically support him because he has the personal qualities that good elected representatives should have.”

“I want to thank the thousands of hardworking members of CSEA for their endorsement and trust in me. The members of CSEA represent the strength and resiliency of the New York state and Long Island work force,” said McGrath.

CSEA’s endorsement was made by the union’s statewide Political Action Committee based on recommendation from the Long Island Region Political Action Committee.

The special election for the 9th District Senate seat will be held Tuesday, April 19.

-30-


March 17, 2016
CSEA sues New York State Thruway Authority over unilateral action increasing retiree health care costs

ALBANY – CSEA has filed a class action lawsuit against the New York State Thruway Authority for unilaterally increasing health care costs on approximately 1,500 retirees. CSEA filed the lawsuit March 7 in the State of New York Supreme Court in Albany.

Last December, the Thruway Authority informed retirees that effective April 1, 2016 they would have to pay 6 percent more in personal contributions to their health care premiums. That action fails to honor obligations to retirees covered by contracts between CSEA and the Thruway.

“It’s another in a continuing series of bad decisions and mismanagement of the New York State Thruway Authority that have undermined their credibility and demoralized the work force,” said CSEA President Danny Donohue. “It says a lot about the misplaced priorities of the authority management that they can be lining up for a huge state bailout while at the same time putting the squeeze on retirees who devoted their careers to state service.”

“Retirees have earned the right to retire with the health insurance benefits they were promised during their years of service at the Thruway Authority,” said CSEA Thruway Authority Local President Karen Wilson.

“Through their callous actions, the Thruway has created chaos and confusion for an already vulnerable group of people,” said CSEA Capital Region President Ron Briggs.

The action comes amid protracted negotiations on a contract for the 500 CSEA-represented Thruway employees working in technical, professional and supervisory titles across the state. The previous agreement expired June 30, 2011.

CSEA also has a pending federal lawsuit against the Thruway Authority for threatening and then terminating union-represented employees while sparing all management personnel. That lawsuit involves 85 CSEA members who were either laid off, forced into early retirement, relocated or bumped. The discovery phase of that lawsuit, filed in 2013, recently concluded.

-30-


Feb. 11, 2016
CSEA President Danny Donohue will continue to lead New York’s leading Union

ALBANY— CSEA members have re-elected President Danny Donohue and his leadership slate to an unprecedented seventh term of office, which begins March 1.

“These are challenging times as CSEA members and other working people continue to be squeezed and undercut by the manipulation of our economy by the greedy few,” Donohue said. “My priority is a stronger union that can better stand up and push back.”

“CSEA members appreciate being part of a statewide organization and a Labor Movement that’s bigger than themselves. But, they need to feel the connection more strongly as individuals where they work and live — and make their voice heard,” Donohue said.

Also returning to office for four-year terms are CSEA Executive Vice President Mary E. Sullivan and Statewide Secretary Denise Berkley.

Sullivan has served as CSEA’s Executive Vice President since 1994 and previously was the union’s statewide Treasurer. Originally from Herkimer County, she also serves as the president of the Capital District Area Labor Federation, which represents 120,000 union members and their families across 11 counties.

Berkley was first elected CSEA Statewide Secretary in 2008. Berkley’s union activism began at the Brooklyn Developmental Center. As a longtime union activist, Berkley remains committed today to the ongoing struggle for social, racial and economic justice for workers and communities.

William “Billy” Walsh was elected CSEA Statewide Treasurer as part of the Donohue slate, replacing Joseph McMullen, who is retiring. Walsh is a member of the CSEA Town of Brookhaven Blue Collar Unit and serves as the union’s Suffolk County Local President and statewide Political Action Committee Chair.

In CSEA’s region elections, Long Island Region President Nick LaMorte, Metropolitan Region President Lester Crockett and Southern Region President Billy Riccaldo were all returned to office. Western Region President Flo Tripi and Central Region President Colleen Wheaton ran unopposed. In the Capital Region, Ron Briggs, a CSEA leader from Fulton County, was elected to succeed Kathy Garrison, who ran against Donohue.

The election was conducted by mail ballot and overseen by the American Arbitration Association.

– 30 –


Jan. 13, 2016
Statement of CSEA President Danny Donohue on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2016 State of the State and Budget Message

ALBANY — “Governor Andrew Cuomo used a big show to make his case that New York is on the move. Billions are proposed to move our state forward, but too many New Yorkers are being left behind.

Flawed plans and inadequate funding for state mental health and developmental disabilities services are just two examples of how state agencies have been undermined, leaving tens of thousands of New Yorkers without the care they need. The daily reality in these agencies doesn’t match the governor’s lofty rhetoric.

The budget also shortchanges localities, increases public employee retiree health care costs, and continues wasteful corporate welfare and economic development schemes that fail to produce the jobs they promise.

The list could go on.

It’s time to get real.”

-30-


This Week in Albany

Week ending January 13, 2017

State of the State

Governor Cuomo completed his regional “State of the State” addresses this week, traveling across the state and giving six speeches instead of the usual address to government in Albany. The Governor put forward a series of proposals that he will include in his budget submission next week. Some of the proposals may be beneficial, while CSEA has major concerns about several others.

Some of the major proposals put forward include:

The Governor has proposed a local government consolidation scheme that would require the Chief Executive of a county (Executive, Manager, etc.) to prepare a plan for consolidating and eliminating services, which will be put to voters in the November 2017 election. CSEA will continue oppose the Governor’s attempts to force the consolidation of local government services.

The proposals include a host of infrastructure projects, including improvements to airports, railroads, and drinking water projects. The Governor has also proposed expanding design-build authorization to all state agencies focused on construction activities.

The Governor has put forward a plan to allow students from a family earning less than $125,000 to attend a two- or four-year SUNY or CUNY college or community college tuition-free, and an expansion of the child care tax credit.

Other issues include ethics, elections, and procurement reforms, more money for “economic development,” allowing for ridesharing upstate (Uber/Lyft), and containing the cost of prescription drugs.

More details on these proposals will become available after Governor Cuomo releases his budget proposal on Tuesday, January 17.

Stay tuned for a summary of the Governor’s budget next week and more information as it becomes available.

Federal Issues Update

Congress continued down the path of repealing the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) this week, though there seems to be a growing consensus that there needs to be a replacement plan in place before any repeal can be completed. In his first press conference since being elected, President-elect Donald Trump said that his administration will put forward a replacement plan that can be put into place “simultaneously” with repeal of the ACA.

CSEA will work with members of Congress to ensure that health care and health benefits remain strong in New York.


Start a Never Quit Conversation Today

Start a Never Quit Conversation Today

CSEA accepting Irene Carr Leadership Award nominations

Carr

Carr

Do you know someone who we can count on to take the lead, speak out and take action on issues of concern to women and families today?

These are the individuals CSEA honors with the Irene Carr Leadership Award. Nominations are currently being accepted for this award.

This award, named for former CSEA Statewide Secretary Irene Carr, recognizes individuals that demonstrate continuous leadership in fighting for labor rights in the workplace, particularly those that affect women. Someone who:

CSEA President Danny Donohue, right, congratulates 2015 Irene Carr Leadership Award recipient Adele Herzenberg.

CSEA President Danny Donohue, right, congratulates 2015 Irene Carr Leadership Award recipient Adele Herzenberg.

• Encourages and mentors women to be activists in CSEA and/or the labor movement as a whole.

• Advocates for workers issues such as equal pay for equal work, ensuring access to affordable child care, flexible work hours, or health and safety issues specific to women.

• Ensures issues of discrimination, harassment and/or equal treatment are addressed in the workplace.

Nominations must be received no later than Feb. 17, 2017.

The award will be presented at the CSEA Women’s Conference taking place April 28-30, 2017, in Saratoga Springs.

Download the 2017 Irene Carr Leadership Award nomination form

This Week in Albany

Week ending January 6, 2017

CPS Bill Vetoed

Late on New Year’s Eve, Governor Cuomo vetoed CSEA’s CPS caseload standards bill.

The Governor did not judge this bill on its merits, and CSEA immediately expressed our disappointment. CSEA will be meeting with the Executive next week to attempt to find common ground on funding for the goals of the bill in the upcoming state budget. While CSEA is extremely disappointed in the veto, we will continue to work with the legislature and Executive on this important bill during the 2017 state legislative session.

State Legislative Session Begins

The 2017 state legislative session began this week when the Senate and Assembly gaveled in on Wednesday. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan were re-elected to their leadership posts, newly elected members were sworn in, and each conference laid out priorities for the year.

The legislature will be in session in Albany for two days next week.

Regional State of the State Addresses

Governor Cuomo has decided that he will deliver six regional “State of the State” addresses instead of the traditional speech given in Albany. These speeches will take place next week, as follows:

  • Monday: New York City (11am – Freedom Tower) and Buffalo (3pm – University at Buffalo)
  • Tuesday: Westchester (10:30am – Purchase College) and Long Island (1:00pm – Farmingdale State College)
  • Wednesday: Albany (10:00am – University at Albany) and Central NY (1:00pm – John H. Mulroy Civic Center)

Attendance at the events will be limited to those who registered before Friday, and in a sign of growing tension most legislative leaders have said that they do not plan on attending any of the speeches.

Governor Cuomo has already started to roll out some of the proposals he plans on putting forward in his State of the State. Most significantly is a proposal to provide free tuition at two- and four-year SUNY and CUNY institutions to families and individuals earning less than $125,000 per year. It is estimated that it will cost $163 million annually once fully phased in in 2019.

Additional proposals include a $10 billion overhaul of JFK airport and an expansion of the child care tax credit. Under the tax credit expansion, families earning between $60,000 and $150,000 could see their benefit more than double. This proposal would cost the state an estimated $42 million.

The details on these programs are sparse at this time. “This Week in Albany” will cover these programs in more detail as new information becomes available.

Federal Issues

Congress took the first step this week toward repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly known as Obamacare, when the Senate began a process that will allow the Senate to vote for repealing major parts of the law with a simple majority vote.

According to Governor Cuomo’s office, a repeal of the ACA could put a $3.7 billion hole in the New York State budget, with counties losing an additional $595 million in Medicaid funding. With that being said, there has not yet been a significant replacement plan put forward in Congress so the timeline and exact costs of repeal are still largely undetermined.

CSEA will work with members of Congress to ensure that New York remains a leader in quality health care as any plan to repeal and replace the ACA moves forward.