Saturday, December 26, 2009
The Senate passed health care reform by a 60-39 margin shortly after 7 a.m. on December 24.
Washington, D.C.-- While passage of this legislation continues the momentum for health care reform, the Senate bill itself doesn’t live up to the kind of reform we need. The bill has many positive features, but it falls short in three key areas:
• It is paid for by a tax on working families’ health benefits.
• It fails to provide a public health insurance option, which would control costs by giving insurance companies real competition.
• It does not do enough to make sure employers are living up to their responsibility.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said, "For this health care bill to be worthy of the support of working men and women, substantial changes must be made. The AFL-CIO intends to fight on behalf of all working families to make those changes and win health care reform that is deserving of the name."
He added, the House bill is the model for genuine health care reform. Working people cannot accept anything less than real reform.
The Senate’s bill does make some important improvements. It would cover 30 million more people, providing subsidies to lower- and middle-income people to help them pay for health coverage. It also sets necessary regulations on insurance companies to prevent some of their worst practices. It creates important reforms to our medical system, provides relief to early retirees and begins to close the “donut hole” in Medicare prescription drug coverage.
Unfortunately, in many ways the bill is too tilted toward the insurance industry and away from working families—it does not do enough to hold insurers accountable or keep costs down for families.
The U.S. House passed a bill that was far better on critical points like funding, employer responsibility and a public option. The Senate could have, and should have, passed a better bill. But the intransigence of Republicans who refused to participate or even support a vote on health care reform, the powerful leverage of the insurance industry and the rules of the Senate, which allow a small number of Senators to hold legislation hostage, left the Senate with a disappointing and inadequate bill.
Unions should be adamantly opposed to the Senate plan, which would impose a 40 percent tax on high-cost health insurance above $8,500 for an individual plan, $23,000 for families. Organized labor sees the tax on so-called Cadillac plans as a hit on its members, who have fought for years for better-than-average coverage. Unions are a core Democratic constituency and many House Democrats want to knock out the insurance tax.
The Obama administration, however, supports such a tax. In a recent session with reporters, White House economic adviser Christina Romer called the tax "a very effective cost-growth containment mechanism," arguing that it will force people into more efficient plans.
House and Senate leaders now must come together and craft a combined bill that each side will need to vote on once more. The process of creating this combined bill is a vital opportunity for real health care reform, and we must let our members of Congress know what real reform means.
Gillibrand, Kirsten E. - (D - NY)
478 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510
Schumer, Charles E. - (D - NY)
313 Hart Senate Office Building, Washigton, D.C. 20510
New York-25th, Democrat
1630 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515-3225
Phone: (202) 225-3701
New York-26th, Republican
1711 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515-3226
Phone: (202) 225-5265
New York-28th, Democrat
2469 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515-3228
Phone: (202) 225-3615
New York-29th, Democrat
1208 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515-3229
Phone: (202) 225-3161
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Rochester, N.Y.-- The CSEA officers of Local 828 Monroe County want to wish all our members and their loved ones a safe and happy holiday season. If you need to contact the Local 828 office during the next two weeks, please email President Bess Watts at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your Local 828 officers:
Bess Watts, Local 828 President (MCC)
Cris Zaffuto, VP (Unit 7400 President)
Ove Overmyer, VP (Rochester Public Library)
T. Judith Johnson, VP (Public Defender's Office)
Sue Newman, Secretary (DMV)
Pat Wolff, Treasurer (MCC Damon Campus)
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Rochester, N.Y.-- Monroe County has recently announced that County employees represented by CSEA may use payroll deduction for voluntary benefits through Norvest Financial.
NOTE: These benefits are not supported by CSEA. In addition, there are CSEA approved voluntary benefits available to CSEA members through payroll deduction. If you have a desire to learn more about CSEA endorsed voluntary benefits, please go here to this link: CSEA insurance.
Local 828 President Watts encourages all members to educate themselves on all benefit opportunities, whether they originate from their employer or from their union.
If you would like to enroll in any of the many CSEA approved voluntary insurance benefits, please call Charley Swartz at 1.800.775.4957.
Monday, December 21, 2009
Attention all CSEA members: As a result of member input with regard to confidentiality, workers Social Security Numbers are being replaced by CSEA ID numbers for CSEA business.
The issue was one of many key changes that are now being implemented after the very successful Electronic Town Hall Meeting at the Annual Delegates Meeting back in September.
Starting in January, you will receive your 2010 CSEA/AFSCME membership card with a new CSEA ID NUMBER. You will no longer have to use your Social Security number to identify yourself as a CSEA member.
You will be receiving your card via U.S. Postal Service to your home address sometime during the first month of the year. If you have any questions about the change, please contact CSEA HQ toll free in Albany at 1.800.342.4146 (choose membership option).
KEEP THE CARD IN A SAFE PLACE SO YOUR CSEA ID NUMBER IS AVAILABLE WHEN YOU NEED IT MOST.
Friday, December 18, 2009
The New York Post report quotes Paterson as saying layoffs could be possible "if we see a serious downtown in revenues" from state tax collections. But Public Employees Federation spokesperson Darcy Wells told an Albany television news station that the union intends to hold the Governor to his agreement reached this summer which ended Paterson's threat to cut 8,900 state jobs.
Wells said Governor Paterson "agreed to no layoffs through December 2010" if the union accepted buyout deals and gave the green light to a less lucrative Tier Five pension plan for new state employees.
According to the article, Paterson is now saying if the state's economic situation 'becomes dire enough," he would revisit the possibility of handing out pink slips to state workers. Is this an attempt to placate the business community, or does he really think we can continue to do more with less?
Our brothers and sisters who are the Public Employees Federation, which represents about 59,000 state employees, have repeatedly suggested to the Governor that millions of taxpayer dollars could be saved by cutting the use of private consultants and allowing state workers to do the same work at considerable savings.
There seems to be some movement here. According to the PEF website, employees of the SUNY Research Foundation who work for the office of Medicaid Inspector general and the state are exploring the possibility of making these positions state employee positions and could convert them under the provisions of section 45 of the civil service law.
In a statement released today, PEF also suggested Paterson has the power to offer more voluntary severance deals for thousands of state employees who have been unable to participate.
CSEA officials also issued a statement today saying "we have a no layoffs agreement with the Governor and we expect him to uphold it." Flo Tripi, WNY Region 6 President, has repeatedly stated that the Governor must keep his word.
Is the political climate in New York State and Washington, D.C. casting a pall over your holidays? Well, maybe one indication of this trend could be illustrated by the results of a survey that has named New York State residents as the most unhappiest people in America. The happiness ratings were based on a survey of 1.3 million people across the country by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It used data collected over four years that included a question asking people how satisfied they are with their lives. To read an article about the survey, click here.
Our dysfunctional state lawmakers in Albany better be prepared for a turbulent and riotous election cycle in 2010. Incumbents beware.
In recent days, as the Senate has debated health care reform, small numbers of senators have held health care hostage by threatening to block a vote. The new proposal by the Senate puts the interests of insurance companies—and senators who would rather look out for the insurance companies—ahead of real reform.
Trumka said the top priority now is to fight over the rest of the legislative process to fix the bill and make sure we can pass real health care reform.
Trumpka adds, "The labor movement has been fighting for health care for nearly 100 years and we are not about to stop fighting now, when it really matters. But for this health care bill to be worthy of the support of working men and women, substantial changes must be made. The AFL-CIO intends to fight on behalf of all working families to make those changes and win health care reform that is deserving of the name."
The absolute refusal of Republicans in the Senate to support health care reform and the hijacking of the bill by defenders of the insurance industry have brought us a Senate bill that is inadequate: It is too kind to the insurance industry.
Genuine health care reform must bring down health costs, hold insurance companies accountable, assure that Americans can get the health care they need and be financed fairly.
While the Senate’s bill makes a lot of important and necessary changes to our health care system, it falls short in three key areas:
•It lacks a public health insurance option, to offer real competition to insurance companies to bring down costs.
•It fails to make sure employers take responsibility and pay their fair share.
•It’s funded through a new tax on working families’ health care benefits.
It doesn’t have to be this way. The bill passed by the U.S. House is far better than the Senate’s bill on these and other measures. The House bill finances health care through a small tax on the very wealthiest of earners—those who reaped vast benefits from the Bush tax cuts—and it includes a public health insurance plan and real responsibility for employers. Trumka says:
The House bill is the model for genuine health care reform. Working people cannot accept anything less than real reform.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
In a Special Comment segment, Countdown’s Keith Olbermann stresses that he does not support the current “perversion of health care reform,” urging Senate Democrats to drop the bill.
This report is the most cogent analysis ever delivered on the ongoing health care debate. This is required reading and viewing if you care at all about the future of our working families. Please check it out.
Meanwhile, labor leaders from SEIU and the AFL-CIO will be issuing a formal statement very soon about the lastest developments in the Senate health care bill. Stay tuned.
By a 217-212 vote, the House passed a package that would extend unemployment insurance, aid state governments and fund important infrastructure projects. Some of these initiatives are renewals of funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which are set to expire at the end of the year.
The House’s bill would help state and local governments retain teachers and firefighters and maintain services critical in this time of economic hardship. It also would create jobs by funding public works projects like school construction, rail, transit, water systems and highways. And by extending unemployment insurance and COBRA health care coverage, it gives critical help to those suffering from the jobs crisis at a time when the economy needs consumer demand. The House bill is paid for out of bank bailout funds, so it will not impact the deficit.
The bill must next be approved by the U.S. Senate. But unless we light a fire under lawmakers, nothing will move before the end of the year and the unemployment insurance for millions of jobless workers will expire.
Tell U. S. Senators to pass the Jobs for Main Street Act (H.R. 2847), which invests $154 billion to create and save jobs. Again, the bill invests in highway and mass transit projects, building and repairing schools and low-income housing, creating and saving jobs for teachers, police and firefighters and additional hiring and training programs. The bill also extends recovery act initiatives to help small businesses create jobs, lifeline unemployment, health care and food aid to people who have lost their jobs and cuts taxes for 16 million families through the Child Tax Credit. Public libraries need to be included in the funding streams to help America get back on it's feet. Libraries and library workers are part of solution to economic recovery.
You can view the roll call on the House vote here.
We need to urgently create jobs and deal with our unemployment crisis. Aid to state governments, extending the lifeline to unemployed workers and funding infrastructure projects are key components of the AFL-CIO’s five-point plan to create jobs. The House’s bill is a down payment, but we must continue to take robust action on jobs.
How this affects New York State:
New York state government, school districts and local governments would receive additional federal aid early next year under a $174 billion jobs bill.
The Jobs for Main Street Act of 2010 would move $75 billion from the Troubled Assets Relief Program to spend on infrastructure projects and public sector jobs. House Democrats said the new money would prevent the economy from dipping back into recession.
Republicans objected to the new spending and pointed out that much of the $787 billion economic stimulus legislation enacted in February has not yet been spent.
In Albany, state officials would have a somewhat less challenging task preparing for the fiscal year that begins in April because the package also includes additional Medicaid money through June 2011.
The Medicaid money would supplement the Medicaid aid Congress provided earlier this year in a federal economic stimulus bill. That legislation, however, cut off an enhanced federal Medicaid formula on Dec. 31 of next year.
The U.S. Senate is not expected to take up this legislation until early next year. And, we still have to get through the health care debate!
The federal legislation includes:
$27.5 billion for highway projects.
$23 billion for an Education Jobs Fund to preserve 250,000 jobs over the next two years; states would be required to pass along 95 percent of the money to school districts and colleges.
$8.4 billion for public transportation.
$4.1 billion for school renovation grants.
$2 billion for communities to use for drinking water and sewer projects.
$2 billion for Department of Energy innovation loans to promote renewable energy and electric transmission projects.
$1.18 billion to hire 5,500 law enforcement officers.
$1 billion for the National Housing Trust Fund to develop and rehabilitate affordable housing.
$1 billion for public housing authorities to use for capital projects.
$800 million for Amtrak to buy new trains and locomotives and rehabilitate existing equipment.
$500 million for rehiring firefighters (hopefully in Canandaigua).
$500 million for airport improvements.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Washington, D.C.-- If Democrats remove the choice of a public option, they can't force Americans to buy health insurance.
Here's the deal: Senate leaders are all over Washington claiming they finally have a healthcare reform bill they can pass, as long as they remove the public option. After all, they say, even without a public option, the bill still "covers 30 million more Americans." The problem is that's not really true.
What they are actually talking about is something called the "individual mandate." That's a section of the law that requires every single American buy health insurance or break the law and face penalties and fines. So, the bill doesn't actually "cover" 30 million more Americans -- instead it makes them criminals if they don't buy insurance from the same companies that got us into this mess.
A public option would have provided the competition needed to drive down costs and improve coverage. It would have kept insurance companies honest by providing an affordable alternative Americans can trust. That's why, without a public option, this bill is almost a trillion dollar taxpayer giveaway to insurance companies.
We must act fast. Both Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid and Democratic Senators need to hear from you. Please stop whatever else you are doing and make the calls right now.
Senator Harry Reid
DC: (202) 224-3542
Carson City: (775) 882-7343
Las Vegas: (702) 388-5020
Reno: (775) 686-5750
Call your Democratic Senator too -- Senate Switchboard: (202) 224-3121
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
photo by Ove Overmyer
Albany, N.Y. -- After months of press reports demonstrating and lauding increased library use around the state and highlighting the critical role that New York libraries play in helping hundreds of thousands of taxpayers deal with today’s economic challenges, the final “Deficit Reduction Plan” read the Governor's press release included a whopping 12.5 percent cut in the remaining library state aid programs for this year.
Many public employees who are represented by CSEA work in library settings, including Local 828 MCC Unit 7402, Town of Irondequoit Library Workers and City of Rochester Library Workers Unit 7420. Understandably, we are very concerned about the wellness of our members and our library systems.
The cuts will total about $4.1 million throughout the state, said New York Library Association Executive Director Michael J. Borges. He said that during the past 20 months, the state library budget has been cut by $25 million.
Will libraries ever become the priority and mandated investment that the citizens of this great state demand? Just ask someone on unemployment insurance or the single mother trying to educate her kids. Why is it that the neediest in our community always take it on the chin?
We need to educate our local and state officials about our library programs and how our members work loads and livelihoods are hanging in the balance. Do taxpayers really understand how indispensable we are to every community in New York State? Can we demonstrate that libraries and CSEA library workers are necessary components for our state and country's economic recovery? What is required to get a fair share of funding?
The next time you visit your public or school library, ask a staff person how they are doing. Then maybe you might be able to get a handle on how these library cuts will continue to erode the fabric of our educational infastructure.
We know these are tough times. We believe our workers and libraries hold the answers to getting us out of this recession. Libraries shouldn't be the scapegoats for the political and fiscal mess that was created by our dysfunctional state legislature and our ineffectual governor.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
left to right:
It was no small task to get more than a dozen library boards to come together and devise a system that allows patrons to access collections of all public libraries in Monroe County, but Mr. Hacker persisted.
Today, residents of towns with smaller libraries can easily take advantage of the more than one million books, videos, cassettes and other materials found, for example, at the Central Library downtown. Smaller libraries with rare materials can share with people across the county who are interested in them.
Hacker didn't stop with libraries. He was a public broadcasting visionary who fought to secure a local channel for public broadcasting, even before the Public Broadcasting Service and National Public Radio had been created by the federal government. The result was Channel 21, which was launched in 1966. Since then, WXXI has grown to five television channels and four radio stations.
In this spirit of cooperation, CSEA is proud to carry on the traditions of community service and volunteerism in the name of our late Director Mr. Harold Hacker. This community should see much more of Harold's kind of commitment to educating the public. Additionally, local community, political and labor leaders should remember his spirit of cooperation. By working together, we can create a better community.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
LOCAL LABOR LEADERS TO CALL ON CONGRESS
posted by Ove Overmyer
While current federal law protects working people from firing or penalization based on race, religion, national origin, gender and/or physical ability, there is no federal law to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) workers from being victimized in the workplace. This means that in 31 states, it is legal to fire someone for being lesbian, gay or bisexual. In 39 states, it is legal to fire someone because they are transgender.
Right now, initiatives to outlaw such unfair treatment are gaining ground in the union movement. This includes the AFL-CIO, AFSCME and CSEA. Along with Pride At Work, a constituency group of the AFL-CIO, all these organizations and many other unions are making unprecedented efforts to support this legislation.
ENDA has been introduced in every Congress, except the 109th, since 1994, albeit without gender identity protections, but gained its best chance at passing after the Democratic Party broke twelve years of Republican Congressional rule in the 2006 midterm elections. However, some sponsors believed that even with a Democratic majority, ENDA did not have enough votes to pass the House of Representatives with transgender inclusion, and dropped it from the bill, which passed and subsequently died in the Senate.
In 2009, on the heels of the 2008 elections that strengthened the Democratic majority, and after the debacle of the 2007 ENDA divisions, only a transgender-inclusive ENDA has been introduced by House representative Barney Frank. President Barack Obama supports the bill's passage unlike his Republican predecessor, who threatened to veto the measure.
In the coming weeks, the fate of ENDA will be decided. Right now there's been a delay in the House of Representatives taking it up in committee, so it's critical that your elected officials hear from you TODAY. We must ensure that all LGBT people are protected from workplace discrimination.
CSEA Local 828 President Bess Watts says, “As a union, it is important that all workers be judged by the work they do not for who they are or what they believe. Employment discrimination of any kind is immoral and denies workers the dignity, respect and equality they deserve in the workplace."
She adds, "In many states you can be fired because of your sexual orientation or gender identity or expression, and this is simply wrong. ENDA should have passed ages ago and in my opinion is long overdue. We encourage all members to contact their representatives before the Christmas break.”
Saturday, December 5, 2009
NYS Retirement System Gets Major Overhaul with Tier V
Albany, N.Y.-- Incoming NYS public employees that pay into the retirement system have an even larger target on their back these days.
On December 2, lawmakers approved with no debate a massive pension reform bill which sailed through both houses of the state legislature. Governor Paterson says the bill does not go far enough to get us out of our fiscal mess, but vows to make it happen anyway.
Under a three-way agreement with the Governor, Assembly and the Senate, the measure established a new Tier V. Advocates say it will cut over $2.7 billion for the 2009-2010 fiscal year. State lawmakers also say that it is expected to save taxpayers over $48 billion over the next three decades. To read the NYS Assembly Extraordinary Session Bill A 26, click here. To read the senate spin machine on passing this bill, click here.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan), says the legislation applies to both uniformed and non-uniformed employees and significantly reforms the pension system. Silver also says the legislation sets the stage for the long term financial stability for state and local governments and that a new public employee classification is vital to the state's fiscal wellness. That remains to be seen.
Senate Democratic Conference Leader John Sampson said in a press release this legislation is an absolute necessity for putting our fiscal house on sound footing. He added, "The Tier V reforms represent a major step forward to help bring pension costs under control.”
Critics argue that creating a new Tier does nothing to immediately address the fiscal woes of the state. In a September 27 Huffington Post article titled, Tier V: Part of the Universal Conspiracy on Pensions, a Room Eight author says this bill adds greed to greed without understanding what it might do to vital public services New York citizens expect and deserve.
CSEA WNY Region 6 President Flo Tripi says, "We made an agreement with the Governor back in late spring not to oppose a Tier V. Do we like it? No. Did we want this to happen? No. However, when you are balancing the lives of 9,000 workers who might be let go against the Tier V system for new employees, it was a concession in the best interest of CSEA and the state."
Tripi also states that negotiations will be made to improve the retiree benefits of the new Tier V employees represented by CSEA, if any are hired at all. She added, "This bill is completely unfair to new workers who will be paying into a system that won't reward them for many years to come. Lawmakers don't want to be asked how this bill could possibly help this present fiscal disaster that is going to gut public services, given the fact that we will probably not see any new hires for quite some time anyway."
Many pundits also contend that the only reason the Equal Marriage Bill came up for a vote in the Senate on the same day as the deficit reduction plan is to deflect any attention away from the serious consequences of passing such drastic legislation. Watch the senate marriage debate here.
Lawmakers would prefer answering constituient questions about how they voted on the marriage bill rather than address how and why vital services continue to erode around us. Additionally, legislators also do not want the public to ask them about the debate that didn't occur. Here we have a current generation of lawmakers who basically stuck their finger in the eyeball of every future CSEA member in New York State.
Major elements of the plan include:
*$1.6 billion in cuts and temporary cash transfers from agencies to the general fund, already ordered by Governor Paterson. The cuts include 11 percent to most state agencies, which are asked to avoid layoffs.
*$391 million in federal stimulus funds for education that will not be dispersed. These funds were targeted for fiscal year 2010-2011.
*$250 million projected to be collected under a new tax amnesty program.
*More than $600 million in cuts to several programs, including healthcare, that supposedly will not eliminate jobs.
*The plan also includes some so-called revenue raisers, including $200 million anticipated from video slot machines at Aqueduct race track.
Paterson complained that the legislature rejected the toughest measures. He said that lawmakers are afraid of the "powerful" public employee unions who are protecting their turf.
The legislation also puts a cap on the amount of overtime that can be used in calculating pension benefits. Pension payments are traditionally based on an employee’s final average salary.
These changes do not affect existing employees because of state constitutional prohibitions against reduction of benefits for existing pension system members.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Allentown, Pa.-- There is no bottom in sight for working families who are struggling to keep their jobs, health care and homes and they know that our leaders must take immediate action to create and save jobs. Jobs -- good jobs -- are what it's all about. Now it's time for leaders in Washington to understand that too -- and thankfully many do. Today's jobs forum is an important opportunity to gather the best ideas for job creation. But it can't substitute for action. The summit will only mean something if it triggers an urgent round of actions to create American jobs. It's simply wrong that people who worked hard are paying for the sins of Wall Street with their jobs, and we can't sit back and hope it takes care of itself.
I'm taking the AFL-CIO's 5-point plan to the summit today. In the weeks ahead, we will be working every day with business leaders and elected officials at every level, mobilizing and helping the White House and Congress get something done. Where there’s obstruction, we’ll expose it and push through it. Where there’s leadership, we’ll do everything we can to help them succeed.
The 5 actions we think have the greatest promise to create and save 2 million jobs are:
1. Extend the lifeline for jobless workers. Unless Congress acts now, supplemental unemployment benefits, additional food assistance and expansion of COBRA health care benefits will expire at the end of the year. They must be extended for another 12 months to prevent working families from bankruptcy, home foreclosure and loss of health care. Extending benefits also will boost personal spending and create jobs throughout the economy.
Friday, November 27, 2009
Monroe County workers to meet with management on December 17; Survey key to successful negotiations
Rochester, N.Y.-- On a November 6 vote, Local 828 Monroe County Unit 7400 workers refused to ratify a collective bargaining agreement with County management officials. Workers visited 6 polling sites around the County and voted 470 to 350 to extend contract talks into December.
Cris Zaffuto, Unit 7400 President, says wages and health insurance are the sticking points and she hopes that members will provide the necessary feedback so we can resume productive talks with County officials in the days ahead.
Zaffuto says, "The negotiation team is finalizing the results of our last survey and we will post the information on our Unit website as soon is it becomes available. We are working very hard to make sure that we get a fair and decent contract that everyone can live with."
Unit 7400 has the largest membership in Monroe County Local 828, totaling more than 1,850 workers. CSEA members in Unit 7400 represent over 9 different sections in various job titles and worksites around the County. The Unit negotiations team will be meeting with management December 17. The workers have been without a contract since December 31, 2008.
Monday, November 23, 2009
Rochester, N.Y.-- M&T Bank’s 20-year tradition of leadership and philanthropy to support the success of Monroe Community College students was recognized at the Monroe Community College Foundation’s 20th annual Salute to Excellence dinner that was held on Thursday Nov. 19, at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center. MCC Unit 7402 is one of the largest Units in Monroe County Local 828.
Bess Watts, Local 828 President says, “I want to thank the members of the MCC Unit 7402 for inviting CSEA Region 6 President Flo Tripi and myself. It’s very important to support your members and employer at all costs. Maintaining a good labor management relationship is paramount to delivering the best possible results for our members. Additionally, having a labor presence at these events reminds our employers how much we employees give back to our workplace and to the community. I was honored to be there.”
A Rochester tradition since 1989, the Salute to Excellence award is a Steuben crystal star, in the shape of the MCC Foundation’s logo. Its design reflects the shining example of the recipient’s personal commitment and generosity to public higher education and the Greater Rochester community.
The evening also recognized the personal and professional success of the 2009 MCC Alumni Hall of Fame inductees Beverly and R. Wayne LeChase (LeChase Construction Services, LLC) who served as honorary chairs for the event. Lauren Dixon (Dixon Schwabl) served as the dinner chair.
Monday, November 9, 2009
A little after 11:00 pm on Saturday, November 7, and by a 220-215 vote, the U.S. House has passed a historic health care reform bill that will improve the nation’s health care system, covering millions of uninsured and making insurance work better for those who have it.
H.R. 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act, fulfills the decades-long promise to create a system that provides affordable, high-quality health care coverage to nearly everyone. It will break the stranglehold of insurance company greed and cut costs for both families and the country. It will make a real difference for families across the country.
The bill is fairly funded, relying on employer responsibility and a surtax on the highest earners—not a tax on middle-class workers’ health benefits. And it offers the choice of a public health insurance option that can compete with private insurers.
Across the country, a broad coalition of community groups, including the union movement, fought hard and reached out to House members to ask them to pass this critical bill. Thousands of your letters and phone calls helped make the difference.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka says this bill is a big victory for working families. He added, "We heard a lot of rhetoric today, but in the end it boils down to this: It is time to say “yes” to a more secure future for Americans—and that is how the majority in the House of Representatives answered. It is time to say “yes” to lowering health costs, breaking the stranglehold of the insurance companies and extending health care to those in our rich country who are sick and need it. Shame on those who stood for the failed status quo by voting no.”
We applaud Speaker Pelosi, the other members of the leadership and the majority in the House of Representatives for bringing us closer than ever to our long-held goal.
The U.S. Senate will consider a health care reform bill over the coming weeks, and then the House and Senate will combine the bills in conference. There’s still a long way to go, but today is a great day for the country and a big step toward a health care system that works for everyone.
Friday, November 6, 2009
The U.S. House of Representatives is about to hold a historic vote on the Affordable Health Care for America Act (HR 3962).
This landmark bill will increase security and stability for those of us who have health care, and provide quality, affordable coverage for those of us who don't. There are many working families in the Monroe County area that do not have employer based healthcare, including our very own CSEA members. If you have an interesting story to share, please think about joining us at the next Labor Lyceum.
Titled, "Just Health Care," the gathering will take place on Saturday, November 14, 2009.
Here are the details:
When: 10am to 12pm
Where: NYSUT, 30 North Union Street, Rochester, NY.
This lyceum will present several local perspectives on fundamental and neglected aspects of the healthcare issue. What is health? What would a just healthcare policy look like? Can we provide "good" healthcare to ALL Americans? And, what obstacles block the ideal healthcare policy, and how can they be overcome? Time will be provided for audience questions and comments.
Speakers: Bruce Popper, 1199 SEIU; Ron Hickel, Past Director, Manitoba Health Care; and, Leon Zoghlin, Physicians for a National Healthcare Plan.
For more information, please go to the Rochester Labor Council website.
To view CSEA's perspective on this legislative action, you can search by following these links provided below:
Monday, October 26, 2009
LOCAL 828 TARGETS FOUR MONROE COUNTY LEGISLATURE RACES
Candidates Muscato, Condello, Bredes and Meleca-Voigt earn targeted repsect of Monroe County's largest public employee union. Members and retirees urged to Get Out The Vote!
Rochester, N.Y.-- CSEA Local 828 political action committee members are organizing and mobilizing around two central action items before Election Day. Local 828 President Bess Watts says, "Advocating for and electing these individuals for the County Legislature in the Districts 4, 13, 18 and 19 will go along way to creating a better relationship between our members and the lawmakers who represent us. What we are looking for is better partners in good government."
CSEA Local 828 will be hosting a phone bank this Friday 10/30 to educate members on which candidates best support the issues of our working families. There are also many volunteer opportunites for members right up to Election Day. Here are some details:
What: Phone calling CSEA members about our important County Legislature races
When: Friday, Oct 30, 5 pm - 8 pm
Where: Region 6 Satellite Office, 3495 Winton Place, Bldg E
Dinner will be provided. President Watts encourages all Unit Presidents to come and bring your members!
GOTV literature distribution efforts will continue on Saturday, October 31 through Election Day. For more info about walking in your district, call Ove at 585.423.9862.
Here is a list of endorsed candidates for the Monroe County Legislature:
District 02 -- Sheldon Myers (D)
District 03 -- Michele Weaver (D)
District 04 -- Frank Muscato (D)
District 07 -- Rick Antelli (R)
District 13 -- Michael Condello (D)
District 14 -- Travis Heider (D)
District 18 -- Nora Bredes (D)
District 19 -- Jo Meleca-Voigt (D)
District 21 -- Carrie Andrews (D)
District 23 -- Paul Haney (D)
District 24 -- Harry Bronson (D)
District 28 -- Cynthia Kaleh (D)
District 29 -- Saul Maneiro (D)
Any questions regarding this year's election cycle, please don't hesitate to call the Local 828 office at 585.328.5250.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
MEETING FOCUS ON THE NEXT GENERATION
(click on map for larger view of Finn Park. The park is located in the lower left portion of map near Rt. 104)
Rochester, N.Y.-- On Thursday, November 5 at 5:30, CSEA Local 828 will be hosting a talk by Julie Schmidtke from The Next Generation United (NGU). NGU is an organization of labor enthusiasts who are dedicated to increasing the visibility of younger workers through education, engagement, and mobilization for social and economic justice.
The meeting will be held at the Liberty Lodge at Finn Park, 850 Maple Drive, in Webster, N.Y.
Besides our usual business meeting agenda, Schmidtke will speak to the need for the younger generation to take ownership of their workplace and get more involved with the labor movement in general. President Watts is asking Unit Presidents to invite some of the younger members who may be interested in learning more about what is happening locally on the labor front. Younger is described as 40 or younger.
Please check your mailboxes for a meeting announcement letter from President Watts dated October 16. It includes driving directions and other related information for the meeting.
Please contact Barbara no later than Monday, October 26 confirming your attendance. It's important that we get an accurate count of attendees so we can provide the necessary materials and food for the event. Call the Local 828 HQ at 585.328.5250 and leave a message or email her at email@example.com.
If you have any questions or concerns about Local 828 business, please feel free to contact Bess anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Albany, N.Y.-- Governor Paterson's action today directing another 11 percent across-the-board cut in state operations reflects poor management and bad public policy. State Executive Branch operations account for less than 10 percent of the total state budget, yet this is the only area the governor continues to target for cuts.
"Lives will be put at risk and services will be undermined by the governor's latest action," said CSEA President Danny Donohue. "Meanwhile, the governor has not addressed the problem of top-heavy management in state operations: only about 50 management/confidential personnel were approved for the administration's buyout plan while thousands of lower-paid positions held by people who actually deliver front-line services to the public every day have been eliminated by attrition and reduction."
He added, "The public is not well served by Governor Paterson's poor choices and misplaced priorities."
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Local 828 President Watts encourges attendance
CSEA Western Region President Flo Tripi will host the first Schools Conference on November 13-14 in Batavia, N.Y. The two-day conference will be held at the Holiday Inn at Darien Lake. Tripi says topics like workplace stress, dealing with difficult students and workplace violence will all be discussed in forums and informal group sessions.
A networking hour is planned for Friday evening, where workers and public school employees represented by CSEA can meet and greet, share information and build relationships.
Local 828 President Bess Watts especially encourages Unit officers from MCC, East Irondequoit Schools and the East Rochester School District to attend. "This is a great opportunity for members to interact with other members in similiar work conditions," says Watts. She adds that programs such as this conference can help members gain the tools necessary to improve workplace safety and protect workers and students alike.
It was revealed at the 2009 Annual Delegates Meeting that 26 percent of CSEA members from around New York State work in school settings.
Contact our Local 828 office (585.328.5250) or President Watts email@example.com for additional information.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
front row left to right: Cris Zaffuto and Bess Watts
Buffalo, N.Y.-- More than 1,200 CSEA delegates and other participants took part in the union's 99th Annual Delegates Meeting at the Buffalo Convention Center the week of September 13 - 18.
On Tuesday, delegates took part in CSEA's first Electronic Town Hall Meeting. Throughout the past year, CSEA has provided an opportunity for members' voices to be heard like never before through dozens of Town Hall Meetings across the state. The outreach culminated with a day-long Electronic Town Hall Meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 15. The information gained by the candid comments made by members at the meetings across the state was used to develop topics for discussion and development in the Electronic Town Hall Meeting. The outcome of the process will help to make CSEA a better, more effective union and guide us into our second century.
"CSEA's strength over the past 100 years is our ability to learn, grow and adapt," said CSEA President Danny Donohue. "This process of Hearing Every Voice has been exciting and challenging, but there is no doubt that it will make us stronger in the long run. The Electronic Town Hall Meeting will produce energy and ideas to help bring our agenda for the future into clearer focus." For an in depth look at the week in photos, check out this gallery.
Hundreds of our members joined with colleagues of the CSEA Erie County Unit to rally in front of the county's Rath Building in downtown Buffalo. Members sent a clear message to County Executive Chris Collins that government should be for people, not profit. The county executive systematically has been dismantling county services. The Erie County Unit has been working without a contract for about three years. To see a photos of the rally, click here.
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Rochester, N.Y.-- On September 11, the City of Rochester Library Unit held their Annual Membership meeting at the Central Library of Rochester & Monroe County. Region 6 President Flo Tripi, along with Local 828 officers Bess Watts, Cris Zaffuto, Pat Wolff and Judy Johnson were also present. President Watts is making a concerted effort to visit as many Unit meetings as possible in the very near future. If you have a meeting scheduled, she suggests you contact her directly or call the Local 828 office at 585.328.5250.
Also attending the meeting were Carmela McHugh from CSEA Member Benefits and Christine Grosse, Labor Liason for the law firm Fine, Olin & Anderman, who handle our Worker's Compensation Claims.
The meeting began with a short documentary video about CSEA's interest and investment in political action, highlighting events that took place during the MARCH FOR MAIN STREET event in January earlier this year.
A brief business meeting was held where members shared information with respect to political action, committee reports and workplace events. Afterwards, members were introduced to the their Labor Relations Specialist, Robert Leonard, who was the guest speaker. Leonard informed and updated members about the ongoing contract negotiations between the City and CSEA. A lively and robust Q&A session followed.
The Library Unit's contract expired June 30, 2009 and is looking for a quick and equitable resolution to the collective bargaining agreement. Tripi insisted that the members are in good hands having Robert Leonard represent them. She says he is one of the most talented and respected "labor guys" you will ever find.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Rochester, N.Y.-- On September 9, Local 828 officers attended a political action fundrasier for CSEA endorsed Monroe County Legislative Candidate for the 19th District (Greece), Jo Meleca-Voigt. For a quick look about her candidacy, please click here.
PEOPLE is CSEA and AFSCME's political action program. The PEOPLE program protects and improves our jobs, benefits and pensions in Washington, Albany and in our community. Your support and participation in PEOPLE strengthens CSEA's position in the workplace, in the legislature, and in the labor movement.
Monroe County Legislative races that our Region PAC targeted this year include Frank Muscato (D,WFP- 4th District, Gates), Mike Condello (D, WFP- 13th District, Henrietta), Nora Bredes (D, WFP-18th, Perinton) and Jo Meleca-Voigt, D,WFP- 19th District, Greece).
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Rochester, N.Y.-- Labor activists who work and live around the Rochester area gathered in the East End on Monday morning, September 7 to kick off the 24th Annual Labor Day Parade. CSEA parade participants joined thousands of nurses, librarians, electricians, firefighters, carpenters, iron workers and other union stalwarts as we marched along East Avenue, East Main Street to Plymouth Avenue on the west side.
The 2009 parade had several themes, including the primary message to support the Employee Free Choice Act, championing universal health care, supporting workers rights seeking to unionize without corporate retribution, and to showcase pro-labor candidates for local elected office. Many CSEA endorsed candidates marched in this year's parade, including Monroe County legislators Harry Bronson (24th LD) and Carrie Andrews (21st LD).
Organizers estimated that over 3,000 marchers and 45 units participated in this year's event. There was plenty of entertainment with marching bands, dancing cows and message-themed floats.
Labor Day has been a national holiday celebrated since 1894 to honor all working Americans. To view a CSEA photo essay on the Rochester Labor Day press conference and the parade, click here. (Sorry, Kodakgallery is requiring viewers to sign in. Click the hyperlink tomorrow (9/09/09) and find the gallery on Flickr.
Additionally, CSEA Monroe County Local 828 co-sponsored a Labor Day family picinc at Seabreeze Amusement Park after the parade. More than 500 tickets were pre-sold on what some organizers would call the last day of summer.
The Local 828 officers want to thank administrative assistant Barb Fragassi and member Ron Scudder for all their hard work, and to our other members who volunteered their time and talents in assisting the organizers of this year's Labor Day events.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Rochester, N.Y.--Below you will find the endorsement recommendation list for the Monroe County Legislature and Monroe County Sheriff candidates for the 2009 election cycle. Candidates were interviewed by CSEA Region 6 PAC East members from different Locals that reside in Monroe County during the first two weeks of August 2009.
On Ausust 22, Region 6 PAC East and West committee members met in Batavia, N.Y. to approve these recomendations. Formal notification letters were mailed to all interviewed candidates on Friday, August 28. The endorsed candidates are as follows:
District- Name- Party
2nd LD: Sheldon Meyers, D-WFP
4th LD: Frank Muscato, D-WFP
7th LD: Rick Antelli, R-I-C
14th LD: Travis Heider, D-I-WFP
13th LD: Mike Condello, D-WFP
18th LD: Nora Bredes, D-WFP
19th LD: Jo Meleca-Voigt, D-WFP
21st LD: Carrie Andrews, D-I-WFP
23rd LD: Paul Haney, D-WFP
24th LD: Harry Bronson, D-WFP
28th LD: Cindy Kaleh, D-I-WFP
29th LD: Saul Maneiro, D
M.C. Sheriff: Patrick O’Flynn, R-I-C
It should be noted there are other races for Monroe County Legislature this year that we made no endorsement. Also, there were several candidates that did not seek our endorsement.
Cris Zaffuto and Ove Overmyer, Local 828 PAC Co-Chairs, want to express their sincere gratitude to all CSEA members who gave their time and energy during this process. Please stay tuned to more news and information about this year's election cycle, mobiliziing efforts, and which candidates our committee think deserve our targeted support.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Local 828 Officers Cris Zaffuto and Bess Watts visited the Irondequoit Blue Collar Unit 7414 general membership meeting that was held on August 27th at Camp Eastman. Zaffuto and Watts got a chance to meet and greet with the new officers and members.
Pictured above are Jim Hughes President, Sue Collins, Secretary and Treasurer Mark Neumann.
Watts said, "It's always refreshing to run into personable and straight talking union guys. We're looking forward to the next general meeting and working with the new officers during their transition period."
Friday, August 21, 2009
In 2008, more than forty unions participated in the march, totalling more than 3,000 members and their families. A dozen bands, over a hundred vehicles and several community groups accompanied the marchers. Organizers say that the parade grows exponentially every year.
Affiliates of the Council, including CSEA members, are encouraged to participate in the planning process by sending representatives to planning meetings. 2009 parade planning meeting dates are listed here.
Bess Watts, president of CSEA Local 828, encourages all Monroe County Local members to march in the parade. The Local will also be a proud host of a labor day family picnic at Seabreeze Amusement Park right after the parade.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Rochester, N.Y.-- CSEA Unit members of Monroe Community College and the Town of Penfield Highway Department held general membership meetings on August 18. MCC Unit 7402 had a visit from MCC President Anne Kress, who stopped by to say hello and to tell the members how much the CSEA workforce means to the overall success to the student experience at the community college. The meeting was the first for the new executive board. Organizers estimated that over 80 people turned out for the meeting on a hot and humid summer evening.
Tom Pollizi, Unit President for MCC, presided over a business meeting after a great BBQ dinner. Topics of the meeting included recognizing new CSEA members and the outgoing MCC retirees as well as formulating a better system of communication for the upcoming contract negotiations which begin in January of 2010.
Bess Watts, Local 828 President, visited and talked with members and assured them that the Local executive officers will always be accessible to them when the need arises. She encourged MCC workers to participate in the annual Labor Day Parade on September 7. Local 828 VP Ove Overmyer reminded workers of the Rochester Labor Council's Labor Film Series and provided free tickets. The series begins at the Dryden Theatre at the George Eastman House on Friday, September 4.
Cris Zaffuto, Local 828 VP and President of the largest Monroe County Employees Unit, visited the Town of Penfield workers at their general membership meeting the same evening. Zaffuto called the meeting with the highway department "great!" She added, "The employees are hard working dedicated members who keep the highways safe and maintained. However, they are not always given the credit that they should be given. It was a good meeting of exchanging issues and perhaps helping to solve some of them."
Local 828 Unit Presidents are encourged to contact Bess or Cris at the Local 828 office if you are planning a membership meeting in the near future. We think it is important that Units know that the Local will do everything to provide the best possible support services we can offer. Please call Barb at 585.328.5250 if you have any questions or concerns.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Join us Tuesday, Aug. 11, at 5 p.m. as we “Blow the Whistle” on Monroe County’s unfair labor practices.
The Taylor Law protects workers’ rights, so why are the Brooks administration and senior Monroe County officials playing politics with our members lives? They are undermining union authority, ignoring good public policy by instituting a feeble "Whistleblower Hotline" and manipulating and threatening our members livelihoods.
Please join us in front of the County Office Building, 39 West Main St., in downtown Rochester. Rally with us until 6 p.m., when union leaders will address the Monroe County Legislature in chambers. Come hear testimonies of your fellow workers. We demand the rights protected by law and will do everything necessary to protect our workers and their families.
Whistles and signs will be provided. For more information, call 328-5250 or email firstname.lastname@example.org .