Saturday, May 29, 2010


Rochester, N.Y.--  New York State’s Attorney General Andrew Cuomo accepted the Democratic Party’s nomination for governor earlier this week, pledging to change the culture of government in Albany, which he characterized as corrupt and dysfunctional.

Cuomo, 52, who launched probes into alleged collusion among health insurers, abuses by student-loan companies and Wall Street bonus practices, received the unanimous approval of his party’s delegates by acclamation at a convention in suburban Westchester County.

After more than a year in which his job-approval ratings outperformed every other statewide elected official, the son of former three-term Governor Mario Cuomo, enters the race as the undisputed frontrunner in the nation’s third-most populous state where Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than 2-to-1.

“We stood up for the little guy, we fought the good fight, and we won,” Cuomo said of his work as attorney general since January 2007. He added, “New York State is in crisis and it’s time this party stood up and made this state the Empire State once again.”

New York faces a $9.2 billion deficit in its $135 billion spending plan, and has failed to enact a state budget since the April 1 start of the current fiscal year because of disagreements about cutbacks and revenue measures among Governor David Paterson and leaders in the Senate and Assembly.

“State government that was supposed to be part of the solution became part of the problem,” Cuomo told convention delegates, referring to the budget deadlock.

Running Mate is Rochester Mayor Bob Duffy

Cuomo also introduced delegates to his running mate, our very own City of Rochester Mayor Robert Duffy, 55, the former police chief of a city of about 220,000. Rochester is the state’s third-largest city after New York and Buffalo. Duffy, who will campaign for lieutenant governor while continuing his mayoral duties, vowed to back Cuomo’s agenda.

“If we are ever going to regain the peoples’ trust, we need to show them that we can do what every single family in our state has been forced to do -- live within our means,” Duffy told the delegates.

Duffy's relationship with local labor is mixed-- he has proven to be a partner in good government with the CSEA library workers, but other city unions have a more critical view of the Mayor's priorities.  Tensions between City Hall and the labor community have been brewing for some time, but came to a boil when Duffy pushed for mayoral control of city schools.  Cuomo touted Duffy in his acceptance speech, saying that he liked the way he "tangled" with the unions.

Cuomo reported $16.1 million in campaign funds to the state Board of Elections as of Jan. 15, more than any other candidate in the state.

Cuomo will face the winner of a Sept. 14 Republican primary election featuring likely candidates, Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy, who reported $4.1 million, and Rick Lazio, a former U.S. congressman, who declared $637,357.

Cuomo’s campaign promises a “New New York Agenda” that would restrict spending and tax increases and include campaign finance and disclosure rules to restrict lobbyists’ influence and a Constitutional convention aimed at reducing legislative gridlock. He proposes a $3,000 per worker tax credit to encourage businesses to hire new employees.

Lazio and Levy have proposed similar spending and tax limits. The Republican convention is scheduled for June.

Cuomo’s relationship with working families

One of the big questions facing Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is whether he'll accept the endorsement of the Working Families Party, a coalition of labor groups that has recently fought off some bad press and has come under legal scrutiny.

Leaders of the 12-year-old fusion party, which has gained influence in New York by cross-endorsing candidates for office, have offered Mr. Cuomo its line on the November ballot and say they expect that he'll take it. Mr. Cuomo's political operation, however, has remained silent on the issue, and party officials say they don't know definitively that the attorney general is on board.

By accepting the Working Families Party nomination, Mr. Cuomo would risk giving ammunition to Levy and Lazio who are trying to cast Mr. Cuomo as a creature who is soft on "big labor."  By declining the party's endorsement, Mr. Cuomo could alienate a key constituency. The consequences for the WFP could be severe. Without Mr. Cuomo's support, the party could lose its automatic spot on the state ballot, a crucial source of its power, or be downgraded in the ballot order.

Mr. Cuomo has issued a 250-page book outlining his policies and priorities—some of them alarming to state workers and the unions that represent them. The platform includes a state employee salary freeze, a new tier 6, state spending cap, and an expansion of charter schools. Spokespeople for CSEA and the other large public employee unions are reserving their right to vet all potential candidates through their political action process and say it’s way too early to be endorsing any candidate at this time.

Friday, May 28, 2010


CSEA President Danny Donohue talks with Statewide Secretary Denise Berkley at the Spring Workshop in New York City on May 22.
(photo by Ove Overmyer)

Albany, N.Y.--A federal court ruling today prevents Gov. Paterson from enacting state worker furloughs, one of the stopgap solutions he'd proposed to address the ever-widening hole in the state budget. 

Judge Lawrence Kahn ruled Paterson's furlough proposal would be put permanently on hold and said that the governor's attempt to withhold 4 percent pay raises from unionized workers since April 1 violated the terms of existing union contracts.

In a press statement from CSEA President Danny Donohue released earlier this morning about the court decision, he said, "Today's decision is a victory for the rule of law in New York and should make it clear that no governor can run roughshod over people's rights.  Gov. David Paterson cannot disregard his responsibility to all the people of New York to ensure services and responsible government."

Donohue added, "CSEA can only hope that the Governor will recognize that his incompetent and arrogant approach to New York's budget crisis has been entirely counterproductive.  CSEA members are working harder every day under increasingly difficult working conditions.  We have offered numerous ideas to help address the crisis which have been contemptuously dismissed by the Paterson Administration.  It is time for Governor Paterson to stop scapegoating public employees, work to bring people together and develop a comprehensive approach to the overall budget problem that will be in the best interest of all New Yorkers."

Governor Paterson says he's "disappointed."  And, he called on legislative leaders to meet with the unions to try to find another way to save money for the cash strapped state.  Paterson had earlier threatened to impose layoffs if he lost in court, but he did not mention that possible option in today's statement.

To read a transcript of the decision, you can click here.

Monday, May 24, 2010


New York, N.Y.--  Nearly 700 CSEA leaders and activists participated in CSEA's annual Spring Workshop in New York City this past weekend. Special Olympics New York CEO Neal Johnson helped President Donohue recognize the CSEA Central Region as the recipient of the first President's Polar Cap Award for their success in Special Olympic's Polar Plunge fund-raisers.  CSEA Monroe County Local 828 joined with the CSEA Region 6 Polar Plunge Team last February to raise over $6,000.00 in charitable donations for the Special Olympics. 

President Donohue also presented the annual CSEA Mission Achievement Awards to Deb Hanna, president of the Health Research Inc. (Private Sector Division); Paul Peters of the Wayne County Local (Local Government and Schools Division) see image below; and Maryann Phelps of SUNY Stony Brook Local (State Division).

President Danny Donohue says, "We have reason to be proud, for our history is rich with achievements unmatched by any other union. And, each and every day, we grow bigger, better and bolder thanks to dedicated leaders and activists like you."
Danny Donohue presents
Paul Peters with and award.
photo:  Ove Overmyer

He added, "You are our hope for a future filled with continued achievement and success. Your enthusiastic participation in this workshop will help give you the skills and tools necessary so you can help keep CSEA New York's leading union for the next hundred years."

CSEA officers who attended the conference included Webster Unit President Joe Tichacek, Local 828 President Bess Watts, Local 828 Vice Presidents Cris Zaffuto, Ove Overmyer and T. Judith Johnson, as well as Local 828 Secretary Sue Newman.  Monroe Community College Unit 7402 sent President Tom Pollizi and officer Stanley Knutowicz Jr.
Click here to visit a photo gallery of the weekend events in NYC submitted by Ove Overmyer.  You can also look at photos at the Flickr CSEA Local 828 Photostream on the right side of this page.

For more information about this workshop, please visit the CSEA INC website.

A typical NYC view looking South on 7th Avenue at 50th St.
(photo by Ove Overmyer)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Throughout our long labor rights history, Americans have fought to break down the barriers that deny opportunity and equality to our fellow citizens, and to make the promise of America a reality for all. Through civil rights legislation and constitutional amendments, we have worked to ensure that equal justice under law would be a standard for all who work and live in the United States. The passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) will write a new and important chapter in this proud story.

Discrimination in the workplace on the basis of race, religion, disability or sexual orientation has no place in the United States. Yet, discrimination exists. Today, throughout our country, millions of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans face discrimination without the protections of federal law. In more than 30 states, competent and qualified workers can be fired simply because of their sexual orientation. That is wrong. That is un-American. An employee’s performance at work should determine employment – not characteristics which have no bearing on one’s ability to do the job.

Congress now has an opportunity to right this wrong. Immediate enactment of ENDA will send a clear message that the American Dream belongs to all of us. It will provide needed protection for millions of our fellow citizens who face unjustified discrimination on the job. It is time to pass ENDA. It is the right thing to do.

A broad coalition, including AFSCME, CSEA, Pride At Work, The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, PFLAG National, National Center for Transgender Equality, National Black Justice Coalition, National Stonewall Democrats, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights are all urging their members to tell their Congressional representatives to pass ENDA.

Help us ensure that this discrimination becomes a thing of the past. Help us pass ENDA once and for all. Please make a short phone call now to your legislators to keep the pressure on. They need to hear loud and clear from people who support equality. Even if you’ve called before, and even if you think your representative is supportive of ENDA, it’s critical that they hear from you again today.

Call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at 202.224.3121 and ask to speak to your representative. (If you’re not sure who your representative is, simply give the operator your zip code and they will connect you.)

Monday, May 17, 2010


According the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national unemployment rate in April of 2010 rose to 9.9 percent.  The number of unemployed persons was 15.3 million.  The rate had been 9.7 percent for the first 3 months of this year.  The New York unemployment rate was 8.6 percent.

In an email letter to AFL-CIO constituients, NYS president Denis Hughes had this to say:

The alacrity with which the Senate passed the charter school expansion legislation recently, and the lopsided majority by which it passed is a demonstration that priorities can still be handled promptly, especially when the priority is strongly supported by Wall Street money and particularly by Mayor Bloomberg.

It is unfortunate that the Wall Street crowd doesn't understand that one of the big reasons for continued economic decay, especially in upstate New York, is the continuing failure of the Governor and Legislature to act on unemployment insurance benefits.

In the face of the worst economy since the Great Depression, unemployment insurance benefits have remained set at the level last addressed in 1998. The difference varies for each worker, but a good average number for what union members should be collecting is $150.00 per week short. What kind of a jolt could an extra $150.00 per week, per worker, mean to the New York economy? $75 million dollars per week. (Better than $30 million in furloughs!) Had the UI Benefit been increased in a timely way, that extra $75 million per week would have been paid for by the Feds. The UI dollar is spendable income, going to pay household expenses etc.

It helps communities stabilize in bad times—like now. If you live upstate ask your legislators how soon they will be getting timely, adequate UI Benefits out, so that local taxes won’t have to be driven by rising welfare payments. The most telling point might be the threatened layoff of thousands of workers, none of whom will receive fair unemployment benefits. The maximum legal benefit is now $405 per week, $10.00 per hour.

The average weekly wage is reported at $1109 per week.

The irony is that on the day the NYC Mayor Bloomberg supported the charter school bill a it was being passed, 6,400 teacher layoffs were threatened in New York City. This Federation (AFL-CIO) urges that the Unemployment Insurance Benefit be increased to 50% of the average weekly wage and indexed thereafter so that working families never again have to deal with the disgraceful situation of the last decade. We urge the Senate to remember what you can do when you want to— just as we will remember.

Denis Hughes, President

Thursday, May 13, 2010


Rochester, N.Y.--  The CSEA Monroe County Local 828 Executive Board and the Local 828 Scholarship Committee are pleased to announce the winners of the 2010 George M. Growney Scholarship Awards.

Since 1993, CSEA Local 828 has awarded over $85,000.00 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 $14,000.00.

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. The scholarship committees reviewed more than 32 entries this year.  Scholarships applicants are judged on academic achievement, a written essay, financial need and potential.

This year's Local 828 first year $1000 winners are:

Alexa DiRaimo attends Eastridge High School and will attend either Fredonia or Ithaca College. She plans on majoring in Music. Her father is David DiRaimo, who is employed by the Monroe County DA's Office.

Lauren Goewey attends Irondequoit High School and will attend Lehigh University. She plans to major in Behavioral Neuroscience. Her mother is Anne Goewey, who is employed by the Monroe County Probation Department.

Ethan Harding attends Webster Thomas High School and will attend MCC. He plans on majoring in Nursing. His father is Edward Harding, who is employed by the Monroe County Department of Environmental Services.

Andrew Zielinski attends Hilton High School and will attend Clarkson University. He will be majoring in Electrical Engineering. His father is Joseph Zielinski, who is employed by the Monroe County Health Department.

Local 828 first year $500 winners:

Jacob Bliss attends The Harley School and will attend Nazareth College. He plans on obtaining a 4 year degree but has not decided on a major. His mother is Katharine Bliss, who is employed by the Rochester Public Library at the Winton Branch.

Shannon Cook attends Aquinas Institute and will attend SUNY Brockport. She plans on majoring in Health Sciences. Her mother is Diane Cook, who is employed by the Monroe County Fire and EMS Bureau.

Andrew Mantione attends Brighton High School and will attend RIT. He plans on majoring in Finance. His mother is Elizabeth Mantione, who is employed by the Monroe County Community Hospital.

Jonathan Nemeth attends Fairport High School and will attend the University of Rochester. He plans to major in Chemistry and French. His father is David Nemeth, who is employed by the Monroe County Medical Examiner's Office.

Local 828 second year winners:

Katelyn Armes attends St. John Fisher, majoring in Pharmacology. Her father is Frederick Armes who is employed by the Monroe County Department of Weights and Measures. Katelyn is a $1000.00 winner.

Brittany Gugel attends SUNY Brockport, majoring in Nursing. Her mother is Barbara Fraser-Gugel who is employed at Monroe Community Hospital. Brittany is a $1000.00 winner.

James Arcediano attends MCC, majoring in Psychology and Education. His father is John Arcediano who is employed by the Town of Webster. James is a $500.00 winner.

Unit 7400 second year winners:

Matthew Stevens attends McQuaid Jesuit High School and will attend Niagara College. He plans on majoring in Criminal Justice. His mother is Tina Verno-Stevens who is employed by Monroe County. Matthew is a $1000.00 winner.

Samantha Dunn attends Churchville Chili High School and will attend the University of Tennessee. She plans on majoring in Biology and Pre-med. Her mother is Joanne Dunn who is employed by the Monroe County Health Department. Samantha is a $500.00 winner.

To see a larger photograph of the award recipients, click here.

A May 17th awards reception is planned at Finn Park in Webster, N.Y.  For more information about this event or the George M. Growney Scholarship programs, please contact committee members Sue Trottier or Kim Hawkins, or call the Local 828 office at 585.328.5250.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


A state worker had a message for the governor
at the CSEA PEF Rochester rally against furloughs on May 10
(photo by Bess Watts)

Albany, N.Y.--  In a major victory for working people, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York has granted a temporary restraining order preventing Governor David Paterson from proceeding with his planned furloughs of state employees.

"CSEA is proud that the court agreed with our contention that this action would cause irreparable harm to our members and undermine state services," said CSEA President Danny Donohue. "Governor David Paterson's plan was ill advised and demonstrates action that was not in the best interest of New Yorkers. CSEA believes that the Governor's plan would have created even more chaos and crisis."

The restraining order also enjoins the governor from submitting further extender appropriation bills that include provisions requiring furloughs or exclude the payment of contracted-for salary raises.

U.S. District Judge Lawrence Kahn says that until he rules on the union lawsuits seeking an injunction, Paterson and lawmakers are temporarily blocked from implementing any furloughs.

The Legislature approved unpaid furloughs one day a week in a short-term funding measure approved this week.  Kahn says in his order that the unions have shown a permanent 20 percent loss in wages or salaries would constitute irreparable harm. He has set a deadline for reply briefs and scheduled a hearing for May 26.

For a copy of the federal court decision, go to .


above:  The main atrium at The Bausch & Lomb
Memorial Library Building at the Central Library of Rochester
and Monroe County.  RPL workers were organized by CSEA

Rochester, N.Y.-- About 130 workers of the Rochester Public Library that are represented by CSEA, the Civil Service Employees Association, have unanimously ratified a new labor agreement with the City of Rochester.  The City of Rochester PT Library Workers Local 828 Unit 7420 have been organized since 1995. 

According to CSEA Labor Relations Specialist Robert Leonard, the union’s chief negotiator, the new 4-year contract agreement, when ratified by management, will take effect on July 1, 2009 and runs through June 30, 2013. The agreement calls for a cost of living increase each year, retroactive pay, a parking subsidy and no change in the threshold of yearly hours worked to be eligible for holiday pay.

"We would like to express our sincere appreciation to library management, City Labor Relations and to our CSEA members at all 11 branch libraries for their commitment to the negotiations process,” said Ove Overmyer, president of the CSEA City of Rochester Library Workers Local 828 Unit 7420. He added, “The new agreement required compromise and sacrifice on both sides and we believe it's respectful to taxpayers and employees alike." 

There are more part time employees than full time workers at the Rochester Public Library.  The new contract was reached after a one year negotiations process.  The contract deal is expected to be signed and approved by mid May.

CSEA - New York's Leading Union - represents nearly 300,000 municipal workers employed by county, city, town and village governments, school districts, library systems, authorities and public corporations. CSEA is also the largest affiliate (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.


Rochester, N.Y.--  The 24/7 Time Warner news affiliate out of Rochester, N.Y. reached out to our CSEA WNY Region 6 President Flo Tripi yesterday to get her thoughts on how the furloughs of state workers will affect ordinary taxpayers.  Will the ineptness of the governor and the state legislature translate to a new elected delegation in Albany next term?  Only time will tell.  

Virginia Butler, long time anchor and news reporter for YNN, interviewed residents at City Place in downtown Rochester.  They were not happy with these developments and are looking for accountability come November.  Along with furloughs, these feelings are consistent with a Siena College Poll that was taken on April 19 which found that most citizens also disapprove of Governor Paterson withholding negotiated cost of living increases for state workers. “When it comes to the Governor’s proposal to withhold the contractually agreed upon pay raises for stateworkers, 47 percent oppose the idea, while only 38 percent support it,” said poll spokesperson Steven Greenberg.

Tripi says if the furloughs stand, there will be more protests across the state, and she said taxpayers will notice a difference in state offices which are already understaffed.

“We're talking about law, we’re talking about workers comp, we’re talking about unemployment insurance, state insurance, we're talking about DMV, DOT, mental hygiene and direct care facilities in developmental disabilities areas,” Tripi said. “These are things that people do every single day that are so important to the public that most people don't even realize it until they don't have the services.”

To see the YNN video and read the online news story, please go here.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


CSEA seeks federal restraining order against
Paterson's furloughs of state employees

Albany, N.Y.--  The New York Legislature has approved a state budget extender which includes a mandatory one day per week off without pay for state employees.  CSEA has already filed legal action seeking a temporary restraining order with the federal court in Albany.

CSEA has repeatedly stated that Governor Paterson's plan is misguided, mean spirited and will create more chaos during a time of economic uncertainty.  Additionally, CSEA President Donohue says, "We will be doing everything we can to protect the rights of our members and the services that they provide to the people of New York."

CSEA will have more information about the legal action in the days to come.  Legal proceedings will commence on Tuesday, May 11 when the court schedules a hearing.

For a news story about yesterday's protests around New York State, link to an article here written by Gannett's own Joe Spector, Jill Terreri and Cara Matthews.  To watch a video of the rally on youtube, you can click here.

Monday, May 10, 2010


Members of CSEA and PEF gather along Elmwood Ave.
in front of the Rochester Psychiatric Center in
Rochester, N.Y. to protest furloughs of state workers.
(photo by Bess Watts)

Rochester, N.Y.--  State workers held noontime rallies around the state to protest a plan by Gov. David A. Paterson that will furlough 100,000 government workers one day a week beginning May 17.

Legislative leaders have said they oppose the idea and that a furlough is illegal, but also say they have little choice but to pass the measure. The governor has included the furlough provision in an emergency budget bill that lawmakers need to pass today in order to keep the government running. The government has been operating on the emergency appropriation basis since the fiscal year began April 1 without a budget in place.

"We deserve what we have and we're not going to give any of it back," Mary Sullivan, executive vice president of the Civil Service Employees Association, told a couple thousand state workers who turned out in a park next to the state Capitol in Albany, N.Y.

Speakers at the Albany rally used fiery rhetoric against Paterson.  CSEA President Danny Donohue, who was greeted like a rock star by the state workers, said the governor is just creating more chaos that adds to an already tense political envirnonment.

Denis Hughes, president of the state AFL-CIO, told the state workers in Albany that Paterson's furlough idea is "an injustice to the men and women least able to handle this cut."

CSEA is planning swift federal court action to block the furloughs.  Paterson's plan is an illegal violation of the terms of existing collective bargaining agreements.  "We're not going to give back anything we fought for and have a contract for," Donohue said.

Closer to home, nearly 150 workers from the Rochester area took their message to the streets.  Outside the Rochester Psychiatric Center at 1111 Elmwood Ave., workers lined the avenue chanting loudly and holding signs that read, "No Furloughs!" and "Enough is Enough!"

In Buffalo, angry workers chanted "No furloughs!" at passing motorists and pedestrians.  About 250 folks gathered at noon outside Ellicott Square— the Western New York headquarters for many state agencies. They heard leaders from CSEA and Public Employees Federation urge them through bullhorns to resist Paterson's furlough plans, receiving sympathetic horn blasts from fire trucks and Metro Rail trains that rolled on by during lunchtime.

"We didn't create this mess; Wall Street did," chanted Courtney Brunelle, WNY Political Action Coordinator for CSEA. "We do our job; you do yours." 

Brunelle told the Buffalo News, ""Every time you furlough these folks and not put their dollars back into the economy, you're just prolonging the recession.  We just want the governor to pass a responsible budget. Putting us in the middle of a political game of chicken with the Legislature is a failed strategy."


Above:  Danny Donohue, President of CSEA talks to the media in September 2009 at the Annual Delegates Meeting in Buffalo, N.Y.
(photo by Ove Overmyer)

Albany, N.Y.--  On May 9, CSEA President Danny Donohue issued the following open letter to the residents of New York State.  It reads as follows:

There's been a lot of irresponsible rhetoric thrown at state workers about the state's budget problems lately and it's important to set the record straight about some basic facts.

State employees didn't cause the state's fiscal crisis and slamming them won't solve it.

New York state operations (the portion of the budget covering state executive branch agencies and facilities) accounts for about 8 percent of the total state budget. State employee paychecks are a tiny fraction of that and a very small part of the deficit problem.

Governor Paterson is wrong when he says state employees have done "nothing" to help address the state's fiscal crisis. It's insulting to state employees who are working harder than ever trying do their jobs with less help, fewer resources and scorn from the governor himself. State operations have been cut by nearly $2 billion in the past 18 months, leaving many agencies stretched to the breaking point. They are only operational because of the dedication of CSEA members and other state employees.

Let's be clear: CSEA members do the work – maintaining roads, taking care of individuals with developmental disabilities and mental illness; protecting the public health; enforcing the law; issuing drivers licenses and vehicle registrations, and providing the support services that make every state agency work. The average CSEA member's state salary is about $40,000 and our average pension is under $16,000 annually. CSEA challenges the governor to work a shift in any CSEA member's shoes to understand what sacrifice is.

Since summer 2008, CSEA has offered the governor money-saving ideas.

Some ideas have been considerable: A Canadian prescription drug option that we have put forth and have helped implement in nearly 40 municipalities across the state is already saving localities tens of millions of dollars. Projections for the state savings are more significant – several hundred million dollars.

CSEA also uncovered excessive state use of temporary employees hired at premium costs through temporary employment agencies. Many of the temp workers have been working in state jobs for years and the Paterson administration has spent more than $62 million of taxpayer money on these temp workers in the past 18 months.

The governor undermines any credibility he might have on the severity of New York's budget situation when he dismisses meaningful ideas about cost savings.

Instead, he continues to turn to the media to attack CSEA's refusal to make unilateral concessions simply because he demands them. CSEA will not reopen contracts. Any business person should understand that a contract is a contract and once you open one you can never again bargain in good faith. There are always ways to find common ground, but Governor Paterson has repeatedly undermined cooperation.

The governor also seems to conveniently forget that last year, CSEA came to an agreement on pension reform that the governor claimed would save the state taxpayers more than $35 billion over time. He agreed to no layoffs of state employees for the remainder of his term and he insisted on a targeted job buyout plan. That plan, solely administered by the Paterson administration, has failed to meet expectations and attracted fewer than 100 high-paid management/confidential employees, including political appointees.

CSEA has been around for 100 years. We have worked with every New York governor dating back to Charles Evans Hughes. We have succeeded for a century because we care about making our state a better place to live, work and grow. Besides what we do on the job, we are also the backbone of the communities where we live, contributing in every conceivable way.

Governor Paterson has a right to be wrong, but CSEA has a right to respond when he is. We will continue to do whatever it takes to protect the interest of CSEA members and the services we provide for the people of New York.

In Solidarity,

Danny Donohue

Friday, May 7, 2010


State Furloughs

Albany, N.Y.--  Governor Paterson is poised to implement furloughs for unionized executive branch employees, excluding employees who provide security, direct patient care, or whose jobs are 100% federally funded. Management and confidential employees would also be excluded from the furlough.

His proposal, which as of this e-mail has yet to be put into print, would require employees to be furloughed one day per week until a state budget is adopted.

CSEA is prepared to take all steps possible to stop these furloughs, including legal action.

Once the Governor has officially released his proposal we will be alerting all affected members. Please check for further information.

Join our brothers and sisters by rallying against the furloughs on Monday, May 10. Find the closest rally to you at CSEA's website.

Early Retirement Incentive

Governor Paterson has proposed a bill that provides an early retirement incentive to public employees. Part A of this proposal is a traditional plan that would offer one month of service credit for each year worked for up to 3 years of credit for targeted employees. All employers have to opt in, including the state executive branch.

Part B is a 25/55 plan. The executive branch will automatically be in Part B; however, all other employers will have to opt into this part. Employers can choose whether they want to opt for both Part A and B or just one.

We are still reviewing this bill and are awaiting clarifying language from the Governor’s office regarding certain provisions. Once we have that information we will release further details.

Charter Schools

The State Senate passed legislation that would increase the number of charter schools allowed in the state from 200 to 460.

This bill contains no increased oversight or accountability and will further drain resources from public schools.

For more information on any of these issues, please contact the Legislative and Political Action at 1-800-342-4146.

Thursday, May 6, 2010



Rochester, N.Y.--  At noon, on Monday, May 10, CSEA members throughout the State will join our PEF brothers and sisters in a series of statewide "Fight The Furlough" rallies to protest the Governor's illegal furlough proposal and to highlight his inability to effectively govern.  The Governor has proposed state workers take a mandatory one day a week off without pay until the budget is passed.  As of today, New Yorkers have been without a state budget for 36 days.

In the Western Region, union members will join together outside the Rochester Psychiactric Center at 1111, Elmwood Ave., the Ellicott Square Building in Buffalo and the DOT Office Building on Broadway in Hornell for a show of solidarity and strength.

Flo Tripi, WNY Region 6 President and Bess Watts, Monroe County Local 828 President urge all members to attend or send an electronic message to the Governor's blog to express your outrage, Staight Talk, Straight Answers.

Here is the flyer for the rally.

Download images and posters.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Anti-Labor forces are trying to scare you to death;
these above websites are totally bogus

Rochester, N.Y.--  The Empire Center has issued a new call for the New York State Legislature to declare a fiscal emergency and freeze collectively bargained wages of public employees. CSEA has pointed out to the media that this is a blatant attack on working people by an organization funded by some of the wealthiest individuals and corporations in the world, counter productive for the economy, and singles out labor contracts for emergency action while leaving other kinds of contracts in place.

CSEA also pointed out that the Empire Center’s justification for the emergency action comes from an opinion issued by the law firm of Bond Schoeneck & King, a notoriously anti-labor firm with a long history of accepting taxpayer money to conduct union prevention seminars for not-for profit providers funded by the state.

With the constant media bashing of unions becoming a bloodsport of sorts, anti-labor forces like the Empire Center firmly believe public sentiment would be behind such a move, given the economic wreckage that has swept through the private sector.  

They are essentially saying that we must use furloughs and wage freezes as an antidote to save our state from financial ruin, or suffer the consequence of shutting down our state government.  Most informed sane individuals know this is a ridiculous notion, but it will not stop them from using fear tactics and misinformation.  Plus, they are seizing the moment-- relentlessly kicking working families in the gut while the media continues to portray unions as evil do-ers and the Freddy Kruger's of the world.

Basically, they contend that freezing public sector wages would be popular enough with the electorate that it could outweigh the inevitable backlash from public employees.  Conversely, a Siena Poll released on April 19 insisted that most New Yorkers disapprove of Governor Paterson withholding negotiated cost of living increases for state workers.

And, earlier this year, anti-labor forces cheered when Senate Republicans filibustered the nomination of Craig Becker, President Obama's choice for the National Labor Relations Board (the chief federal referee of labor-management disputes).

Now, the same groups are angry over the president's decision to recess-appoint Becker to the NLRB. Becker, a highly-regarded labor lawyer, is despised by anti-labor movement because he is pro-worker, which to the right, is seen as radical. Already, several anti-labor groups have asked Becker to recuse himself from cases that involve anti-labor groups.

This has given rise to websites like, a project of Richard Berman's Center for Union Facts and Richard Berman's Employee Freedom Action Committee.  I will not insult your intelligence by providing a link to this trash.  If you don't know about this slimeball fearmonger named Richard Berman, you should.  Here is an article about Berman.  He and the people who fund his messaging are also attacking the recess-appointment of Becker. They are complaining that the White House obfuscated Becker's record, which is disingenuine at best.

Any tax-paying, right-minded citizen should know and care when they are being manipulated by people and groups who do not have the greater good in mind.  They are the small minority of individuals and corporations who own most of the wealth in America, and are trying to protect their ill-gotten gains.

To this point, the AFL-CIO is fighting back and took their message to Wall Street on Worker's Memorial Day, April 29.  In a campaign called "Good Jobs Now! Make Wall Street Pay," over 30,000 of us rallied on Wall Street in person or as virtual marchers. Our message: Wall Street wrecked the economy, now it's time Big Banks pay up and create good jobs for the rest of us.

Our message to our union brothers and sisters all across America is simple:  never apologize for anything and keep fighting for our working families through activism, political action and the collective bargaining process.  We must remain vigilant to address the misinformation from our attackers and seek truth to power.  Groups like the Empire Center need to be exposed for who they really are.  They are noncompassionate, self-serving, affluent elitists who could care less about working families or growing our economy.

Monday, May 3, 2010


Lake Placid, N.Y.--  CSEA at 100: Better, Stronger, Safer

The 2010 CSEA Statewide Conference on Occupational Safety and Health was held April 30 - May 2 in Lake Placid, N.Y. Over 1,100 workers and activists from Montauk Pt. to Niagara Falls participated in the three day program, focusing its attention on inplementing the Workplace Violence Prevention Act and honoring those who recently lost their lives while on the job.

Highlights from the conference included the launch of CSEA's "Don't Zone Out" campaign; President Danny Donohue's presentation of the William McGowan Award to Village of Suffern Unit activists Scott Brown and Joseph Hunt; numerous workshops and a Workers Memorial Day observance.

Bess Watts, Local 828 President will be meeting on Wednesday, May 5 with all 18 Local 828 activists who attended the conference.  We will be sharing information and planning strategies to better serve our members and our employers.  For more information about the conference, you can go here or email Bess at

For a photo gallery of the 2010 Health and Safety Conference, please go here.  Photography by Ove Overmyer.

CSEA officers of East Irondequoit Schools Unit 7416
Gino Sciortino (left) and Aurelio Mendoza pose with
the CSEA Health and Safety Canary at the Olympic Center.
(photo by Bess Watts)