This Week in Albany

Week ending May 18, 2018

Attorney General Interviews

This week, the state legislature interviewed 11 candidates seeking appointment to the office of Attorney General.

Acting Attorney General Barbara Underwood was one of the candidates interviewed. Underwood has said that, if appointed, she will not seek election to the position in November.

Several other candidates declined to interview with the legislature, but have either announced that they will run for election to the office or have expressed interest. These candidates include New York City Public Advocate Letitia (Tish) James, Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney, and former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara.

At this time, it is unclear when the legislature will make an appointment to the position. However, it seems likely that regardless of who is appointed, there will be several candidates vying for the position through September’s Primary Elections and November’s General Election.


School Votes

School budget votes were held this week, with only 16 of 653 budgets being defeated by voters. This 97.6% passage rate is actually lower than last year, when 99.3% of budget votes passed.

Half of the 14 districts that proposed to override the property tax cap succeeded. This year’s tax cap of 2% was the highest in five years, after districts faced years of minimal growth in their budgets.


At a Glance

The legislature will be in session for two days next week. There are only 15 session days remaining in the 2018 legislative session.

Never Quit Fact of the Week

Recent months have seen teachers in West Virginia, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Arizona, and Colorado go on strike for higher education funding and teacher pay. This week, teachers in North Carolina became the latest to join this movement.

Why are workers in these states in such bad shape?

West Virginia, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Arizona, and North Carolina are all right-to-work states. North Carolina is one of five states where teachers have no collective bargaining rights at all.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median weekly earnings for public sector workers represented by a union are 19.5% higher than those of non-union workers.

Stay union, stay strong.

    This Week in Albany

    Week ending May 11, 2018

    Attorney General Schneiderman Resigns

    New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D-Manhattan) resigned from office this week after The New Yorker reported that four women accused the Attorney General of physically abusing them.

    New York Solicitor General Barbara Underwood was appointed as acting attorney general on Tuesday, becoming the first woman to serve as State attorney general. While the office will be on the ballot in November, the process for filling a vacancy in the position resides with the state legislature.

    When a vacancy occurs in the office of comptroller or attorney general, the two houses of the legislature, by a joint ballot, can appoint someone to fill that vacancy. This means that a candidate would need at least 107 votes from the 213 state legislators to be appointed. In practical terms, Democrats in the state assembly have an outsized influence in this process if they vote as a block. There are 104 Democrats in the assembly.

    Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie has announced that the legislature will hold joint interviews with candidates next week. At this point, there are many candidates for the job without any clear front runner.

    Assemblyman Oaks Will Not Run

    Assemblyman Bob Oaks (R-Macedon) announced that he will not seek re-election in November. Oaks, who has served in the Assembly since 1993, has served as the ranking member of the Assembly’s Committee on Ways and Means since 2011.

    At a Glance

    The legislature will be in session for three days next week. Interviews with candidates for the attorney general vacancy will take place on Tuesday and Wednesday.

    Never Quit Fact of the Week

    Unions are helping younger workers enter the workforce and drive our economy. According to the Economic Policy Institute, in 2017, nearly one in four net new jobs for workers under the age of 35 was a union job.

      This Week in Albany

      Week ending May 4, 2018

      New Legislators Seated

      This week, the two winners of the Senate Special Elections were sworn in and seated in the Senate. The Senate remains under the control of the Republican conference, in coalition with Senator Simcha Felder.

      Additionally, seven new members of the Assembly were sworn in and seated. Two Assembly races were still too close to call and had not yet been certified by the Board of Elections.


      More Legislators Will Not Run in November

      This week, two State Senators announced that they will not seek re-election this fall.

      Senator Tom Croci (R-Sayville), a Commander in the Navy who was first elected to the Senate in 2014, announced that he will return to active duty rather than seek re-election.

      Senator Bill Larkin (R-New Windsor) also announced his retirement this week. Senator Larkin, a World War II and Korean War veteran, has represented the Hudson Valley in the state legislature for almost 40 years between the Senate and Assembly.

      CSEA thanks these Senators for their service to their nation and their state, and for being friends to CSEA throughout their time in office.

      These two announcements bring the number of Republican Senators not seeking re-election up to five.

      In addition, Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) has announced that he will not seek re-election. Hikind has served in the Assembly since 1983.


      At a Glance

      The State Legislature will be in session for three days next week. There are 21 days remaining in the 2018 legislative session.


      Never Quit Fact of the Week

      Union membership in New York grew by 75,000 members in 2017 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.


        This Week in Albany

        Week ending April 27, 2018

        Special Elections

        On Tuesday, Special Elections were held to fill eleven State legislative vacancies. Two State Senate and nine Assembly seats were on the ballot. CSEA-endorsed candidates were successful in many of these races.

        Both CSEA-endorsed candidates in the Senate races, Luis Sepulveda (D-Bronx) and Shelley Mayer (D-Westchester), won their races. With the two Democratic victories, Democrats technically have a numerical majority of 32 seats in the Senate. However, Senator Simcha Felder, a Democrat who also ran on the Republican line and who caucuses with the Republicans, announced before polls closed on Tuesday that he will continue to conference with Republicans through the remainder of the 2018 legislative session. At this point, it appears that the upper chamber will remain in Republican control at least until November’s elections when all 213 (Senate + Assembly) legislative seats are on the ballot.

        In the Assembly, CSEA-endorsed candidates were also successful in a number of races.

        Below is a full list of Special Election results. Candidates in bold were endorsed by CSEA.

        • SD 32 (parts of the Bronx): Luis Sepulveda
        • SD 37 (parts of Westchester County): Shelley Mayer
        • AD 5 (part of Suffolk County): Doug Smith
        • AD 10 (part of Suffolk County): Steve Stern
        • AD 17 (part of Nassau County): John Mikulin
        • AD 39 (part of Queens): Ari Espinal
        • AD 74 (part of Manhattan): Harvey Epstein
        • AD 80 (part of the Bronx): Nathalia Fernandez
        • AD 102 (Schoharie and Green counties and parts of Albany, Delaware, Columbia, Ostego, and Ulster counties): Christopher Tague
        • AD 107 (parts of Columbia, Rensselaer, and Washington counties): Jacob Ashby
        • AD 142 (part of Erie County): Erik Bohin


        Other Election News

        Three State Senators announced this week that they will not seek re-election in the fall.

        In addition to suspending his campaign for Governor, Deputy Majority Leader John DeFrancisco (R-Syracuse) announced that he will not seek re-election to the Senate. DeFrancisco was first elected to the Senate in 1992.

        Additionally, Senators Kathy Marchione (R-Halfmoon) and John Bonacic (R-Orange County) announced that they will not seek re-election. Senator Marchione was first elected in 2012, while Senator Bonacic has served in the Senate since 1999.

        CSEA had a good relationship with these Senators, and we thank them for their support over the years.

        At a Glance

        The State legislature will be in session for three days next week. There are only 24 days remaining in the 2018 legislative session, which is scheduled to end on June 20.

        Never Quit Fact of the Week

        Workplace deaths in “Right-to-Work” states are 49% higher than in non-“Right-to-Work” states like New York.

        This Saturday, April 28, is Workers Memorial Day. Workers Memorial Day is a reminder to all of us to remember those who have been injured or killed on the job and to continue fighting for safe workplaces.

        Hundreds of CSEA members and activists will join together this weekend for the 2018 Statewide Conference on Occupational Safety and Health. Safety and health is one of the cornerstones of unionism, and it remains one of our union’s biggest priorities. When we Never Quit on each other and our union, we Never Quit protecting our own health and well-being on the job.

          This Week in Albany

          Week ending April 20, 2018

          Special Elections 

          Special elections for 11 state legislative seats will take place this coming Tuesday, April 24.

          CSEA has endorsed candidates in both Senate districts on the ballot, including Luis Sepulveda (D-Bronx) for Senate District 32 and Shelley Mayer (D-Westchester) for Senate District 37.

          If Democrats win both Senate seats they will have 31 seats, while Republicans would also have 31. Senator Simcha Felder, a Democrat who currently conferences with Republicans, would make the 32nd member of either conference. Senator Felder has said that he will make a decision after the elections.

          CSEA has also endorsed several candidates in the Assembly races, as follows:

          • AD 5 (part of Suffolk County): Doug Smith (R)
          • AD 10 (part of Suffolk County): Steve Stern (D)
          • AD 17 (part of Nassau County): Matt Malin (D)
          • AD 39 (part of Queens): No endorsement
          • AD 74 (part of Manhattan): Harvey Epstein (D)
          • AD 80 (part of the Bronx): Nathalia Fernandez (D)
          • AD 102 (Schoharie and Green counties and parts of Albany, Delaware, Columbia, Ostego, and Ulster counties): No endorsement
          • AD 107 (parts of Columbia, Rensselaer, and Washington counties): No Endorsement
          • AD 142 (part of Erie County): Pat Burke (D)

          Polls will be open from 6AM until 9PM. If you need to know what district you’re in and where to vote, click here to find out.

          CSEA Members Attend Rally in Support of New Union Members

          On Friday, CSEA members joined with other unions, NYS AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento, and Governor Andrew Cuomo for a rally in Albany to celebrate nurses at Albany Medical Center who recently voted to unionize.

          The nurses’ previous attempts to unionize had been met with resistance from the hospital, and this organizing drive was no different. Governor Cuomo publicly threw his support behind the workers, and helped to ensure that the employer did not improperly coerce employees out of voting for the union.

          CSEA stands with our union brothers in sisters in their efforts to organize, and to make New York Union Strong.

          RIP Assemblyman Frank Skartados

          CSEA is saddened by the passing of N.Y. Assemblyman Frank Skartados, who died yesterday following a serious illness. Assemblyman Skartados was a friend of labor and of all working people. He always took the time to speak directly with CSEA members, taking a genuine interest in the services they provide and advocating on their behalf when challenges arose. Please join us in keeping his family in your thoughts during this difficult time.

          At A Glance

          The state legislature is scheduled to be in session for three days next week.

          Never Quit Fact of the Week

          Unionized workers earn more than non-union workers. For example, unionized Long Island workers earn 24.9% higher wages than nonunionized workers according to a study by Hofstra University.

            This Week in Albany

            Week ending April 13, 2018

            Governor Signs Janus Legislation

            This week, Governor Cuomo signed legislation that will help CSEA remain strong regardless of the decision in the Janus v AFSCME Supreme Court case.

            CSEA President Danny Donohue said, “Governor Cuomo gave his word that he would protect us from these assaults and he keeps his word today. On behalf of the hardworking members of CSEA, I thank the governor for standing with us to sign this legislation that ensures fairness and allows CSEA to represent all of our members to the best of our ability.”

            For a summary of provisions of the legislation, please see our enacted budget summary.

            Senate Shake-Up

            Late last week, Governor Cuomo and Democratic leadership in the Senate announced that the Independent Democratic Conference(IDC) will dissolve and reunite with the mainline Democratic Conference.

            Senator Jeff Klein (D-Bronx) founded the IDC in 2011 as a group of four breakaway Democrats that would go on to work closely with Republicans. After it looked like Democrats had gained a numerical majority in the Senate following the 2012 elections, the IDC struck a power sharing agreement with Republicans, making Senator Klein co-majority leader. The group eventually grew to eight members who became committee chairs and received an increased voice in budget talks.

            As a result of the unification, the now former IDC members have been stripped of their committee chairmanships and replaced with Republican counterparts. Fred Akshar will replace Marisol Alcantara as Chair of Labor, Pam Helming will replace Tony Avella as chair of Children and Families, Chris Jacobs will replace David Carlucci as chair of Consumer Protection, and Elaine Phillips will replace Jesse Hamilton as chair of Banks. Andrea Stewart-Cousins will remain Senate Democratic Leader with Senator Jeff Klein assuming the role of Deputy Minority Leader. Republican John Flanagan will continue as Temporary President and Senate Majority Leader.

            All of this comes two weeks away from special elections for two Senate seats. If the Democrats win both seats it would give them a total of 31, while the Republicans would also have 31. Senator Simcha Felder, a Democrat who currently caucuses with the Republicans, has said that he will wait until after the elections to decide who he will caucus with.

            Speaker Ryan Retiring

            This week, House Speaker Paul Ryan(R-Wisconsin) announced that he will not be seeking re-election in the fall. Ryan has served at in the House since 1998, and became House Speaker in 2015. At this point it is unclear who will be the next speaker. The House Majority is expected to face a tough challenge in the 2018 midterm elections.

            At a glance

            The state Legislature will return to Albany next week and be in session for three days. There are 30 days remaining in the 2018 legislative session.

            Never Quit Fact of the week

            According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median weekly earnings of union workers are 20% higher than the median weekly earnings of nonunion workers

              This Week in Albany

              Week ending April 6, 2018

              Enacted State Budget

              Governor Cuomo and lawmakers have agreed to a $168.3 billion budget for fiscal year 2018-19 before the April 1 deadline. The following is a brief summary of the enacted budget. A full summary can be found here.

              Addressing Janus v AFSCME

              CSEA is not sitting on the sidelines as we await a decision in Janus v AFSCME U.S. Supreme Court case. Instead, we are fighting to put our union in the best position to succeed regardless of what decision is reached. The enacted budget includes changes to the Taylor Law that will help CSEA members as we prepare for a decision. This is a major win for CSEA, and shows the power and strength of our union.

              The most important change to the Taylor Law relates to the Duty of Fair Representation. As we prepare for the likelihood that the Supreme Court is going to allow non-members to benefit from union representation without having to contribute, this is a big win for us.

              The new legislation provides 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.

              The new law will also require employers to notify the union of new employees, provide their information, and allow the employee time to meet with a union representative during work hours.

              One other significant change to the Taylor Law addresses the “churn” problem that has occurred when members have gone out on voluntary or involuntary leave and been reinstated as agency fee payers upon their return. Now, when members return to the same employer after voluntary or involuntary leave within one year, they will automatically be reinstated as members.

              These changes to the Taylor Law are a significant victory in our ongoing effort to ensure our union stays strong regardless of the outcome of Janus v. AFSCME.

              Other Important Budget Items

              Other provisions contained in the final budget include:

              • The enacted budget does not contain any language allowing OMH to close inpatient beds. However, an agreement was reached between the legislature and Executive that will keep facilities open, and require some increased reporting from OMH when a bed is reduced.
              • The budget includes language that increases from 45 days to 90 days the length of time that OPWDD must give prior to closing an Individualized Residential Alternative (IRA) facility.
              • The enacted budget rejects the closure of the Ella McQueen reception center with only 30-days notice. If the state intends to close this facility, they must do so with the statutorily required one-year notice.
              • The enacted budget rejects all cost increases to retirees enrolled in the New York State Health Insurance Program (NYSHIP).
              • The enacted budget restores funding for the operating subsidy of the SUNY hospitals.
              • The budget restores $12 million in proposed cuts to community college aid.
              • The enacted budget funds local government aid through the Aid and Incentives to Municipalities (AIM) program at the same level as last year. AIM funding has not been increased since 2011-12.
              • Funding for local roads and bridges through the Consolidated Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS) and Marchiselli programs remains the same as last year. The enacted budget also restores $65 million for severe winter recovery, consistent with last year’s funding.
              • School aid is increased by roughly $1 billion over last year.
              • The enacted budget increases library funding by $1 million and library construction aid by $10 million over last year.
              • The enacted budget includes an additional $136 million in funding for child care, mostly due to increased federal assistance.
              • The budget includes a new voluntary retirement savings plan for private sector employees.

              For our full summary of the enacted state budget, please click here.

              West Seneca Children’s Psych to Remain Open

              Thanks to the activism of CSEA members, parents, and the community, it was announced this week that the State will keep the Western New York Children’s Psychiatric Center in West Seneca open rather than moving it to the grounds of the Buffalo Psychiatric Center.

              This is a big win for patients, family members, and employees alike.

              Assemblywoman Resigns

              Assemblywoman Pamela Harris (D-Brooklyn) resigned this week. Harris was indicted in January on a variety corruption charges. At this time, it is not clear when her vacant seat will be filled.

              At a Glance

              State legislators will spend next week in their home districts before returning to Albany on April 16. There are 30 session days remaining in the 2018 legislative session.

              Congress will return from its Easter recess next week.

              Never Quit Fact of the Week

              The 2018-19 New York State budget includes provisions that will help working men and women fight back against well-funded attacks on their livelihood, including the Janus case. CSEA worked closely with Governor Cuomo and the legislature to get these provisions included in the budget, and we are proud of the outcome.

                This Week in Albany

                Week ending March 30, 2018

                State Budget Update

                The legislature is currently passing the final portions of the state budget and is expected to finish sometime Friday night.

                At the time of this email, the legislature has not yet finalized the budget, including many areas of importance to CSEA members. While we are still reviewing all details, and will continue to do so as they become finalized, the following is a brief summary based on the information we have available to us at this time.

                The budget:

                • Expands from 45 to 90 days the length of time that the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities must give prior to closing an Individualized Residential Alternative facility.
                • Rejects the Executive’s proposal to overhaul the disciplinary process for DOCCS employees.
                • Provides $50 million for enhanced safety-net hospitals. This funding will target hospitals that serve patients that are primarily on Medicaid or are uninsured, and hospitals that are either a critical access hospital or a sole community hospital.
                • Provides $12 million more than the Executive proposal for operating assistance to SUNY community colleges. This is a slight reduction over 2017-18 levels, but restores almost all of the proposed reduction caused by a decrease in enrollment.
                • Extends for three years the county-wide shared service panels instead of the permanent extender proposed in the Executive Budget and expands the ability of towns to share town justices. Rejects the Executive proposal to allow a county to take over local planning and zoning functions.
                • Flat-funds Aid and Incentives to Municipalities (AIM) at $715 million. This funding has been held flat since 2011-12.
                • Includes $100 million for expenses to local governments, including probation departments, related to the costs of raising the age of criminal responsibility.
                • Includes an additional $136 million in child care funding, mostly due to increased federal assistance. Of this funding, $80 million must be used to comply with various health and safety requirements contained in federal law, $10 million must be given to counties who expand access to subsidized child care, and the remainder may be used to increase rates paid to providers.
                • The budget includes a $100 million payment from the opioid industry in order to fund treatment programs.

                Visit our website for more information on the budget when it becomes available.

                There will be a full summary included in next week’s “This Week in Albany.”

                Never Quit Fact of the Week

                According to the Economic Policy Institute, wages in “Right-to-Work” states are 3.1% lower than in non-“Right-to-Work” states.

                  This Week in Albany

                  Week ending March 23, 2018

                  State Budget Update

                  Negotiations over the state budget have entered the home stretch, with a final agreement due before April 1st. The timing of the Easter and Passover holidays adds a complication to the schedule this year, with Passover starting on March 30th and Easter Sunday falling on April 1st. Legislative leaders have expressed a desire to wrap up the budget on March 29th, but it is unclear if that timeline will hold up.

                  This week, joint legislative budget committees were given a total of $400 million in “table targets,” which will be used as the basis for budget negotiations among the subcommittees. For example, the budget subcommittee on mental health was given $35 million that can be used to pay for changes to the Executive Budget proposal. CSEA supports using a portion of this funding to reject the closure of 400 inpatient beds within the Office of Mental Health.  

                  For more information on CSEA’s budget priorities, please visit our website.


                  Federal Update

                  Congress approved a $1.3 trillion spending bill to fund the government through September. The agreement avoids a government shutdown, as federal spending was set to expire at midnight on Friday.

                  President Trump threatened to veto the spending bill on Friday morning because it did not address the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration program or provide enough funding for a border wall.

                  Despite the threat, the President signed the bill on Friday.

                  Governor’s Race Update

                  Actress Cynthia Nixon announced this week that she will challenge Governor Cuomo in a Democratic Primary this fall. Following the announcement, former State Senator Terry Gipson dropped his candidacy.

                  Governor Cuomo is seeking re-election to his third term in November.


                  At a Glance

                  The state legislature will be in session for four days next week. The budget is due by April 1.


                  Never Quit Fact of the Week

                  According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 83% of union workers have access to paid sick time, while only 62% of non-union workers do.

                    This Week in Albany

                    Week ending March 16, 2018

                    Congresswoman Louise Slaughter Passes Away

                    U.S. Representative Louise Slaughter (D-NY25) passed away on Thursday at the age of 88. Congresswoman Slaughter was a longtime friend to CSEA and to working men and women across the country. She will be missed.

                    State Budget Update

                    The Senate and Assembly released their “one-house” budgets this week. These documents lay out what each house’s ideal budget would look like, and serve as a negotiating point as the legislature works with the Governor to reach an agreement on a final budget.

                    The following is a brief summary of important issues contained within the one-house proposals. A full summary of proposals of importance to CSEA members can be found on our website.

                    • The Senate budget rejects the Executive proposal to allow OMH to close up to 400 inpatient beds. The Assembly budget would allow OMH to close up to 100 inpatient beds. This position is unacceptable to CSEA. The OMH system cannot withstand a further reduction of needed beds and services. CSEA has been very vocal about this concern with members of the Assembly after their budget was released. CSEA supports the Senate position.
                    • The Senate and Assembly both reject the Executive proposal to close the Ella McQueen reception center in Brooklyn without legally required one-year notice. CSEA supports the position of both houses. 
                    • Both houses provide for an increase in child care funding. CSEA supports the position of both houses.
                    • Both houses restore the Executive’s proposed elimination of the $78.6 million operating subsidy for the three SUNY hospitals and provide additional aid for community colleges. CSEA supports the position of both houses.
                    • Both houses reject the Executive proposals to increase costs for retirees in the New York State Health Insurance Program (NYSHIP). CSEA supports the position of both houses.
                    • Both houses would provide increased support to local governments through the Aid and Incentives to Municipalities (AIM) program. In addition, both houses would provide increased funding for local roads through the Consolidated Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS). CSEA supports the position of both houses.
                    • The Senate rejects the Executive proposal to make the county-wide shared service panels created in last year’s budget permanent, while the Assembly accepts the proposal. CSEA supports the Senate position.
                    • Both houses provide for an increase in school aid. The Senate budget also includes a package of proposals relating to school safety. CSEA supports increased school aid and is monitoring proposals relating to school safety.
                    • Both houses would restore Executive cuts to libraries and provide additional funding on top of that. CSEA supports the position of both houses.
                    • Both houses reject the Executive proposal to expand broad-based design-build authority to several state agencies and authorities. CSEA supports the position of both houses. 

                     

                    At a Glance

                    The state legislature will be in session for four days next week as lawmakers negotiate a final state budget. Legislative leaders claim that they expect a state budget agreement to be reached by March 29.

                    Never Quit Fact of the Week

                    According to the U.S. Department of Labor, union workers are 12% more likely to have access to job-provided health insurance than non-union workers.