Friday, September 15, 2017

NO Constitutional Convention

On November 7, 2017, New Yorker voters will be asked if the state should hold a convention to re-write the New York State Constitution.  Such a convention could cost taxpayers over 300 million and could allow devastating changes to our constitution. Who is driving this idea & why?

Those in favor site the need for ethics reform and limits on gerrymandering while those against question the wisdom of opening the constitution up to alteration by the same corrupt big money players that currently hold the public good hostage in Albany.  Well-financed pro-convention groups are trying to dominate the early discussion and mislead voters with false advertising claims that this will be a “people’s convention”.  

There is currently a process in place to change the NYS Constitution that has been used over 200 times since 1984. The state legislature creates referendum questions for the ballot during general elections and citizens decide.  A number of ballot questions were voted on in 2013 including the constitutional change needed to build the Del Lago Resort & Casino in Waterloo. When a process to change the constitution currently exists why risk giving entrenched politicians and big money influencers access to alter constitutional protections for workers, the environment, women, minorities and schools?

The Adirondacks Mountains are protected by a ‘forever wild’ clause in the constitution. Lobbyists say that those protections are ‘unlikely’ to be altered. Frankly, ‘unlikely’ is not good enough when we see federal parklands being sold off, mined and privatized.   The constitution also protects pensions, public education and the right for working people to organize and collectively bargain.  Women & LGBTQ people should be concerned about the introduction of “Religious Freedom” clauses and the use of tax funds for religious schools. Gun control, women’s reproductive rights and protective tax limits for the wealthiest would be on the table.  
   
A constitutional convention is ripe for abuse. It’s a financial boondoggle enabling system-savvy politicians to make up to an extra $80,000 annually on top of the salaries they already receive.  There is no timeline to complete delegate work or limitations on who they can pay to “assist” them. Taxpayers will get stuck with the tab.  The money spent on a Constitutional Convention would be better spent investing in our schools, our crumbling infrastructure and vital public services. 

Survey data has shown that when voters are presented with the facts regarding a constitutional convention, they overwhelmingly oppose it.  I hope you will too.  

Bess Watts
President, CSEA Local 828 Monroe County

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

CSEA Endorses James Sheppard for Mayor



CSEA has endorsed James Sheppard’s candidacy for Mayor of the City of Rochester. The CSEA Monroe County Political Action Committee is comprised of local members who work for state government, public authorities, local municipalities, school districts, library systems and for the private sector childcare and healthcare industries. More than 4,500 CSEA members call the City of Rochester home.

“For many years, James Sheppard and CSEA have been crafting a great working relationship when it comes to delivering vital public services to citizen taxpayers of Rochester and Monroe County,” said CSEA Monroe County Local Political Action Committee Chairperson Bess Watts. In an endorsement letter dated August 17, Watts stated Mr. Sheppard has clearly demonstrated a vision and ability to build consensus on issues that matter most to our working families.


“James Sheppard completely understands the value of collective bargaining and the vital role employees play in improving the lives of local residents,” said Western Region President Florence Tripi. She added, “The City of Rochester is lucky to have a trustworthy passionate leader like Jim Sheppard. His unequivocal confirmation not supporting the state constitutional convention referendum vote this November is something that did not go unnoticed.” 

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Join Us for the Labor Day Parade

LABOR DAY PARADE - September 4th

Parade begins at 11:00 on the corner of East Avenue and Union Street with a Press Conference at 10:15 on the steps of the NYSUT Building at 30 North Union Street.   

Join us!  CSEA TShirts will be provided.  The theme this year is “Labor Fighting Forward: We Can Do It!"

Friday, July 21, 2017

Rochester Pride Parade


Rochester– On Saturday, July 15, CSEA union activists marched with their labor brothers and sisters in solidarity at the Rochester Pride Parade that weaved down the Park Avenue neighborhood to Culver Road.

Official Rochester Pride organizers report more than 100 Units participated in the walk while thousands of marchers and parade onlookers took to the streets to spread the message of solidarity, love, non-violence, peace and community pride. This year’s parade theme was in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the “Summer of Love.”
After the parade, the community gathered at Cobbs Hill Park for the annual festival. CSEA sponsored a vendor table while sharing resources and relevant information about current events happening in our working world.
Bess Watts, CSEA Monroe County President said, “Once again, the parade and festival were awesome. The Rochester Pride Parade and Festival are a great opportunity to share labor’s message. The exceptionally warm reception we received as we walked down the avenue gave me chills down my spine.”

CSEA, the Teamsters, Rochester & Genesee Valley Area Labor Federation, NYSUT, Pride at Work AFL-CIO, Coalition Labor Union of Women, the Federation of Social Workers (CWA), AFT, UUP, UAW and many additional labor unions attended the event.


CSEA is an Official Sponsor of Rochester, NY Pride 2017.


Photos and story by Ove Overmyer, CSEA ©2017.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Constitutional Convention is Not a Solution


On Nov. 7, 2017, New York state voters will decide whether to hold a state Constitutional Convention. The New York State Constitution mandates that every 20 years, voters must decide whether to approve a convention.

A state Constitutional Convention is a meeting of three delegates from each of the state’s 63 Senate districts, plus 15 at-large delegates. During this meeting, delegates would have the ability to amend any part of the state’s constitution. Any changes agreed to by a majority of delegates will then go to the voters for approval. Any approved changes will then become part of the state constitution.
In 1997, voters rejected a convention largely based on strong opposition from CSEA and our allies. In recent years, some elected officials, voters and interest groups have expressed support for holding a constitutional convention because of frustration with recent political scandal and misguided state policies.

We are again strongly opposed to a convention, which could potentially open the door for losing many of the rights and protections that help secure our futures, including our pension benefits, collective bargaining rights, contract rights, civil rights and social welfare and much more.

A convention would also be expensive; it would likely be controlled by special interests that want to reduce your protections and could cost taxpayers millions.   Protect our future and vote 'NO' on November 7th.