CSEA News Releases
When CSEA has news to send out, here’s where you’ll find it.
For members of the media wishing to arrange interviews with CSEA’s leadership or on statewide issues, please contact CSEA Director of Communications Mark Kotzin at 518-257-1269.
For local or regional issues or concerns, please contact your nearest CSEA Communications Specialist.
Current News Releases
APRIL 6, 2021 - GOVERNOR, SENATE & ASSEMBLY APPROVE CUTS TO MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES
Today, the New York State Senate and Assembly voted to eliminate 200 inpatient mental health treatment beds operated by the Office of Mental Health (OMH) across New York State, despite having already cut more than 20% of available inpatient beds over the last 7 years.
“At a time of increased needs for mental health treatment, including an increase in youth suicides and mental health issues associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, it is abhorrent that the State Senate and Assembly would vote to cut inpatient beds in New York State,” said CSEA President Mary E. Sullivan.
Prior to the pandemic, most OMH facilities were at or near capacity. Without acknowledging that bed use has been drastically altered by COVID-19, the state is now claiming that numbers are at such low levels that they can close hundreds of beds.
In reality, over the last seven years, the State has reduced total inpatient capacity for adults by nearly 25% and taken 32% of beds for children and youths offline. Today’s vote will only exacerbate the strain on our health care system and will leave more New Yorkers without access to the mental health treatment that they need.
Mary E. Sullivan continued, “The Governor, Senate and Assembly have failed New Yorkers by reducing access to inpatient mental health treatment. At such a critical time for the mental health of our state, they are abandoning those who need the services the most. Shameful.”
MARCH 9, 2021: STATE TO EXPAND VACCINE ELIGIBILITY FOR FRONTLINE WORKERS
Beginning on Wednesday, March 17, New York State will expand eligibility for COVID-19 vaccinations to include all essential front-facing public workers.
CSEA has been pushing the state for this expansion, as many union members had previously been excluded, despite continuing to put their own safety at risk providing direct services to the public throughout the pandemic. This list includes, but is not limited to, DMV workers, DOT and DPW workers, sanitation workers, social services workers, and many other essential workers in non-healthcare positions.
“Since the start of this pandemic, essential front line public workers have risked their own safety and the safety of their families to make sure our state and local governments keep providing needed services to all New Yorkers. We are gratified to hear all these workers will now be eligible for the vaccine. They deserve to be protected so that New York can fully and safely reopen,” said CSEA President Mary E. Sullivan.
New York’s vast distribution network and large population of eligible individuals still far exceed the supply coming from the federal government. Due to this limited supply, New Yorkers are encouraged to remain patient and are advised not to show up at vaccination sites without an appointment.
Eligible New Yorkers will be able to schedule appointments at state vaccination sites by utilizing New York’s ‘Am I Eligible’ website or by calling the state’s COVID-19 Vaccination Hotline at 1-833-NYS-4-VAX (1-833-697-4829).
MARCH 10, 2021: CSEA HAILS THE PASSAGE OF THE AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN, WHICH INCLUDES VITAL AID TO NEW YORK STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS
ALBANY – CSEA, New York’s largest public employee union, is celebrating the passage of the American Rescue Plan for providing long-awaited stimulus funding for state and local governments. Over the past year, union members have strongly lobbied for this funding to avoid potentially devastating cuts to public services and jobs.
“We are beyond grateful to Senate Majority Leader Schumer and House Speaker Pelosi for their strong leadership in taking up the president’s call to get our governments back on track from the severe economic impact of this pandemic and to help so many Americans who’ve been struggling,” said CSEA President Mary E. Sullivan.
Sullivan spoke with Senate Majority Leader Schumer last week, reinforcing the vital need for this aid.
“New York had no way of bridging the budget gap we faced without federal assistance or massive cuts. Coming from New York, Majority Leader Schumer knew what we needed. He also understood the heroic role our public workers played throughout this crisis, and will continue to play.”
“In our talks, he promised to fight for this aid to ensure essential workers didn’t face layoffs after all they’ve sacrificed and that public services wouldn’t be cut as New York tries to reopen and recover,” Sullivan added. “Senator Schumer delivered on his promises to CSEA and all New Yorkers, and this stimulus package will help all working people and families.”
The union says the aid to the state will also ensure that CSEA-represented state workers, who saw their contractual wage increases deferred for a year, will now be paid.
“We fully expect with this aid the state will now be in the position to immediately deliver on their contractual promises to state workers, who never faltered from their obligation to provide public services during the pandemic,” Sullivan said. “Now that the federal aid is coming, it’s time to pay the workers everything they are owed.”
“Our union also appreciates all the hard work of so many CSEA members who took the time to call, write and text their elected representatives to push for this needed aid over the past year. We would not have been successful without their efforts to help our state recover,” she added.
DECEMBER 21, 2020: STATEMENT ON PRISON CLOSURES
ALBANY – Today, December 21, 2020, CSEA staff were notified by the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) of the plan to close the following three correctional facilities: Watertown Correctional Facility (44 CSEA), Gowanda Correctional Facility (53 CSEA), and the Clinton Annex (number undetermined). These closures were already approved in the 2020-21 state budget but were delayed due to COVID-19.
This news is very disappointing, especially coming so close to the holidays. We do note that DOCCS believes that there are enough vacancies at other facilities and/or agencies to absorb the current workforce and that no layoffs are expected. While the closure process begins immediately, the closures become effective March 30, 2021. These closures are associated with the dramatically decreasing prison population. The current inmate population stands at approximately 34,842, the lowest level since 1985.
Staff meetings at all facilities will be scheduled during the first two weeks of January at which members will be given information about their options, seniority and bumping rights.
CSEA continues to monitor these actions very closely and remains committed to keeping our members employed. We will provide updates as more information becomes available.
If you have any questions on this, please contact your CSEA Local President and/or your CSEA Labor Relations Specialist.
January 4, 2021: STATEMENT ON NY'S FOURTH DEFERRAL OF CONTRACTUAL INCREASES FOR STATE WORKERS
It is unfortunate that the U.S. Senate has once again stalled and refused to agree to send aid to state and local governments facing severe budget deficits. This lack of aid has caused New York to again delay state worker wage increases that should have been paid last April. Right now, we are told it’s either continue to delay wage increases or layoff workers, and neither is acceptable to CSEA.
Our campaign to keep fighting for this needed aid will continue, until CSEA members are made whole with full retroactive payment of the money they are owed. We continue to pursue our legal challenge through the process. We have to fight even harder to ensure NYS and our localities can get through this pandemic and are not forced to layoff workers who have shown up for work day after day in spite of the risks.
We are going into a difficult budget session. CSEA’s top priority will be to stop any layoffs and get our state workers their raise.
OCTOBER 29, 2020: UNION CALLS ON FEDERAL GOVERNMENT FOR FUNDING TO PRESERVE PUBLIC SERVICES; SAYS ESSENTIAL WORKERS DESERVE HAZARD PAY TO RECOGNIZE THEIR SACRIFICE
ALBANY – CSEA, the largest labor union representing public service workers and many private sector workers in New York, today passed a series of resolutions related to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on New Yorkers.
At CSEA’s 110th Annual Delegates Meeting, held virtually, delegates from around the state voted overwhelmingly to call on Congress to deliver unrestricted federal aid for state and local governments and school districts to stop public services from being cut. The delegates also called on the federal government to recognize the contributions and sacrifice of essential workers during the pandemic with hazard pay.
“We need to hold our federal government accountable for delivering aid to our state, municipalities and school districts to preserve the public services New Yorkers depend on,” said CSEA President Mary E. Sullivan. “They must also recognize the dedication, bravery and sacrifice of our essential workers with compensation for what they had to endure and continue to experience during this crisis.”
The resolution honoring essential workers recognized that tens of thousands of CSEA members worked throughout the pandemic delivering essential services, while many New Yorkers stayed home to flatten the curve. That work put these workers and their families at an increased risk for contracting COVID-19, with some paying the ultimate price. During the union’s annual meeting, CSEA recognized dozens of workers who lost their lives to COVID-19, many through work-related exposures.
“We owe a debt to those workers and their families that can never be repaid, and we mourn their losses deeply,” Sullivan said.
CSEA members have been lobbying for months pushing for federal relief funds to make sure New York’s public services do not fall casualty to the economic crisis brought on by the pandemic.
OCTOBER 7, 2020: STATEMENT OF CSEA PRESIDENT MARY E. SULLIVAN ON THE PASSING OF FORMER STATE SENATE REPUBLICAN MAJORITY LEADER JOSEPH BRUNO
ALBANY — “Today, CSEA mourns the passing of former State Senate Republican Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, who was an amazing leader for New York State and a strong supporter of working men and women.
Joe came from very humble beginnings in a large, poor family in Upstate New York, and he never forgot the struggles hardworking people have as he rose to become one of the most influential leaders in New York. He took his experiences with him as he fought hard to secure the rights and respect that he knew working people deserve.
Bruno fought alongside CSEA for fairness and justice for working people, including during the union’s protracted battle for a fair state contract in the late 1990s and early 2000. As the State Senate Republican Majority Leader, he was also a powerful ally in our fights to preserve vital public services, including our fight for fair education and local government funding in 2003, when he helped lead a series of vetoes against proposed cuts that would have devastated school services across the state, as well as our fight to provide quality care to our state’s most vulnerable people.
Likewise, he fought for our state’s eldest citizens in driving the passage of the EPIC program, ensuring seniors receive the pharmaceutical coverage they so desperately need. He was also influential in passing a permanent COLA for public retirees, helping ensure their retirement security.
Joe Bruno was a great man and an incredible leader who always stood by working people and never forgot his roots. Joe was a true friend to CSEA, working men and women and retirees in New York. On behalf of CSEA, I extend my deepest condolences to his family and loved ones.”
SEPTEMBER 19, 2020: STATEMENT FROM CSEA PRESIDENT MARY E. SULLIVAN ON THE PASSING OF SUPREME COURT JUSTICE RUTH BADER GINSBURG
“CSEA deeply mourns the loss of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who was an incredible champion of justice. Her work in defending the law helped greatly advance civil rights, women’s rights and labor rights in this country. The incredible legacy she leaves behind must never be forgotten as we carry her memory with us while union members continue her fight to secure the rights for all people. To say that America has lost someone amazing is a true understatement. On behalf of CSEA, I extend our deepest condolences to her family and loved ones.”
SEPTEMBER 25, 2020: CSEA STATEMENT ON FURTHER DELAY OF STATE EMPLOYEES' WAGE INCREASE
Unacceptable! After Governor Cuomo has once again put contractual increases for state employees on hold, CSEA continues our legal fight to hold NYS to the terms of our contract and to demand ALL money owed be paid to union members.
CSEA has just been notified that the contractually-required 2% wage increase that should have been paid to state workers in April, which was due to be paid in October after being twice delayed, is again on hold for another three months.
While we understand the state is trying to prevent furloughs or layoffs, and we don’t want to see any state workers put out of work, the state has a legal obligation to comply with the terms of our contract and honor the commitment they made to our hard-working state employees who have helped get us through this time of crisis.
In the Spring, CSEA filed a class-action grievance with the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations, and we continue to pursue this grievance, demanding the contractual increases with full retroactivity. CSEA fully expects to win this grievance and will pursue the matter through arbitration and the courts if necessary, but it will take time to move through the legal process.
In the meantime, CSEA has been working with the state and our elected leaders at all levels to continue to push for federal stimulus funding to relieve the state’s massive budget deficit caused by the pandemic, to hasten the state’s ability to pay members what they are owed.
SEPTEMBER 7, 2020: STATEMENT FROM CSEA PRESIDENT MARY E. SULLIVAN ON THE UNION'S ENDORSEMENT OF JOE BIDEN FOR PRESIDENT
“Joe Biden clearly aligns with the majority of issues that concern our union and impact working men and women in public service, and we’re going to do everything in our considerable power to get him elected.”
Sullivan pointed to the specific issues of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, supporting Social Security, and providing fiscal relief for state and local governments as some of the union’s key issues in choosing to endorse Biden. A recent survey of CSEA members showed overwhelming support for Biden on those issues.
“We are proud to join our millions of union sisters and brothers in AFSCME in supporting Joe Biden, who has a long history of being a strong ally to working women and men. Unlike the current administration, Joe Biden has plans to move us forward on the issues that matter most to working Americans, and we urge all union members to vote to elect him President.”
CSEA activists will participate in virtual campaign events leading up to the November elections and will conduct activities throughout the state to ensure voter turnout is strong in the elections. CSEA is encouraging voters to take advantage of early voting opportunities leading up to November 3 and is encouraging people to sign up as poll workers.
MAY 28, 2020: STATEMENT FROM CSEA PRESIDENT MARY E. SULLIVAN ON THE DEATH OF GEORGE FLOYD
“What happened in Minnesota is criminal and we join with unions across the country in calling for charges to be brought against the officers involved in the senseless murder of George Floyd. We call on all union members to demand justice for people of color throughout our nation.
In the Labor Movement, we stand up and speak out for human rights, dignity and social/racial justice. In this case, it certainly appears that Mr. Floyd was denied all three, and we cannot and will not turn a blind eye.
We stand in unity with our brothers and sisters in the black community, as we affirm that racism has no place in our workplaces, our streets, or our country. We call on our elected leaders to stand with us and demand action be taken and justice be served.”
JUNE 15, 2020: CSEA STATEMENT ON SUPREME COURT RULING BANNING LGBTQ AND TRANSGENDER WORKPLACE DISCRIMINATION
ALBANY – In today’s majority decision, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a decision that firing someone for their sexual orientation or gender identity/expression is a violation of the sex discrimination prohibition of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. CSEA President Mary E. Sullivan issued the following statement on the union’s behalf:
“Today’s decision is a great victory for workplace equality and we applaud the Supreme Court for voting to ban discrimination against LGBTQ+ workers. CSEA has long stood up for the rights of our LGBTQ+ members to be afforded the same protections and rights as everyone else in the workplace, especially the right to not be fired or discriminated against due to their sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.”
Chantalise DeMarco, chair of the union’s statewide LGBTQ Committee, added that today’s decision is a big step forward for those workers without union contracts.
“So many workers throughout the country are not so fortunate as our CSEA members to have union contracts that protect them from discrimination on the job. This is an important victory for them, but we must remain ever vigilant that the rights of all our LGBTQ+ workers are protected on and off the job,” DeMarco said.
MAY 20, 2020: ON CSEA APPRECIATION DAY, UNION URGES RECOGNITION OF PUBLIC SERVICE HEROES
ALBANY – CSEA, New York’s largest union of public service workers, has designated Wednesday, May 20, 2020, as CSEA Appreciation Day, a day to publicly recognize essential workers throughout the state for their outstanding service during the COVID-19 pandemic.
CSEA President Mary E. Sullivan unveiled the design of a lawn sign union activists are placing outside workplaces around the state on Wednesday to appreciate their co-workers who have been working tirelessly throughout the crisis to provide essential public services.
“We’re posting these signs across the state to recognize our essential workers for their sacrifices and thank them for their service during this critical time of need for all New Yorkers,” Sullivan said.
Throughout the pandemic, tens of thousands of CSEA members remained on the job providing many critical services to people in communities throughout New York, including jobs such as, but not limited to:
• Caring for individuals with mental illness and developmental disabilities;
• Maintaining our roads, highways and critical infrastructure;
• Maintaining physical facilities and grounds at public buildings;
• Treating sewage, collecting municipal garbage and operating landfills;
• Helping people in need connect with social safety net services;
• Keeping us safe with corrections, law enforcement, 911 dispatch and other emergency services;
• Providing vital public health services, including supporting our SUNY University Hospital System;
• Caring for residents in nursing homes;
• Providing child care for the children of first responders;
• School workers providing meals to students in need, cleaning school buildings to prevent the spread of illness; and
• Parks workers keeping our recreational spaces operational.
In praising the workers for their public service, Sullivan said CSEA hopes members of the public will also recognize their value.
“All too often, our CSEA members work behind the scenes and get taken for granted,” Sullivan said. “We hope that the public, like we do, recognizes their dedication and commitment to public service, and just how much they are doing, often at great personal sacrifice, to help get us through this crisis.”
APRIL 23, 2020: UNION LEADER TO CONGRESS: TIME TO STAND UP FOR NEW YORKERS
ALBANY – The leader of New York’s largest public service workers’ union says Congress’ failure to include unrestricted aid for the state and local governments in the latest round of federal stimulus funding amounts to an attack on the quality of life for all New York.
With the state as the epicenter of where the Covid-19 virus has hit hardest, the resulting economic crisis will lead to massive cuts to essential public services that CSEA members deliver if Congress does not provide needed relief, said CSEA President Mary E. Sullivan
“New Yorkers rely on our state and local governments to provide the services that improve our quality of life, from our roads and our parks, to our emergency services, to making sure we have clean water and healthy restaurants. Our public service workers are the essential workers who have kept our state running and safe during this crisis,” Sullivan said. “Congress’ failure to make up for the losses we’ve suffered as the epicenter of this pandemic means that all these services and more are at risk. New Yorkers deserve better and so do our essential workers.”
“Supporting our small businesses is important, but there’s no way they can operate effectively without the public services that make New York a great place to work and live. It’s time for all of us to take a stand and demand better from our federal government,” she added.
APRIL 3, 2020: FACING UNSUSTAINABLE STATE BUDGET, NY UNION HEAD DEMANDS RELIEF FROM FEDERAL GOVERNMENT
ALBANY – At a time when they are needed more than ever, the head of New York’s largest public employees union is warning that the state’s public services are nearing a breaking point, and without additional federal relief, the recently enacted state budget will decimate services New Yorkers rely on.
“With New York at the epicenter of this public health crisis, and the need for public services in even greater demand, our state leaders were forced into passing a budget that promises serious pain for New Yorkers in the very near future,” CSEA President Mary E. Sullivan said. “New York is bleeding revenues and workers are facing massive unemployment on a scale never seen before. Without additional federal relief right now, the state will be forced into cutting essential services we all rely on.
We can’t afford to allow our public hospitals and nursing homes and facilities for the mentally ill and developmentally disabled to face cuts, while they are already struggling to provide needed care. We can’t afford to allow cuts in funding for first responders, sanitation workers, public health workers, or those helping people find jobs. Our child care providers and our school districts can’t afford cuts that will negatively impact our children. New York’s roads and bridges can’t afford cuts to their maintenance. Our local governments can’t afford Medicaid cuts to programs that help our most vulnerable citizens, and our SUNY campuses and our Court system cannot afford the cuts we could be facing. The pain would go on and on and impact every New Yorker.
Time is running out for New York’s public services. We need immediate help from our national leaders during this time of crisis. We demand our Federal representatives act NOW to protect all New Yorkers and secure appropriate funding for our state and localities so New York can make our way out of this devastating crisis.”
JAN. 22, 2020: STATEMENT FROM CSEA PRESIDENT MARY E. SULLIVAN ON THE PROPOSED 2020-21 NYS BUDGET
“CSEA members working for our state and local governments continue providing vital services, even when our state faces challenging budgets. Addressing a six billion dollar deficit will be difficult, but we will work to make sure it doesn’t negatively impact the services and programs New Yorkers rely on.
CSEA opposes the closures of state facilities but will work with the executive and legislative chambers to ensure workers at these facilities have opportunities to continue their careers in state service. We will also work to ensure any changes to our state’s Medicaid program will not harm service recipients or the dedicated workers who provide those services.”
NOV. 1, 2019: LABOR UNION CSEA SEES FIRST NEW PRESIDENT IN MORE THAN A QUARTER CENTURY
ALBANY – For the first time in more than 25 years, CSEA, one of New York’s largest and most influential labor unions, has a new President at its helm.
Following the retirement of longtime CSEA President Danny Donohue on Thursday, October 31, 2019, former Executive Vice President Mary E. Sullivan was sworn-in as president on Friday, November 1, to serve out the remainder of Donohue’s seventh elected term, which expires on February 29, 2020.
Sullivan has been a union activist for more than 35 years, starting her career as an employee of the Herkimer County Department of Social Services, and advancing through the union ranks, serving at the local, regional, and statewide levels.
Sullivan first held statewide office when she was chosen in 1986 by CSEA’s statewide Board of Directors to fill a vacancy as treasurer of the union. Sullivan was elected executive vice president in 1994, serving in that role for the past 25 years.
With her ascension to president, Sullivan becomes the first CSEA activist from a local government municipality to become the union’s statewide president. All CSEA’s previous presidents began their union careers working in state government. She is also only the second woman to fill the union’s top spot.
“I’m proud to be leading our great union forward as president,” Sullivan said. “Under my leadership, we will build on our many accomplishments, be even more inclusive, and even more engaged with our members.”
News Link: Photo of swearing-in ceremony
Bio Link: Read Mary’s full biography
APRIL 9, 2020: PUBLIC WORKERS UNION: YOU NEED OUR SERVICES DURING CRISIS; CONTRACTUAL WAGE INCREASES FOR STATE WORKERS SHOULD BE PAID
ALBANY – On the heels of an announcement from New York State that it will delay payment of negotiated wage increases for unionized state workers for 90 days, CSEA, the state’s largest public workers’ union, is lashing out over the state’s failure to deliver on their contractual commitments. The 2 percent across-the-board increase was due to be paid in mid-April.
“It’s inexcusable to require our workers to literally face death to ensure the state keeps running and then turn around and deny those very workers their much-deserved raise in this time of crisis,” said CSEA President Mary E. Sullivan.
“People are failing to recognize the value of our state workers during this crisis and what they are going through to keep providing public services throughout the state. We literally have workers sleeping in their workplaces to make sure essential services are delivered around the clock. They’re at the front lines keeping this epidemic from spreading further, caring for our most vulnerable and ill residents, helping people in our communities suffering from job losses, and keeping our state from wholesale economic and social collapse. We cannot value them enough right now.”
“In the face of life and death risks, our state workers are showing up and honoring their commitment to serve New York’s residents, and New York should recognize that by honoring its commitments to them.”
The union acknowledges that skyrocketing unemployment, businesses closures, and billions in lost revenues have created an unsustainable budget situation for New York, which will lead to cuts in public services unless the federal government steps in with needed funding, which the union has demanded.
“Our state workers have proven themselves indispensable during this crisis, and they shouldn’t be called on to sacrifice even more due to our federal government’s lack of appropriate funding to our state,” Sullivan said. “Our Congressional delegation and the White House need to act now to help New York survive the economic crisis this pandemic caused and make sure we have the ability to continue the vital public services New Yorkers rely on.”
About CSEA: The Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA) is one of the largest and most influential unions in New York and the United States. CSEA has about 300,000 members and represents state, county, municipal, school district, child care, and private sector employees throughout every community in New York. Formed in 1910, CSEA has improved the lives of hardworking New Yorkers for more than 100 years, and is the largest affiliate of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), which is, in turn, one of the largest affiliate unions of the International House of Labor, the AFL-CIO.