Friday, October 14, 2016

CSEA Monroe County Employees Reject Contract Offer


cat-logoMessage from Jim D’Amico and the CSEA Monroe County Contract Action Team:
Dear Members:
On October 13, a majority of members of CSEA Unit 7400 (Local 828) voted to reject the terms and conditions of a new labor agreement that was tentatively signed on September 13. The official results are as follows– 377 voted yes and 463 members voted no.
The ratification vote was a mail-in secret ballot issued from September 22 to October 6. The contract vote was tallied this evening starting at 6:00 pm at the CSEA Rochester Satellite Office at Winton Place. Approximately 1,700 CSEA-represented workers have been working under the language of the previous four-year contract that expired in December 2013.
On behalf of myself and the Contract Action Team, we want to take a moment to assure you we are doing everything in our power to deliver on our promise of a fair contract. Although the tentative agreement did not pass this evening, we are moving in the right direction. Our first and next order of business will be to survey our members and document feedback to figure out the best path forward. Let me be perfectly clear– we are committed to reaching an agreement that is respectful to employees and taxpayers alike.
Any questions, comments or concerns about future negotiations with our employer can be directed to our CSEA Unit 7400 office located at 1354 Buffalo Road, Ste 6, Rochester, NY 14624. You can call mornings at 585-328-5250. For media inquiries, please contact Ove Overmyer at 585-354-1613.
Jim D’Amico, CSEA Unit 7400 President

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Donald Trump and the real meaning of taxes

Donald Trump and the Real Meaning of Taxes
Rochester, NY-- Like many Americans, I physically recoiled when learning Donald Trump claimed almost a billion dollars in failed business dealings in 1995 and then bragged about the fact not paying taxes makes him “smart.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Not paying your fair share of taxes makes you a criminal in the eyes of most—just ask Wesley Snipes and Martha Stewart.
Despite all the spin from the political extremes, what gets overlooked every time we debate taxes is the real meaning behind why we pay them in the first place.
I reject the conservative arguments they tell about paying taxes. I abhor Donald Trump’s behavior and his view of the world. It reflects a chronic disconnection from our role as citizens; it is devoid of any civic meaning. The real meaning of taxes pays for the things that underpin our public life and connect us to one another through our communities, our states and our country.
Most things that require effort and sacrifice-- family, service, charity, and volunteerism-- have virtuous or at least redeeming meaning associated with them. That meaning helps us face life’s challenges with a larger sense of purpose that makes these acts worth the investment.
Donald Trump believes taxes are seen as merely depriving him of his individual property. If, on the other hand, we see ourselves as stewards of common good, as citizen managers of public systems and structures that secure the city, state and country we live in, then taxes are our contribution to something greater than our individual selves. This is a concept Donald Trump will never understand— and makes him disqualified and unfit to be President of the United States.
No matter what kind of place we call home-- rural, city, suburb-- our aspirations and expectations are inextricably linked with the public systems that provide for our quality of life. Public services pay for the collective basics of what we need to raise our families and to run successful businesses. The act of paying taxes gets a bad rap and we need to flip that notion on its head. Thank god for taxes-- it enables us to do things collectively we could never do on our own.
I would argue we all need to be telling a new and meaningful story about paying taxes that celebrates the concrete opportunity it offers “we the people.” The problem is, without the public systems and structures that taxes pay for, the America we know and love would cease to exist. The real meaning of taxes is what connects us all—a concept Donald Trump will never ever be able to comprehend.
-Ove Overmyer
AFSCME / CSEA NY Local 1000

Monday, August 22, 2016

CSEA Endorses Harry Bronson

CSEA Calls Harry Bronson a Champion for Working People

Photos by Ove Overmyer
Rochester— CSEA, New York’s leading union, has formally announced it is backing NYS Assembly member Harry Bronson in his primary re-election bid to keep his seat in the 138 Assembly District (Rochester, Henrietta, Chili). Harry has served the members extremely well since he was first was elected to the NYS legislature in 2010. Along with almost every other labor and civil rights organization in New York State, CSEA looks forward to continuing our partnership with Mr. Bronson.

Bess Watts, CSEA Monroe County Local President and a member of the CSEA Monroe County Political Action Team says you couldn’t ask for a better partner in government. “All public officials should strive to be as hard working, talented, diplomatic and dedicated as Harry Bronson. He understands exactly what his constituents need—and we should know. CSEA has thousands of members who live in his district. They tell me how results driven he is—and I know firsthand by personally working with him on several public policy initiatives. He has proven himself to be a problem solver unlike others who attempt to unseat him.”

CSEA Western Region President Florence Tripi also praised the Bronson endorsement. “Harry Bronson is a man of integrity and a true champion for working people. No one we know works harder than Harry—and gets proven results. We are thrilled to support and partner with an elected official that respects and understands the value of public employees and worker rights. We will do everything in our power to make sure he keeps his seat in the Assembly,” she said.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Monroe County Contract Rally

Hundreds of people turned out for a rally for a fair contract in front of the Monroe County Legislature building on August 9th.  It is time to bargain in good faith and get back to the table.  Several members spoke at the County Legislature meeting after the rally including Flo Tripi CSEA Region 6; President, Bess Watts CSEA Local 828 President and Jim D'Amico, Unit President.   
You could feel the energy and solidarity!  

Members were out in full force rallying for a fair contract

Members packed the Monroe County Legislative chamber

Bess' speech to the Monroe County Legislative body

Good Evening, my name is Bess Watts, President of Monroe County Civil Service Employees Association Local 828.  For over 50 years CSEA has represented the county’s  workers to insure that they are fairly compensated for the valuable services they provide the public.  For most of those years the relationship between labor & the elected County administration was positive and respectful and led to smoothly negotiated contracts quickly put in place so workers and management could resume their focus on the work they do….

Today however the climate is adversarial toward dedicated, skilled and hard-working employees  and contract negotiations drag on unsettled for years. Who benefits from the years of wasted effort? Not workers, not managers, not the public in need of services… only the outsourced legal consultants, the high priced private law firm Harris Beach, major donors to the Republican party, benefits from every billable hour they spend thwarting a fair contract settlement.    

For several years these negotiators have demonstrated an overt disregard for the value and skill of professional and paraprofessional workers who are employed by Monroe County.  County administrators have taken measures to hide the true cost of tax dollars spent on the law firm Harris Beach.  Much like the inscrutable dealings of the County with their use of LDC contracts, the County employs lack of transparency and intentional accounting obfuscation when one questions the true cost and value of outsourcing legal work that the well-staffed internal County legal department would do. 

After the LDC fiasco please don’t ask County taxpayers to “trust” that their money is being used wisely…  It is valid to ask why the county retains a firm that cannot seem to successfully negotiate contracts despite the huge sums it is paid…   Negotiate in good faith to insure the operations of the County run smoothly & county workers have the support and resources necessary to deliver the high quality services our county residents deserve. Thank you.