First, I want to offer my own personal thanks, and the thanks of our entire union to all the brave members who are continuing to work and provide essential public services during this pandemic. As public service workers, you are the everyday heroes keeping our state and local governments functioning, and your services matter to every resident in our communities. We continue to fight to keep you safe, protected, respected and recognized for your sacrifices during this crisis. We especially recognize our health care workers, emergency services workers, public health workers and direct care workers who are putting their lives on the line to do their essential work.
You’ve probably heard us say we need to take a stand to demand our federal government deliver billions in unrestricted aid to our state and localities, but maybe you haven’t taken action because you think federal funding doesn’t have anything to do with you and your job.
Let me tell you why it does.
Federal education funding coming from the federal government to our state government eventually gets distributed to our local school districts. That’s the money that pays the salaries for bus drivers, food service workers, classroom aides and other educational support professionals.
Workers in our local Social Services Department deliver programs like child nutrition and child protective services and other needed human service programs that are all funded by Federal Medicaid funding passed on through the State. That funding also goes to our health care facilities like our public hospitals, our nursing homes and our OPWDD and OMH facilities. If you work in any of these areas, your salary ultimately gets paid by federal funding.
DOT and DPW workers ultimately get their salaries paid by federal highway fund dollars. Many providers who care for children receiving subsidies rely on the federal Child Care Development Block Grant, which ultimately funds local child care programming and pays providers on behalf of low-income working families. And on and on.
The reality is that every job of every CSEA member ultimately comes from federal funding. That’s why we need EVERY union member to be taking a stand for an increase in unrestricted funding to our state and local governments. This isn’t about politics; it’s about coming together after this pandemic to make sure we have the public service jobs to help our communities recover. If we learned anything from this crisis, it’s just how important our public service workers are to our communities, and we can’t afford to lose those services. As a public service worker yourself, you and your family can’t afford it, either. As taxpayers in your own community, you don’t want to see your public services reduced.
So what can we do? We can and must fight. CSEA has already delivered more than 1,500 emails to our representatives in the house and senate. That’s a start. If every union member sent just three emails — one to your representative in Congress, one to Senator Gillibrand and one to Senator Schumer — we would be delivering more than 700,000 letters to make our point. We’ve made it easy to send those letters by going to cseany.org and clicking a few more buttons to get the job done.
So, we’ve got important work ahead of us. I was so proud of how you joined us in fighting back when our pensions were at risk with our Constitutional Convention fight in 2017. This is just as critical a fight. Please join us.
And there’s one more thing you can do for our state. Fill out your census form. If you haven’t already, please visit cseany.org/census, where we’ve posted the link to go online and fill out your form. It only takes a few minutes, and every person who gets counted means more money for New York in the future. We need that desperately.
We are all in this together.
Mary E. Sullivan, President