Sunday, November 23, 2014

Hey Congress! Pass A Bill! Stop Separating Our Families!

(Select 1080p HD) -- Our do-nothing Congress just got a wake-up call from Barack Obama. You don't like the President's executive action, then pass a damn bill. In the meantime, stop playing politics, stop separating our families and come to an agreement on a comprehensive, fair immigration policy for the United States of America. Hey GOP-- the ball is in your court. Instead of attacking the President, why don't you do something for the American people for crying out loud. Video production by Sterling Comfort Productions, © 2014.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

#SNOWVEMBER UPDATE: CSEA Monroe County Local 828 paying it forward for our families in Hamburg, NY

CSEA Town of Webster Highway Department workers (Monroe County Local 828) removing snow in the Buffalo suburb of Hamburg, NY. photo by Joe Herbst
By Ove Overmyer

November 22, 2014-- CSEA public employees from the towns of Webster, Penfield and Perinton have been working nonstop for the past 48 hours to assist Buffalo area residents with snow removal and emergency care. We talked with Joe Herbst, Superintendent of Highways for the Town of Webster, and he says they have been getting "a hero’s welcome" in every neighborhood they visit. Go here to see photos taken today (Nov 22) by Joe Herbst.

"Residents of Hamburg were bringing us out hot food, dinners and coffee-- they were so appreciative of us being there," said Herbst. And to complicate today’s recovery efforts, the day was marked by an aggressive rainstorm that proved very difficult for the workers. State and local officials are warning residents about area flooding, possible structure collapses and over exerting themselves when shoveling the heavy, wet snow.

Town of Webster Highway Department employees Jeff Marapese and Jeff Kujawa have not slept or have seen their families for days, but were still escorting emergency personnel to area homes and hospitals late this afternoon plus working very hard on the snow removal process as well.  

Herbst says the plowing and removal is tough going, and most of the areas main roads only have one lane plus the middle “suicide” lane which is a major safety concern. He added, “There is so much snow—and there is no where to put it. The driving is still treacherous because the sight lines are non-existent because the banks of snow along the road are close to twelve feet high in some locations.”

Herbst also reports that some 25 percent of the neighborhoods in South Buffalo have not seen a plow since Wednesday. They hope to make at least one pass in every neighborhood tomorrow (Sunday Nov. 23).

The entire area is under a flood warning, which means flooding is imminent or has been reported. The National Weather Service says flood-prone areas will be inundated, but warns there will be general flooding, too.

"(We) expect 5 to 6 feet of water in some areas in a short period of time," Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said. The risk of flooding extends into next Tuesday. According to the National Weather Service, temperatures will remain above freezing through Monday, rising steadily into the 50s on Sunday. Heavy snow threatens to collapse more roofs before it melts.

Erie County officials aren't taking any chances. They've mobilized heavy pumps and diesel pumps to suck up water and deposit it elsewhere. Swift-water rescue teams are in place, along with helicopters, should anyone get caught in the deluge of runoff waters. There is no doubt CSEA workers from all over New York State will be heeding the call for help as the drama of #snowvember continues.

Some major roads opened on Friday, like the New York State Thruway, and some local driving bans were lifted. That allowed trucks to move so food could be delivered to stores and crews could remove abandoned vehicles. Snow and vehicle removals still are major tasks ahead. Erie County crews have had to deal with clearing 1,800 lane-miles of county roads before getting to residential streets, Poloncarz said Friday.

And while NYS Governor Cuomo is thanking every elected official under the sun, plus the New York City Fire Department again, it is not an accident that he continually overlooks to recognize the hard work and dedication of the state and local government rank and file municipal workers—the very folks who are actually doing the heavy lifting. Stay tuned to the Voice Reporter for more news and information in the coming days.




Friday, November 14, 2014

America's Postal Workers Host National Day of Action

Rochester, NY area postal workers and their allies attend a press conference on a National Day of Action, Nov. 14, 2014. Photo by Ove Overmyer, © 2014
By Ove Overmyer

November 14, 2014-- Postal workers in Rochester and across the country came together today for a “National Day of Action” to tell Post Master General (PMG) Patrick R. Donahoe and the USPS Board of Governors: Stop Delaying America's Mail! However, in a stunning development, news broke late today the Post Master General is stepping down from the $276,840 a year post on February 1, 2015. Donahoe has served the postal service for 39 years, and began his stint as PMG in October of 2010.

This news is little consolation and comfort to area postal workers, who this summer at a national convention voted “no confidence” in Donahoe. At the Rochester, NY press conference today on 30 N. Union Street, local leaders called on the USPS Board of Governors to immediately freeze Donohue’s policies so they could do no more harm to the American people. To see photos from the press conference, you can go here.

“While we are encouraged by this development of the PMG stepping down, we are not celebrating,” said Jim Bertolone, President of the American Postal Workers Union, Local 215. Bertolone also doubles as the President of the Rochester & Genesee Area Labor Federation, AFL-CIO and Rochester Labor Council. He added, “On January 5, the USPS is slated to lower service standards to virtually eliminate overnight delivery—including first class mail from one address to another in the same city, town or village. This would be devastating to our local economy and to our local communities.”

Bertolone went on to say that all mail throughout the entire country will be delayed—including necessary medicines, local newspapers, bill payments and more. And also beginning in January 2015, the USPS plans to close or consolidate 82 distribution centers.

Postal workers and the four national unions that represent the workers say these cuts will cause irreparable hardships for customers, slow economic growth and lead to massive schedule changes and reassignments for federal employees.

The four American postal unions are joining forces to protect service, fight for their livelihoods, and defend our great national treasure-- the U.S. Postal Service. Bertolone mentioned that the postal workers and their many allies in the fight against the proposed changes include more than fifty U.S. Senators and more than 160 lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Nov. 14 date was selected for the Day of Action because it coincides with the USPS Board of Governors’ last public meeting of 2014. Today, the board released the USPS financial reports for the fiscal year, and undoubtedly once again bemoaned “billions of dollars in losses.”

In fact, the USPS has earned more than $1 billion in profit from operations this year. The “losses” are the result of a bogus pre-funding requirement and have nothing to do with the cost of collecting, sorting and delivering mail.

The unions say the cuts are not inevitable. The American people must engage their federal lawmakers and advocate for strengthening our United States Postal System—and not dismantle it for the benefit of vulture capitalists who want to privatize public services.

To learn more on how you can help restore postal service in your region, please visit this website here

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Cuomo vetoes veterans buy-back bill; Pokes his bony finger in the eye of public employees

Governor One Percent fails us again.
photo provided.
On Friday, November 7, Governor One Percent Andrew Cuomo vetoed a measure that would have expanded a pension credit for veterans who are now public employees. The bill was to fix an oversight of not being inclusive enough to include veterans who have served in Somalia, The Balkans or Afghanistan.

The measure was sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Bill Larkin, a retired Army colonel, and Assemblywoman Amy Paulin (D- Scarsdale) and was aggressively supported by CSEA and other public employee unions.

In 2012, Cuomo pushed for a new, less generous pension tier, Tier VI. Cuomo has also been at odds with the state’s public employee unions since before taking office in January of 2011. That year, Cuomo had New York’s workforce agree to cost-savings in labor contracts or risk widespread layoffs. This veto is yet another action in a long line of efforts to marginalize the well-being of middle class New Yorkers. If given the opportunity, Governor Cuomo will stick his bony finger in the eye of any rank and file public worker—especially if they belong to a union.

Leading up to the announcement on Friday, the governor’s office leaked several memos of opposition to the pension from conservative think tanks, lobbyists and the city of New York, which expressed concerns with expanding the pension credit. There is no doubt these documents were initiated by his office, but these claims can not be substantiated at this time. Nevertheless, perhaps cognizant of potential headlines and drama over the veto, Cuomo’s office released the veto announcement at the classic news-dump time of after 5 p.m. on Friday-- three days after the mid-term elections.

Bess Watts, a U.S. Army veteran and Monroe County CSEA Local 828 President says she and her family got a raw deal. “Of course he waited until after the elections to veto the Veterans Bill. This bill directly impacted me and many other veterans who have dedicated their lives to public service.” She added, “I could have bought back three years of service credit for my six years served in the U.S. Army. This veto is blatantly punitive and should be viewed for what it truly is—a slap in the face to public employees who honorably served their country. This action is shameful.”

Under the current law, veterans of the armed forces who served in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam era or in specific combat zones such as Grenada, Panama or the Middle East in the 1980s can qualify for purchasing up to three years of pension service.
Veterans who served in Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman, Persian Gulf, Red Sea and airspace above from 1990 to the present also qualify. Again, the current law does not allow veterans who served in Afghanistan, The Balkans or Somalia.

In the photo below, one month prior to vetoing a buy-back benefit for Afghanistan troops, Cuomo treks to that very combat zone in the Middle East to get a photo op. It must be noted he couldn't look this soldier in the eye.