Veterans Day Ceremony Nov. 10

300XBUFFALO — The CSEA Western Region Veterans Committee has scheduled the annual Veterans Day Ceremony for Saturday, November 10 at the Buffalo & Erie County Naval & Military Park, 1 Naval Park Cove, Buffalo, NY 14202.

A regional Air Force Honor Guard plus the Hamburg VFW Post 1419 will be on hand for the observation, plus several local dignitaries who will address the attendees after a gun salute, wreath laying ceremony and a carnation drop.

Refreshments will be served beginning at 10:30 am and a modest lunch will be provided after the 11:00 am program start. CSEA families who attend the ceremony can tour the museum for free in the afternoon.

To download a poster of this event to display at your workplace, please use this link.

For questions and to RSVP, please call 716-691-6555.

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    CSEA Member Benefits at your service

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    WNY– Are you planning a CSEA membership meeting or event in the near future? Would you like to request our Member Benefits Department and family of vendors to attend your event? It’s as easy as submitting an email– just follow these instructions. Here is a simple checklist to guarantee a successful event.

    In an effort to streamline the process, all requests should be made via email to CSEA’s Member Benefit Department at member.benefits@cseainc.org

    In order to increase the chance that the various vendors will be able to attend, or that there is enough time for shipping, please provide a minimum of four weeks notice and include the following event details in your email:

    Local/Unit Name and Number
    Requestor
    Event type – membership meeting, picnic, lunch & learn or other
    Calendar Date
    Location including meeting room and full GPS address
    Is internet access and power available at this location?
    Event start and end time for members
    Vendor start and end time – two hour blocks.
    Number of people expected
    Is this event open to all endorsed CSEA vendors?  If not, please specify the vendors you would like us to notify
    Is there an option to ship supplies directly to the location of the event?  If so, please provide contact name and shipping instructions. 
    RSVP contact and date
    Note if parking, gate or security clearance is involved for entry into the event

    SAMPLE

    SUNY Albany Local 691 Membership Meeting
    September 30, 2016
    11:00 AM – 2:00 PM
    Patroon Room, Campus Center, University at Albany uptown campus, 1200 Washington Avenue, Albany, NY
    Internet access and power is available
    Vendor set-up by 10:45 until lunch at 12:30 PM
    175 members
    ALL VENDORS
    RSVP by 9/21 to Sharon Burns at sburns@sunyalbany.edu or call 442-7814

    Any questions or concerns about scheduling events with vendors and Member Benefits representatives, please contact Latonya Brown at 518-257-1363 or the Member Benefits Department at 518-257-1359 member.benefits@cseainc.org

      Start a Never Quit Conversation Today

      Start a Never Quit Conversation Today

        CSEA Activists Honored at Labor Dinner

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        Kim Whitlock

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

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

        Here is a list of the 2016 honorees:

        The Working Families Advocate of the Year

        • Adam Bello

        The Mother Jones Award for Sacrifice Above and Beyond

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

        Outstanding Achievement in Political Action

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

        The Jim Schmidt Community Solidarity Award

        • CWA Local 1170
        • NYSUT

        The Labor Coalition Advocate of the Year 

        Workforce Development Institute

        • Bob Trouskie & Lynn Freid

        The Jon Garlock Labor Educator of the Year Award

        • Mary Denise Schneider, CWA 1141

        Apprentice Organizer of the Year

        • Christopher Roesch, NALC 210

        Retiree of the Year

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

        Rochester Labor Council, AFL- CIO Labor Day Parade Award

        “Best Message”

        • Justice for Farm Workers

        Rochester Labor Council, AFL- CIO Labor Day Parade Award

        “Best Float”

        • Teamsters Local Union #118

        Rochester Labor Council, AFL- CIO Labor Day Parade Award

        “Most Spirited”

        • Senator Joe Robach and the Monroe County Wolverines

        The Rochester Labor Council, AFL- CIO Lifetime Achievement Award

        • Denise Young, USW, PEF & Metro Justice

          CSEA Monroe County Sheriff Command Unit Ratifies New Deal

          Rochester– On November 18, a majority of members of the CSEA Monroe County Sheriff Command Staff voted to ratify the terms and conditions of a tentative collective bargaining agreement that was reached on September 13. Approximately 32 public safety employees in the supervisory unit were working without a contract since the previous deal expired on December 31, 2012. The vote was a mail-in ballot conducted November 1 through November 10. Of the 31 eligible ballots received, 25 voted yes and 6 voted no.

          The new five-year deal guarantees a 7.5 percent cost of living increase over the life of the contract. Effective after complete ratification, all employees shall receive a bonus of 1.5 percent of their annual base salary to be paid 60 days following the County Executive’s and Monroe County Legislature’s final approval of the agreement.

          Depending on an employee’s hire date, some employees represented by CSEA under this contract will pay a slightly higher contribution percentage for healthcare over time. Additionally, employees who join this bargaining unit after September 13, 2016, must have 20 years of continuous service with the County to qualify for retiree health insurance.

          “We would like to express our sincere appreciation to our CSEA members, staff and county management team for their commitment to the negotiations process,” said CSEA spokesperson Ove Overmyer. He added, “The new agreement required compromise and sacrifice on both sides and we believe it’s respectful to both taxpayers and employees alike.”

          The new contract will expire December 31, 2021.

            Steward Update: Return-to-Work Strategies

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            Ove Overmyer

            WNY– The 2016 fall edition of Steward Update (Vol. 27, No. 5) features an article written by Western Region Communications Specialist Ove Overmyer. The report details strategies and tips for stewards when assisting fellow co-workers who return to work after trauma or tragedy.

            Steward Update is published six times a year by Union Communication Services (UCS) — The Worker Institute at Cornell ILR. To order a subscription of Steward Update, you can go here or call 1-800-321-2545.

            To view or download Ove Overmyer’s article, please-use-this-link.

              Erie County 911 Call Center Employees Ratify New Schedule Agreement

              911Erie County— On October 6, CSEA members employed by Erie County Local 815 Central Police Services 911 call center voted to approve a pilot agreement to create a 12-hour work day schedule. A majority of personnel voted to approve what they consider to be an improvement to their work-life balance. There are 33 CSEA represented employees in the bargaining unit who were eligible to vote on this new agreement.

              The deal between the county administration and the employee union will now implement a schedule of 12-hour shifts aimed at ensuring that no staff member works more than three days in a row, guaranteeing every other weekend off, and sharply reducing or eliminating forced overtime.

              From the start of this year through midsummer, Erie County 911 call-takers reported high levels of staff turnover, high vacancy rates and scheduled vacation time resulted in a dangerous situation in which those being asked to respond to highly stressful crisis calls were forced to work full-time shifts seven or eight days in a row, with some employees working up to 16 hours a day. These employees answer all 911 calls from the City of Buffalo along with all those made from mobile phones throughout the county – more than half a million calls a year.

              Denise Szymura, CSEA Erie County Local 815 President says making this operational change to work schedules will ultimately improve public services and perhaps save a life. She said, “When issues arise in the delivery of public services, especially public safety, it’s a comfort to know we have partners in local government who want the best for our community. This agreement ratified by the call center employees is a win-win scenario for the residents of Erie County.”

              The schedule change will go into effect January 1, 2017 and be implemented on a six month trial basis. Although the county could put the schedule into place sooner, the union and the county has agreed to wait until the beginning of the 2017 to honor existing employee vacation requests through the holiday season.

              download-the-press-release-here

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               CSEA is New York State’s leading union, representing employees of New York State and its counties, towns, villages, school districts, library systems, authorities and public corporations. Together with a growing population of private sector members and retirees, CSEA forms a union 300,000 strong. It is also the largest affiliate (and Local 1000) of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) which, in turn, is one of the largest affiliates of the AFL-CIO.

                A Mother’s Grief Turns to Activism

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                Erie County Probation Officer Debra Smith

                Niagara Falls– As the demographics of opioids and heroin use continue to shift, a growing number of working families whose children have died from overdoses are calling for a change in approach to addressing the crisis. The growing armies of families are now using their influence, anger and grief to cushion the country’s approach to drug use, from altering the language around addiction to prodding government to treat it not as a crime, but as a disease. One of those activists is CSEA member Debra Smith from Erie County, who lost her son to addiction in September of 2015.

                Smith, who is employed by the Erie County Probation Department, told her story as part of a panel discussion at the Western Region Fall Conference on September 17. Her heartbreaking journey of losing a son has taken her from working on the streets of Erie County to the funeral parlor to the halls of the Erie County Legislature to influence funding, humane treatment for those who suffer from addiction, and for the establishment of an Opiate Epidemic Task Force. Smith is making an attempt to educate others about humanizing addiction to hopefully break the social stigma attached to the disease.

                “I am heartbroken. Nathaniel died at 26. He was brilliant, sensitive and kind. He was a loving and gifted person, and he didn’t deserve to die alone,” Smith told fellow conference attendees. “Like many people who experience accidents and injury, he was prescribed Demerol after surgery and became addicted to painkillers. By telling my story, hopefully we can reduce harm by raising awareness, treat the less fortunate with more dignity and spread a little more unconditional love around,” she said.

                New CPS legislation must match social demand for policy changes

                Many CSEA public service workers report the rise in social service caseloads is partly due to the opioid epidemic and the lack of resources dedicated to drug treatment, family services and mental health services here in New York State and nationwide.

                CSEA is calling on Governor Cuomo to sign a bill that would limit the number of cases per month for Child Protective Services workers in an effort to give struggling families the help they so desperately deserve. This was one of the motivating factors why the Western Region Planning and Education Committees thought a panel discussion on the opioid epidemic at the annual Fall Conference was not only timely but a matter of direct urgency.

                The Western Region panel presentation encompassed the progression of opiates through history to present day, the effects of opiates on the mind and body, present day treatment methods and recovery. The workshop discussion also included the experience of law enforcement, a social worker responsible for the treatment and care of recovering addicts and testimony from a recovering addict.

                Western Region activist Kari Wilferth, who is a Social Services caseworker for Ontario County, said the workshop was empowering, emotional and necessary. “My take away from this experience is that heroin does not discriminate. Addiction can happen to anyone—and we all need to be problem solvers when confronting this epidemic.”

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                Debra Smith holds a photo of her son Nathaniel who passed away at age 26. Photo by Ove Overmyer, CSEA ©2016

                -Story and Photos by Ove Overmyer, CSEA ©2016

                  Labor Day message from President Tripi

                  “We Are Stronger Together”

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                  Florence “Flo” Tripi

                  WNY– The American Labor Movement is one of our nation’s most vital stakeholders– having been on the front lines of improving our economy and fighting for safe, good-paying dignified jobs for more than a century. On this Labor Day, we are asking everyone to partner with us to rededicate our efforts and commitment to improving the lives of all working families. We also ask for your partnership to help us bring economic justice to the workplace and to improve social justice outcomes in New York State and all across this great nation.

                  Unionized workers contribute to virtually every sector of our economy and are on the job 24 hours a day 7 days a week—building our infrastructure, teaching our children, caring for the most vulnerable citizens, keeping us safe, staffing our libraries and museums, tending to our parks and waterways, operating our transit systems and entertaining us at sporting venues and at the movies.

                  Work is what we do to better ourselves, our families—our cities, towns, our nation. Work is the initials we scratch in the wet cement of America’s progress. Work is what built this country—and it’s what will build it again. And as work changes we change with it. Work doesn’t separate us—it’s what binds us together as a community—all of us. Work is what connects us—and we are stronger together.

                  We are stronger when we invest in our most precious resource—the people and families who take an active role in making their communities better by delivering on the promise of a job well done. Our economy and way of life is not all about money and profit—it’s about people. It’s about shared prosperity and improving the standard of living for everybody.

                  On this Labor Day, let’s take time to understand our nation’s strengths and challenges. CSEA, along with all workers across this nation, are committed to building a stronger economy—an economy that works for everyone. Let us recommit our fight to support legislation that will give educators and support staff the tools and resources they need to create better outcomes for our kids– because all of our children deserve the opportunity to live up to their potential and live the American Dream. We will continue our fight to create a living wage for people who want to work; to finally join all other industrial nations in guaranteeing Paid Family Leave for working families and at last secure equal pay for women. Let us also recommit our dedication to creating safe clean workplaces—where workers and employers can be more productive and where employees know they will be going home unscathed after a hard day’s work.

                  We know we are stronger as a community when labor laws are enforced and when we support each other in times of crisis. Our right to organize, to collectively bargain, to be safe on the job– and to retire with dignity and security after years of hard work is fundamental to the growth of our nation.

                  On this Labor Day, we ask Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo to fire the law firm Harris Beach and negotiate a labor contract in good faith with all Monroe County employee unions. On this Labor Day, we are asking our federal officials to expand Social Security and Medicare, offer comprehensive immigration reform and support job creation– not more Wall Street speculation. We also ask Governor Cuomo and our government partners to deliver on the promise of taking care of the most vulnerable workers and citizens in our local communities.

                  However, in too many workplaces across this great country of ours— worker rights are under attack by big corporations, municipal governments, moneyed interests and some lawmakers who have forgotten that a strong economy requires a strong work force and vital public services. On this day and every day we stand here before you as community allies— as an integral part and a necessary cog in making America happen. Please remember– the union folks you see on Labor Day marching in your local parade and gathering at your picnics and holiday BBQ’s are your neighbors who keep our economic engine moving in the right direction.

                  Today on Labor Day we proudly stand with each other arm in arm to celebrate all things labor and to protect the rights and values that helped build this great nation and the American middle class. Workers must always have a seat at the table– because when unions are strong– workers are strong. And when workers are strong– America is strong.

                  Flo Tripi is CSEA Western Region 6 President. Western Region 6 represents more than 45,000 workers from a 14 county area of Western New York.

                    CSEA taps Harry Bronson as a champion for working people

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                    CSEA endorses Harry Bronson for NYS Assembly 138AD in a primary election slated for September 13. Photo & story by Ove Overmyer, CSEA ©2016

                    Rochester– Harry Bronson’s passion for social justice, equality and fairness has defined his public service, legal and business careers for almost his entire adult life. He says it’s been a real privilege and honor to serve local citizens since he first got elected to public office over a decade ago. With no second thoughts, CSEA enthusiastically endorses the 2016 re-election campaign of Harry Bronson for NYS Assembly 138AD (Rochester, Henrietta, Chili).

                    Service to community was instilled in Harry at a very early age. One of 12 children, Harry says he knows what it is like for working families to make sacrifices because he came from very humble beginnings. He also understands that working together is how a family and strong communities can grow.

                    After earning his undergraduate degree in Public Justice at SUNY Oswego, Harry went on to the University of Buffalo, where he earned his Juris Doctor. He is a former partner at the firm of Blitman and King, where he focused on anti-discrimination employment law, labor issues, employee benefits and litigation. Harry has also practiced law in the areas of commercial development, industrial revenue bonds and other complex business transactions. As a recognized authority throughout New York State, Harry is often a guest lecturer and keynote speaker on the topics of employment law and public justice issues.

                    Bess Watts, CSEA Monroe County Local President says you couldn’t ask for a better partner in government. “All public officials should strive to be as hard working, talented, diplomatic and dedicated as Harry Bronson. He understands exactly what his constituents need—and we should know. CSEA has thousands of members who live in his district. They tell me how results driven he is—and I know firsthand by personally working with him on several public policy initiatives. He has proven himself to be a problem solver unlike others who attempt to unseat him.”

                    Bronson says that he is very honored and privileged to have served in the NYS Assembly for the past six years, and wants to continue to build on what he has accomplished. In our CSEA candidate endorsement interviews, he stressed the importance of working across party lines to achieve the best possible results for our community— he said it’s the only path to create real progress. “It’s something I have always done throughout my career in public service, and it’s something I will continue to do,” said Bronson.

                    “I can’t continue to serve my community if residents don’t actively take a role in the process,” he added. “And, if you don’t vote, you will lose your voice. It’s time to start investing in the long-term viability of our local communities so that we can ensure a secure future for our families both now and for generations to come. Voter participation is a critical element to that equation. I need you to get out and vote.”

                    Bronson reports that the lack of job opportunities and inability to prepare our youth for successful careers has persisted for decades and our working families have paid the price. He calls this one of our biggest challenges that we face as a state and nation. Bronson has made job creation and economic development plus improving educational outcomes for our youth three of his top priorities entering the new legislative session beginning January 2017.

                    CATlogoround1Bronson also stepped up to the plate and visited with picketing union members at a rally outside the Monroe County Office Building on August 9. He looked Monroe County workers in the eye, shook their hands and told them, “You are not alone in this fight. Your fight for a fair contract is everyone’s fight. I have your back.”

                    Bronson admits there are many talented people in our community doing great work and yes, we have made some progress in the past couple years. He says, “However, we need to do better to improve educational outcomes for our youth and provide more job opportunities for people who want to work.”

                    To highlight that point, Bronson mentioned that he was instrumental in securing funding for both RIT and the University of Rochester to help them create new advanced manufacturing opportunities to spur local economic growth. “Both of these local universities are critical partners to government when it comes to quality of life issues. We need strong, proven representation in Albany to continue our collaboration to create jobs and grow our economy.”

                    Asked what he would like to convey to working families of his district, Bronson said, “I am taking nothing for granted. I am working very hard to keep my seat. I would like all voters to know that this is a critical election for our community and our state. I am asking you to stand with me and fight for a better future for all our families.”

                    Bronson’s major endorsements include almost every elected official in Monroe County, the Monroe County Democratic Party Committee plus almost every labor and civil rights organization in the State of New York. Bronson is being challenged in a Democratic primary vote on September 13.

                    To read a media release on the Bronson endorsement, you can go here.

                    -Ove Overmyer