This Week in Albany

Week ending January 26, 2018

CSEA Testifies at State Budget Hearing

CSEA testified at the Joint Legislative Budget Hearing on Workforce Development this week. The testimony highlighted many of CSEA’s concerns with the 2018-19 Executive Budget proposal, as well as several proposals that CSEA supports.

Overall, the Executive Budget proposal does not target public services or contain many of the harmful proposals seen in years past. With that being said, there are many areas that need improvement or adjustment.

Among the areas covered in the testimony are: revenues and taxes, health care, state agencies, local governments, retiree health care, child care, procurement, the separation of powers, economic development, schools, and libraries.

CSEA’s full written testimony, along with a video of the testimony, can be found on our website.


Federal Shutdown Ends After Weekend

After Congress couldn’t reach an agreement to continue funding the government last Friday, the federal government shut down over the weekend. The shutdown didn’t last long, however, as an agreement to fund the government through February 8th was reached on Monday.

Included in the short-term spending bill was a six year extension of funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Importantly for CSEA, the package will also delay for two years the so-called “Cadillac tax” on the health care benefits of many union members. The Cadillac tax is a 40 percent excise tax on health benefits valued at more than $10,200 for individual coverage or $27,500 for a family that was initially set to take effect in 2020. The implementation of the tax will now not take effect until 2022.

The spending bill did not address the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program or provide funding for President Trump’s “border wall.” Negotiations over immigration policy is expected to continue until the next deadline to extend government funding.


At a Glance

The Senate and Assembly will be in session for two days next week. In addition, the legislature will hold joint budget hearings on the areas of economic development, public protection, and elementary and secondary education.

2017 News Releases

  • 2016 News Releases
  • 2015 News Releases
  • 2014 News Releases
  • 2013 News Releases
  • 2012 News Releases

  • Read CSEA’s recent news releases

    December 2017

      • Dec. 23, 2017 Statement of CSEA President Danny Donohue on the passing of Jerome Lefkowitz

    September 2017

      • Sept. 28, 2017 Statement of CSEA President Danny Donohue on Janus v. AFSCME

    August 2017

    June 2017

      • June 20, 2017 Governor Cuomo announces five-year contract agreement with CSEA

    March 2017

    January 2017

      • Jan. 18, 2017 CSEA President Danny Donohue slams Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2017-18 state budget proposal



    Statement of CSEA President Danny Donohue on the passing of Jerome Lefkowitz

    “It is with great sadness and heavy hearts that CSEA mourns the loss of Jerome “Jerry” Lefkowitz, former CSEA deputy counsel and state Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) chairperson.

    Jerry had a long, distinguished career as an advocate for labor and public employees. He was a driving force behind the 1967 Public Employees’ Fair Employment Act, commonly known as the Taylor Law. This law gave New York’s public employees the right to negotiate fair wages, strong health benefits and workplace protections.

    As a key member of the commission that drafted the law, Jerry’s contribution to its development and the protections it offers cannot be overstated. After the Taylor Law was enacted, Jerry was employed as deputy chairperson of PERB, the state agency that administers the law. He served in that position for 19 years before joining CSEA in 1987.

    Jerry was a valued colleague, a champion of labor and a dear friend to us at CSEA and to working people everywhere. He will be deeply missed.

    In 2007, Jerry left CSEA after he was appointed as chairperson of PERB. His tenure at the agency was marked by fairness, balance and neutral application of the very laws he helped craft.

    We at CSEA extend our most heartfelt condolences to Jerry’s family and friends during this difficult time.”



    Statement of CSEA President Danny Donohue on Janus v. AFSCME

    ALBANY — “It’s no surprise that the Supreme Court has announced it will hear the case of Janus v. AFSCME. This case is nothing more than a crusade to weaken unions by people with a lot of money. Their goal remains taking away rights, benefits and pay from hardworking Americans.

    Regardless of this case, CSEA members will do what we have always done: have conversations about what it means to stand together. If the Supreme Court decides to change 40 years of their own precedent, we will work that much harder to make sure working people have the freedom to negotiate for everything they deserve so they can continue to provide for their families.

    Janus aims to take away the freedom of – and opportunity for – working people to join together in strong unions to speak up for themselves, their families and their communities. CSEA has played a critical role in building and protecting the working families in New York. CSEA provides hardworking people economic stability for their families and give them the tools to build a good life, home and education for themselves and their children. We are committed to continuing to stand strong on behalf of all working people.”

    -30-


    Aug. 9, 2017
    CSEA members ratify five-year state contract

    ALBANY— CSEA-represented state Executive Branch employees have ratified a comprehensive contract agreement with New York state. Each of CSEA’s four bargaining units (Administrative, Institutional, Operational and Division of Military and Naval Affairs) individually approved the agreement.

    “CSEA’s negotiating team worked tirelessly to secure a well-rounded agreement that provides hard-earned cost-of-living increases while keeping health insurance expenses reasonable for working families,” said CSEA President Danny Donohue. “This contract is the product of members negotiating as a team for what is fair, and it recognizes the exceptional value of our members’ innumerable contributions across the state. Our dedicated public-sector employees are the often-unrecognized backbone of our communities.”

    The five-year agreement includes the following provisions:

    • Yearly 2 percent wage increases (with retroactive pay)
    • Improvements to the longevity payment structure
    • Modest increases in health insurance co-payments
    • Double-time overtime pay in the Offices of Mental Health and People with Developmental Disabilities to control the excessive mandated overtime rampant in that sector.

    The Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA) is the largest public-sector union in New York, representing more than 60,000 state employees. CSEA’s members come from all walks of life and provide skilled, valuable support to the public, including road maintenance and construction services, waste management, transportation, school district administrative support, mental health services, probation and public safety services and so much more. CSEA’s role is to give workers a voice on the job, ensuring fair and safe work practices for working people across all of New York.

    -30-


    June 20, 2017
    Governor Cuomo announces five-year contract agreement with CSEA

    ALBANY — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that his administration has reached a five-year contract agreement with the Civil Service Employees Association. CSEA represents over 60,000 state government employees across New York.

    “The contract agreement reached today is a major step forward for the state and the thousands of public servants who work tirelessly each and every day to make New York the strong leader that it is,” Governor Cuomo said. “This agreement is fair for taxpayers and fair for our work force, and will keep New York moving forward for years to come. I thank everyone who made this contract agreement possible and I look forward to our continued work together.”

    “CSEA and the Governor’s administration worked to produce a tentative agreement that is fair to public service workers and taxpayers alike. We held the line, in a very tough environment, in order to provide a comprehensive health insurance program that protects working families across the state, and pay increases that help working families keep up with the rising cost of living,” CSEA President Danny Donohue said. “It is an agreement earned through tenacity and hard work, which provides long-term stability for workers and the daily operations of our state. We are very proud to have reached this point for our members who often go unrecognized for the contributions they make in our communities every day.”

    The contract must now be approved and ratified by CSEA membership, and authorizing legislation is expected to be passed before the end of the legislative session.

    -30-


    March 16, 2017
    CSEA members help New York weather the storm

    ALBANY — On March 14, 2017, Winter Storm Stella dumped more than two feet of snow on much of New York state, leading to blizzard conditions, as well as record-breaking snowfall in parts of the state.

    While many New Yorkers were home safe and warm, CSEA members employed by the state Department of Transportation, county and municipal highway and public works departments and numerous health, human services, emergency responder and corrections agencies were on the job providing vital services.

    In the days before the storm, CSEA members prepared for the snowfall by pre-treating roads, and ensuring adequate supplies of items such as salt solution, highway vehicles and sandbags were ready for action.

    As the storm hit, CSEA members worked tirelessly at clearing the blinding snow and treating the roads, clearing the way for emergency vehicles and other CSEA members to get to the jobs that provide essential services for all of New York.

    “While we can’t control the weather, we can do all we can to support the state Department of Transportation and local government workers whose efforts before, during and after the storm not only quickly got our roads back to normal, but helped keep our communities safe,” CSEA President Danny Donohue said. “I can’t emphasize enough the importance of ALL the services that our members provide during storms like this. They literally go into the eye of the storm to keep their neighbors safe. Please join me in thanking our workers who sacrifice time with their families to go out into extreme weather to serve all of us.”

    -30-


    Jan. 18, 2017
    CSEA President Danny Donohue slams Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2017-18 state budget proposal

    ALBANY — “The governor’s proposed budget for the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) shows a reckless disregard for existing clients and the state work force trying to care for them. Governor Cuomo thumbs his nose at the state work force and tells them to do more with less – again. At the same time, the waiting list for services continues to grow, with more than 11,000 families waiting in need of services. Families in need don’t care about a $70 million gondola ride at the state fair. They care about services for their loved ones,” said CSEA President Danny Donohue.

    More than 4,300 positions have been lost since 2008, forcing nearly a decade of mandatory overtime, with an all-time high of more than 45 percent of OPWDD employees working overtime.

    According to the New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s 2016 New York State Agencies’ Use of Overtime report, between 2007 and 2015, overtime totaled more than $4.8 billion, with 2015 expenditures alone reaching $716 million.

    The governor’s 2017-18-budget proposal outlines hundreds more jobs lost in mental health services, exacerbating the problem.

    “On top of this breakdown, state mental health services have shifted, along with the blame and cost, placing a burden on local governments – the very same local governments the governor is trying to reduce and control. Municipalities have already done whatever is necessary to meet service demands in the face of zero growth budgets, a .68 percent tax cap and an incentivized tax freeze. The idea that New York’s high taxes are due to excess municipal spending is just misleading and not based in reality,” Donohue said.

    As options run out, all that is left to cut is vital services such as emergency response or child protective services or consolidating governments, which residents have already indicated they do not want.

    “At a time when the governor seems to have an endless flow of dollars to failed economic development programs like START-UP NEW YORK (now renamed the Excelsior Business Program) the legislature shouldn’t be complicit in this reckless budget,” said Donohue.

    -30-


Rally for workers’ rights in NYC on Feb. 24

The Janus v. AFSCME case will soon be heard before the U.S. Supreme Court. The ruling in this case, expected later this year, is predicted to have an immediate impact on us as unionists.

Please join us in New York City on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018 for a rally in Foley Square. We’ll gather with other brothers and sisters from other unions, as well as CSEA activists from other regions across the state. This is an important show of solidarity in the face of unrelenting attacks on labor.

We have a bus traveling to the rally from the Southern Region, which will pick up CSEA passengers in Pomona at 9 a.m. and White Plains at 9:20 a.m. before heading to New York City. The bus will depart Foley Square at 4 p.m. for the return trip. A second bus traveling from Albany will make a stop at the Newburgh Mall. That bus is scheduled to pick up members in Newburgh at 9 a.m and depart Foley Square at 3 p.m.

Download printable fliers here for the Pomona and White Plains bus and for the Newburgh bus.

For more info or to sign up, call Political Action Coordinator Chris Ludlow at (845) 831-1000.

This Week in Albany

Week ending January 19, 2018

Executive Budget Released

Governor Cuomo presented a $168 billion state budget for 2018-2019. The Governor’s budget would close a $4 billion deficit through various cuts and new revenue.

Here is a short summary of the proposals in the budget:

 

Revenue / Taxes

The Governor has raised the possibility of amending State tax law to address the limits on the deductibility of state and local taxes (SALT) imposed by the recently-passed federal tax reform law, though none of these proposals are included in the Executive Budget at this time. Possibilities include shifting taxes from a personal income tax to a payroll tax or creating new state-run charitable organizations. CSEA is reviewing these proposals at this time.

The budget includes the following revenue increases:

  • Collecting sales tax on all internet purchases. A portion of this tax would go to local governments;
  • A tax on opioids to help combat the opioid crisis;  
  • A tax of 14% on health insurance windfall profits;
  • A tax on vaping liquid, similar to cigarette taxes;
  • A $120 inspection fee for the Department of Transportation (DOT) to inspect for-profit passenger carriers.

CSEA supports these revenue increases.


State Operations

Funding for State operations is essentially held flat. In spite of that, many agencies are held harmless from cuts and will see an increase in positions.

Budget proposals regarding state operations include:

Adding Employees

Several agencies will see an increase in full-time-equivalent (FTE) positions, including:

  • The Department of Health (DOH): DOH will be adding 381 FTEs. These new positions will be used to help with the continuing State takeover of local administration of Medicaid (200 positions), provide operational support within the Office of Primary Care and Health Systems Management and the Office of Public Health (142 positions), and to provide necessary resources to review Adult Home applications and provide background checks for Health Home Care Managers serving vulnerable populations (39 positions);

  • The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV): DMV will be adding 89 positions to help the State meet federal Real ID requirements;
  • The Department of Transportation (DOT): DOT will be adding 70 positions for snow and ice removal and highway maintenance.

CSEA supports these investments in the State workforce.


OCFS

The budget proposes closing the Ella McQueen reception center in Brooklyn, which is operated by Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS). The budget would eliminate the required one-year notice of closure and move forward with closing this facility after 30-days notice. CSEA opposes the closure and the elimination of the one-year notice.

The budget would re-authorize the “Close to Home” program for five years. This program has a history of being unsafe, with many juveniles going AWOL and committing crimes while away from the facility where they are supposed to be housed. CSEA will advocate for changes to this program.


OMH

The budget calls for the reduction of 275 full-time equivalent positions within Office of Mental Health (OMH) adult services programs. These positions will be reduced through attrition, but there are currently no details on where these reductions will come from.

There are no proposed facility closures in the budget, but the budget includes language that would allow OMH to close up to 400 State-operated inpatient beds. The budget has included this language in each of the last several years. While some beds have been closed, OMH has never reached the 400 bed limit. CSEA opposes a reduction in OMH staff and a reduction in the number of State-operated beds in the mental health system.


OPWDD

The Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) will not see any significant cuts, an improvement over recent years. Additionally, funding will be provided for CSEA’s care pilot programs. CSEA supports the continued funding of these programs, which provide valuable services to OPWDD clients.


Wadsworth Lab

The budget includes $600 million to build a new Wadsworth Laboratory somewhere in the Capital District. The specifics of the plan are not yet known.


SUNY, SUNY Hospitals, and Community Colleges

Funding for the State University of New York (SUNY) will increase by $116 million over last year. Community College funding is held flat at $2,747 per full time equivalent student, but will see an overall reduction of $22 million because of declining enrollment.

The budget proposes eliminating the $78.6 million State subsidy to SUNY hospitals and replacing it with capital funds. CSEA will fight to get this subsidy back.

 

Local Governments

The budget holds funding for local governments (Aid and Incentives to Municipalities) flat at $715 million. In addition, the budget would make the county-wide shared service panels created in last year’s budget permanent. No AIM funding is tied to these panels, and there are no financial penalties for a county that does not put forward a plan.

There is $100 million included in the budget for local government expenses in complying with “Raise the Age.” CSEA supports this funding because it will help county probation departments that will see an increased workload under “Raise the Age.”

Education

Education funding would be increased by 3%, or $769 million.

Library aid would be cut by $4 million, with an additional $10 million cut to building aid. CSEA opposes these cuts to libraries.

The budget would also allow school districts to equip their buses with cameras that would record anyone who passes a stopped school bus. The information would be sent to a law enforcement agency, which could then issue a ticket. This proposal would increase safety around school buses and provide additional revenue to school districts, and CSEA supports it.

 

Health Care

The budget would increase the Medicaid budget by $1.7 billion.

The budget also fully funds a cost-of-living increase for direct care workers across multiple agencies. CSEA supports this proposal.

 

Child Care

The budget would increase child care funding by $7 million. This amount was cut last year in the budget. CSEA supports increased investments in child care.

 

Infrastructure

Funding for the Consolidated Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS) and Marchiselli program are held flat at $438.1 million and $39.7 million, respectively. The budget proposal does not include the additional $65 million for local highway and bridge projects for “extreme winter recovery” that was included in last year’s budget. CSEA supports investments in local highway and bridge maintenance, and would support the restoration of funding for winter storm recovery.

 

Other Proposals

The budget includes a proposal for ensuring that all levels of government have policies in place to address sexual harassment. The budget proposes to forbid the state or local government from paying any costs associated with a financial settlement of an employee who is accused of sexually harassing a fellow employee. In addition, the state, public authorities, and all local governments would be required to develop a standardized reporting and investigations policy for complaints of sexual harassment.


Retirees

The budget would cap the State’s reimbursement of standard Medicare Part B premiums to $134 per month and eliminating the State reimbursement of Medicare Income-Related Monthly Adjustment Amount (IRMAA). CSEA strongly opposes increasing costs for retirees.

CSEA is continuing to review the budget legislation and proposals. Please check our website for more information on the Executive Budget proposal and its impact on CSEA members as it becomes available.

 

At a Glance

CSEA will be testifying at the Joint Legislative Budget Hearing on Workforce Development next Wednesday, January 24. The hearing starts at 2:30PM.

The legislature will also be holding hearings on higher education, housing, and transportation next week and will be in session for two days.


Federal Shutdown

At the time of this writing, it appeared that the federal government would be heading for a shutdown for the first time since 2013.

The House of Representatives passed a short-term spending bill late on Thursday. The bill that passed the House would fund the government through February 16, fund the Children’s Health Insurance Plan for six years, and delay or suspend several “Obamacare” taxes. The bill would not address protections for immigrants who came to the United States as children, a major concern of Democrats.

The bill faces a steep climb in the Senate, where 60 votes are needed to pass legislation. Many Democratic Senators oppose the bill passed by the House, mainly because of its lack of immigration provisions, and several Republican Senators either oppose the bill or oppose the continued passage of short-term budget extenders.

 

Congress has until midnight on Friday to reach an agreement. Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available.

Retirement seminar

If you are thinking about retiring, you’ll want to consider attending the Long Island Region One Retirement Seminar. It’s a great way to gather information that will help you with the transition. Call the Long Island Region office at 631-462-0030 to register.

Retirement Seminar 5.12.18[2]

Grievance Representation workshop

If you are interested in learning more about contracts and how to properly represent a member during the grievance process, the Grievance Representation workshop is for you. Here are two new announcements for the training. Call the Long Island Region office at 631-462-0030 to register.

LGPSG March 20-21, 2018-Medford-AV

 

LGPSG March 27-28, 2018-Mineola-ZC

Skills for Success Spring 2018 Class Catalog Now Available

NYSCSEA

WNY– The NYS & CSEA Partnership for Education and Training has announced its Spring 2018 “Skills for Success” course schedule for CSEA represented employees.

To view the course catalog, please visit the website right here and here.

To download flyers, just click on images below.

Skills for Success Flyer - Western Region 6-page-001

Skills for Success Flyer - Western Region 6-page-002

Skills for Success Flyer - Western Region 6-page-003

CSEA/NYS Unified Court System Welfare Benefit

The application page is temporarily unavailable.
Please try back in the late afternoon on Wednesday, January 17.

Occupational Safety & Health Epidemiologist

CSEA is seeking resumes for an Occupational Safety and Health Epidemiologist based in the Albany, New York Headquarters with statewide responsibilities. The position reports to the Director of Occupational Safety and Health and is responsible to review, analyze and identify trends in occupational safety and health data and work with appropriate individuals to implement hazard controls and other workplace interventions to reduce injuries and illnesses.  The position is also responsible for departmental communications to enhance the safety and health needs of the union membership. Salary $62,994.

Qualifications:  Graduate of an accredited four-year college or university with a degree in Occupational Epidemiology or occupational safety and health related fields or labor relations. OR An Associates Degree with five years of acceptable full-time work experience related to occupational epidemiology or occupational safety and health or labor relations. OR A satisfactory combination of experience, education and training as determined by CSEA.

Candidate must have a valid New York State Driver’s license and car available for business use.

Submit resume to Director of Human Resources, PO Box 7125, Capitol Station, Albany, NY 12224 or email cseajobs@cseainc.org.  Please note OSHE on all correspondence.

Equal Opportunity Employer.

This Week in Albany

Week ending January 12, 2018

At a Glance

Governor Cuomo will present his 2018-19 Executive Budget proposal at 1pm on Tuesday. A summary of the proposal will be included in next week’s “This Week in Albany,” and stay tuned to our website for more updates as they become available.

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

 

Governor Releases 2018 Women’s Agenda

Governor Cuomo released a 30-part agenda this week to advance equality and promote opportunity for women and girls in the areas of health, safety, the workplace, and family.

Some of the proposals address combating sexual harassment in the workplace, extending human rights law protections to all public school students, closing the gender wage gap, increasing child care subsidies by $7 million over last year’s budget, and establishing the child care availability task force that was created by legislation passed in 2017.

Many of the proposals were also included in the Governor’s State of the State speech.


Nominee Chosen for Senate Special Election

While no Special Election has been scheduled yet for the Senate seat vacated by new Westchester County Executive George Latimer, Democrats have chosen their nominee for when that election is eventually called. At a convention of party leaders, Assemblywoman Shelly Mayer (D-Yonkers) was chosen to be the Democratic candidate.

Republicans have not yet selected a candidate.

It is widely expected that Governor Cuomo will call a Special Election for the 11 seats currently vacant across the state legislature after the state budget is finalized in late March.

 

Incidents with State Legislators

Assemblywoman Pamela Harris (D-Brooklyn) was indicted on federal corruption charges this week for alleged fraud following Superstorm Sandy. Harris, who was first elected to the Assembly in 2015, has not indicated if she will resign the seat.

Additionally, a former staffer has accused Senate Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) leader Jeff Klein of sexual misconduct. While Klein denies the accusation, Governor Cuomo and several legislators have called for an investigation into the allegations.

 

Martin Luther King, Jr.

As we recognize the holiday for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday on Monday, it is important to remember his ties to the labor movement. In 1968, Dr. King gave his life in Memphis, Tennessee, to help sanitation workers represented by AFSCME to come together to win freedom and dignity on the job.