Sisters and Brothers,
The following is my April 2022 report to the CSEA Board of Directors:
Greetings from the Southern Region. After two years of seeing many of you only via Zoom meetings, it is a pleasure to gather again in person for our Board of Directors meetings. While technology has allowed us to keep the business of our union going, we all appreciate this opportunity to get back to normal.
Speaking of in-person meetings, I’d like to focus much of my report on our Southern Region Officers Weekend, which took place March 17-20, 2022 at The Kartrite Resort & Indoor Waterpark in Monticello, Sullivan County. CSEA hasn’t had conferences in Monticello since Catskills resorts were at their peak popularity and CSEA conventions were taking place at The Concorde Hotel. It’s great to see these communities coming to life again. We are pleased to share that the Kartrite (as well as ResortsWorld Casino just down the road) is a fully unionized hotel represented by the New York Hotel & Gaming Trades Council. We even had the chance to meet the union’s business agent and building representative.
I am happy to report that the conference was a great success, with over 150 CSEA members in attendance. We received overwhelmingly positive feedback when we surveyed the members on the final day of the conference, and I continue to receive phone calls and text messages from activists who greatly enjoyed the conference. One thing that was wonderful to see was many of our seasoned leaders getting acquainted with officers who are beginning their first term of office. It was a great opportunity for experienced leaders to pass on some of their knowledge and for newer officers to find mentors within our union. I know there were some people nervous about this conference, since it was one of the first indoor gatherings of members in some time, but things went quite smoothly thanks to the countless hours spent planning this conference and our wonderful members being cooperative and respectful of everyone’s differing comfort levels.
I’d like to thank our Southern Region Education and Training Committee and our Social Committee for their hard work in making the conference not only an educational experience, but also fitting in some fun and camaraderie. The conference kicked off on St. Patrick’s Day, so the committees added some Irish elements that day. On Saturday, after classes ended, we had a fundraising cornhole tournament that raised funds for Special Olympics New York. This beanbag toss game has become more and more popular in recent years and we were quite impressed by the skills some people showed. Congratulations to our officers from Sullivan County DOT on winning the tournament.
During the conference, we had two informative plenary sessions. The first focused on member recruitment and retention, which is a top priority in our organization. Region Director Charisse Seneres served as moderator and offered information about the many things that have been done organizationally to boost our membership numbers. Then those seated at each table had their own discussions about what they do for orientations and recruitment within their locals and units. Our goals, which I think we achieved, were to motivate our leaders to work on recruitment and to remind them how possible it is to pursue this at the local/unit level. Our staff are a tremendous asset, but this really needs to be a member-based initiative if we are going to be successful.
Our second plenary session discussed the proposed New York Health Act, which CSEA strongly opposes. Sen. Mike Martucci, Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski, and attorney Matt Leonardo of the law firm of Hinman Straub were our panelists, with Political Action Coordinator Chris Ludlow moderating the discussion. Any of our conference attendees who had questions about CSEA’s position on this proposed legislation had their questions answered as these panelists did a deep dive into this topic. I am grateful that they took the time to join us on this important topic. It’s worth pointing out that we had both a Democrat and a Republican here, which shows the bipartisan opposition to this shortsighted legislation.
Thank you to staff members Geri Buccieri, Rhonda Cafarelli and Jessica Ladlee for their work on conference planning; to Chris Ludlow, for putting together our informative Sunday plenary session; Region Director Charisse Seneres for her continued assistance and support at the conference; labor relations specialists Larry Sparber and Howard Baul for their informative workshop; and Education and Training Specialist Seth Leibson for his hard work and expertise. Thanks are also due to Beverly Merrill of Empire Travel, who was a tremendous resource for us.
Aside from the conference, we have been busy with the regular business of our union. Word of the campaign to Fix Tier 6 has spread throughout our region and has been a good source of unity within our union; regardless of political affiliation, we can all agree that fixes are needed in order to recruit and retain workers. Membership meetings are picking up now that we can meet again in person. Between our conference and online webinars, many of our officers have completed their mandated officer trainings.
In closing, I’d like to note that Workers Memorial Day is April 28th. Sadly, we recently lost a CSEA member from the Southern Region. Robin Alvarez was a bus aide from the Arlington School District Unit. She died on the job when the bus she was a passenger in collided with a New York State Police vehicle. Our thoughts and prayers are with Robin’s family during their time of grief, as well as her friends and co-workers in the school district.
This is the time of year that we can recommit ourselves to workplace safety and health. No matter the type of work you do, safety is of the utmost importance. Consider establishing a Safety and Health Committee in your local or unit. Meet with management to discuss concerns. Use our Occupational Safety and Health Department as your resource. It’s far too easy to let our guards down and become lax about safety. Not only can we hold management accountable, we can also set positive examples for our fellow members. There are tons of resources available within our union, so please take advantage of them.
In closing, I wish everyone a happy and healthy spring. My thoughts and prayers are with everyone impacted in some way by the war in Ukraine, especially our members who have loved ones currently in that country. May we all show continued solidarity with the Ukrainian people and pray that by the next time we gather, there will be progress made toward achieving peace.
Yours in Unionism,
Anthony M. Adamo
Southern Region President