ALBANY — Gov. Kathy Hochul recently joined CSEA President Mary E. Sullivan and AFSCME International President Lee Saunders for a news conference to discuss the urgent need to fill open public service positions throughout New York.

Governor Hochul also signed two pieces of legislation to make it easier to expand opportunities in civil service and encourage worker retention.

The news conference, held during our union’s fall Board of Directors meeting, was the latest stop on AFSCME’s ongoing “Staff the Front Lines” bus tour across the country to highlight the need to fill public jobs, discuss the value of public service and attract potential applicants.

“The Staff the Front Lines initiative started by AFSCME and its affiliates highlights the need to recruit public sector workers not just here in New York, but nationwide,” said Sullivan. “As we have all seen, the public sector workforce has been downsized and decimated for quite some time now and that has to change. For the first time in a long time, we have a Governor who recognizes this dire need and who is ready to rebuild the public workforce.”

“We put out an alarm, and people are listening,” said Saunders. “We’re going all over the country and we’re talking about the fact that public services can’t suffer any longer. The way that you continue to provide essential services is to hire. We’ve got to make that system easier. We’ve got to educate folks about the importance of public service, and the fact that public service is open for business. There are jobs available – good jobs with good wages, good benefits and good pensions.”

The governor signed into law a bill (S. 5486/A. 6855) that requires the state Department of Civil Service and municipal civil service commissions to announce competitive civil service examinations to local BOCES, high schools, public colleges, public universities, local social services districts and job training programs.

She signed into law legislation (A. 7155/S. 5494) that requires that any time spent as a provisional employee be counted towards an employee’s probationary term upon receiving for a permanent appointment in the same title.

“This legislation will help to strengthen the pipeline to civil service, allowing even more New Yorkers to heed the call to join our public workforce,” Governor Hochul said. “New York’s civil servants are the engines that keep our state moving, and from our historic plan to increase the minimum wage and index it to inflation to our initiative offering 12 weeks of fully paid parental leave to more than 150,000 state workers, my administration is committed to honoring their contributions and building a modern workforce ready to meet the needs of our state.

I thank the bill sponsors for their partnership in helping attract the best and brightest workers to New York, and I will continue working with groups like AFSCME and CSEA to ensure that our hardworking civil servants have the access, benefits, and protections they deserve.”

CSEA has been working with Governor Hochul’s administration on efforts to recruit and retain public workers. In the past decade, public employers have lost tens of thousands of employees and more than a quarter of current public workers will be eligible to retire in the next five years. An insufficient number of workers are replacing them, potentially jeopardizing services New Yorkers rely on every day.

“We proudly stand with Governor Hochul and AFSCME President Lee Saunders today as partners in this important endeavor,” Sullivan said. “We thank you for your steadfast commitment to public employees and to our union.”

In addition to the new legislation and paid parental leave, Governor Hochul and her administration have taken many steps to boost public worker recruitment and retention. Soon after taking office, she lifted the state worker hiring freeze and made reforms to the state pension system’s Tiers 5 and 6.

The Governor’s state budget this year included waiving civil service examination fees, offering continuous recruitment exams, placing civil service representatives in career centers across the state to urge the public to pursue public careers and has directed the state Department of Civil Service to review job titles and salaries to ensure they are competitive with private sector jobs.

“Governor, we commend you for your commitment to recruiting public workers and we proudly stand with you as partners in this important endeavor,” said Sullivan. “We thank you for your steadfast commitment to public employees and our union.”

— Janice Gavin

Above, from left to right, Gov. Kathy Hochul addresses the CSEA Board of Directors during our union’s Staff the Front Lines event in Albany on Sept. 7, 2023, as CSEA President Mary E. Sullivan and AFSCME International President Lee Saunders look on. (Photo by Therese Assalian.)


About Author

Janice Gavin is the editor of The Work Force and CSEA’s special interest publications. A graduate of SUNY Plattsburgh and Syracuse University, Gavin has been a journalist and public relations professional for more than 25 years. She worked as a newspaper reporter and bureau chief at the Plattsburgh Press-Republican, where she was honored with Associated Press and New York Newspaper Publishers Association awards. Gavin joined CSEA as a communications specialist in the union's Southern Region in 2000. In 2004, she became The Work Force's associate editor, a position she held until becoming the publication's editor in 2017. Growing up in a union household, she is dedicated to improving workers’ lives through telling their stories.

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