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Working in a CSEA-represented workplace?

Gain the CSEA Advantage!

If you work in a CSEA-represented workplace/job, you can gain the CSEA Advantage by joining our union. It’s an investment in you and your family’s future.

Here are some of the ways gaining the CSEA Advantage benefits YOU and your family!

Better Wages and Benefits

Our bosses know who is and isn’t a member. That’s why every worker who joins our union makes us stronger. It gives us more leverage in contract talks to negotiate better wages and benefits, and to prevent management from taking away benefits or making us pay more for what we already have. Our wages and benefits are locked in by our union contract, where they cannot be changed at will.

Career Advancement

Our union has many opportunities available to help you advance your career and enhance your livelihood. From offering to Civil Service Test Preparation assistance, job skills training and apprenticeship programs, and contract language giving you the rights to bid on higher-paying positions, we’re all about helping you get ahead and earn more. Learn more.

A Voice in Your Workplace

You want to make sure your workplace concerns are addressed. So do we. Being a union member allows you to raise your workplace concerns without putting yourself out there alone and making yourself a target. CSEA can work on your behalf to voice those concerns collectively, in labor-management forums that get changes made. It means always having someone who has your back in making our workplace better.

Collective Power

The CSEA Advantage is all about taking advantage of our collective strength in numbers. That’s what unions are founded on. When one person fights alone, it’s easy to squash their struggle. When dozens, hundreds, or even thousands join them, it means that when we fight, we win! Being a CSEA member taps you into an amazing network of available support and people power!

Retirement Security

Retirement is about securing your financial future for you and your family, and your defined pension system is a big part of that. CSEA will always fight to ensure that when you’re ready to retire, you and your family have retirement security. CSEA pushes back against officials who want to diminish public pensions. We continue to work to improve public pension benefits for members.

Family Security

We all want to ensure our families are well-provided for. Knowing we have jobs with guaranteed wages and benefits is important. So is knowing we’re protected against workplace mistreatment. Knowing your livelihood is protected gives you and your family security which helps you sleep at night. Having exclusive access to affordable group insurance plans also provides financial security for your family in times of need.

Safer Workplaces

You can’t put a value on your health and safety, but wages and benefits don’t matter as much if you can’t go home safe and healthy at the end of the day. CSEA has many resources to ensure your health and safety. Chief among them are the staff professionals in our union’s Occupational Safety and Health Department, who are laser-focused on your workplace safety and health.

Job Protections

We hope you never need the job protections CSEA offers, but you never know when a boss might treat you unfairly or violate your rights. If and when that happens, CSEA is there when you need us to protect your due process rights and offer representation (only for union members) in any disciplinary actions. When such things happen, you want someone who has your back.

Money-Saving Benefits

Our union works hard to put money back in your pocket. One way we do so is through our outstanding array of exclusive, member-only benefits. These are benefits negotiated outside our contract, based on our group buying power, to provide discounts and savings of which only dues-paying members can take advantage. Some of these programs can actually save you more money than what you pay in dues. Learn more.

What makes CSEA different?

Why is CSEA the union workers want to join?


CSEA isn’t just one of New York’s largest unions for workers in public service with a growing presence in the private sector, we’re the union workers WANT to join. Here’s why:

Our size makes us stronger: With strength in numbers, being part of one of New York’s largest statewide unions gives you more power. When you join CSEA you become part of a union family, nearly 300,000 strong — that network allows members all over New York State to support each other’s struggles and have each others’ backs. That network also comes with support and solidarity from our 1.6 million union sisters and brothers in our International Union, AFSCME, and from all the unions that make up the AFL-CIO.

Better legal representation: CSEA has an in-house Legal Department staffed with attorneys who are experts in public sector labor law, whose track record of wins on behalf of members is unbeatable! If and when you need/qualify for union legal representation, you can be assured you’ll have the best labor attorneys to have your back, protect your due process rights, and it won’t cost you a penny more than your membership!

Important note: non-members in CSEA bargaining units are NOT legally entitled to union representation in disciplinary actions. You must be a dues-paying member to receive such representation.

An expert focus on workplace Safety & Health: Workplace safety matters. Most unions don’t have even one safety professional on staff. We’ve got many in our highly-trained and experienced Occupational Safety and Health Department! We’ve got two industrial hygienists, a certified safety professional, a safety management specialist, an epidemiologist, a peer-network trainer, and a network of Occupational Safety and Health Specialists throughout the state. CSEA’s in-house experts have the credentials and are available to leaders and management to make sure our workplaces are as safe and healthy as possible. They also work with a statewide network of peer trainers; safety activists trained to enhance workplace safety.

Members run our union: CSEA is a member-run union. That means when members get involved, we can tap into an incredible collective power to make things happen and improve our working conditions. As members, we have the final say on approving our union contract, and we volunteer to step up and represent our co-workers as union leaders. CSEA has a Member Engagement division that works hard to get and keep members active involved in our union, because we know it makes us stronger and more effective.

The best-trained union officers and activists: Although most of our elected union officers and appointed activists are union members serving in a voluntary capacity, we spend a great deal of time, energy, and money making sure they are well-trained and up to date on the latest and best ways to best represent you. We have an amazing Education, Training and Leadership Development Department that offers regular trainings and makes sure our officers and other workplace representatives are the most skilled on your behalf.

The best contract negotiators: When it comes to the people negotiating and enforcing your contract, you want the best, and we’ve got them. Our Labor Relations Specialists are all highly-trained and experienced in public sector labor relations, contract negotiations, and other workplace representation issues. They mentor and advise our union leaders and are the direct link between your workplace representatives and CSEA’s extensive statewide and national network of benefits and services. Backing up our negotiators is our union’s Research Department, staffed with professionals with expertise in Civil Service Law, budget analysis and costing out contract proposals.

Better messaging to support your issues and struggles: Our union’s award-winning Communications Department professionals work throughout the state to spread the union’s message far and wide, as well as keeping union members informed and involved. They publish CSEA’s monthly newspaper, The Work Force, which all union members receive, and work with all our union’s leadership and staff to make sure that our voices are heard and our issues addressed.

Advanced technology to support members: From our state-of-the-art Member Solutions Center call center that expertly handles your calls with trained specialists, our My CSEA mobile app that keeps you in touch with CSEA on your mobile devices, and our Information Technology Department that powers our membership systems and securely manages our data, CSEA has invested a great deal in keeping our systems at the leading edge of technology to power and enhance our union’s member interactions.

Health Benefits expertise: CSEA has a Health Benefits Department with staff professionals who stay up to date on the fast-changing landscape of health care plans and benefits. They are available to work with negotiators and management to conduct cost analyses on health benefit plans to help preserve the best benefits to members at the lowest cost to workers and taxpayers. They can also provide health plan comparisons to help prevent management from placing an unfair burden on workers for their health care coverage costs.

Political muscle to protect us and make positive changes: We exist in a system where the decision-makers who control our working conditions and our livelihoods are elected politicians. We HAVE to be involved in politics, in Albany and Washington, to do our best advocating on behalf of members. CSEA has a very powerful Legislative and Political Action Department, with expert staff working with a committed group of member activists, who make sure our legislative goals are reached and that those making decisions about our work and workplaces hear and act on our concerns and protect our livelihoods.

We support our Retirees: CSEA has an entire Retiree Division focused on advocacy on behalf of retired workers. CSEA fights hard on their behalf in Albany and Washington to maintain their retirement security by protecting their pensions and Social Security from being diminished. We also provide them opportunities to be involved in our union, as well as access to many benefits and services!

Buying power: Being larger means we have increased buying power when it comes to offering valuable discount programs to members. Every dollar we save you is more money in your pocket! We tap into our even larger affiliations with AFSCME and the AFL-CIO to magnify that buying power to deliver even greater savings! Our dedicated Member Benefits Department staff work hard to return even more of your money to you with exclusive member-only benefits! Members who have taken advantage of our money-saving programs often report saving more money through our union benefits than what they spend in dues.

Competitive costs: The cost of CSEA membership is determined on a sliding scale based on your income, so everyone pays their fair share. Compared to other unions, CSEA’s rates are among the lowest cost for the value you get returned to you. CSEA has strict Financial Standards Codes governing how members’ money may be spent, and we train our union treasurers to be responsible stewards of union funds. Consider what you pay to belong as an investment, in you and your family’s future.

“Doesn’t everyone automatically receive all the union benefits from our contract, whether they join the union or not?”

- Non-member trying to save a few bucks

What do I miss out on if I don’t join?


Q: Why pay to belong? If I work in a union-represented job, aren’t I covered by all the benefits of the union contract anyway, whether I sign up to join or not?

A: It’s not that simple. Some anti-union people might try and trick you into not joining, saying you’ll get all the benefits of the contract anyway. While it’s true that most benefits offered through union contracts cover members and non-members alike, there are many benefits you gain ONLY by joining and becoming a dues-paying member. That’s why we call it the CSEA Advantage.

Here’s what you’ll miss out on if you don’t join our union:

Full REPRESENTATION AND PROTECTION: New York State law says that if you don’t belong to the union as a member, the union is not required to provide you with representation in non-contractual matters, such as disciplinary actions that may be taken against you. If you’re a member, you’re entitled to have a union representative accompany you to any disciplinary investigations/hearings. If charges are brought, you may be eligible for representation by a union attorney at no extra cost. If you’re NOT a member, you’re on your own. Here are some of the types of work-related proceedings for which you cannot have CSEA representation if you haven’t joined (although CSEA reserves the right to negotiate individual representation agreements for these matters.)

    • Representation in Justice Center matters
    • Representation in Administrative matters – DHR, EEOC, Expungement hearings
    • Representation in State Court or Federal Court matters
    • Representation in Licensing hearings
    • Representation in Civil Service Section 71, 72, and 73 proceedings

Personal LEGAL REPRESENTATION: CSEA offers many personal legal services outside the negotiated contract. Here are some of the types of proceedings in which you cannot have CSEA personal representation if you haven’t joined:

    • Legal representation for workers’ compensation issues
    • Legal representation for personal injury
    • Legal representation for NYS Disability Retirement
    • Legal representation for Veterans Disability Benefits

Having a VOICE IN OUR CONTRACT: If you’re not a member, you cannot vote on our union contract, which governs all the terms and conditions of our workplace. No vote = no voice.

Having YOUR SAY IN WHO REPRESENTS YOU: If you’re not a member, you cannot vote in union officer elections. You give up your voice in our union democracy, who runs our union, and who speaks on your behalf for CSEA.

Taking A LEADERSHIP ROLE in our union: If you’re not a member, you cannot run for union office. You may want to make changes to our union, but you can’t do it from the outside looking in.

Attending union MEETINGS AND FUNCTIONS: Many union meetings and functions, unless otherwise designated by law, are for union members only.

Member-only SAVINGS AND BENEFITS: So many member benefits that fall outside our negotiated contract are EXCLUSIVELY FOR MEMBERS ONLY. This includes such programs as:

And much more. We can save you lots of money by taking advantage of these programs, but not if you don’t belong.

Still have questions about joining?

Get your questions answered.


CSEA Member Solutions Center

Thinking of joining but have questions you want answered? That’s great. Speak to one of the specialists in our Member Solutions Center at 800-342-4146 or email our Member Solutions Center.