Page 19 - Work Force October 2020
P. 19

 SWisters and Brothers,
hen the clock struck midnight last New Year’s Eve, we felt the rush of optimism that comes with the clean slate of
a new year. As a union, we knew change was ahead. We had new statewide officers coming and the long-range planning for both the 2020 Census and November elections was underway.
I think we can safely say that this year has not turned out anything like we ever would have imagined, but we are rising to meet the challenges, just like we always do.
It has often been said that CSEA is at
our best when the pressure is on. This year, that statement has never been truer, as the Southern Region had the distinction of being the first area of the state with a COVID-19 outbreak, in Westchester County. We have endured devastating losses in our region
and state, worked countless hours providing essential services, and advocated for safe
and healthy working
conditions for all workers.
I am grateful for the strong foundation that our former statewide president, Danny Donohue, built during his 25 years leading
our union and Mary E. Sullivan’s strong leadership since becoming president. It’s
great to see the energy Denise Berkley has brought to her new role as executive vice president and I’ve been thrilled to welcome aboard Rich Bebo and Nicole Meeks to
our statewide leadership team. It’s been a pleasure, as well, working alongside my fellow region presidents: Jerry, Lester, Ron, Kenny and Steve. The history of strong leadership within CSEA equipped us for the challenges of the past year. With our leadership working side by side with our outstanding staff, we quickly adapted during the COVID-19 outbreak. Not only did we keep the business of our union going, we went a step further and advocated more than ever before on the members’ behalf.
Here in the Southern Region, our staff has been regularly busy from early morning well into the evenings, working with our
October 2020
elected leaders to resolve safety concerns, address grievances, and draft side agreements addressing COVID-related issues. I’m proud of the staff here in the Southern Region.
We have worked hard to come together as a team, forging a stronger relationship between officers and staff to move our union forward. Just like the members, our staff has been rising to meet the challenges we have faced.
I cannot stress enough how tirelessly they have worked on the members’ behalf during this pandemic, as has our excellent staff in Headquarters.
This year has been filled with both tremendous challenges and many proud moments. We are at a turning point on a national level. I am proud that so many of the members have stood up to have their voices heard and shared their own experiences that have shaped who they are. While we have many differences as CSEA members, we have much more in common. By listening
Written in 1859, “A Tale of Two Cities” comes to mind as I write this. “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times,” the sentence ends “it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” Sound familiar?
Dickens’ writing of two cities seems fitting for our country right now. We live
in two Americas. One where billionaires grow obscene wealth while working families struggle. Wisdom is cast aside for foolishness. We thrive in the divide. Front-line workers, like you, put it on the line every day,
doing your job. A choir of praise, but no investment to better your future.
Thank you for doing the jobs you do, keeping our communities moving. Union members, we must, as part of the middle class we must, as members of our community we must, as providers of needed services we all must stand up and be heard.
replace lost revenue, as does Albany County. Sometimes the need to be brave can
catch us by surprise, so it was the day that I watched peaceful protesters being tear-gassed and hit with rubber bullets in Lafayette Square. As a leader in a peaceful protest group, I was terrified by what I saw. After some thought, I was horrified by the message that it sends to union members. Unions and protest go together. We protest bad decisions by governors, local county executives, or school administrators. Peacefully protesting, voices heard, truth to power! When leaders use force to end a peaceful protest, I knew I needed to be brave and speak up. I am not sure I can adequately put the significance
of that moment into words. If I do not speak up, the next time I ask members to come for a protest, will they? This shook
my confidence. What if that was a CSEA protest? I needed a leader to stand up and take responsibility for what happened, to say
2020 Annual Delegates Meeting Officer Reports
ANTHONY M. ADAMO Southern Region President
We can move forward together
Capital Region President
One Union, Brave and Bold
“By listening to each other with open minds, and being thoughtful rather than reactive, we can move forward together.”
“I hope we can be brave enough together to be part of the change that our union and country needs now.”
to each other with open minds, and being thoughtful rather than reactive, we can move forward together.
By rising to meet the challenges, we fought the attempt to merge the New
York State Bridge Authority with another state authority. Working with our CSEA leaders and members there, we made a case for why an independent Bridge Authority was the right thing for the Hudson Valley. We fought against Medicaid cuts that would have impacted our Valley View nursing home tremendously, with Orange County Unit President Rose Kukys and her team leading the way. We faced cuts at Westchester Medical Center, but also organized a number of new members into the main bargaining unit there. We dealt – and continue to deal with – the unfair blow of the delayed 2 percent state raises while also acknowledging the devasting fiscal challenges facing our state and the fight to keep the members working. We are dealing with the immense challenges the school district unit members have
Southern Region President, continued on page 22
I hope the pandemic
continues to subside. Our
current divide over how
best to move forward safely
strikes against the very
nature of UNION. A union
is you and me working
together to be stronger. My
voice and your voice together. It is about your needs and my needs coming together guiding our collective needs. When the word “I” becomes more powerful than the word “we,” unions struggle. We cannot let that happen. We must be a voice of reason in a season of despair.
I continue struggling to figure out a
way to have conversations without anger. Struggling to clarify our union’s message. Struggling to be brave when it counts. Easier not to challenge my beliefs. Easier to think I am right, and you are wrong. But that is not brave, and we must be brave in this moment. Easy to say it is someone else’s problem. Look at the needed revenue replacement for governments as an example. Officials easily state, it is a blue state problem. You hear it so much; it becomes a mantra. But that is not true and is not brave in this moment.
In Region 4, Saratoga County needs aid to
it is not going to happen again. Without hearing those few words, I feared members would not feel safe at a protest. We union members need a President who would stand up for us, believe in us, allow us
to speak truth to power. My vote will be for Joe Biden/Kamala Harris. When you look at issues important to union members, I think your vote will be for Biden/Harris.
Please keep in mind the larger truth about this protest. Since the founding of our country, vast racial disparities have existed for Black and Brown people. Today, because of social media and cell phones, we instantly see the disparities. The lens with which many white people see America has been altered. For Black and Brown people in the United States, the way George Floyd died is not a new view. Reverend Dr. William Barber is the co-chair of the Poor Peoples’ Campaign and he said, “Do not let anyone tell you
that this is the first time people of different races, classes and educational backgrounds have come together to fight for a common
Capital Region President, continued on page 22
The Work Force 19

   17   18   19   20   21