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Sisters and Brothers:

Here we are, one year later.

When we geared up for a two week pause one year ago, some expressed frustration. Two weeks seemed like an eternity for many. Little did we know, this was just the beginning of a pandemic that would impact each and every one of us in some way.

What have CSEA members experienced? Our members have faced the loss of loved ones to COVID-19. They’ve battled COVID-19 themselves. They’ve dealt with the reality of workplace safety not just being about accident prevention, but trying to avoid illness. They’ve dealt with shortages of personal protective equipment. They’ve had to juggle doing their job while ensuring their children are completing online schooling.

Long story short, many have dealt with more in one year than they have throughout their entire lives.

Throughout this all, CSEA members have been getting the job done. Waiting until vaccines were released just wasn’t an option for so many of our members. There were individuals to care for, emergency calls to answer, roads to plow, garbage to pick up, students to feed, and so much more. I will always be proud of the selflessness and resilience our members have shown over this past year.

There are many of our members who’ve been on the job throughout the pandemic but haven’t received public recognition. Custodial and maintenance workers on our school and SUNY college campuses have been unsung heroes, not only maintaining buildings as needed but doing the cleaning and disinfecting necessary to fight this virus. Members from our state DOCCS facilities and county jails have been on the job, providing food, medical/dental care, security and more. Parks workers dealt with tremendous influxes of visitors not only during peak seasons, but in the winter months, as well.

Just as spring is around the corner, long-awaited vaccines are becoming a reality for many. CSEA has advocated at the state level for the inclusion of more job titles on vaccine eligibility lists. The fact is that our members in numerous fields have public interaction and, therefore, should have been higher up on the list. I’m glad our advocacy has paid off and eligibility has been expanded. My thanks to go out to all members helping get these vaccines released. In so many counties, we’ve seen members step up from different departments to help run clinics and get vaccines distributed more quickly. That willingness to help will literally save lives.

Looking ahead, I look forward to a return to seeming normalcy, both in our union and in general.

There are certain changes forced by COVID-19 that have strengthened our union and will remain. For example, the expansion of online education and meetings has invited participation from members whose other commitments have previously made it tough to get involved.

That said, I look forward to the point at which we are able to – with safety precautions in place – gather again. Meetings may look different for awhile, with outdoor gatherings encouraged over indoor gatherings and an insistence on using larger spaces to accommodate reasonable social distancing. When that time comes, I appreciate everyone’s cooperation and support. I realize that we want things back exactly as they were, but we will still be able to gather and enjoy the camaraderie we’ve missed over this past year. We will update you once we receive the go-ahead to commence gatherings.

In closing, I would like to thank our staff for their continued hard work and support. I don’t think most are aware of the extent to which our staff have advocated for our members over this past year; it’s truly been an around the clock job.

Please keep your eyes on the Region 3 webpage at cseany.org and our CSEA Region 3 Facebook page for the most up to date information on the happenings in our region.

In Solidarity,

Anthony M. Adamo

Southern Region President