Monday, May 2, 2016

CSEA Monroe County employees delcare contract impasse

CSEA Declares Contract Impasse with Monroe County
Rochester— The Civil Service Employees Association Monroe County Unit 7400, Monroe County’s largest public service union, has declared a contract impasse today with its employer. Impasse was declared with the New York State Public Employment Relations Board after the negotiating team polled members and determined that a final contract could not be reached without assistance from a mediator. CSEA hopes the intervention of a neutral third party will be able to break the county’s refusal to negotiate in good faith and bring both sides to a fair and equitable agreement.

CSEA’s collective bargaining agreement with Monroe County expired on December 31, 2013 at midnight. The county has refused to honor its meeting requirements and have told workers that their position on contract details have not changed since the Brooks administration. The last negotiation meeting was scheduled for Monday, March 21. Union leaders got a call late afternoon on Thursday, March 17 only to find out county officials unilaterally canceled the meeting with no just cause. Currently, one out of eight full time bargaining units has a valid negotiated contract with the county.

"We are very disappointed that the county chose not to meet with us. With respect to terms and conditions of employment, county officials and their outsourced law firm are dictating-- not negotiating a fair and equitable deal," said Jim D’Amico, Unit President for the county workers.

In the past 8 years, county workers have only received a 2 percent cost of living adjustment, well below the threshold for the consumer price index and rates of inflation. During the same time period, some top county management officials have garnered a 21 percent wage increase during the same time period.

D’Amico added, "In our last contract, workers made big concessions and got nothing in return. Morale is at an all-time low. However, we are ready, willing and able to get back to the table and hammer out a fair contract. Unfortunately, in my opinion the county is more concerned about keeping an outsourced law firm on retainer than making sure county workers have the support and resources necessary to deliver the high quality services our county residents have come to know, love and respect. Our members decided that impasse was the best course of action."


CSEA is New York State’s leading union, representing employees of New York State and its counties, towns, villages, school districts, library systems, authorities and public corporations. Together with a growing population of private sector members and retirees, CSEA forms a union 300,000 strong. It is also the largest affiliate (and Local 1000) of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) which, in turn, is one of the largest affiliates of the AFL-CIO.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

CSEA Statewide Conference on Occupational Safety & Health

Lake Placid, NY—Several hundred CSEA leaders and occupational safety and health activists attended the union’s Statewide Conference on Occupational Safety and Health in Lake Placid, NY from April 15 – 17. The theme “Never Quit” prevailed throughout the conference which featured numerous safety and health training programs. The weekend was highlighted by several events, including:
Judy Johnson, Debbie Ake & Tom Pollizi
Photos by Bess Watts

a rousing welcome by President Danny Donohue: “I hope that you feel inspired and ready to bring home new practices and new awareness to better tackle the health and safety issues in your worksite".

A Sunday morning plenary program highlighted member engagement and the value of our Union in guaranteeing a safe, fair and just working environment.

Sunday morning closing session 
Attendees remembered fallen workers at a Workers Memorial Day ceremony, particularly 6 CSEA members who have passed away on the job over the past two years.

     Several local businesses displayed their support for CSEA in their windows. CSEA supports the local economy with conferences like this...good for workers and the community at large. 

CSEA Canary with members from CSEA Local 828

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Hillary Rally at MCC

Photo by Bess Watts
On April 8th Hillary Clinton made a stop at Monroe Community College where CSEA showed up in force to stand in support!  A great rally and a great day.   Pictured above is Ove Overmyer, MCC Unit President Thomas Pollizi, Tim Finnigan and Debbie Ake.
Photo by Bess Watts
Members stood behind Secretary Clinton while she spoke in support of education, unions and jobs!
Photo by Ove Overmyer

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Guest Essay: Government and taxes are not the problem

Ove Overmyer
By Ove Overmyer
Rochester— For many decades, well before the Ronald Reagan administration, conservatives and libertarians in the United States have been demonizing and attacking government and I believe not enough has been done to defend its reputation. So, listen up my Conservative, Republican and social media friends. I have some thoughts I want to share with you.
Most sane people recognize that despite its problems, government plays an essential and vital role in promoting a quality of life we could never afford on our own. While pundits bicker over cause and consequence, one question remains, “How do we right size our priorities?”
Let me begin by saying when we recklessly ridicule, reduce and under-fund America’s great democratic experiment like most conservative talking heads do on a daily basis, we are hampering our ability to transform people’s lives, solve problems and to effectively address our most pressing social, economic and environmental concerns.
To see what is at stake in this battle over government and the size of it, we need only consider how efforts to limit government and to privatize public institutions in this country have caused us to fall behind many other advanced democracies in providing a basic standard of living. Most western European countries, for instance, have larger public sectors and do much better in a wide variety of areas, including happiness quotients, retirement security, poverty reduction, child care availability, affordable higher education, pollution control, limiting workplace injuries, creating affordable housing, crime control, infrastructure investment, healthcare access and much more. If American history has taught us anything, when we invest in public services everyone flourishes—even rich people.
Moreover, it certainly doesn’t help local communities prosper when your local television news station irrationally propagates an anti-government narrative every night at the dinner hour. WHEC-TV 10 series, “NY Exposed” is nothing more but the same rhetoric we hear from corporate America—a free market economy will fix everything, any tax is a bad tax, unionized workers are worthless and your state legislators are corrupt, lazy or incompetent. The Hubbard Broadcasting Inc., parent company of the NBC affiliate in Rochester, is subscribing to the worst common denominator by appealing to your most primitive emotions—mainly promoting anger, fear and resentment at your neighbors while at the same time telling you they-- "the media" are on your side. Let’s get something straight—this media company is motivated by two things only— find an identity in our market and drive up revenue for its investors. It's major concern is to turn a profit for its ownership at any cost even if it has to skirt FCC regulations in the process and divide our community along political, racial and socioeconomic schisms. They do not report the news-- they manufacture it.
While national GOP leaders foolishly continue to tell their constituents that “big government” is the problem, you should have expected an outsider like Donald Trump to fill that void. This is why the national GOP Party is imploding—the old Ronald Reagan talking point “government is too big” and “government is the problem” accounts for the rise of a “non-politician” like Donald Trump—and now the self-destructive GOP is in virtual collapse which puts all of us at risk. And by the way, the "government" didn’t poison the residents of Flint, Michigan—Governor Rick Snyder’s austerity budget and the move to privatize the delivery of water did.

Death, taxes and citizenship 

If you believe conservative and libertarian arguments, then you probably believe Americans are cast as victims of a corrupt system. As the narrative goes, we are taxpayers bearing up under the obligation to pay into federal and state coffers. Some are stoic in the face of the inevitability of “death and taxes,” while others burn with resentment like the old Tea Party folks. We dread the task of hauling out that folder of receipts and calculating just how much of our income we have to hand over to Uncle Sam.

Here is the problem. What is missing from this picture is any sense of a larger meaning in the act of paying taxes in the first place. Most other things that require effort and sacrifice-- family, service, charity, and volunteerism-- have virtuous, or at least redeeming value associated with them. That meaning helps us face life’s challenges with a larger sense of purpose that makes these acts worth the investment.
The stories we tell about not paying taxes reflect a chronic disconnection from our role as citizens; they are 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.
When we lose sight of this, taxes and government are seen as merely depriving us of our individual property. If, on the other hand, we see ourselves as government stewards of a 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 bigger than our individual selves.
I believe with all my heart that government is one of the best inventions known to civil societies. It keeps America safe and should create ladders of opportunity and frameworks where the American people can succeed and create their own version of the American Dream. I know this first hand—I worked in a public library for 18 years and I saw how it can transform a person’s life. If government is given the tools necessary to allow all Americans the opportunities they deserve, we’re all going to be better off. That doesn’t restrict people’s freedoms as conservative talking heads would suggest—it will enhance it.
We all need to be telling a new and meaningful story about the positive aspects of government that celebrate the concrete opportunity it offers “we the people.” The problem is, without good government practices and the public systems and structures that taxes pay for, the America we know and love would cease to exist-- even for rich folk, advocacy journalists and to my most ardent conservative friends on the other end of the political continuum.

Image by Ove Overmyer, ©2011.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

CSEA Local 828 Scholarship Deadline April 15

Since 1993, CSEA Monroe County Local 828 and its major Units have awarded over $100,000 in scholarship prize money. In 1994, the Monroe County Employees Unit 7400, the largest Unit in the Local, created their own scholarship program and has distributed more than $22,000. 
Mr. Growney was a long time labor leader and activist who was employed as a probation officer with Monroe County. He served as local president for nearly two decades before his retirement in 1995. George had a passion for kids to succeed, and would be proud that his union brothers and sisters have carried on his legacy of love and commitment to youth. George M. Growney died on August 10, 1997. The scholarship program was named in his honor the following year after his death.

The scholarship is open to graduating high school seniors whose parents and caregivers are members or agency shop fee payers of Monroe County Local 828. Scholarship applicants are judged on academic achievement, a written essay, financial need and potential.

George M. Growney Memorial Scholarships Local 828 & Unit 7400

“This is one of the best things we do as union activists,” said Bess Watts, President of Local 828. She added, “It’s very rewarding to know we are helping our young people succeed in life as well as giving back to our community.”

CSEA Local 828 Scholarships are open to graduating high school seniors whose parents and caregivers are members or agency shop fee payers of Monroe County Local 828. The scholarship committees have reviewed thousands of applications in the past 23 years, demonstrating a significant need of financial resources for young adults continuing their formal education. Scholarship applicants are judged on academic achievement, a written essay, financial need and potential.
Applications are available by contacting your workplace CSEA representative. For more scholarship information, you can go to our Voice Reporter Scholarship page or call Barbara at HQ 585-328-5250.  Click here for a link to the PDF to post.