This Week in Albany

Week ending September 7, 2018

Donohue – Cuomo Telephone Town Hall

This week, Governor Cuomo joined CSEA President Danny Donohue for a telephone town hall with CSEA members.

On the call, the Governor and President Donohue discussed several issues of importance to CSEA members. Governor Cuomo discussed the need to improve staffing within the state workforce (especially at the Office of Mental Health and Office for People with Developmental Disabilities) and touched on the need to support good middle class jobs in our suburban and rural areas.

Importantly, the Governor and President Donohue were very open about the contentious relationship between CSEA and the Executive through the Governor’s first few years in office. The Governor acknowledged that the State was in a difficult financial position when he came into office, and he had to make some decisions that went against what he would have liked to do. President Donohue reiterated that when the Governor has been in the wrong, CSEA has and will continue to call him out on it. But when the Governor does the right thing, as he has throughout the Janus v AFSCME attack on our union, we will stand with him.

Thank you to the hundreds of CSEA members who participated.


More Pension Fund News

In addition to last week’s news on the value of the state’s pension fund, Comptroller DiNapoli announced that employer pension contributions will remain steady for the bills that will be due in February of 2020.

The Retirement System always bills employers 18 months before the bill is due so the State and municipalities can include the numbers in their respective budgets.

Kavanaugh Hearings Begin

Confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh began in the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee this week.

The hearings were contentious at times. Democratic Senators objected to the hearings moving forward before documents from Kavanaugh’s time as counsel to President George W. Bush were made public, and protesters interrupted the proceedings several times.

At this time, there is no date set for a vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation.


Primary Elections

Primary Elections for state and local government races will be held next Thursday, September 13.

In New York City and the counties of Dutchess, Erie, Nassau, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Suffolk and Westchester, polls open at 6 AM and close at 9 PM. In all other counties, polls open at 12 noon and CLOSE at 9 PM.

Don’t forget that in New York, you must be an enrolled member of a party to vote in that Primary. For example, you must be a registered Democrat to vote in the Democratic Primary for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Attorney General.

Not sure where your polling place is? Click here to find out.


Never Quit Fact of the Week

Outside of your workplace, labor unions have an impact on many areas of your life.

With the National Football League (NFL) season beginning this weekend, we should recognize that NFL players, as members of the NFL Players Association, are our brothers as members of the AFL-CIO, the referees are members of the NFL Referees Association, and the footballs themselves are made by members of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW).

Further, CSEA stands with our brothers and sisters in the Building and Construction Trades Council in New York City in their fight against Miami Dolphins owner and Chairman of The Related Companies Stephen Ross for his company’s union busting tactics at its construction sites.


Never Forget

CSEA remembers the lives of all who were lost on September 11, 2001, including CSEA members Yvette Anderson, Florence Cohen, Harry Goody, Marian “Marty” Hrycak and Dorothy Temple.


    This Week in Albany

    Week ending August 24, 2018

    Safe Workplaces Initiatives

    This week, the Cuomo administration released details of plans to address workplace discrimination and harassment. These plans include:

    • Establishing minimum standards for employer sexual harassment prevention policies and trainings;
    • Establishing the Governor’s Executive Committee for Diversity, Inclusion, and Equal Opportunity;
    • Establishing comprehensive state diversity and inclusion planning; and
    • Placing the responsibility for investigations of complaints of class discrimination at state agencies under the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations (GOER).

    Some of these plans were outlined in the 2018-19 state budget.

    Why is CSEA Calling Me?

    The Legislative & Political Action Department has been calling members to inform them of the date change for the September Primary Election to Thursday, September 13, and to conduct polling.

    Never Quit Fact of the Week

    Unions don’t only benefit union members, they benefit the entire middle class. The decline in union membership from the 1950’s to today closely mirrors the decline of income going to the middle 60% of families, according to the Economic Policy Institute.


      This Week in Albany

      Week ending August 10, 2018

      Chris Collins Indicted

      Representative Chris Collins (R-NY27) was indicted on insider trading charges this week.

      The charges allege that Collins used his position on the board of an Australian biotechnology company to pass insider information to his son and other individuals about the failure of a drug trial. The federal indictment against Collins, his son, and one other person includes 13 charges, among them wire fraud, securities fraud, and making false statements to the FBI.

      Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) stripped Collins of his seat on the Energy and Commerce Committee. Collins had previously been under investigation by the House Ethics Committee for his holdings in the Australian company.

      Collins has denied the accusations. He has no plans to resign his seat, and plans to continue running for re-election.

      Never Quit Fact of the Week

      By a margin of about two-to-one, voters in Missouri overwhelmingly rejected a statewide “Right-to-Work” law for the private sector this week. (Janus v AFSCME effectively instituted a nation-wide “Right-to”Work” policy in the public sector, but did not impact the private sector.)

      In 2017, Missouri’s then-Governor Eric Greitens signed a “Right-to-work” bill, making Missouri the country’s 28th “Right-to-Work” state. However, unions gathered roughly 300,000 signatures to prevent the law from going into effect until after it was put to a public vote. The law was effectively voided on Tuesday when 67% of Missouri voters voted “no”.

      This was a major victory for the labor movement and shows that workers can fight back against anti-union politicians and corporate elites when we stand together

        This Week in Albany

        Week ending August 3, 2018

        Legislative Update

        Governor Cuomo acted on 65 bills this week, including some of interest to CSEA members. These bills include:

        • Buffalo parking 3 yr. extender (A.10298A) – Chapter 157. This law extends for three years the residential parking permit system in the Fruit Belt area of Buffalo. This area is around several hospitals, including Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center where CSEA represents workers. The original bill print called for a six-year extender. The length of the extension was reduced at CSEA’s request.
        • Design-build for Utica sports facility (S.9090) – Chapter 187. This law allows the Upper Mohawk Valley Memorial Auditorium Authority to use design-build for the construction of a multi-use sports complex in the City of Utica. The original version of this bill would have authorized the authority to use design-build for any project in the entire county, and did not include any protection language for public employees. CSEA worked closely with the legislature on amendments to the bill to narrow its scope and protect public employees.
        • Albany County hotel/motel tax extender (A.9622) – Chapter 134
        • Herkimer County mortgage recording tax extender (A.9791) – Chapter 141
        • Wyoming County mortgage recording tax extender (A.9792) – Chapter 142
        • New Rochelle hotel/motel tax extender (A.10385) – Chapter 162
        • City of Rye hotel/motel tax extender (A.10516) – Chapter 166

        Extending the authority of municipalities to collect various taxes is routine, but extremely important to local governments.

        In other local tax news, a report from Comptroller DiNapoli this week reported that local sales tax collections had their largest growth since 2010 during the first half of 2018. This is a sign of a good economy and is good news for local governments and the services they provide.


        Never Quit Fact of the Week

        Roughly 80% of CSEA members are registered to vote.

        If you are one of the 20% who isn’t, you can register online through the DMV.


          This Week in Albany

          Week ending July 27, 2018
          Legislative Update
          Rumors started swirling this week that the State Senate will return to Albany this summer to address the expiration of New York City’s school zone speed cameras. Authority for the cameras to remain active expired for 120 of the 140 locations this week, with the remaining 20 remaining active until the end of August.
          The Assembly has already passed legislation to extend authority for the program. The Senate could return and pass that same bill.
          At this time, it is unclear if and when the Senate will return.
          Election Update
          The Primary Election for state and local offices will be held on Thursday, September 13. The election was moved from that Tuesday in honor of September 11.
          The deadline to register to vote in the Primary is August 19.
           
          Never Quit Fact of the Week
          On July 29, 1982, New York Governor Hugh Carey signed into law the Triborough Amendment to the Taylor Law.
          The Triborough Amendment provides that all terms and conditions of an expired public employee contract remain in effect until a new contract is approved. If the expired contract contains conditions for automatic step increases, such increases continue without a new contract.
          The Triborough Amendment has come under attack in recent years from anti-union groups and politicians. CSEA continues to fight back against attacks on this fundamental protection that helps public employees avoid hardship when their employers refuse to negotiate in good faith. While also prohibiting strikes, the Triborough Amendment has served the best interests of labor, management, and the people of New York for over thirty years.

            This Week in Albany

            Week ending July 20, 2018

            Legislative Update

            This week, 66 bills that passed both houses of the legislature were delivered to the Governor. The Governor now has 10 days (excluding Sundays) to sign the bills into law or veto them. Several of the bills delivered are of interest to CSEA, including:

            • Local tax bills: Several bills extending the ability of local governments to collect taxes were delivered. These bills are an important source of revenue for local governments.
            • Buffalo residential parking: This bill (A.10298A – Peoples-Stokes / S.8122A – Kennedy) extends the City of Buffalo residential parking permit system in the Fruit Belt for three years. The bill originally proposed a six-year extender, but CSEA worked with the bill’s sponsors and community groups to shorten the extender so that the effectiveness of the program can be assessed on a more regular basis.
            • City of Utica design-build: This bill (S.9090 – Griffo / A.10513C – Brindisi) would allow the Upper Mohawk Valley Memorial Auditorium Authority to use a design-build contract for the construction of a multi-use sports complex in the City of Utica. The original version of this bill would have authorized the authority to use design-build for any project in the entire county, and did not include any protection language for public employees. CSEA worked closely with the legislature on amendments to this bill to narrow its scope and protect public employees.

             

            Janus Update

            Since last month’s Supreme Court’s decision in Janus v AFSCME, anti-union groups have already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in New York on attempts to encourage public employees to leave their union.

            “It is an outrage that anti-union groups funded by corporate CEOs and the wealthy have been contacting public employees using their work email addresses to promote their own agenda to defund and bust unions,” CSEA President Danny Donohue said.

            Visit cseany.org/neverquit for more information on how we can fight back against these attacks on your rights and benefits.

            Further, several public employers have passed misleading or misguided information to their employees about the impact of the decision.

            To combat this misinformation, Governor Cuomo directed the State Department of Labor to issue guidance to public employers on how the Janus decision impacts public employees.

            The documents clarify that the Janus decision only requires employers to stop deducting agency fees from those employees who chose not to join the union. The ruling DOES NOT impact the rights and obligations of employers to members in good standing.

            CSEA will continue to fight attempts by anti-union forces to harass and intimidate public employees. As President Donohue said in the wake of the decision, “Our members won’t be fooled into giving up everything unions have fought so hard for.”

            Never Quit Fact of the Week

            My Pay, My Say is one group that has started contacting public employees to encourage them to quit their union.

            It must be asked – why are these groups so intent on having employees leave their union?

            My Pay, My Say is a $10 million effort by the anti-union Mackinac Center for Public Policy to weaken unions. The top funders of the Mackinac Center include a host of ultra-conservative groups like the Koch brothers, the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation, ALEC, and the State Policy Network.

              This Week in Albany

              Week ending July 13, 2018

              Supreme Court Nominee

              President Trump has nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh to fill the Supreme Court vacancy caused by the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy. Kavanaugh currently serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

              Kavanaugh has a long track record of siding with employers over employees, and his confirmation would push the Court even further to the side of corporations and the wealthy over the interests of working men and women. His nomination is opposed by AFSCME and the AFL-CIO.

              Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has indicated that he wants to confirm Kavanaugh to the Court before the November elections. If all Republican Senators vote for the nomination, Kavanaugh can be confirmed without a single Democratic vote.


              Tax Cap

              This week, Comptroller DiNapoli announced that next year’s property tax cap for municipalities whose fiscal year ends on December 31 will be two percent. This includes all counties, towns, and fire districts, as well as 44 cities and 10 villages.

              The tax cap is often referred to as a two percent cap but from 2014 through 2018 municipalities had their levy growth capped at less than two percent, including a cap of 0.68% in 2017. While the tax cap still puts immense pressure on local services, a cap of two percent gives local governments more flexibility than they had even a few years ago.

               

              Never Quit Fact of the Week

              The nationwide decrease in union membership over the past several decades closely mirrors the decline in the share of income going to the middle 60 percent of households, according to a Center for American Progress analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data

                This Week in Albany

                Week ending July 6, 2018

                Justice Kennedy Announces Retirement

                Associate Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced last week that he will resign from the Court this summer. Kennedy was nominated to the Court by President Reagan and has served since 1988.

                Kennedy is popularly considered a swing vote on the court after siding with liberal justices on several high-profile issues, including gay rights and abortion. However, Kennedy reliably sided with the conservatives on many issues, especially siding with employers over labor. Kennedy was part of the 5-4 majority decision against the union in Janus v AFSCME.

                Kennedy’s retirement gives President Trump and Congressional Republicans the opportunity to appoint a second Supreme Court Justice.

                During the confirmation of President Trump’s first nominee, Neil Gorsuch, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), changed the rules of the Senate to require a simple majority vote to confirm a Supreme Court Justice instead of the historically required 60 votes. Republicans have 51 votes in the U.S. Senate, just enough to confirm the President’s nominee without any Democratic votes.

                President Trump has said that he will choose his nominee from a list of conservative judges released during the presidential campaign and will make his nomination on Monday, July 9th.


                Legislative Update

                A total of 516 bills that passed both houses of the legislature have not yet been sent to the Governor, including the vast majority of CSEA’s priority bills. Stay tuned for updates on these bills as they become available throughout the summer and fall, or check our website for updates.


                Never Quit Fact of the Week

                The National Labor Relations Act was signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on July 5, 1935. The Act guaranteed the right of private sector workers to organize and collectively bargain with their employers and designated the National Labor Relations Board as the agency to administer these new protections.

                As attacks on the rights of working people continue across the country, it is important that we take the time to recognize the history of the fundamental benefits American workers are entitled to so that they are not taken for granted.

                  This Week in Albany

                  Week ending June 29, 2018

                  Janus v AFSCME

                  This week, the United States Supreme Court overturned over forty years of precedent when it ruled against the union in Janus v AFSCME. The 5-4 decision provided that members of a public sector bargaining unit who choose not to join the union cannot be required to pay a “fair share” or “agency fee” for the costs of collective bargaining. The ruling essentially institutes a nation-wide “Right-to-Work” policy in the public sector.

                  This case was never anything other than an attack on labor unions and the voice they provide working men and women in the workplace.

                  CSEA President Danny Donohue said, “This case wasn’t about fairness or free speech. It was a scheme to destroy unions and silence working people. I can tell you right now, it’s not going to work. CSEA has been around for more than 100 years and we’re here to stay.”

                  CSEA has already begun fighting against these attacks on hardworking union members.

                  As part of the 2018-19 New York State budget, CSEA worked closely with Governor Cuomo to pass legislation to help fortify unions against this decision. That new law helps protect union members by:

                  • Providing that public employee unions will not have to provide representation to non-members in any disciplinary cases as well as any legal, economic, or job-related services beyond those provided in the collective bargaining agreement. This will help our union focus our efforts on the members who Never Quit and stay with the union.
                  • Requiring employers to notify the union when a new employee is hired and allow a union representative to meet with new employees.
                  • Providing that when a member returns to work after a voluntary or involuntary leave, they will automatically be reinstated as members.

                  Further, President Donohue stood with Governor Cuomo this week as the Governor signed an Executive Order to protect the personal information of public employees. “When the Governor does the right thing we are more than willing to stand shoulder to shoulder with him,” President Donohue said.

                  The Governor stood strong with CSEA this week, saying “Let me be very clear: the flame of the labor movement burns stronger than ever here in New York. And so long as I am governor of the State of New York, the labor movement will continue to deliver on the promise of the American Dream.”

                  The Executive Order will protect State employees against harassment and intimidation from anti-union organizers by prohibiting state agencies from disclosing the private information of public employees, including home address, personal phone numbers, and personal email addresses. The Governor said that he will also advance legislation to provide the same protections to municipal employees.

                  CSEA will continue to fight against these attacks on our members and everything that we stand for.

                  Stay union. Stay strong. Never Quit.

                  Congressional Primaries

                  Congressional Primaries were held on Tuesday.

                  While most races went as expected, there were a few surprises. In the 14th district, twenty-year incumbent Joseph Crowley was defeated by newcomer Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the Democratic Primary. Prior to his defeat, it was thought that Crowley was a possibility for next Speaker of the House.

                  In other races, incumbent Republican Dan Donovan defeated challenger Michael Grimm in the 11th district, Antonio Delgado won a seven-way Democratic Primary to challenge incumbent Republican John Faso in the 19th district, Tedra Cobb beat five other Democrats to face off against incumbent Republican Elise Stefanik in the 21st district, and Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Morelle won the Democratic Primary for the 25th district.

                  Please stay tuned to CSEA’s website for more information on elections throughout the year.

                  Never Quit Fact of the Week

                  CSEA was formed in 1910. Agency fees were first required for state negotiating units in 1977, and for all public employees represented by a union in 1992. Agency fees were not made permanent for public employees in New York until 2008.

                  CSEA was strong before agency fees, and will continue to be strong after the Supreme Court’s decision to declare such fees unconstitutional.

                    This Week in Albany

                    Week ending June 22, 2018

                    2018 Legislative Session Comes to an End

                    The 2018 state legislative session came to its end this week, with lawmakers wrapping up more or less as scheduled. With no grand bargains and neither Republicans nor Democrats having enough votes to push any controversial bills in the Senate, many high-profile bills were not addressed.

                    There are already rumors that the legislature could return following next week’s Congressional Primaries to take up outstanding issues. At this time, the likelihood of a special session is unclear.

                    However, many bills of importance CSEA passed both houses of the legislature during the past few weeks, including:

                    • S.8973 – Golden / A.11223 – Abbate: This legislation will grant labor class employees who have been in that class for a minimum of five years’ section 75 discipline rights.
                    • A.9563A – Gunther / S.7207 – Ortt: This bill would limit the length of time that a notice of closure or significant service reduction in the Office of Mental Health (OMH) is in effect to twenty-four months.
                    • S.7259A – LaValle / A.10620 – Glick: This bill would clarify that the State University Health Science Centers are included in the SUNY maintenance of effort provision and require the State to provide General Fund operating support to cover all mandatory costs of collective bargaining agreements.
                    • S.6464A – Addabbo / A.4933B – Weprin: This bill would require state agencies to develop action plans to reduce the occurrence of workforce injuries.
                    • S.8284 – Phillips / A.10721 – Abbate: This bill would provide for a performance of duty disability retirement benefit for ambulance medical technician supervisors, ambulance medical technician coordinators, and ambulance medical technicians (AMTs) employed by Nassau County.
                    • S.8200 – Marcellino / A.10442 – Gunther: This bill would prohibit the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) from privatizing any existing state-operated Individualized Residential Alternative (IRA).
                    • S.8633 – Ortt / A.10951 – Lentol: This bill would require that 85% of proceeds from the sale of property owned by OPWDD be reinvested into state-operated OPWDD services.
                    • S.8118 – Tedisco / A.10337 – Abinanti: This bill would require local governments to provide retirees with at least 30 days notice prior to a health insurance premium change or significant change in coverage.
                    • A.9667 – Paulin / S.7554 – Gallivan: This legislation would allow counties the option to provide full pay and benefits for county probation officers who are injured on the job.
                    • S.5593A – Golden / A.7602A – Abbate: This bill would eliminate the lifetime reduction of a pension payment when an outstanding loan is repaid in full.
                    • S.8805 – Rules / S.10670 – Hooper: This legislation will allow Nassau County employees to take step increases even if the Nassau Interim Finance Agency (NIFA) imposes a second wage freeze on employees.
                    • S.9103A – LaValle / A.11244 – Thiele: This bill is precedent-setting legislation relating to SUNY Stony Brook University Hospital. This legislation, which addressed a land-lease to build a new hospital for Southampton, creates new and comprehensive anti-outsourcing language; prohibits classified employees from being transferred to the unclassified service; prohibits the co-mingling of funds between SUNY and the new hospital; and prohibits classified employees at Stony Brook Hospital from being transferred to the SUNY Research Foundation or StaffCo. CSEA has fought for many of these provisions for years and this legislation will help set a precedent going forward relating to SUNY.

                    What didn’t get done:

                    • S.8234 – Marcellino / A.10537 – Nolan: This bill would require school safety plans to include policies and procedures for school bus safety and require that school safety teams include bus drivers. Passed Senate / Died in Assembly Education Committee
                    • New York City School Speed Cameras: New York City’s authority to operate speed cameras in a number of school zones expires on July 25th. No agreement was reached to continue the program.
                    • Sports Betting: There was a late push to authorize sports gambling in New York following the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling that paved the way for states to legalize the practice. No agreement was reached to implement sports betting.
                    • Teacher Evaluations: No agreement was reached to de-link standardized test scores from teacher evaluations.

                    Congressional Primaries

                    Federal Primary Elections will take place in New York next Tuesday, June 26th. There is no Primary for the U.S. Senate, with incumbent Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D) and her opponent Chele Farley (R) running unopposed in their respective Primaries.

                    It is important to remember that in New York, you must be an enrolled member of the party to vote in that Primary (You must be a Democrat to vote in a Democratic Primary, or a Republican to vote in a Republican Primary, etc.).

                    In New York City, and the counties of Dutchess, Erie, Nassau, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Suffolk, and Westchester, polls will be open from 6AM until 9PM. In all other counties, polls open at 12 noon and close at 9PM.

                    Not sure what district you live in or where your polling place is? Click here to find out.

                    If you are not sure if you have a Primary to vote in, check the website of your county board of elections here.

                    Miner to Run

                    This week, former Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner announced that she will run for Governor of New York. Miner, a registered Democrat, won’t Primary the Governor, but is instead running as an independent under the banner of the “Serve America Movement” party. Miner previously served two terms as Mayor of Syracuse and as co-chair of the New York Democratic Party.

                    Never Quit Fact of the Week

                    During the 2017-18 state legislative session, over 20,300 bills were introduced by lawmakers. The Legislative & Political Action Department reviews those bills not only to advance good legislation, but also to fight legislation that could be harmful to CSEA members. Throughout the course of this two-year session, CSEA took a position on over 2,600 bills.

                    Thank you for your activism and efforts during this session.