Assistance Fund Proposal

Final Report and Recommendations

Ad Hoc Committee to Review the Laid Off Members’ Assistance Fund Proposal

Presented to the CSEA Delegates October, 2013

Executive Summary

Committee charge
History
Proposal to amend CSEA State Constitution

Overview of Meeting discussions
Guest Speakers
Download a printable version of the report

Executive Summary

CSEA members have experienced an increased number of position reductions where jobs have been eliminated and members find themselves working in lower paid jobs or unemployed.

Believing that there is a need to provide assistance to the growing number of CSEA represented employees who are being laid off in record numbers, Scott Gartland, President and delegate of CSEA Judiciary Local 333 brought forward a proposal at the 2012 CSEA annual delegates meeting in Washington, D.C.

Brother Gartland’s proposal focused on amending CSEA State Constitution by adding a new sub-section (g) to Section 2 of Article IV Finance in order to create a monetary fund to provide assistance to members who are displaced from their positions and become unemployed.

The proposed amendment was withdrawn when the idea was referred to Committee for further study.

President Danny Donohue appointed an eight-member “Ad Hoc Committee to Review the Laid-Off Members Assistance Fund Proposal”.

I was appointed chair of this committee. I would like to thank the committee members for their service, interest and input — Sheila Sears.

Committee members included:

  • Sheila Sears, Chairperson (CSEA Local 334 – Region 5)
  • James (Seamus) Barnes (CSEA Local 425 – Region 6)
  • Abraham Benjamin (CSEA Local 401 – Region 2)
  • Scott Gartland (CSEA Local 333 – Region 4)
  • Jerry Laricchiuta (CSEA Local 830 – Region 1)
  • Alice Morgan (CSEA Local 825 – Region 5)
  • Todd Schmidt (CSEA Local 856 – Region 3)
  • William (Bill) Walsh (CSEA Local 852 – Region 1)
  • Joe McMullen, (CSEA Officer Liaison)
  • Don Kelly (Staff Advisor)

 

COMMITTEE CHARGE

“To review, discuss and make recommendations regarding a proposal to amend Article IV (Finance) of the CSEA Constitution regarding the suggested creation of a “CSEA Laid-off Members’ Assistance Fund”.

This proposal was submitted by CSEA Judiciary Local 333 President Scott Gartland. The proposal was reviewed and considered by the CSEA Delegate body at its 102nd Annual Delegates meeting in Washington, D.C. on Oct. 18, 2012. The proposal was referred to an Ad Hoc Committee which was created to study this proposal.

The Committee was charged with the task of reviewing, discussing and developing recommendations as to how to provide information, assistance and guidance to CSEA members, local officers and staff who are affected by position abolitions and layoffs.

The Committee met four (4) times on March 21, May 14, June 25 and Aug. 7.

The Committee concluded that the establishment of a monetary layoff assistance fund is economically not a viable option. Several alternative recommendations, however, were agreed upon.

The Committee also concluded that there are other ways non-monetary in nature where CSEA can assist its laid off members by providing guidance and direction in different formats: (i.e.: via CSEA’s Home web site page, layoff system presentation on DVD, social media, in person live presentations, and in the form of hard copy information publications.

The consensus of the committee was that while CSEA staff and officers have done a good job of making information regarding layoff process and the identification of member-only benefits that are available to laid-off workers, more needs be done in order to make this information available to affected members and the officers of their respective locals and units. Additionally CSEA needs to make sure that the availability of this information is communicated routinely to Officers as a component part of Officer Trainings, at conferences and online.

In order to accomplish what is stated above the Committee has proposed the following list of recommendations to the CSEA President.


The Ad Hoc Committee Member’s Recommendations include:

Production of an information DVD regarding the Civil Service Layoff Process:

  • Produced through the cooperation of the CSEA Communications Department, Education and Training Department , and the Research Division of the CSEA Contract Administration Department
  • Creation of chapters specifically designed for various levels of government
  • Members could view the chapter that pertains to their employer type
  • Copies of the DVD would be available for locals and units
  • The presentations would also be made available on social media with a clear directive for viewers to visit updated information on CSEA’s main web site www.cseany.org
  • Mention of available Layoff resources at CSEA Officer Trainings with a brief reference hand out to be kept with the Officer’s manual.
  • Layoff process seminars would be conducted as needed at state, region and local level conferences.
  • If necessary conduct training via the CSEA Video Conferencing system and or via webinars.
  • Establish an online training module regarding the layoff/recall processes and resource information related to how officers and members deal with the reality of layoffs.
  • Current and annually updated written layoff process materials would be made available on CSEA’s web page.
  • Advertise the existence of the Work Institute publication titled: “Picking up the pieces – CSEA Layoff Service Guide.”
  •  Clarification must be made regarding the purpose of, eligibility and the application process for the CSEA 1-year dues free membership program for laid off members.
  •  Make sure that the Next Wave members are aware of these services and materials.


History

In 2010-2011 there was a reduction in the CSEA represented work force among Unified Court System (UCS) employees.

UCS Local 333 President Scott Gartland felt that there was a disconnection between CSEA (the union) and the work force with respect to guiding the affected employees through the complex layoff procedures and providing of information regarding benefits and rights beyond layoff.

Information was readily available on the CSEA website as well as through staff-provided workshops; however there was a lack of knowledge regarding exactly how to access it when needed.

The author of this proposal, in his justification, emphasized the feeling, from an affected member’s perspective, that goes with learning that one’s employment situation has either just been reduced or eliminated altogether.

Scott posed: Imagine how you would feel if you were notified tomorrow that you were being laid off. What would be your biggest concern?  What would be your first step and what kind of assistance would you expect from your union?

The proposal was aimed at amending the CSEA By-Laws in order to permit CSEA funds at the state and local levels in order to assist the brothers and sisters who find themselves’ facing loss of their employment and source of income.

Constitution and By-Law Committee response and recommendation:

While the proposal made by Brother Gartland is indeed well intended, the idea of creating a stand-alone fund for the purpose of monetarily aiding laid off members is simply not fiscally realistic at this time due to the increased number of employees being laid off coupled with the loss of revenue experienced by CSEA.

The Constitutions and By-Laws Committee also stated that to establish a fund as proposed, CSEA would have the added fiscal burden of administering the fund (additional staff would be needed), the establishment of an internal approval mechanism including the establishment of eligibility standards and rules as well as a system of monitoring the funds.

The Constitution and By-Laws Committee did agree that Officers and staff of CSEA, at all levels, should provide information guidance and assistance whenever the need arises.

The CSEA Constitution and By-Laws Committee recommended that the delegate body vote no.

CREATION OF THE AD-HOC COMMITTEE

Delegate Action:

After hearing the justification for the amendment to the CSEA Constitution, and in light of the Constitution and By-Laws Committee’s recommendation, the resolution was referred to an Ad Hoc Committee consisting of members selected for review of this proposal by President Donohue.

President Donohue’s Action:  In response to the referral of this matter to an Ad Hoc Committee, determination President Donohue created “The CSEA Ad Hoc Committee to Review the Laid-Off Members’ Assistance Fund Proposal.”

The Committee was comprised of eight (8) members (listed above) who are officers within various state locals in both the Executive and Judiciary branches as well as local government locals from all six CSEA regions.

Ad Hoc Committee Meeting Dates:

The Ad Hoc Committee met four (4) times since it was appointed.
The meeting dates were as follows:
1.)  March 21, 2013    2.)   May 14, 2013  3.)  June 25, 2013  4.)  Aug. 7, 2013

Committee Overview of Discussions

From the first minutes of the first meeting the Ad Hoc Committee looked seriously but realistically at the prospect of creating a fund that would assist laid off brothers and sisters at a time when every dollar would help.

The reality of CSEA’s own fiscal concerns shifted the conversation, as led by the proposal’s author Scott Gartland, to a more palatable topic of providing members greater assistance and access to information during and after a layoff event.

As an alternative to the creation of a laid off members’ assistance fund where laid off members would receive a sum of money to help bridge the gap between their last paycheck and their first unemployment check, Scott suggested that the committee consider recommending that CSEA financial codes be amended to permit locals and units to expend monies from their respective treasures in order to provide written material and other information concerning the layoff and recall process; benefits that they may be entitled to receive as dues-free members; as well as other employment options.

The Committee discussed what they knew already about information and assistance that CSEA currently offers. The result of that initial conversation shed light on the fact that CSEA needs to do a better job at advertising the resources and information that are currently available in print, through workshops and electronically via the CSEA website.

Brother Gartland, upon the publishing of the Committee’s Final Report and Recommendations, has agreed to withdraw his 2013 proposal to amend the CSEA Constitution.

Video explaining the layoff process:

Scott Gartland explained that when the Unified Court System went through a reduction in force in 2010 -11 he had difficulty obtaining information in which to share with his members. In order to fill a need, Scott attended a CSEA staff presentation of the basics of the reductions in force process.

Using the knowledge and information he obtained at the staff workshop in addition to his own research, Scott made a video of the layoff process. Once completed, Scott copied and distributed his presentation, on DVD, to the members of his local, especially those that were geographically distant work locations within his local.

The response to Scott’s video was very positive.

Based on Scott’s success in creating, copying and distributing his own DVD to affected members and officers the Ad Hoc Committee decided that a well-planned, produced and distributed video on DVD regarding the Civil Service layoff process is something that should be included as one of the Ad Hoc Committee’s top recommendation.

The committee was informed that this specific idea was implemented twice within the last 25 years however the videos, both on VHS, were both determined to be too dated and not keeping with the current technology.

Specifically, a newly produced video would have to be produced in such a way as to permit any member regardless of employer type (E.G.: State Executive, Unified Court System, Municipality [County, City , Town, Village School District, Special District]) to be able to go to the section (chapter) that applies to that employer type.

Essentially there would be four separate layoff workshops filmed and recorded on DVD. A member who wished to view a particular workshop would be able to select the workshop or subject within a workshop and view or repeatedly view whatever section they wish.

The Committee also insisted that the video contain a Question and Answer segment where individuals would ask general pre-prepared questions regarding the lay-off and recall process.

An alternative would be to produce the specific layoff workshops on separate DVDs by employer-type.

The members of the Ad Hoc Committee further recommended that the DVDs be made available to Locals and that additional copies would be made available for a small fee to cover reproduction and mailing costs.

Locals would have the ability to make their own copies as well.

The Ad Hoc Committee also recommended that the presentations once finalized be up loaded to social media such as “YouTube” or be made available for down loading via www.cseany.org.

The presentations on DVD would have the ability to be updated should the need arise.

Layoff- Seminars/workshops:

There was consensus among the committee members that CSEA Regional staff should be well versed in the layoff process and that they should attend training sessions at the Region Office or via the CSEA video Conferencing system.

The Ad Hoc Committee members also expressed concern and a desire for officer/member seminars/workshops that relate information about the layoff ad recall process, as well as benefits that are available to laid-off members who chose to continue their CSEA membership under a 1-year dues free membership.

After a discussion regarding the lack of knowledge among Officers, activists and members about the existence of current CSEA information regarding the layoff process and benefits for dues-free members, the members of the Ad Hoc Committee agreed that such information as well as the ability to request layoff workshops be made available at officer trainings and to the Next Wave activists.

The committee expressed a desire to see a one- or two-page overview of available layoff information and resources to be distributed and kept with the CSEA Officers’ Manual.

Ad Hoc Committee members also suggested that layoff workshops be added to the list of Statewide, Regional, and Local conferences so that the awareness of these programs grows.

In fact, the Ad Hoc Committee members thought that a conference theme among the various State and Regional meetings should be dedicated to officer and members’ awareness about the member’s employer’s fiscal condition.

The members of the Committee believe that such a conference theme could generate several very useful workshops where participants would learn skills needed in the areas of:

  • Prevention of reductions in force and or privatization
  • Fiscal awareness – how to read a proposed and or adopted budget
  • How to mobilize members, other unions and the community around a fiscal fight.
  • The importance of Legislative and Political Action in dealing with a fiscal crises
  • Getting the right people elected to public office
  • How to rally the troops through advertising and the media
  • How the layoff and recall process works

General Hard Copy Publications:

The committee unanimously agreed that CSEA should continue to publish, and make available in hard copy, as well as online, documents and instruction manuals that describe the layoff and recall process.

These reports need to be reviewed and updated annually or as the applicable laws, rules and regulations change.

These documents should be part of Officer, member and staff trainings that should be made available periodically.

Dues-Free Membership and Benefits Offered:

The Committee discussed CSEA’s benevolent policy of permitting laid-off members to continue their relationship with CSEA as “Dues-Free” members for one year followed by a paid Associate membership in order to permit them to continue to participate in the CSEA members-only optional benefits such as auto, group term life, accident and pet insurances.

The Committee discovered that the “Dues-Free” member application requires preferred list status in order to participate.  Upon further investigation the Committee learned that the “Dues-Free’ membership status is offered to any member in good standing who is laid off regardless of whether they have preferred list status or not.

The Committee therefore recommends that the “Dues-Free” membership application be amended to eliminate the preferred list requirement.

Guest Speakers

Throughout the eight months of the Ad Hoc Committee’s existence there were several guest speakers who were invited to attend our meetings to discuss with the members of the Ad Hoc Committee what CSEA indeed has been doing over the past 35-plus years with respect to providing layoff information assistance to CSEA members and officers when the unfortunate need arises.

Guest Speakers included

Steve Alviene – Director of Field and Member Services

  • Steve spoke to the Ad Hoc Committee members  about what his department does when he hears of a reduction in force in terms of useful and applicable information regarding the layoff process plus providing on the ground assistance in: Layoff protocol with respect to Competitive Class employees and (through contract language) Non-Competitive and Labor Class employees
  • Steve committed the services of his department including Regional Field Reps and the Research Department should the need arise.
  • Steve also suggested that webinars may be a logical tool to use in order to get information out to the members.

Elizabeth Asadourian, Director, The Work Institute

  • Met with the Ad Hoc Committee and provided insight to the functions of the Work Institute during times of reductions in force.
  • Liz provided an online demonstration of how members, officers, and staff can access the Work Institute’s booklet titled “Putting the Pieces Together –  CSEA Layoff Service Guide”
  • Liz stated that the guide is available on CSEA’s (cseany.org) home page along with other informational booklets concerning the layoff procedures.
  • The guide contains information and guidance to members and officers regarding what a laid off employee needs to know and where they need to go to receive the assistance they are entitled to.

Steve Madarasz, Director CSEA Communications

  • Steve met with the Ad Hoc Committee to discuss what assistance his department could and would provide should a decision be made to create a multi-chapter video regarding the layoff process.
  • Steve offered his Department’s expertise in producing videos and agreed to work in conjunction with the CSEA Education and Training Department and Research Division in creating the video.

Sharon Lovelady-Hall

  • Sharon addressed the Ad Hoc Committee and discussed what her Department could do regarding the production of a layoff video.
  • Sharon agreed to have the CSEA Education Department work in cooperation with the Communications Department and the Research Division in the production of the video.
  • Sharon also suggested that CSEA seriously consider establishing an online training module regarding the layoff/recall processes and resource information related to how officers and members deal with the reality of layoffs.

 The Ad Hoc Committee Member’s Recommendations

Production of an information DVD regarding the Civil Service Layoff Process:

  • Produced through the cooperation of the CSEA Communications Department, Education and Training Department , and the Research Division of the CSEA Contract Administration Department
  • Creation of chapters specifically designed for various levels of government
  • Members could view the chapter that pertains to their employer type
  • Copies of the DVD would be available for locals and Units
  • The presentations would also be made available on social media (YouTube)