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Legislative and Political Action

CSEA's Legislative & Political Action Department analyzes proposed legislation for its impact on members, works to advance beneficial legislation and stop harmful legislation and works with members and activists to support the campaigns of elected officials who share our values.

CSEA Political Education

ON DEMAND WEBINAR: Your Pension, Your Future

One of our union’s most important jobs is protecting your retirement security. For public employees, that means ensuring our State Pension Fund is fully-funded so it can pay out guaranteed benefits to you, now and in the future.

When it comes to the State Retirement System, members regularly have questions. We held the following webinar in September 2020, now available as an on-demand video, anytime you want to view it, to help answer your questions and concerns.

WATCH NOW by clicking on the video below!

As a companion piece to our webinar, here’s a special message to CSEA members from State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, sole trustee of our Pension Fund.

This Week in Albany - January 20, 2023

Drama Abounds in Albany! 

1. Senate Committee Rejects Hochul Chief Judge Pick

The Senate Judiciary Committee rejected Governor Hochul’s nominee for Chief Justice of the State Court of Appeals. Judge Hector LaSalle, currently appointed as a judge to the Appellate Division – Second Judicial Department – of the State Supreme Court, was rejected by the Senate by a vote of 10-9, with three Democrats and six Republicans voting to move his nomination to the full floor for a vote. This rejection, an uncommon occurrence in Albany, will undoubtedly cause tension between the Governor and the Senate moving forward.

In the days leading up to the hearing, CSEA issued a letter calling for a fair hearing and for his confirmation by the full Senate. This support was based on the strong working relationship that CSEA members within the Unified Court System have developed with him during his time on the court.

What’s next: It is not clear what the Governor will do next. She has hinted that she may file a lawsuit to compel the full Senate to vote on this nomination. However, there is no guarantee that she would be successful. If she does not pursue this, the next step would be for the Judicial Nominating Commission to meet, produce a list of names of qualified judges for the Governor to select from, and then restart the nomination process.

 

2. State Comptroller Projects Higher Than Expected Revenue

The Comptroller announced that the state is on track to collect $7 billion more in revenue than originally projected. While not guaranteed, this projection is a positive for the state and will help ensure that we have adequate resources to fund public services throughout the state.

 

3. Federal Debt Ceiling Hit

On Thursday, the United States government hit the nation’s debt ceiling. The debt ceiling is a cap on the total amount of money that the federal government is authorized to borrow to fulfil its financial obligations.

Since the debt limit has been hit, the Treasury Department is now using “extraordinary measures” to continue paying the government’s obligations, including financial tools that enable the country to continue paying providers in the Medicare system and federal employee salaries.

What’s next: The use of “extraordinary measures” gives the government until June to raise the debt ceiling. Any increase must be passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate. However, Republicans in the House of Representatives have said that they will not vote to increase the debt ceiling without massive cuts to spending, including funding that helps maintain services provided by CSEA members.  

What’s the (potential) impact: Failure to increase the debt ceiling could cause the U.S. Government to default on its debt, which would be devastating to world financial markets and cause a cascade of financial problems both here and abroad.  

4. What’s Happening Next Week

The State Senate and Assembly are in session for three days next week. We expect the Executive Budget proposal to be released the week of January 30.  

This Week in Albany - January 13, 2023

Legislative session, full speed ahead! 

 

1. Governor Lays Out 2023 Priorities

Delivering the State of the State address to a full crowd in the State Assembly chamber, Governor Hochul laid out her agenda for the 2023 legislative session. The Governor focused on increasing the state’s housing stock, allowing more judicial discretion for setting bail, and strengthening the economy, all while declaring that she will not increase income taxes.

 

Specific to CSEA, the Governor laid out proposals that would:

  • Rebuild the public sector by holding civil service exams on an ongoing basis, modernize the civil service pay structure, and create “Centers for Careers in Government,” where job seekers can meet with civil service specialists and find out about careers in New York State government
  • Add 150 inpatient beds at state operated mental health hospitals
  • Index the state’s minimum wage to inflation
  • Increase K-12 foundation aid by an additional $2.7 billion, an increase of 13%, to a total of $24 billion
  • Raise income limits for subsidized child care, potentially leading to 113,000 more children being eligible for a subsidy
  • Require counties to reimburse CSEA/VOICE represented child care providers for up to 80 child absences annually.

What Does This Mean: While all of this looks good on paper, the devil is in the details. The Governor is required to submit her Executive Budget proposal no later than February 1. At that time, CSEA will review these and all other proposals to determine the potential impact on union members.

 

Why It Matters: The structure of the budget process in New York gives most of the power to the Governor. While the Legislature can push back against items they do not like, or fight for additional funding in programs, most of the Governor’s proposals will be included in a final budget, likely in modified forms.

 

2. Hearing on New Chief Judge Drawing Closer

After the Governor nominated Judge Hector LaSalle as the state’s top judge, the clock began ticking for Senate action. The Senate had 30 days to accept or reject this nomination. We learned late this week that the Senate Judiciary Committee is planning on holding a hearing on this nomination on Wednesday, January 18, four days before the deadline. At this point, it is not clear whether he has the votes to the confirmed.

 

Why It Matters: The Governor having their pick for chief judge (or any other nomination, for that matter) rejected is extremely rare in Albany. If the Senate does not confirm Judge LaSalle, it could create hostilities between the Governor and Senate that could drag out through the entire legislative session.

 

3. Congressman Santos – But for How Long?

Leaders of the State and Nassau County Republican parties called on Congressman George Santos to resign for his alleged lies and fabrications about his resume, personal and campaign finances, resume and family heritage. Congressman Santos rejected any calls to resign. Party leaders have no authority to remove him from office.

 

Why It Matters: With a slim majority in the House of Representatives, Republicans cannot afford to lose any seats, especially in districts that were previously held by Democrats. The loss of any of these seats could make Speaker McCarthy’s hold on the Speakership even more tenuous.

 

4. At a Glance

The Legislature will not meet on Monday due to the Martin Luther King Jr. observance. They will be in session on Tuesday and Wednesday.

This Week in Albany - January 6, 2023

Welcome to 2023! 

1 Big Thing: State Legislators are Back

On Wednesday, State Senators and Assemblymembers gaveled in for the start of the 2023 session. Members met in each chamber to be sworn in, elect leadership, and adopt the rules of each house.

Next Steps: Legislation always moves slowly at the beginning of a new term and the budget takes up most available time from late January through April 1. Expect heavier legislative action in the coming months.

2. New Year, New Fights 

With a full four-year term secured, Governor Hochul has turned to governing. In late December, the Governor nominated Hector D. LaSalle as the Chief Judge of the New York State Court of Appeals. This nomination has not have gone according to plan. Judge LaSalle, currently a justice in State Supreme Court, immediately faced opposition in the Senate due to decisions he issued regarding abortion and workers rights. At this time, it is not clear whether his nomination will make it through the Senate.

Why it matters: The Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals rules on court cases that can directly impact CSEA members. In addition, the presiding judge sets policies and procedures for the thousands of CSEA members who work for the court system.

3. New Faces in Important Legislative Roles

With a significant number of incumbent Senators and Assemblymembers either choosing not to run for re-election or losing their election in 2022, there has been a significant shakeup of committee chairs in both chambers.

In the Assembly, the Governmental Employees committee (which handles all civil service and pension legislation) will see a new chair, Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato (Queens) and the Assembly Health Committee chair, now Amy Paulin (Westchester), has changed for the first time in 35 years.

A full list of committee chairs and leadership in each house can be found on the Assembly and Senate websites.

The Big Picture: Committee chairs hold significant power in moving or stopping legislation within their committee’s jurisdiction.

4. U.S. Senate is in Session. The House of Representatives — Not so Much

This week marked the start of the new legislative sessions for the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives. While the Senate has begun working this week, the House of Representatives has not yet officially begun due to their failure to elect a Speaker of the House.

What’s Happening: Republicans in the House won a majority of seats in November’s election. However, as of this email, no candidate for Speaker of the House of Representatives has received a majority of the votes cast. Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, who was hoping to become the next speaker, is facing opposition from 20 conservative members of the Republican House caucus.

Why it matters: Without a Speaker of the House, the chamber is not technically in session. Members cannot be sworn in and seated, and no legislative action can take place.

5.  At a Glance

The Governor will issue her State of the State address to the State Senate and Assembly on Tuesday, January 10. Expect new insight regarding the Governor’s priorities for the coming year.

The Legislature will be in session next Monday and Tuesday.

This Week in Albany - December 16, 2022

Happy Holidays! This email is 505 words, just under a 2 minute read.

This will be the last edition of “This Week in Albany” for 2022. Thank you for sticking with us, and helping to bring about positive change for working people in New York. Have a safe and happy holiday season and New Year.

1 Big Thing: Celebrating 2022’s Greatest Hits

We secured the first positive pension reforms in over two decades thanks to the activism of CSEA members

  • By the numbers: CSEA members sent over 25,000 emails and made over 1,200 phone calls to the legislature and executive as part of our “Fix Tier 6” campaign
  • What got done: 1) Vesting time for Tiers 5 and 6 was reduced from 10 years to 5 years; 2) For the next two years, overtime earnings will be excluded from pension contribution rates for Tier 6 members.
  • The fight to Fix Tier 6 isn’t over, but it’s important to recognize the historic victories we achieved this year.

We secured the passage of numerous other policy and budgetary victories, including:

  • $3,000 bonuses for health care and direct care workers;
  • Extension of World Trade Center benefits for first responders, the COVID-19 death benefit for public employees, and COVID-19 vaccination leave time;
  • Pension “buyback” for LGBTQ veterans;
  • Monthly status reports from the Office of Mental Health;
  • Requiring notification prior to the closing of an Office for People With Developmental Disabilities Individualized Residential Alternative (IRA);
  • Worker protections for the implementation of electric school buses and other vehicles;
  • Numerous victories for our child care providers, including increasing subsidy rates, expanding facilitated enrollment, expanding payment for absences, changes to eligibility determinations, and new investments in providers and their workers;
  • Making the roads safer for snowplows and other drivers by allowing plows to display a green light; and
  • Record school funding

We endorsed winning candidates

  • By the numbers: Over 90% of candidates endorsed by CSEA won their election this year.
  • Now, we must hold these elected officials accountable for their actions while in office.

2. Looking Ahead to 2023

State government will hit the ground running in 2023, with a busy January:

  • January 1: Governor Hochul’s inauguration
  • January 4: First day of the 2023 state legislative session
  • January 10: Governor Hochul delivers her “State of the State” address
  • February 1: Last day for submission of the 2023-24 Executive Budget proposal

New Look Legislatures

There will be signification turnover within New York’s Congressional delegation and in the state legislature once the new members are seated in January.

By the numbers:

  • The House of Representatives will have 8 new members (a 31% changeover)
  • The State Senate will have 14 new members (22%)
  • The State Assembly will have 23 new members (15%)

Why it matters: This changeover will lead to many new faces in new places in Albany and in Washington. In the state legislature, there will be significant changes made to the leadership of multiple committees that handle issues of importance to CSEA. Stay tuned for more information on these developments when we’re back in January.

This Week in Albany- December 9, 2022

1. Big Thing: 2023 Calendar Taking Shape

This week, the State Legislature released its 2023 session calendar and Governor Hochul released details of two major events early in the new year.

Important dates: The 2023 state legislative session will begin on January 4 and end on June 8. The legislature will be in session for 60 days during that period. View the full calendar here.

  • Governor’s Hochul’s inauguration will take place on January 1 in Albany.
  • The Governor will hold the first “State of the State” of her new term on January 10 at 1 p.m.

2. Here We Go Again

The Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC) released a new set of proposed Assembly District lines for 2024 in a story that keeps on giving.

The Big Picture: While district lines for the U.S. House and New York State Senate were redrawn by a court-appointed “special master” before the 2022 elections, the Assembly was permitted to elect candidates in districts drawn by the state legislature.

  • However, the court ruled that the Assembly lines were drawn using the same flawed process as the others and ordered the IRC to propose new lines for 2024.

Next Steps: The IRC will hold public hearings on the proposed maps and has until April 28 to deliver the maps to the state legislature. If the legislature rejects the maps, the IRC will have to submit a second proposal.

  • In other words: this is far from over.

3. Democrats win 51st Seat … or Not

Sen. Raphael Warnock rallies with labor leaders, including AFSCME President Lee Saunders and AFL-CIO President Liz Schuler.

Democrats won their 51st seat in the U.S. Senate when Raphael Warnock (D-Georgia) won the Dec. 6 runoff election to earn his first full term in the Senate.

However, Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) announced on Friday that she was changing her party affiliation from Democrat to independent.

Why it matters: While Democrats had already secured a majority in the Senate, Warnock’s victory appeared to give Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) more room to operate.

  • Sinema’s decision is likely to leave Schumer in the same situation he found himself in over the past two years – having to court “moderate” Democratic Senators Sinema and Joe Manchin (D-WV) to get anything through the Senate.
  • The 2022 elections were the first time in at least 100 years where every incumbent senator on the ballot was re-elected.

The bottom line: Regardless of whether Schumer’s conference is 50 or 51 members, it will still be difficult for Congress to pass legislation over the next two years with a Democratic Senate and Republican House.

 

4. At a Glance

Next week’s “This Week in Albany” (12/16) will be the final edition of 2022.

 

This Week in Albany - December 2, 2022

1 Big Thing: Action!

With the 2022 elections behind us, activity has picked up on the hundreds of outstanding bills that passed both houses of the legislature and await Executive action.

Among the bills acted on over the past two weeks:

OMH Monthly Reports (A.6506 – Gunther / S.4253 – Skoufis, signed into law): This bill will require the Office of Mental Health (OMH) to continue to provide monthly reports for every State-operated inpatient OMH facility. CSEA strongly supported this legislation.

  • Why it matters: This data regarding the census, admissions, discharges, and length of stay for State facilities is critical to understanding patient trends and the number of beds funded within the state OMH system.


OPWDD Staffing Report
(S.9086 – Mannion / A.10483 – Anderson, vetoed): This bill would have required the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) to issue a detailed staffing report for State-operated facilities. CSEA supported this legislation.

  • This bill was vetoed along with a number of other bills that would establish new commissions, task forces, or require new studies and reports due to fiscal concerns from the Executive.
  • We don’t need a study to know that staffing is a problem at OPWDD, and CSEA continues to work with the Hochul Administration to find ways to address the staffing challenges within the agency.

2. New York State of Mind

House Democrats chose Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY8) to replace Nancy Pelosi (D-California) as the leader of their caucus this week.

Why it matters:

  • New Yorkers now lead the Democratic caucuses in both the U.S. House and Senate
  • Jeffries is the first black leader of a party in Congress
  • This is the first time House Democrats have had a change in leadership since 2003

3. You Live Where?

Questions have been raised over Assembly candidate Lester Chang’s qualifications to run for office in Brooklyn following his upset win over Peter Abbate.

  • It is unclear if Mr. Chang met the residency requirements to run for office in Brooklyn after voting in Manhattan last year.
  • The Assembly could vote against seating Chang if the issue isn’t settled by the time the Assembly seats its members in January. This would require Gov. Hochul to call a Special Election to fill the vacancy.

4. At a Glance

“This Week in Albany” will be hitting your inbox each of the next two weeks (12/9 and 12/16) before taking off the rest of the year for the holidays.

 

This Week in Albany - November 18, 2022

A House Divided

While ballots are still being counted in races across the country, the outcome of last week’s elections has come into focus.

  • Democrats held control of the U.S. Senate, and may pick up one seat depending on the outcome of the December 6 runoff in Georgia. Chuck Schumer will remain Majority Leader, providing a huge benefit to New York.
  • Republicans have flipped control of the House of Representatives, and will have a slim majority in 2023. Several races have yet to be called, so the exact count is still to be determined. The Republican flip of four seats in New York was key to the party capturing the House.
  • In the state legislature, Democrats retained strong majorities in each house and may maintain a supermajority of 2/3 in each house.
  • If you are ever wondering if your vote counts, the supermajority in the State Senate will come down to the outcome in SD-50, where Democrat John Mannion leads by only 27 votes. The margin is close enough to trigger an automatic recount.
  • Deeper dive: Click here to view a list of CSEA’s endorsed candidates and the outcome of elections across the state.

Committee Carousel

As we turn toward the 2023 state legislative session following last week’s elections, it is clear that there will be a lot of new faces in positions of power come January.

Assembly Governmental Employees Committee Chair Peter Abbate (D-Brooklyn) was defeated in an Election Day surprise. Assemblyman Abbate is a great friend to CSEA, and has sponsored nearly all of the most important civil service and pension law changes over the past two decades. Fittingly, his final bill that passed in the legislature was CSEA’s State contract in 2022. His leadership in the Assembly will be missed.

Other open committee leadership positions include:

  • Senate: Local Government (Jim Gaughran), Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs (John Brooks), Commerce, Economic Development and Small Business (Anna Kaplan), Procurement and Contracts (Elijah Reichlin-Melnick), Internet and Technology (Diane Savino), and possibly Disabilities (John Mannion)*.
  • Assembly: Health (Dick Gottfried), Insurance (Kevin Cahill), People with Disabilities (Tom Abinanti), Environmental Conservation (Steve Englebright)*, and Housing (Steve Cymbrowitz).

Legislative Update

On Veterans Day, Governor Hochul signed into law CSEA-supported legislation (A.5278B – Barrett / S.6022B – Hoylman) to ensure that LBGTQ veterans who were discharged due to their sexual orientation or gender identity can buy back their military service for pension purposes.

At a Glance

“This Week in Albany” will be off next week for the Thanksgiving holiday and return on December 2. Have a safe and happy holiday.

 

This Week in Albany - November 11, 2022

A Note from CSEA President Mary E. Sullivan

Thank you to every CSEA member who voted, organized, and volunteered in this year’s elections.

Candidates who earned CSEA’s endorsement were very successful across the state, and together we elected many strong leaders that will fight on behalf of working people.

Electing the right people is just the first step. Now we must hold these elected officials accountable as we fight for strong labor legislation, fair contracts, and better representation in the workplace.

Let’s get to work.

Red Ripple

While votes are still being counted, and results are mixed for candidates in both parties, the “red wave” predicted by many pollsters and media outlets in recent weeks did not materialize on Election Day.

Statewide Races

1. Governor Kathy Hochul defeated Lee Zeldin to become the first woman to win election to the Governor’s office.

CSEA endorsed Governor Hochul, and her running mate, Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado. We look forward to continuing to work with the Hochul administration in support of CSEA members across the state.


2. Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, Attorney General Tish James, and U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer were all re-elected
by comfortable margins.


3. The Environmental Bond Act received strong support from voters.
This funding will be critical to ensure CSEA members are supported during the transition away from fossil fuels.

State Legislature

Republicans appear to have chipped away at the Democratic majorities in the State Senate and Assembly.

Several incumbent legislators in each house were either defeated or are at risk of losing their seats at the time of this email, however many races are still too close to call.

Additional information on these races will be provided next week.

Congress

Republicans appear poised to take control of the House of Representatives, while control of the U.S. Senate is still very much a tossup.

It is possible that control over the U.S. Senate will come down to a runoff election in Georgia next month.

Stay tuned for more information on these races next week.

 Honoring Our Veterans

CSEA stands strong with our veterans, including the thousands of CSEA members who have proudly served.

During the 2022 legislative session, CSEA worked to secure several important bills for our veterans, including:

  • A.3582A – Hunter / S.9076 – Brooks: This bill permanently extended the time frame for causes of action for an injury or death caused by exposure to Agent Orange. Governor Hochul signed this bill into law – Chapter 506 of the Laws of 2022.
  • A.5278B – Barrett / S.6022B – Hoylman: This bill would ensure that LGBTQ veterans who were discharged due to their sexual orientation or gender identity can buy back their military service for pension purposes if they have received a discharge other than ‘bad conduct’ or ‘dishonorable.’ This bill passed both houses of the legislature and is awaiting gubernatorial action.

CSEA members across the state are participating in Veterans Day events today and over the weekend to honor those who have served, or are serving, in uniform. Click here for more information.

This Week in Albany - November 4, 2022

Charting Your Influence

When CSEA members stand together, we have the power to elect labor-friendly candidates that share our values.

We don’t get involved in elections just for fun. We get involved so that we can have a positive influence on legislation, organizing, collective bargaining, and other issues of importance to union members.

This Election Day, let’s make sure we get out and show our power. When we stand together, we win.

CSEA Voter Turnout v. General Public (2019-2021)

Tuesday is Election Day!

  • Polls will be open from 6 a.m. – 9 p.m.
  • If you haven’t voted already, what’s your plan to vote?
  • Not sure where to vote? Click here to find your polling place.
  • Click here to learn about CSEA’s endorsed candidates.
  • Don’t forget to turn over your ballot and VOTE YES on Proposal 1.

Your Vote is Your Voice!

Voting is a core part of showing the strength of our union. While who you vote for is a personal choice, CSEA encourages you to make your voice heard.

This Week in Albany - October 28, 2022

Election Spotlight – Statewide Races and Ballot Proposal

In our final “Election Spotlight” of 2022, we take a look at the statewide races and the one statewide ballot proposal.

Governor and Lieutenant Governor
CSEA Endorsement:
Kathy Hochul and Antonio Delgado

The administration of Governor Kathy Hochul has been a complete 180 from that of her predecessor. Governor Hochul respects CSEA members and the work that they do, and has delivered historically significant victories during her time in office, including:

  • A contract with CSEA-represented State employees that provides 13% raises (the highest raises in over a decade) , a $3,000 signing bonus, long-overdue changes to longevity, wage adjustments for those in titles with increased hiring rates, and numerous other improvements without any increases in health insurance costs;
  • The first positive pension reforms in over 20 years ;
  • $3,000 bonuses to healthcare and direct care workers; and
  • Supporting local governments that had been ignored by the state for a decade.

Antonio Delgado has been a friend to CSEA members since he was first elected to public office, and has gone out of his way to engage with CSEA members on the issues they care about.

The choice between the two gubernatorial tickets is clear.

State Comptroller
CSEA Endorsement:
Tom DiNapoli

Tom DiNapoli has routinely received more votes than the “top” of the statewide ticket, thanks in large part to his support among public sector workers. Why is his approval so high? Because he controls one of the best managed and funded pension plans in the nation.  

If you are a member of the New York State and Local Retirement System, your retirement is more secure thanks to the leadership of Comptroller DiNapoli. He has earned our support.

U.S. Senator
CSEA Endorsement:
Chuck Schumer

During his two years as Majority Leader, Senator Schumer has delivered for New York with the American Rescue Plan, the CHIPS and Science Act, historic infrastructure bill, and more.

Regardless of your political affiliation, having our senior Senator as the Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate has brought immense benefits to CSEA members and New York State.

Attorney General
CSEA Endorsement:
Letitia Tish” James

CSEA has endorsed Tish James for re-election. As Attorney General, James has held employers accountable by fighting on behalf of working people against lost wages, unfair labor practices and unsafe working conditions.

Statewide Ballot Proposal: Environmental Bond Act
CSEA Position:
Support

Our economy is inevitably moving away from fossil fuels towards more renewable forms of energy. In addition, New York has significant environmental-related infrastructure needs. Many CSEA members will be impacted by these ongoing issues.

The Environmental Bond Act of 2022 will provide critical funding to ensure that CSEA members aren’t left behind.

If approved, this Bond Act would provide $4.2 billion to fund:

  • Electric school bus fleets;
  • Green infrastructure and renewable energy projects at SUNY campuses, community colleges, public schools, and other public buildings;
  • Open space conservation and recreation;
  • Water infrastructure; and
  • Labor and “Buy American” standards for these projects.

CSEA supports Proposal 1 and encourages members to vote yes.

Early Voting Begins Tomorrow

Early voting begins tomorrow, Saturday, October 29 and runs through November 6.

Visit your county board of elections website for more information on where and when you can participate in early voting.

Important Election Dates

Please note the following dates of interest for the November 8 General Election:

  • October 29 – November 6: Early voting
  • November 7: Last day to apply in-person for an absentee ballot
  • November 8: Election Day

 

This Week in Albany - October 21, 2022

Election Spotlight – Western Region 6

This week, we look at highlighted endorsements in CSEA Western Region 6.

Erie County Clerk
CSEA Endorsement: Melissa Hartman (D)

Everyone can identify with what it’s like to work for a terrible boss, but one of the many benefits to CSEA members engaging in politics is that on Election Day, they get a chance to vote them out!

There aren’t many bosses worse than current Erie County Clerk Mickey Kearns. Since he first took office four years ago, CSEA has had to file more than 29 grievances against him, 18 of which remain open! Additionally, CSEA has recently filed Improper Practice charges against him for anti-union animus and he has further been the subject of two hostile work environment complaints.

In the nearly six years Melissa Hartman has served as Eden Town Supervisor overseeing the town’s union members, as well as the seven years she supervised CSEA members at UB, she has never had a grievance filed against her. Under Melissa’s leadership, CSEA members working in the clerk’s office will no longer have to fear retribution simply for standing up for the rights afforded to them by their contract. She will be the kind of boss they need and that they deserve.

Congressional District 25
CSEA Endorsement: Joe Morelle (D)

CSEA has endorsed Congressman Joe Morelle for reelection. Joe is the former Majority Leader of the NYS Assembly and longtime friend of CSEA. The new 25th Congressional District includes all of Monroe County as well as north and eastern portions of Orleans County.

Congressman Morelle has delivered again and again for CSEA and working families. As a member of the powerful House Rules Committee as well as the Appropriations and Budget committees, he has been a part of some of the most impactful pieces of legislation in recent memory. When cash-strapped states and local governments were struggling during the pandemic to maintain vital services and keep CSEA members employed, Joe was influential in delivering the aid they needed through the passage of the American Rescue Plan. His support in delivering billions in infrastructure aid, reducing the deficit, and investing in American manufacturing to lessen our dependence on China shows that CSEA has no better friend in Congress than Joe Morelle.

Get in Your Mail Ballot Requests

If you plan on voting by absentee ballot, Monday, October 24 is the deadline to request a ballot be mailed to you. After receiving your ballot, be sure to complete both sides, sign and date. Return ballots must be postmarked by November 8.

You can still request an absentee ballot in-person from your county’s board of elections office no later than November 7.  

Election Deadlines

Please note the following dates of interest for the November 8 General Election:

  • October 24: Last day to mail a request for an absentee ballot
  • October 29 – November 6: Early voting
  • November 7: Last day to apply in-person for an absentee ballot
  • November 8: Election Day

 

This Week in Albany - October 14, 2022

Election Spotlight – Central Region 5

This week, we look at highlighted endorsements in CSEA Central Region 5.

State Senate District 50
CSEA Endorsement: John Mannion (D)

CSEA has endorsed State Senator John Mannion for re-election. John is a former teacher and union president. The new 50th district includes the northern Onondaga County and southern Oswego County.

Senator Mannion hit the ground running during his first term in office. He fought alongside CSEA for the first positive reforms to the pension system in decades and he understands there’s more work to be done. He also secured bonuses for health and direct care workers in passing the NYS Healthcare Worker Bonus Program.

Most importantly, Senator Mannion serves as a voice for labor and the issues impacting union members around the state. He is chair of the Senate’s Disabilities Committee, where he works closely with CSEA on issues of importance to the workforce at the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD). With our support, he will continue to deliver for CSEA members in the State Senate.

Congressional District 22
CSEA Endorsement: Francis Conole (D)

CSEA has endorsed Francis Conole for Congressional District 22. The new 22nd Congressional District contains the entirety of Onondaga, Madison and Oneida Counties. The open congressional seat is rated as the most competitive race in the country.

Conole is a fourth generation Central New Yorker, an Iraq War Veteran, and a Commander in the Navy Reserves. Once elected to Congress, Francis will fight for federal protections and rights for workers to organize and collectively bargain. He is also committed to protecting Medicare and Social Security from cuts and privatization. Conole will be a strong voice for labor in Congress.

Election Deadlines

Please note the following dates of interest for the November 8 General Election:

  • October 24: Last day to mail a request for an absentee ballot
  • October 29 – November 6: Early voting
  • November 7: Last day to apply in-person for an absentee ballot
  • November 8: Election Day

 

This Week in Albany - October 7, 2022

Election Spotlight – Capital Region 4

This week, we look at highlighted endorsements in CSEA Capital Region 4.

State Senate District 43
CSEA Endorsement:
Andrea Smyth (D)

CSEA has endorsed public policy advocate Andrea Smyth for Senate District 43. This new, open district encompasses portions of Albany County (Town of Colonie, Cities of Green Island and Cohoes), all of Rensselaer County and most of Washington County.  

As the President of the NYS Coalition of Behavioral Health, Smyth joined CSEA in securing the passage of the NYS Health Care Worker’s Bonus program. There is no doubt, based on her years of experience in developing public policy, Smyth will be a strong, new voice for CSEA members in the State Senate.

Congressional District 21
CSEA Endorsement:
Matt Castelli (D)

CSEA has endorsed political newcomer Matt Castelli for Congressional District 21. Largely known as the “North Country District,”  following redistricting, the 15 counties that make up NY-21 now include Montgomery, Rensselaer and Schoharie.

Castelli led counterterrorism operations as a CIA officer and served as the Director of Counterterrorism for the National Security Council. Presently, he leads a veteran-founded tech company that seeks to improve the health care system for veterans and rural communities. Matt Castelli will bring much needed change to the North Country’s representation in Congress.

Make Sure You’re Registered to Vote!

The deadline to register to vote in the November 8th General Election is next Friday, October 14.

To check your registration status, register online, view a full list of CSEA’s endorsements, or view more voting information, please visit our website.

Election Deadlines

Please note the following dates of interest for the November 8 General Election:

  • October 14: Last day to register to vote
  • October 24: Last day to mail a request for an absentee ballot
  • October 29 – November 6: Early voting
  • November 8: Election Day
This Week in Albany - September 30, 2022

Shutdown Averted

Congress reached an agreement to fund the federal government through December 16, thereby avoiding an impending government shutdown.

The spending bill passed the Senate by a 72-25 vote and the House by a vote of 230-201.

Election Spotlight – Southern Region 3

This week, we look at highlighted endorsements in Southern Region 3.

The Hudson Valley is one of the battlegrounds that will determine which party controls Congress come January. Let’s take a look at two high-profile Congressional races where CSEA has endorsed:

Congressional District 18
CSEA Endorsement:
Pat Ryan (D)

CSEA has endorsed Representative Pat Ryan for re-election. Rep. Ryan was previously the Ulster County Executive until he won a Special Election in September to serve out the remainder of now-Lt. Gov. Antonio Delgado’s term. As County Executive, Ryan negotiated excellent contracts with CSEA, which were ratified by a wide margin. Pat is a strong supporter of a woman’s right to choose, and is a West Point graduate who served two tours in Iraq.

Congressional District 19
CSEA Endorsement:
Marc Molinaro (R)

CSEA has endorsed Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro (R). Marc and CSEA have had a productive relationship for well over a decade, with an open-door policy to solve any issues. We negotiated multiple contracts with Mr. Molinaro, with the most recent being overwhelmingly supported by CSEA membership.

Other races of note:

State Senate District 41
CSEA Endorsement:
Sue Serino (R)

In what is expected to be among the more high-profile State Senate races in the state, CSEA has endorsed Senator Sue Serino (R) in Senate District 41. This district covers portions of Ulster, Dutchess, Greene & Columbia Counties. CSEA made the decision to endorse Sen. Serino based on her nearly decade-long relationship with the organization, her unwavering efforts to increase OPWDD & OMH services in New York, and her high profile efforts to combat the Lyme Disease issue that continues to plague the residents and CSEA members of the 41st Senate District.

State Senate District 39
CSEA Endorsement:
Rob Rolison (R)

In Senate District 39, CSEA has endorsed Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison (R). Rob is a retired police officer and detective who served as president of his PBA. He has worked with CSEA as Chairman of the Dutchess County Legislature, and now as Mayor. Mr. Rolison has the government experience and proven track record to effectively serve as a state senator on day one.

To view a full list of CSEA’s endorsements, and to view more voting information, please visit our website.

Election Deadlines

Please note the following dates of interest for the November 8 General Election:

  • October 14: Last day to register to vote
  • October 24: Last day to mail a request for an absentee ballot
  • October 29 – November 6: Early voting
  • November 8: Election Day

 

This Week in Albany - September 23, 2022

Update: Health Care and Direct Care Bonus Program

The New York State Division of Budget has issued guidance to state agencies regarding the health care and mental hygiene worker bonus program. This program, enacted by the state legislature and Governor, will provide bonus payments of up to $3,000 to recruit and retain health care and mental hygiene workers. The memo details eligible agencies/work locations and eligible titles.

State employees are not required to complete an attestation form to be eligible for this program.

Pursuant to the budget bulletin, the first bonus will begin to be paid out on 10/20/2022 (Institutional payroll) and 10/26/2022 (Administration payroll) for those eligible for payments. Bonus payments will be made in an employee’s regular paycheck but state and local taxes will not be deducted (federal taxes will still be taken out).

If you do not receive payment on 10/20/2022 or 10/26/2022 and you believe that you are eligible, we encourage you to first talk with your human resources office to find out if they have deemed you eligible. If they tell you that you are not eligible for the bonus, and you work at an eligible employer and are in an eligible title, please reach out to your labor relations specialist to determine next steps.

Please note that the above information is specific to state employees. Additional information regarding this program, including information for non-state employees, is available on the CSEA website.

Election Spotlight – Metropolitan Region 2

With Election Day less than two months away, we would like to highlight some of the CSEA-endorsed candidates on the ballot across the state. Our plan is to focus on one CSEA region each week, followed by a highlight of statewide races.

This week, we look at highlighted endorsements in CSEA Region 2.

To view a full list of CSEA’s endorsements, and to view more voting information, please visit our website.

Congressional District 11 (Staten Island, parts of Brooklyn)
CSEA Endorsement: Max Rose (D)

Max Rose served in Congress from 2018-20. He is the recipient of the Bronze Star and a Purple Heart for his service in Afghanistan. When Max was in Congress, he was a strong supporter of labor and worker rights. He had a 100% AFL-CIO voting record. This included his support for the Heroes Act, which provided important funding for state and local governments hit hard by the COVID pandemic. This funding directly benefited CSEA members so they could continue to work and provide the services New Yorkers depend on. Max also supported The Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, which would modernize the National Labor Relations Act to give working people a voice on the job so they can negotiate for higher wages, better benefits, a more secure retirement and a safer workplace. He put politics aside and worked with Republicans to get things done on behalf of his constituents and was rated as one of the most bipartisan members of congress. We need to send Max Rose back to Congress so he can continue to fight for working people, including CSEA members and the important services we provide every day.

Election Deadlines

Please note the following dates of interest for the November 8 General Election:

  • October 14: Last day to register to vote
  • October 24: Last day to mail a request for an absentee ballot
  • October 29 – November 6: Early voting
  • November 8: Election Day
This Week in Albany - September 16, 2022

Election Spotlight – Long Island Region 1

With Election Day less than two months away, we would like to highlight some of the CSEA-endorsed candidates on the ballot across the state. Our plan is to focus on one CSEA region each week, followed by a highlight of statewide races.

To view a full list of CSEA’s endorsements, and to view more voting information, please visit our website.

State Senate District 1
CSEA Endorsement: Anthony Palumbo (R)

Senator Anthony Palumbo has a record of standing strong with working families in the 1stSenate District. While previously an Assemblymember and now as a State Senator, he has worked hard for the East End. Senator Palumbo has fought for mental health awareness, assisted on improving infrastructure projects, and is standing up for our environment. Senator Palumbo is leading the way for the East End’s unique ecosystem by passing legislation that increases conservation, reduces waste, and reduces carbon emissions. Let’s send Senator Palumbo back to the Senate in November.

State Senate District 7
CSEA Endorsement: Jack Martins (R)

As a former State Senator from this district, Jack Martins stood up for Long Islanders. We need him back to continue fighting for all New Yorkers. Martins has a history of working across the aisle and putting politics aside to get things done for New York. He worked with members of both parties to improve Long Island’s drinking water, to create over 139,000 new jobs across the state, and to bring millions of dollars to Long Island communities for downtown revitalization. As the former Chair of the Senate’s Labor Committee, Jack worked very closely with CSEA members, and we are confident that Jack will continue to stand up for us.

Election Deadlines

Please note the following dates of interest for the November 8 General Election:

  • October 14: Last day to register to vote
  • October 24: Last day to mail a request for an absentee ballot
  • October 29 – November 6: Early voting
  • November 8: Election Day
This Week in Albany - September 9, 2022

Legislative Update – Never Forget

Twenty-one years after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the brave men and women who took part in rescue, recovery, and clean-up operations are still suffering from the impacts of their participation.

In recognition of this, the legislature passed a bill to extend for four years the time period for filing claims for participants. Governor Hochul is expected to sign this legislation into law before the upcoming deadline.

WTC Claim Extension
S.9294A (Gounardes) / A.10415 (Niou)
CSEA Position: Support
Status: Delivered to the Governor, Awaiting Action

This bill extends for four years the period for filing a claim relating to World Trade Center rescue, recovery, and clean-up operations. This period had been set to expire on 9/11/2022.

CSEA will always remember the lives of those who were lost on that tragic day, including CSEA members Yvette Anderson, Florence Cohen, Harry Goody, Marian “Marty” Hrycak and Dorothy Temple.

Elections Update

CSEA has issued endorsements for the November 8 General Election across the state. Click here to view endorsed candidates for your region.

Please note the following dates of interest for the November 8 General Election:

  • October 14: Last day to register to vote
  • October 24: Last day to mail a request for an absentee ballot
  • October 29 – November 6: Early voting
  • November 8: Election Day

 

This Week in Albany - August 26, 2022

Primary #2 Recap

New York held its second primary election of the summer Tuesday for Congress and State Senate. CSEA endorsed candidates were overwhelmingly successful.

There were several notable races that gained national attention. A special election in the 19thCongressional District, Democrat Pat Ryan defeated Republican Marc Molinaro in a race to fill the remaining term of Lt. Governor Antonio Delgado’s former seat. Ryan’s campaign focused on support of women’s rights due to the Supreme Court’s recent overturning of Roe v. Wade. In the 17th CD, CSEA endorsed Sean Patrick Maloney easily defeated a challenge from state Senator Alessandra Biaggi. Maloney a moderate Democrat campaigned on the mainstream positions of the Democratic party.

For more election information and full list of CSEA endorsed candidates, click here.

Legislative Update

Governor Hochul has acted on the following bills:

4 Hours Paid Leave – Blood Donation (State Employees Only)
S.907A (Sanders) / A.1871 (Dinowitz)
CSEA Position: Support
Status: Signed into Law – Chapter 530 of the Laws of 2022

This legislation grants state employees up to four hours of annual leave, without charge to any accruals, to donate blood.

Green Lights for Snow Plows
A.811-A
(Wallace) / S.532-A (Kennedy)
CSEA Position:
Support
Status: Signed into law – Chapter 504 of the Laws of 2022

This legislation will allow snow plows to display one or more green lights in addition to the amber lights they are already permitted to display. While it may seem like a minor change, this bill will go a long way to help protect workers by making the equipment they use even more visible to the traveling public. Green lights have been proven to be easier for the human eye to see and provide better visibility during storms. This legislation will help to better protect workers on our roads.

COLA Update

Eligible retirees will see a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) increase in their monthly pension payments beginning in late September, according to Comptroller Tom Dinapoli. This year’s COLA will be 3% – the maximum allowable under state law. The COLA will apply to the first $18,000 of your benefit, resulting in a maximum annual increase of $540.

At a Glance

“This Week in Albany” will return to weekly editions on September 9.

 

This Week in Albany - August 12, 2022

Legislative Spotlight – Health care and Direct Care Worker Bonuses

Governor Hochul announced the opening of the online portal for employers to file for bonus payments for health care and direct care workers. This bonus program was announced by Governor Hochul in her State of the State address in January and passed into law by the State Legislature in the state budget in April.

Under the program, frontline health care and direct care workers who provide hands on health or care services, and employees who support patient-facing care in a patient care unit or hospital or other institutional medical setting, are eligible for payments of up to $3,000. Please note that these payments are separate and distinct from the $3,000 bonus payments agreed to under the CSEA Executive Branch contract.

In February, the Legislative and Political Action Department conducted a webinar on this topic. You can view a recording of the webinar and the slide deck from the presentation on our website.

The State has launched a website containing vital information regarding this program. They also have a list of eligible titles and frequently asked questions regarding the program.

At this time, employers are just beginning to identify eligible employees and we expect payments to begin sometime in the fall. If you are unsure if your title is eligible, we encourage you to contact your employer.

As we get additional information in the coming weeks, we will include it across our various communication platforms.

Federal Update – Inflation Reduction Act

Congress is on its way to passing the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. The legislation was passed by the Senate in a 51-50 party line with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tie breaking vote. The House of Representatives is expected to pass this legislation on Friday, August 12. This legislation is a scaled down version of President Biden’s “Build Back Better” proposal and was agreed to after negotiations between Senator Schumer and Senators Manchin (WV) and Sinema (AZ).

This legislation achieves goals long promoted by President Biden, including allowing Medicare to negotiate with prescription drug manufactures to lower the costs of prescription drugs, creating a 15% minimum tax for corporations that make $1 billion in annual profit, and new investments in programs to combat climate change. In addition, this legislation extends subsidies under the Affordable Care Act for three additional years to keep health insurance affordable for working families, and caps insulin prices for Medicare recipients.

While not as expansive as originally proposed, this legislation will help lower the cost of health care for millions of Americans, including those on Medicare, and ensure that corporations are paying their fair share in federal income taxes annually.

August 23rd is Another Important Primary Election in New York

Primaries for U.S. Congressional and NY State Senate seats will take place on August 23.

Remember your vote is your voice!

Visit https://cseany.org/vote for more information and a list of CSEA endorsed candidates running in the August 23 Primary.

At a Glance

Please note the following schedule for “This Week in Albany” this summer. An email will be sent on August 26, with weekly editions returning on September 9.

 

This Week in Albany - July 29, 2022

Legislative Spotlight – Bills Successfully Opposed by CSEA

In addition to advancing legislation that will benefit members, CSEA is often active in opposing bills that could have a negative impact on members. CSEA successfully opposed:

Eliminate Steps and Longevity Payments for an Expired Contract
A.4867
(Goodell)
CSEA Position: Oppose
Status: Held in Assembly Governmental Employees Committee

This bill would eliminate an existing requirement that public employers pay employees for any steps or longevity payments after the expiration of a collective bargaining agreement. CSEA successfully defeated this legislation.

Self-Certification for Building Permits
S.1003C (Gaughran) / A.7947A (Stern)
CSEA Position: Oppose
Status: Died on Senate Floor / Assembly Local Governments Committee

This bill would allow builders to certify their own documents for the issuance of a building permit, thereby limiting local government oversight of a critical step of the building process. CSEA had serious concerns about what this bill would mean for public safety and checks and balances.

Thanks to the involvement of members concerned with the potential impacts of this proposal, CSEA successfully defeated the legislation.

Unified Court System Consolidation
S.8424 (Hoylman) / A.9401 (Lavine) [bills do not match]
CSEA Position: Oppose
Status: Died in Senate Judiciary Committee / Assembly Judiciary Committee

This legislation would drastically overhaul and reform the state’s court system without any discussion on the impact that it would have on the court’s workforce. CSEA successfully opposed this legislation.

New York Health Act
S.5474 (Rivera) / A.6058 (Gottfried)
CSEA Position: Oppose
Status: Died in Senate Health / Assembly Codes Committees

The New York Health Act would create a single-payer health insurance plan for all New Yorkers. All private health insurance plans, including those of all CSEA members, would be abolished. While CSEA strongly supports health care for all, we cannot support a proposal that would disregard all collective bargaining agreements and potentially increase costs for union workers. CSEA successfully opposed this legislation.

August 23rd is Another Important Primary Election in New York

Primaries for U.S. Congressional and NY State Senate seats will take place on August 23rd. New York makes it easy to vote by absentee ballot through the mail. All you need to do is request a ballot through this online request form available from NYS Board of Elections. Get your request in, as the deadline to request a ballot by mail is August 8th.

Remember your vote is your voice!

Visit https://cseany.org/vote for more information and a list of CSEA endorsed candidates running in the August 23rd Primary.  

At a Glance

Please note the following schedule for “This Week in Albany” this summer. Emails will be sent on August 12, August 26, and September 9.

 

This Week in Albany - July 15, 2022

Legislative Spotlight – OPWDD

During the 2022 legislative session, 1,007 bills were passed by both houses of the legislature. Many of these bills could have an impact on CSEA members and the jobs they do. This week, we will look at some of CSEA’s legislative victories relating to the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD), where CSEA represents over 17,000 workers.

OPWDD IRA Extender
S.7617 (Mannion) / A.9038 (Abinanti)
CSEA Position: Support
Status: Signed into law – Chapter 176 of the Laws of 2022

This bill extends for two years the requirement that the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) provide 90-day notice prior to closing or transferring an Individualized Residential Alternative (IRA).

OPWDD Staffing Report – State-Operated Institutions
S.9086 (Mannion) / A.10483 (Rules)
CSEA Position: Support
Status: Passed Senate / Passed Assembly – Awaiting Gubernatorial Action

This legislation would require OPWDD to report to the State Legislature a detailed staffing report for state operated facilities. This report must detail total number of staff on payroll, total number budgeted, number of separations, total number of employees hired, vacant positions, and a full list of facilities operated by OPWDD.

Voter Registration Deadline Approaching for 8/23 Primary

Voting is a core part of being a union member. BUT, if you are not registered to vote, you don’t have a voice!

Make sure your voice is heard for the August 23 Primary Election. The deadline to register is July 29!

Not sure what your status is? Click here.

You can also register online here.

At a Glance

Please note the following schedule for “This Week in Albany” this summer. Emails will be sent on July 29, August 12, August 26, and September 9.

 

This Week in Albany - July 1, 2022

Legislative Update

Extraordinary Session

Governor Hochul called the legislature into an “extraordinary session” this week in response to recent decisions from the United States Supreme Court relating to gun permits and abortion.

At the time of this email the legislature was still in session, but the broad outlines of legislative action are as follows:

Relating to guns, the legislation will change the requirements for concealed carry gun permits and establish statewide standards; establish a list of “sensitive locations” where it will be prohibited to carry a concealed weapon, including schools, public buildings, mass transit, hospitals, OMH/OPWDD sites, child care facilities, etc.; give the State oversight of background checks for firearms; and create an appeals board for applicants whose applications are denied.

In addition, the legislature is expected to pass a concurrent resolution to enshrine equal rights in the State Constitution. Before such an amendment can go into effect, the legislature must pass an identical resolution again in either 2023 or 2024 and the amendment must then be approved by voters at a General Election.

Bills Signed Into Law

Covid-19 Vaccine Leave Time
S.8529 (Gouardes) / A.9513 (Fall)
CSEA Position: Support
Status: Signed into law – Chapter 234 of the Laws of 2022

This legislation extends for one additional year provisions granting all employees up to four hours of excused leave to receive the Covid-19 vaccine or any Covid-19 booster.

Election Update – Primary #1 Recap

New York’s first primary of the year was held on Tuesday, June 28 for statewide offices and State Assembly. CSEA-endorsed candidates were largely successful on Election Day, with a few exceptions.

The state’s second primary will be held on August 23 for Congress and State Senate.

Hochul / Delgado v Zeldin / Esposito

Governor Kathy Hochul won the Democratic primary in her bid for a full-term for the office, carrying over 66% of the vote as of unofficial election night results. Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado was also victorious in his primary against two other candidates. CSEA has endorsed Hochul and Delgado.

 

The incumbents will face off against the Republican ticket of Lee Zeldin and Alison Esposito in November’s General Election. Zeldin collected about 44% of the vote against his three primary opponents.

State Assembly

The theme of the 2022 State Assembly primary was incumbent Democratic lawmakers being challenged from the left by candidates endorsed by the Working Families Party and Democratic Socialists of America. With a few exceptions, the incumbents largely fought off these challenges.

CSEA-endorsed candidates David Weprin (AD24), Andrew Hevesi (AD28), Alicia Hyndman (AD29), Vivian Cook (AD32), Clyde Vanel (AD33), Mathylde Frontus (AD46), Charles Fall (AD61), Deborah Glick (AD66), Eddie Gibbs (AD68), Inez Dickens (AD70), Al Taylor (AD71), Rebecca Seawright (AD76), Jeffrey Dinowitz (AD81), Michael Benedetto (AD81), Amanda Septimo (AD84), and Angelo Santabarbara (AD111) were victorious in their Primaries. In addition, Erik Dilan (AD54) appeared to be victorious, but the race is still too close to call.

However, CSEA-endorsed candidates Tom Abinanti (AD92) and Kevin Cahill (AD103) were both defeated.

At a Glance

Please note the following schedule for “This Week in Albany” this summer. Emails will be sent on July 15, July 29, August 12, August 26, and September 9.

 

This Week in Albany - June 24, 2022

Legislative Spotlight – Equity for Veterans

During the 2022 legislative session, 1,007 bills were passed by both houses of the legislature. Many of these bills could have an impact on CSEA members and the jobs they do. Over the coming weeks, we will examine various issues and their potential impacts on CSEA members.

Veterans’ Pension Buyback Equity

A.5278-B (Barrett) / S.6022-B (Hoylman
CSEA Position: Support
Status: Passed Both Houses, Awaiting Delivery to the Governor

 

For decades, New York State public employees who served in the military have been allowed buy back up to three years of their military service for pension purposes. Eligibility has been expanded over the years and now includes all honorably discharged members of the military.

While the State has made positive changes to this benefit over the years, the current law excludes LGBTQ military veterans who were discharged from the service solely because of their sexual orientation or identity. Until about a decade ago, members of the military who publicly stated that they were LGBTQ could be discharged with a ‘less than honorable’ discharge, depriving them of the ability to buyback this service credit.  

This legislation amends existing law to ensure that all LGBTQ veterans who were discharged due to their sexual orientation or gender identity are allowed to buy back their military service for pension purposes if they have received a discharge other than ‘bad conduct’ or ‘dishonorable.’

CSEA is strongly supportive of this legislation and will be lobbying the Governor to sign it to ensure that all members of the military, including those who were discharged for their sexual identity and sexual orientation, are eligible for these pension benefits.  

Primary Day is Tuesday

This coming Tuesday, June 28, is Primary Day for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and State Assembly races. Polls across the state will be open from 6am – 9pm. In addition to Election Day, early voting is available until this Sunday. If voting by absentee ballot, be sure to have your completed and signed ballot postmarked no later than the 28.

For a list of all CSEA-endorsed candidates and for more information on how to vote, please visit our website.

At a Glance

Following decisions by the Supreme Court of the United States overturning New York’s concealed carry law and abortion protections, Governor Hochul has said that she anticipates calling the legislature back into session, possibly as soon as next week.

Please note the following schedule for “This Week in Albany” as we enter the summer months. Emails will be sent on July 1, July 15, July 29, August 12, August 26, and September 9.

 

This Week in Albany - June 17, 2022

Legislative Spotlight – Energy / Environmental Legislation

During the 2022 legislative session, 1,007 bills were passed by both houses of the legislature. Many of these bills could have an impact on CSEA members and the jobs they do. Over the coming weeks, we will examine various issues and their potential impacts on CSEA members.

Worker Protections for ZEV State Fleet
S.9382 (Parker) / A.10450 (Fahy)
CSEA Position: Support
Passed Both Houses, Awaiting Delivery to Governor

This bill will ensure that workers are not left behind as the Office of General Services (OGS) transitions the state fleet to zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs). It will require OGS to create a report that estimates the number of positions that would be impacted as a result of the change to ZEVs, identify gaps in skills of the current workforce, and provide a comprehensive training / retraining plan for impacted employees.

It is becoming clear that the state will be taking serious action in the coming years to move away from fossil fuels and transition to other types of energy. This bill was just one of several energy / environmental-related proposals considered this session that could impact CSEA members.

Next month, the Assembly will be holding a public hearing on the “Build Public Renewables Act” (A.1466D – Carroll / S.6453C – Parker), which would require that the New York State Power Authority become the sole provider of electricity to all state / local government buildings within roughly the next decade. CSEA is closely monitoring this proposal, as it could impact members who currently work on the systems delivering electricity to public buildings.

The Legislative & Political Action Department welcomes any feedback you may have on these proposals. If you have any thoughts or concerns, please reply to this email or send your comments to politicalaction@cseainc.org.

CSEA Endorses Delgado for Lieutenant Governor

CSEA has endorsed Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado in his bid for a full term for that office.

Delgado has been a friend to CSEA throughout his time in Congress, including fighting for the American Rescue Plan and standing alongside CSEA members at every opportunity.

“I am so proud to have the support of New York’s largest public service workers’ union, CSEA members are the lifeblood of our state.” said Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado. “I know how important it is to continue to build up our middle class, and we must recognize we do that by supporting our organized labor. That is why in Congress I was always a partner to working families and I will continue to have their backs as Lieutenant Governor.”

Early Voting Begins Saturday

Starting this Saturday, New Yorkers can vote in the primary elections for Governor, Lieutenant Governor and State Assembly. Locations and times vary by county for early voting. To find details for your county, and to see a list of endorsed candidates, visit cseany.org/vote.

The deadline to request an absentee ballot by mail has passed for this primary, but you can still request one in-person at your county board of elections until June 27.  

Election day for this primary is June 28.

At a Glance

Please note the following schedule for “This Week in Albany” as we enter the summer months. Emails will be sent on June 24, July 1, July 15, July 29, August 12, August 26, and September 9.

 
This Week in Albany- June 10,2022

Legislative Update

The State Legislature adjourned the 2022 legislative session early on Saturday, June 4.

CSEA had a successful legislative session this year. In addition to the significant victories in the state budget – tier 5 and 6 reform, investments in healthcare, childcare, state agencies, and local governments – we also successfully lobbied the state legislature to pass legislation to benefit CSEA members across the state, including:

  • Extending the public employee Covid-19 death benefit for one additional year
  • Extending for one year paid leave time to get a Covid-19 vaccination or booster shot
  • Granting individuals who were ‘less than honorably discharged’ from the military solely because they were LGBTQ the ability to buy back military service time for pension credit
  • Making injunctive relief permanent
  • Strengthening the registered nurse and licensed practical nurse mandatory overtime laws by:
    • limiting how long the law can be suspended for;
    • enacting penalties for non-compliant employers; and
    • applying the law to homecare nurses.
  • Statutorily requiring OMH to report inpatient census data monthly
  • Reporting on current staffing levels within OPWDD
  • Providing four hours of annual paid leave for state employees to donate blood
  • Ensuring that workers aren’t left behind during the transition to zero-emission vehicles
  • Restoring the role of the State Comptroller to oversee certain state contracts

In addition, CSEA successfully opposed legislation to implement the New York Health Act, consolidate the Unified Court System, and allow for the outsourcing of certain local government code enforcement responsibilities.

June 28 Primary

Primary elections for statewide office (Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Comptroller, where applicable) and state assembly will be held on June 28.

New York makes it very convenient to vote and CSEA has all the information available in one easy spot, cseany.org/vote.

If you intend to vote by absentee ballot, the last day to request one by mail is June 13 OR in-person at your county board of elections by June 27.

Completed and signed ballots must be postmarked by June 28th.

At a Glance

“This Week in Albany” will soon be switching to our summer schedule. After July 1, we will be switching to a bi-weekly email until after Labor Day.

 

This Week in Albany - June 3, 2022

Legislative Update

At the time of this email, the 2022 legislative session is coming to an end. The Senate finished its business early Friday morning, while the Assembly continued to work into the evening with hopes of adjourning by the weekend.

We expect that numerous CSEA priority bills will pass by the conclusion of session, and will have a more in-depth report in next week’s edition of “This Week in Albany.”

Registered to Vote?

Voting is a core part of being a union member. BUT, if you are not registered to vote you don’t have a voice! OR maybe you need to updated your address, name or party affiliation.

CSEA is here to help.


REGISTER ONLINE:  Use this link to register online to vote. You will need a valid NYS Driver’s License.

REGISTER BY MAIL:  Use this link for a PDF NYS voter registration form. You can fill out and print, then follow the instructions to mail it to your county’s board of election office.

Who you vote for is a personal choice, but If you are not registered to vote, you can’t make that choice.  

 

At a Glance

The state legislature is not scheduled to return to Albany until January 2023. Primary elections for statewide offices (Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Comptroller) and State Assembly are scheduled for June 28. Primary elections for Congress and State Senate are scheduled for August 23.

 

This Week in Albany - May 27, 2022

Election Update

Another week, another shakeup in Congressional and State Senate district lines. The “Special Master” charged with redrawing districts released final maps late last week that included some significant changes over the draft maps.

With final district lines finally established, candidates have begun announcing what offices and districts they will be running for.

You can compare current and new district maps on the website “REDISTRICTING & YOU.”

Stay tuned for more updates.

Legislative Update

As we get closer to the end of session (scheduled for June 2), the legislature is considering action on thousands of bills every week.

The Legislative & Political Action Department is constantly on the look out for bills that could impact CSEA members, whether good or bad.

We will continue to highlight bills of special note in “This Week in Albany,” but you can also visit our website to see what actions you can take on important legislation.

Bills of note from this week:

 

    • Self-Certification for Building Permits
      S.1003C (Gaughran) / A.7947A (Stern)
      CSEA Position;: Oppose (click to read memo)
      Status: Senate Floor / Assembly Local Governments CommitteeThis bill would allow builders to certify their own documents for the issuance of a building permit, thereby limiting local government oversight of a critical step of the building process. CSEA has serious concerns about what this bill would mean for public safety and checks and balances. Click here to send an email in opposition to this bill.

        • Ordinary Death Benefit
          S.6619B (Gounardes) / A.7730A (Abbate)
          CSEA Position: Support
          Status: Passed Both HousesThis bill would increase the age at which an ordinary death benefit begins to be reduced. For those hired prior to 4/1/2012, it would be 62 (currently 61). For those hired after that date, it would be age 63.

           

        • Leave Time for COVID Vaccination
          A.9513 (Fall) / S.8529 (Gounardes)
          CSEA Position: Support
          Status: Passed Both Houses
        •  

          This bill extends COVID vaccination leave time for one year.

       

    • WTC Claim Extension
      S.9294A (Gounardes) / A.10415 (Niou)
      CSEA Position: Support
      Status: Passed Both Houses
    •  

      This bill extends for four years the period for filing a claim relating to World Trade Center rescue, recovery, and cleanup operations. This period had been set to expire on 9/11/2022.

Delgado Sworn in as Lieutenant Governor

On Wednesday, Antonio Delgado resigned from Congress and was sworn in as New York’s lieutenant governor. Delgado, who was first elected to Congress in 2018, has been a friend to CSEA during his time in office.

Delgado’s appointment leaves his congressional seat in CD19 to be filled through a special election on August 23 in which two county executives previously endorsed by CSEA – Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro (R) and Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan (D) – will face off.

Registered to Vote?

Voting is a core part of being a union member. BUT, if you are not registered to vote, you don’t have a voice! OR, maybe you need to updated your address, name or party affiliation.

CSEA is here to help.

REGISTER ONLINE: Use this link to register online to vote. You will need a valid NYS Driver’s License.

REGISTER BY MAIL: Use this link for a PDF NYS voter registration form. You can fill out and print, then follow the instructions to mail it to your county’s board of election office.

Who you vote for is a personal choice, but if you are not registered to vote, you can’t make that choice.

At a Glance

The legislature is scheduled to be in Albany for three days next week to finish the 2022 legislative session.

This Week in Albany - May 20, 2022

Election Update

The “Special Master” in charge of drawing new Congressional and State Senate lines released the proposed new lines this week. The changes over current and expected districts are drastic, to say the least.

In Congress, the discarded maps drawn by the legislature would have favored Democrats in 22 of 26 seats. Under the Special Master’s new lines, Democrats would be clearly favored in only 15 seats. In addition, five districts now contain the homes of multiple incumbent Representatives.

For the State Senate, the new maps are just as dramatic. There are at least eight sets of incumbent legislators now residing in the same district and many legislators are facing vastly different re-election odds than they were a week ago.

If these maps are finalized, there will be an incredible amount of jockeying among sitting legislators at all levels to figure out who is running for which office in which district.

Stay tuned for more updates next week.

 

Legislative Update

As we get closer to the end of session (scheduled for June 2), the legislature is considering action on thousands of bills every week.

The Legislative & Political Action Department is constantly on the look out for bills that could impact CSEA members, whether good or bad.

We will continue to highlight bills of special note in “This Week in Albany,” but you can also visit our website to see what actions you can take on important legislation.

 

School Elections

The overwhelming majority of school budgets were passed by voters this week, giving districts the resources they need to provide vital services.

Thanks to those members who voted in these important elections.

 

At a Glance

The legislature will be in session for three days next week. There are only 6 scheduled session days remaining in the 2022 legislative session.

This Week in Albany - May 13, 2022

Election Update

The saga over New York’s 2022 elections continued this week.

The same judge who is overseeing the redrawing of Congressional and State Senate district lines upheld the Assembly’s lines this week. If nothing else changes, primary day for Assembly and statewide offices (Governor, Lieutenant Governor, etc.) will still be held on June 28.

Separately, a federal judge denied a challenge from national Democrats to proceed with Congressional primary elections in June with the contested districts. August 23 has been set as primary day for Congress and State Senate. The Board of Elections submitted a plan for this primary day that would provide that any person who already qualified for a Congressional or Senate primary wouldn’t have to re-petition in the new districts but would also open a new petition period for new candidates.

Further complicating matters will be two special elections in Congress. Congressman Antonio Delgado (D-NY19) is expected to resign his office before the end of the month to take the oath of office as Lieutenant Governor, while Congressman Tom Reed (R-NY23), who was not running for re-election, resigned this week to take a job in the private sector. Under current state law, Governor Hochul is required to call a special election for any Congressional vacancy that occurs before July 1 in an election year.

Pretty much all of this is subject to change over the next few weeks, so stay tuned for more information as it becomes available.

 

Legislative Update

As we get closer to the end of session (scheduled for June 2), the legislature is considering action on thousands of bills every week. For context, Senate and Assembly committees considered 1,184 pieces of legislation this week, while 176 of bills were acted upon on the floor.

The Legislative & Political Action Department is constantly on the look out for bills that could impact CSEA members, whether good or bad.

We will continue to highlight bills of special note in “This Week in Albany,” but you can also visit our website to see what actions you can take on important legislation.

 

New York Health ActA.6058 – Gottfried / S.5474 – RiveraMoved out of Assembly Codes Committee to the Assembly Ways & Means Committee

The New York Health Act is a proposal in the NYS Legislature to create a universal single payer health plan in New York State. Under this plan, all New Yorkers would be under the same health plan, including those with health insurance negotiated in a collective bargaining agreement or provided by their employer. Under this proposal, you would lose your current health plan and could end up paying more. CSEA strongly opposes this proposal.

Click here to learn more about this bill and to send your legislators an email in opposition.

 

Weaken the Triborough AmendmentA.4867 – GoodellHeld in Assembly Governmental Employees Committee

This bill would state that public employers would not be required to pay for any steps or longevity payments after the expiration of a collective bargaining agreement if a new agreement has not been ratified. CSEA successfully opposed this bill, and it was held in committee.

 

School Elections

Elections for school board and annual school budget votes will be held across the state this coming Tuesday, May 17.

These votes can be vitally important to CSEA members, so don’t forget to vote!

 

At a Glance

The legislature will be in session for three days next week. There are only 9 scheduled session days remaining in the 2022 legislative session.

This Week in Albany - May 6, 2022

Delgado Named Lieutenant Governor

This week, Governor Hochul selected Congressman Antonio Delgado to fill the vacant Lieutenant Governor position. In addition, Delgado will replace Brian Benjamin on the ballot for the Democratic Primary.

First elected in 2018, Congressman Delgado has been a friend to CSEA during his time in office. He was instrumental in advocating for federal aid to New York to help the state recover from COVID, and has always been responsive to CSEA members in the district.

It is unclear exactly when Delgado will resign his Congressional seat and take the oath of office. Whenever that happens, it will set off a scramble for candidates to fill the vacancy in the 19th Congressional District, which could have many ripple effects on other elections.

 

Election Update

The ongoing confusion over new district lines continued this week as the new lines drawn for the State Assembly are now being challenged in court. While the Assembly wasn’t included in the challenge that resulted in Congressional and State Senate lines being thrown out, the Court of Appeals ruling in that case makes it possible that the Assembly lines will face a similar fate. At this point it is still unclear what, if any, primary elections will be held in June.

We will continue providing updates on this developing situation as they become available.

 

Legislative Update

This week, the Legislative & Political Action Department conducted a webinar to break down the recently enacted 2022-23 state budget.

Click here to view the webinar.
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You can also click here to view the slides from the presentation.

 

At a Glance

The legislature will be in session for three days next week. There are only 12 scheduled session days remaining in the 2022 legislative session

This Week in Albany - April 29, 2022

Election Update

This week, the Court of Appeals ruled that the new congressional and state senate maps drawn by the state legislature are unconstitutional and ordered new maps to be drawn by an neutral expert. According to the ruling, this will likely necessitate that primary elections, at least for congress and the state senate, be moved from June 28 to sometime in August.

This is a developing story that severely complicates the 2022 elections. Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available.

 

Legislative Update

As the legislature enters the final month of session, many bills – good and bad – are being discussed.

To stay on top of developments through the end of session, you can visit our website to see what bills are being discussed and what actions you can take to make your voice heard.

Among the actions added over the last few weeks are:

In addition, several bills of interest to CSEA members were moved this week, including:

  • S.7617 – Mannion / A.9038 – Abinanti: This bill extends for two years the requirement that the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) provide 90-day notice prior to closing or transferring an Individualized Residential Alternative (IRA). CSEA position – support. Signed into law – Chapter 176 of the Laws of 2022 
  • A.3873 – Burke / S.6264 – Ryan: This bill would establish a caseload cap for preventative case planning service workers. CSEA position – support. Advanced from the Assembly Children and Families Committee to Assembly Ways & Means Committee. 
  • S.6619B – Gounardes / A.7730A – Abbate: This bill would increase the age in which an ordinary death benefit begins to be reduced. CSEA position – support. Advanced from the Senate Civil Service and Pensions Committee to the Senate Finance Committee.

 

State Budget Webinar

The Legislative & Political Action Department will be hosting a webinar on to break down the newly enacted state budget and its impact on CSEA members across the state next Thursday, May 5, at 6pm.

We will discuss Tier 6 reforms (and what comes next), direct care and healthcare bonuses, school district funding, investments in child care, and funding for state and local governments.

Click here to register for the webinar.

 

At a Glance

The legislature will be in session for four days next week. There are only 16 scheduled session days remaining in the 2022 legislative session.

This Week in Albany - April 15, 2022

State Budget Update

A few days after the start of the state fiscal year, the Governor and lawmakers agreed to a final budget. Overall, this budget is a positive for CSEA members across New York State. It includes positive changes for members in tiers 5 and 6, bonuses for healthcare and direct care workers, historic levels of school district funding, new funding for SUNY, and unprecedented investments in childcare.

Click here to read CSEA’s summary of the enacted budget.

In addition, the CSEA Legislative & Political Action Department will be holding a webinar on Thursday, May 5 at 6pm to break down the budget and its impact on CSEA members across the state.

We will discuss Tier 6 reforms (and what is next), direct care and healthcare bonuses, school district funding, investments in child care, and funding for state and local governments.

Click here to register for the webinar.

 

Lieutenant Governor Resigns

Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin resigned his office on Tuesday after he was arrested earlier in the day on federal corruption charges.

Governor Hochul has the option of naming someone to the position, but in the interim Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins will be acting Lieutenant Governor. Benjamin’s name will likely remain on the ballot for June’s primary election because at this point a candidate can only be removed from the ballot if they were to seek another office, move out of state, or die.

 

At a Glance

The legislature will return to Albany on April 25 with 19 scheduled days remaining in the 2022 legislative session.

“This Week in Albany” will be taking a week off next week, and will return on April 29.

This Week in Albany - April 8, 2022

State Budget Update

After passing a budget extender earlier in the week, the state legislature is moving towards passing a 2022-23 state budget. While not all bills have been introduced or passed at the time of this email, we expect that the budget will be finalized before State payroll would be impacted on Monday morning.

A summary of the budget will be shared in next week’s “This Week in Albany.”

 

Election Update

This week, a Court of Appeals judge issued a stay on last week’s ruling by a lower court invalidating Congressional and state legislative district lines. This means that for the time being, the proposed maps and June 28 Primary will remain intact.

 

Supreme Court Justice Confirmed

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson will become the first black woman to be elevated to the U.S. Supreme Court after the U.S. Senate confirmed her by a vote of 53-47 this week. Her confirmation will not change the 6-3 conservative majority on the Court when she replaces retiring Justice Stephen Breyer at the end of the Court’s term this summer.

 

At a Glance

After passing the budget, the legislature will be in their home districts for the next two weeks and will return to Albany on April 25. There are 19 session days remaining before the 2022 session is scheduled to end on June 2.

This Week in Albany - April 1, 2022

State Budget Update

As you likely know, the state budget is due by April 1.

However, at this time, it is clear that there will not be a budget by the end of the day. As of now, the Legislature and Executive are expected to continue working over the weekend and hope to have reached agreements in time to vote on bills on Monday.

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli has stated that he needs either an enacted budget or a “pay bill” in place by Monday, April 4 at 4:00PM in order to ensure state paychecks for next week are on time. We are monitoring this situation but are confident that paychecks will be delivered without delay.

As we enter the final hours and days before the adoption of the state budget, we are still asking members to keep up the pressure by calling Senate Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and tell them the “Fix Tier 6” in the state budget!

You can call 1-844-956-2891 and be connected directly to their offices.

Stay tuned for updates on the budget in next week’s “This Week in Albany.”

 

 

Legislative “Wordle”

The answer to last week’s game was “FINAL” to time up with discussing the final budget. Last week’s game was also the final “Wordle” game that will be included in this email. Thanks to all who participated. We hope this brought you a few moments of levity at the end of the week.

 

Election Update

This week, a State Supreme Court judge in Steuben County ruled that New York’s new maps for congressional and state legislative districts were unconstitutional and must be redrawn. In his ruling, the judge said that state legislators had until April 11 to establish new maps with bipartisan support.

However, the “Supreme Court” in New York is actually a lower court, and Governor Hochul and Attorney General Letitia James have already said that they will appeal the decision.

The decision adds some uncertainty to this year’s elections as the deadline for petitioning approaches and Primary Day is less than three months away.

 

At a Glance

The legislature is expected to work through the weekend towards a final budget agreement. Legislators are currently scheduled to be in Albany for three session days next week before returning to their home districts until the end of April. However, this is all in flux depending on what happens with the budget

This Week in Albany - March 25, 2022

Budget Update

As you know by now, pension reform is one of CSEA’s top priorities this legislative session. At this time, CSEA’s goal is to have these changes enacted as part of the 2022-23 state budget (due April 1).

With only one week left, we must keep the pressure on the Legislature and Executive to enact these needed changes in the budget. Even if you have already taken action during this campaign, send one last letter to your legislators and to the Governor.

We need one last push to get this across the finish line!

Click here to add your name to the final budget push

 

Legislative “Wordle”

The answer to last week’s game was “YEARS.” It only took 10 years for Tier 6 to become the dominant pension tier in the Employee Retirement System. The number of workers in Tier 6 will only keep growing, highlighting the need to make improvements to this tier as soon as possible.

Click here for this week’s game.

 

At a Glance

The legislature is scheduled to be in session for four days next week. However, the state budget is due by Friday, April 1, making it likely that the legislature will be in Albany for the full week. Stay tuned for budget updates as they become available.

This Week in Albany - March 18, 2022

Budget Update

The Senate and Assembly have released their “one-house” budget proposals. These proposals represent each house’s initial negotiating position as they work with each other and the Executive towards a final budget agreement by April 1. Keep in mind that these proposals are only a window into each house’s thinking at this point in time. Just because something isn’t in a one-house proposal doesn’t mean it won’t be in the final budget, and the opposite is true for one-house proposals surviving in a final budget agreement.

The following is a brief summary of issues of importance across the proposals:

Pension Reform

Our pension reform proposals were not included in either one-house budget. However, this does not discourage us and we are actively working in coalition with our brothers and sisters across the labor movement to stress the need for these reforms in a final state budget. It is vitally important that the legislature continue to hear from CSEA members on the importance of improving pension benefits. Click here to learn more about how you can help.

Healthcare Worker Bonuses

In her Executive Budget, Governor Hochul proposed $3,000 payments for healthcare and direct care workers who work for the state and voluntary providers. The Senate proposal is very similar to the Executive’s, with a few additional titles gaining eligibility. The Assembly would limit bonus payments to only state employees.

Nurses Across New York

The Executive Budget proposed a loan forgiveness program for Registered Nurses who work three years in an underserved community. Both houses accepted this proposal, but would also make Licensed Practical Nurses eligible for the program. CSEA supports this addition.

Human Services COLA

The Executive Budget proposed a 5.4% cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for not-for-profit human service workers in OPWDD, OMH, OASAS, OTDA, and OCFS. The Senate proposes an additional 5.4% COLA next year, while the Assembly would provide an 11% COLA this year.

Child Care

The Executive budget proposed $75 million in additional funding for worker wages and $125 million to maintain existing rates paid to childcare providers. Each house went much further than this.

The Senate proposes a phase-in to 100% reimbursement for actual cost of care; pay for enrollment; increasing eligibility for child care assistance to 500% of the federal poverty level by 2024; stabilization grants to employees who work at least 30 hours per week; and capacity building grants to build out new and closed provider centers.

The Assembly proposes to increase payment rates to the 90th percentile; expand eligibility for assistance to 400% of the State Income Standard by 2024; and provide $200 million for stabilization grants.

Local Government Aid

Each house proposes significant increases to Aid and Incentives to Municipalities (AIM) funding and additional funding for local roads and bridges.

Electric Vehicles / Green Jobs

The Executive Budget proposed to require school districts to transition to fully electric vehicles by 2035. Both houses included this proposal, but added CSEA-supported language to protect workers who currently operate and maintain school buses. The Senate proposed $1 billion as part of a proposed $6 billion “Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act” to be used to pay for electric buses.

As we see the transition to zero-emission vehicles and buildings and other efforts to mitigate climate change accelerate, we must ensure that workers are not left behind. To this end, CSEA supports the inclusion in the budget of training funds for workers impacted by these measures to ensure that they have the skills, knowledge, and training to succeed. The Senate proposed $50 million for this purpose, while the Assembly proposed $25 million.

State Agency Transfers

The Executive Budget proposed to transfer oversight of healthcare professions from the Office of the Professions within the State Education Department (SED) to the Department of Health. The budget also proposed transferring oversight of the National School Lunch Program from SED to the Department of Agriculture and Markets. Both houses rejected these transfers in their one-house proposals.

 

Legislative “Wordle”

The answer to last week’s game was “PHASE.” Now that the one-house budgets have been released, we are in the final phase of state budget negotiations. It is critically important that we keep the pressure on the legislature about the importance of positive pension reform.

Click here for this week’s game.

 

At a Glance

The legislature will be in session for four days next week as the Legislature and Executive work towards a final budget agreement by April 1. Stay tuned for updates on important issues as we get closer to crunch time

This Week in Albany - March 11, 2022

Budget Update

The Senate and Assembly are expected to release their “one-house” budget proposals at some point this weekend. While these proposals are an indication of where each house stands as negotiations towards a final budget ramp up, they only offer a glimpse of what a final budget could look like.

Stay tuned for an update on the one-house proposals in next week’s “This Week in Albany.”

 

Legislative “Wordle”

Click here for this week’s game.

The answer to last week’s game was “email.” CSEA members have sent over 16,500 emails to the legislature as part of our pension reform campaign.

 

Federal Update

This week, Congress passed a $1.5 trillion spending plan with increases to both non-defense and defense spending and roughly $14 billion in aid to Ukraine. The package does not include the additional pandemic aid requested by the White House.

 

At a Glance

The legislature will be in session for two days next week and will pass resolutions relating to their one-house budget proposals. The final budget is due by April 1

This Week in Albany - March 4, 2022

Next Phase of Pension Reform Campaign

CSEA members have sent over 11,000 emails and made nearly 1,000 phone calls to their state legislators about the need to improve pension benefits. This engagement has been critical to putting this issue on the radar for the state legislature.

Now, we must turn our focus to the legislative leaders – Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins.

The answer to last week’s legislative “Wordle” was the word “HOUSE” because the Senate and Assembly “one-house” budgets are expected to be released in the next week-plus. These documents lay out the negotiating positions of each house as they work with the Executive towards a final budget agreement before April 1.

We need the leaders to hear from you to ensure that the one-house budgets recognize the importance of addressing this issue.

Click here to send a pre-written email to the leaders.

 

Budget Update

This week, the Legislature and Executive reached a joint revenue consensus on a total revenue range that is $800 million to $1.2 billion above the Executive Budget estimate. This agreement is the first step towards a final budget agreement, as all sides now are now working within the same revenue confines.

 

This Week’s Legislative “Wordle”

Click here for this week’s game.

 

At a Glance

The legislature will be in session for four days next week. One-house budgets are expected to be released at some point next week or next weekend, to be voted on early the following week.

This Week in Albany - February 25, 2022

Pension Fairness

The answer to last week’s legislative “Wordle” was the word “EQUAL.”

Why? Because the inequity between pension tiers has become a serious problem in the public sector and needs to be addressed.

For example, in the private sector and in Tiers 1-4, employees are required to work for no more than five years before they become vested in their pension. However, in Tiers 5 and 6, vesting time is doubled (10 years).

Additionally, in Tiers 1-5 (ERS), employees pay a maximum of 3% of their salary for their pension. For members in Tier 6, contributions are based on earnings and can vary from 3% to 6%. Tier 6 also provides a lower pension benefit when a member retires.

These inequities must be addressed in this year’s state budget, and our campaign is in full swing. Over 8,000 emails have been sent by CSEA members to their legislators so far, and we will be rolling out additional actions in the coming days and weeks.

Learn more about this campaign at our website, and stay tuned for ways you can help.

 

This Week’s Legislative “Wordle”

Click here for this week’s game.

 

At a Glance

The legislature returns to Albany on Monday after spending this past week in their home districts. Negotiations towards an agreement on the state budget (due April 1) will continue over the next several weeks.

This Week in Albany - February 18, 2022

 

 

The answer to last week’s legislative “Wordle” was the word “tiers.” Why? Because fixing the shortcomings within the pension system is a priority for CSEA this legislative session.

CSEA has a long history of working to improve pension benefits. For those of you in Tier 4, you may remember when we were able to stop your contributions after 10 years, rather than for the duration of your service.

This year, we are pursuing two tracks to improve pension benefits.

First, we must address several issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. As is, the massive amount of overtime worked by many public employees could have a negative impact on pension contributions (Tier 6), the amount of pensionable overtime (Tiers 5 and 6) and allowable earnings growth for pension calculations (Tiers 4-6). We must address these issues to ensure that the workers who kept our state running during the pandemic are not penalized for being mandated to work so many hours of overtime.

Second, we must make permanent improvements to Tiers 5 and 6 to fix the severe recruitment and retention issues we are seeing within the State, local governments, and school districts. Especially under Tier 6, members have to pay more, for longer, only to receive less of a benefit than members in other tiers. With the state and local governments in their best financial condition in years, and employer contribution rates set to decline, the time is now to fix these problems.

All it takes is a few clicks to let the legislature know how important this is

Make your voice heard here

 

Legislative “Wordle”

Click here for this week’s “Wordle” game.

 

At a Glance

The state legislature will be in their home districts next week following the Presidents’ Day holiday. They will return to Albany on February 28 and continue working on negotiating the state budget, which is due by April 1.

This Week in Albany - February 11, 2022

State Budget Update: Health / Direct Care

This week, the Legislative & Political Action Department hosted a webinar with local presidents in the healthcare / direct care fields to discuss the 2022-23 state budget’s impact on the field. The webinar covered three main budget proposals: the human services cost-of-living adjustment (COLA), the proposed “Nurses Across New York” program, and the proposal for bonuses for healthcare and mental hygiene workers.

You can view a recording of the webinar and view the slides from the presentation on our website.

 

Legislative “Wordle”

Explanation of last week’s word: Last week’s word was “BONUS,” referring to the Executive Budget proposal to provide bonuses to healthcare and mental hygiene workers described above. For more information on this proposal, visit our website.

Click here for this week’s game.

How to play: You have six guesses to guess the five-letter word we have chosen. After you guess, the game will tell you if any of your letters are in the target word. A green square means that is the correct letter in the correct spot of the target word. A yellow square means that the letter is in the target word, but in a different position.

For example, if the word was “FUNDS” you could guess:

Good luck!

 

At a Glance

The legislature will hold budget hearings on mental hygiene, transportation, economic development, and taxes next week and will be in session for four days.

This Week in Albany - February 4, 2022

State Budget Update

This week, CSEA participated in two Joint Legislative Budget Hearings.

First, CSEA Legislative Director Joshua Terry testified in front of the Joint Legislative Budget Hearing on Workforce Development. CSEA’s testimony recognized that Governor Hochul’s budget is a much better first step than what we saw over the last decade. However, much more work must be done to strengthen the workforce at the state, local government, and private sector levels. The testimony focused on this need to rebuild the workforce and improve recruitment and retention, including the need to improve pension benefits. The full testimony can be viewed here.

Later in the week, CSEA/VOICE submitted testimony to the Joint Legislative Budget Hearing on Human Services. In order to begin rebuilding and expanding the childcare industry, the testimony proposed that the legislature do the following:

1) Convert to a system of pay for enrollment, rather than pay for attendance;
2) Immediately raise payments to the 90th percentile of the market rate;
3) Increase the payment differential to 15% for children requiring non-traditional hours and homeless children; and
4) Allow childcare providers to participate in universal pre-kindergarten programs.

You can read the full testimony here.

Stay tuned for more information in the coming weeks about CSEA’s efforts during budget negotiations and to find out what you can do to help.

 

Redistricting Update

After the Independent Redistrict Commission failed to put forward a unified set of maps for new Congressional, State Senate, and State Assembly districts, the task of redistricting fell to the state legislature.

This week, the legislature released its proposed new maps and voted on them. Based on district makeup, Democrats are expected to have an advantage in 22 of the 26 new Congressional Districts, an increase in the party’s current 19-8 advantage (New York is losing one Congressional seat). Of note in the state legislature, two seats in the Senate would shift to New York City. This process is probably far from being finalized, as Republicans have already promised to challenge the new lines in court.

Visit this website for a tool to easily compare your current districts with the new districts advanced by the legislature.

 

Legislative “Wordle”

If you haven’t played the popular word game “Wordle” yet, now’s your chance!

Click here to guess the legislative-themed word of the week. We will provide an explanation of the answer in next week’s “This Week in Albany.”

How to play: You have six guesses to guess the five-letter word we have chosen. After you guess, the game will tell you if any of your letters are in the target word. A green square means that is the correct letter in the correct spot of the target word. A yellow square means that the letter is in the target word, but in a different position.

For example, if the word was “FUNDS” you could guess:

Good luck!

 

At a Glance

The legislature will hold budget hearings on higher education, health, and local governments next week and will be in session for three days

This Week in Albany - January 28, 2022

CSEA Endorses Kathy Hochul

This week, CSEA President Mary E. Sullivan announced the union’s endorsement of Kathy Hochul for governor.

President Sullivan said:

“CSEA proudly throws our support behind Kathy Hochul for Governor. We’re convinced she’s the right leader to improve the lives of all New Yorkers, From the day she stepped up to lead, Governor Hochul has recognized the value that public employees bring to all New Yorkers. She understands the incredible sacrifice and dedication of the union members working on the front lines who have gotten us through these very difficult times, and has demonstrated a commitment to working with us to recognize them. She has an empathy we’ve not seen before, and she can work across party lines to unite people. We are confident we can work with her as partners for better government.”

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer to Retire

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, who has served on the Court since 1994, announced this week that he will retire at the end of the Court’s current term. His retirement gives President Joe Biden his first opportunity to appoint a justice, and sets up an election year confirmation fight in the evenly divided U.S. Senate. If President Biden’s nominee is confirmed, the change likely won’t impact the partisan makeup of the court as Breyer is one of the three “liberal” justices on the 6-3 conservative court.

Redistricting Update

In 2014, voters approved a change to the way state legislative and Congressional district maps were supposed to be drawn by establishing an “independent” redistricting commission. This year was the first opportunity for the commission to draw district lines rather than the traditional method of the state legislature drawing the lines itself.

However, the commission did not succeed. Evenly divided between Democratic and Republican appointees, the commission could not agree upon a set of recommended district lines to send to the legislature by the statutory deadline. This means that the legislature will once again draw district lines. The Senate and Assembly are expected to release and vote upon new districts sometime next week.

At a Glance

Joint Legislative Budget hearings on the FY23 state budget continue next week with hearings on the workforce, housing, environmental conservation, and human services. CSEA Legislative Director Joshua Terry will be testifying at the hearing on the workforce on Monday, and CSEA/VOICE will be submitting testimony to the hearing on human services on Wednesday. Stay tuned for more information on this testimony next week.

In addition, the legislature will be in session for three days next week.

Visit our website for the latest updates on what the Legislative & Political Action Department is working on this year.

This Week in Albany - January 21, 2022

Executive Budget Released

Governor Hochul released her first Executive Budget proposal on Tuesday.

The Governor’s budget proposal is a welcome first step in New York’s recovery from the pandemic. CSEA will work with the Executive and legislature to ensure that the final budget includes real funding to rebuild the state workforce, provide workers the benefits they deserve, and support CSEA members across the state.

The budget does not call for the closure of any state facilities, and proposes funding increases across state agencies that allow for the hiring of additional staff.

Importantly, the budget recognizes the need for investments in the healthcare and mental hygiene workforces including $1.2 billion for worker recruitment and retention bonuses for workers that provide hands-on patient care. The budget will also increase Medicaid reimbursements by 1%, leading to higher reimbursements for hospitals and nursing homes who care for patients on Medicaid.

The Executive Budget calls for record funding for our schools, with a 7.1% increase in school aid over the current fiscal year. In addition, the budget would suspend the existing cap on public-sector retiree earnings for retirees who go back to work in a public school. Currently, if a retiree goes back to work in the public sector they can only earn up to $35,000 a year before having their pension diminished.

The budget increases state support for SUNY by a) fully reimbursing colleges for the “TAP gap”; b) providing additional state support, and c) ensuring that community colleges don’t face a cut in aid due to enrollment declines by guaranteeing colleges receive at least as much funding as the prior year.

The Governor reverses course from years of cuts to local governments and makes new investments in local governments. Her budget includes a proposal to increase state aid to local governments, including funding for local public health departments, major investments in local roads and bridges, and restoring full state support for Aid and Incentives to Municipalities (AIM) funding.

The Budget expands eligibility for childcare subsidies which will eventually allow families earning 300% of the state income standard to be eligible for child care subsidies. In addition, new investments are made in the childcare workforce.

The budget provides this funding while also calling for significant tax relief, including a $2.2 billion property tax rebate program and an accelerating of personal income tax cuts beginning next year.

At a Glance

Joint Legislative Budget hearings on the FY23 state budget begin next week with hearings on public protection and elementary and secondary education. CSEA will testify at the Workforce Development hearing on January 31.

In addition, the legislature will be in session for three days next week.

Visit our website for the latest updates on what the Legislative & Political Action Department is working on this year.

This Week in Albany - January 14, 2022

More Legislators to Leave Office

Congressman John Katko (R-Camillus) announced on Friday that he will not seek re-election in the fall. Katko was first elected to his Central New York seat in 2014.

On the state side, Assemblywoman Sandy Galef (D-Westchester/Putnam) announced that she will not seek re-election this year. Galef has served in the Assembly since 1993.

Additionally, Assemblywoman Diana Richardson (D-Brooklyn) was named Deputy Borough President under Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso and will resign her Assembly seat.

We may see more legislators deciding not to run in 2022 depending on how new district lines are drawn. This week, the legislature rejected competing sets of districts drawn by the Independent Redistricting Commission’s Republican and Democratic members. The Commission is scheduled to provide new maps to the legislature within two weeks. If those maps are again rejected, the legislature would be responsible for drawing new district lines.

 

CSEA Endorses Two Long-Time Friends

This week, CSEA President Mary Sullivan announced the union’s endorsements of Tom DiNapoli for State Comptroller and Chuck Schumer for U.S. Senate.

The office of State Comptroller is vitally important to CSEA members as the sole trustee of the state’s pension fund. With Tom DiNapoli at the helm, CSEA members never have to doubt that their retirement benefits will be there when they need them. Tom has had to navigate the Fund through some of its toughest times, yet it continues to be one of the best-funded and well-managed pension funds in the nation.

As stressful as the last two years have been, it is impossible to imagine the situation we would find ourselves in without U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Thanks to his leadership, our state and its local governments have been provided with the funds needed to make it through this pandemic. Without the American Rescue Plan, countless workers would have lost their jobs and the services that New Yorkers depend on would have been devastated. Further, having a Senate Majority Leader from New York is a huge benefit to all New Yorkers.

 

At a Glance

Governor Hochul is expected to release her first Executive Budget proposal on Tuesday, while the legislature is scheduled to meet for three days next week. Stay tuned for more information on the budget proposal in next week’s “This Week in Albany”

The Legislative & Political Action Department plans on using our job-specific email lists to keep you updated on budget proposals that are relevant to you. If you haven’t already, please sign up for these lists here.

Visit our website for the latest updates on what the Legislative & Political Action Department is working on this year.

This Week in Albany - January 7, 2022

2022 Legislative Session Begins

The 2022 state legislative session began on Wednesday, January 5. After legislators met for the first time in the new year, Governor Kathy Hochul delivered the first “State of the State” address by a woman in New York State’s history.

In her speech the Governor laid out her plans on how to move the state forward over the next year.

From CSEA’s perspective, the speech laid out some promising agenda items for this year. Specifically, the Governor recognized the importance of rebuilding the State workforce, pledged to invest in our healthcare and direct care workforces, and laid out investments in many other areas that desperately need funding.

We will have to see the details of these proposals in a few weeks when they are put on paper in the Executive Budget proposal. However, the Governor’s speech was an encouraging sign that some of the most pressing needs facing CSEA members can begin to be addressed this year.

CSEA President Mary E. Sullivan said,

Governor Hochul laid out a refreshing plan for change that will grow the state workforce and rewards our front line and healthcare workers for their incredible service to our most vulnerable, not only during the pandemic, but everyday.

January 05, 2022- Albany, NY- Governor Kathy Hochul delivers 2022 State of the State Address in Assembly Chamber at the State Capitol (Darren McGee- Office of Governor Kathy Hochul)

 

Governor Calls Special Assembly Elections

Governor Hochul announced this week that special elections to fill two Assembly seats vacated by members joining the New York City Council will be held on Tuesday, February 15. The elections will be for Assembly District 60 (Brooklyn – Charles Barron) and Assembly District 72 (Manhattan – Carmen De La Rosa).

 

At a Glance

The legislature is scheduled to meet for three days next week. Governor Hochul’s Executive Budget is due to be released the following week on January 18.

Visit our website for the latest updates on what the Legislative & Political Action Department is working on this year