Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Here's a news flash for Jane Sutter of the Democrat & Chronicle:  The defunct Mayoral Control Bill is a dead issue in this election cycle 
Rochester, N.Y.--  Sometimes you just have to roll your eyes and ask yourself, why do editors do the things they do? We all know how transparent the D&C's anti-labor agenda is, but thinking that NYS Assembly candidate Harry Bronson's position over mayoral control of city schools warrants some kind of immediate blog attention and scrutiny is laugh out loud funny. The D&C has invested an enormous amount of time and energy writing about mayoral control, and they want to hang on to this narrative as long as they can.  You can read Sutter’s blog here.
For the record, Bronson is running for the NYS Assembly, where there are another 149 state legislators. The bill passed the Assembly 93 to 43 on June 24th, 2010. The NYS Senate had two weeks to act on this bill and couldn't even muster up a vote.

To suggest Bronson was playing politics earlier this summer with his decision on a bill that was doomed to begin with anyway is just ludicrous-- either way his position today hardly matters in the big picture moving forward.  The political climate is ever changing, and this bill's destiny is no exception. With Albany dysfunction and the poor economy bearing down on us, the mayoral control issue should matter less to the voters of the 2010 election cycle and the D&C should know that.  Maybe they just feel responsible for telling us the "news, " as if this revelation is news to begin with.   

In any event, Bronson says he has knocked on a ton of doors and is listening very carefully to his constituents every day. Isn’t it possible that that he is evolving on this issue? Isn’t it convenient for his detractors to call this something that it is not? And by the way, not all labor unions are against the bill that the Senate could not pass-- some, like CSEA, have not taken an official position one way or another. So, Ms. Sutter, before you go making glittering generalities about "labor unions" get your facts straight.

What does matter is that Bronson knows more about the nuisances of educating our kids and keeping them safe than the D&C will ever give him credit for. If this newspaper wants to stay relevant, they should try focusing on questions like, "How are we gonna get out of this fiscal mess we are in?" or "What reform issues do you plan on undertaking if elected?"

I'm appalled that Ms. Sutter even questioned Bronson's leadership acumen. Rather than hyperventilating and creating convoluted "gotcha moments" in the endorsement process, maybe this agenda-driven newspaper can stick to covering our collective priorities-- like jobs, the economy, jobs, and maybe more jobs.  Introducing suppositions, guessing and using conjecture about Bronson's record with mayoral control is very disturbing.  The editiorial board is certainly entitled to their opinions, but they are not entitled to distort the facts.  

When media editors enter into the world of gotcha politics, it says more about them then it does about the candidate.  It is partisianship at it's worst.  If this newspaper truly wants to be of service to it's community and true to it's mission, how about accurately informing us on the issues and topics that really matter to the voters of western New York-- and in particular to citizens of the 131st Assembly District where I happen to live.

For the votes on the two bills that went before the legislature in June you can go here for the Assembly and here for the Senate-- not that it should make a difference in this election cycle anyway.

For the record, CSEA and the NYS AFL-CIO enthusiastically endorse Harry Bronson for Assembly.  This commentary was authored by Ove Overmyer.

Monday, September 27, 2010


Hundreds of activists and marchers including members from CSEA, PEF, SEIU 1199 and Pride At Work rally for marriage equality in Rochester, N.Y. on Sunday, September 26.
(Photos by Ove Overmyer.  Click on images for a larger view.)

Rochester, N.Y.-- Well over 300 people of all ages, most carrying rainbow umbrellas, rallied in front of the Monroe County Office Building on West Main Street and then marched across the river and back to Genesee Crossroads Park for a community festival on Sunday afternoon, September 26.  To see a slideshow of this event, you can go here.

The group called Marriage Equality New York (MENY), which is an all-inclusive organization whose mission is to educate the public by raising awareness of the important right of all persons to enter into legally recognized gender neutral civil marriage. Without marriage, committed same-sex couples are denied over 1,138 federal rights and obligations including social security, workplace rights, hospital visitation, co-parenting rights, estate tax, and immigration, just to name a few.  The first wedding march organized by MENY was in Brooklyn in 2003.

MENY also held wedding marches in Buffalo and Brooklyn yesterday.  An event in the Albany area is scheduled for Saturday, October 16. A wedding march across San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge was also held on September 26, sponsored by Marriage Equality USA.

Several people spoke at the rally, including Harry Bronson, candidate for NYS Assembly for the 131st District, and Robin Wilt, candidate for NYS Senate in the 56th District. Young people from the Civil Rights Front held signs up for passing motorists while drivers honked in support.

Assembly candidate Bronson, who is also the Monroe County Democratic Minority Leader of the County Legislature said, “Despite the culture war, this is a civil rights issue… It’s time for inclusion, not exclusion. Every step you take today takes you closer to full equality.” He ridiculed the Republican claim that civil unions are an adequate substitute for legal marriage, noting, “Separate is NOT equal!”

Tom Privitere speaks on the steps
of the Monroe County Office
Building on September 26.
Tom Privitere, a staff member of the Public Employees Federation (PEF) who doubles as the Vice President of the Rochester and Finger Lakes Chapter of Pride At Work, spoke at the rally in front of the Monroe County Office Building. He said, “Unions are at the forefront of human rights, people’s rights and workers’ rights. DOMA (the anti-gay federal Defense of Marriage Act) is an abomination to those of us who pay taxes and work every day. We’re sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

To that end, activists from many different labor unions, including CSEA, AFSCME, IBEW, SEIU 1199 and PEF will have the opportunity to make history once again this week by attending a march in Washington, D.C..  Community activsts from all wallks of life, including a long list of who's who in the labor and LGBTQ circles, plus numerous civil rights, environmental, immigrant, faith and peace groups stand unified as One Nation Working Together. Let's say no to the politics of division and yes to jobs, justice, equality and peace for all people.

You can still join your CSEA brothers and sisters and many other civic groups as we rally in Washington, DC -- together with the NAACP, AFL-CIO and over 150 organizations in total. Call the CSEA Region 6 office at 716.691.6555 today for more information. 

The current economy is a devastating time for many folks and those facing discrimination take an even harder hit. LGBTQ working families and particularly LGBT people of color are dramatically more likely to be working poor or living in poverty.  If there was ever a time for action, it is now.

Marchers gather in front of the Monroe County Office Building in Rochester, N.Y.  to rally for workplace rights and marriage equality on September 26.  Some of these same activists will take their energy and action to our nation's capital on October 2.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Improvements to healthcare in America begin today

New York--  If you are currently covered by health insurance and are satisfied, and as long as your insurer continues to offer the plan, you can keep it.

Health plans that were in place on March 23, 2010, the day healthcare reform passed, are “grandfathered” meaning they are past policies that are allowed to essentially remain the same. Reform allows insurers and employers to innovate and contain costs by making routine changes without losing grandfather status. However, plans will lose their grandfather status if they choose to significantly cut benefits or increase out-of-pocket spending for consumers—and consumers in plans that make such changes will gain new protections.

The following improvements in coverage apply to all health plans, including those grandfathered plans:

Some plans currently have annual and lifetime monetary limits on how much your insurer will pay for your medical care which cause major problems for people who have long term illnesses. Going forward, there can be no annual or lifetime limits.

In New York, insurers cannot refuse to sell anyone health insurance just because they have a pre-existing condition. However, in all states, even New York, the insurer can refuse to pay for care for that pre-existing condition for the first year. Going forward, insurers must cover pre-existing conditions for children age 18 or younger immediately and adults will receive the same protections in 2014.

If insurers offer family coverage, it must now cover your children until they turn age 26. New York State has ensured that parents could buy insurance through their employer’s group policy for children up to age 29.  This is generally less expensive than buying individual insurance.

In the past, when individuals suffered from expensive illnesses, insurers could look for small errors in insurance applications and use them as an excuse to cancel policies. Going forward, policies can only be rescinded for fraud, not unintentional errors. This past August, Governor Paterson signed ‘Ian’s Law’ which will grant additional protections to New Yorkers who suffer from costly medical conditions.

The following changes apply to group and individual policies that are not grandfathered:

Insurers may not require you to receive prior authorization for emergency services, a provision we already have in New York. In addition, your co-payment or co-insurance amount cannot be higher if you utilize an out-of-network hospital or provider in an emergency.

The most commonly used preventive services, such as immunizations and screenings, must be provided to children and adults at no cost to you, meaning there will be no co-payment or deductible. New York currently requires coverage of well-child visits and immunizations for children through age 19 without cost-sharing.

If an insurer refuses to cover some medical treatment, it must provide a means for the consumer to appeal that decision both within the company and to an independent outside entity. New York already requires this kind of appeals process.

If your plan allows you to pick a primary care provider, then it must allow you to choose any participating primary care provider who is available to accept patients and women do not need a referral from a primary care doctor to receive obstetric or gynecological care from a participating provider, which is already a provision in New York.

The next important question is when will these provisions apply to you? Improvements are required to start when your first new policy year starts after September 23, 2010. So if your policy year starts January 1, then you will have many of these new benefits starting January 1, 2011. If your policy year starts July 1, then for you it is July 1, 2011. If you don’t know when your policy year starts, ask your employer, benefits administrator or your insurer. However, if you buy a new individual or group policy the new benefits start immediately.

Healthcare reform does not have to be complicated. Our advice is to not take any crap from your healthcare insurer-- always consult your employer or union representative if you feel you are being taken advantage of or that you feel "something is just not right" with your coverage.  To obtain more information, please visit this website sponsored by the state of New York.

(photos by Ove Overmyer)


Members from the labor, LGBT and faith communities rallied at the Liberty Pole in downtown Rochester, N.Y. at noon on September 17 to spread the word about ONE NATION WORKING TOGETHER. (photo by Ove Overmyer)

Rochester, N.Y.--  In only a year and a half, President Obama has already repaired much of the damage wrought during the eight years of the Bush Administration - restoring America's reputation on the world stage and bringing an end to combat operations in Iraq.

Republican obstructionists want to halt our progress, take control of Congress and set President Obama up for failure. They want a return to the Bush-era policies that got us into this funk in the first place.

Just this past week, Republicans spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on attack ads. We have to answer the call. We cannot allow them to spin their way into power or continue to mislead the American public. We have to fight back.

If the pro-labor forces can come together at this crucial moment - just six weeks before Election Day - we can summon the enthusiasm, the resources and the votes we need to win. But it is going to take a massive commitment by us all to keep moving in the right direction.

The ultraconservative Republican candidates have been outspoken about their desire to outsource jobs, move towards privatizing public services, close off America's borders and shun cooperation with our partners throughout the world. That is why the labor community and our progressive partners must fight even harder to hold our ground.

It is going to be tough because anti-labor forces are getting hundreds of millions of dollars in help from right wing organizations like Karl Rove's American Crossroads. The amount of money that is being spent this election cycle is staggering. However, if each and every worker in America rises up and commits to doing his or her part, we will prevail. We cannot let one seat be lost to the right-wing Tea-Party agenda.

This isn't the first time we have faced a determined opponent. We have beat them before, and we'll do it again. But it will only happen if we all act now.

One Nation Working Together is an unprecedented national unity movement working to refocus the nation’s agenda on jobs, justice and education. We will march as One Nation Working Together on October 2,2010 in Washington D.C.

One Nation Working Together is an unprecedented diverse national movement of people from all backgrounds united in a shared belief that in America today the fundamental rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness mean jobs, justice and education.

Across the country, people are putting aside their differences and political agendas to denounce the tactics of hate and divisiveness brought on by the likes of Nevada's Sharron Angle, New York's Carl Paladino and Delaware's Christine O'Donnell. We are speaking in one voice for bold and sustainable action that will get America back to work and investing again in our people.

Now is the time to get off the couch and get on the bus-- no excuses. We will march as One Nation Working Together on October 2, 2010 in Washington D.C. You must be part of it in some way-- for more info about this event and to learn about transportation to DC, you can go here.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Decision 2010 is gearing up;  CSEA is getting out the vote

Rochester, N.Y.--  What is GOTV? It's what wins elections in every state and every district in the country -- from Monroe County, the State of New York, California to Maine and everywhere in between.

GOTV -- Get Out The Vote -- will make or break close races this Election Day. Anti-labor forces are working around the clock to take control of Congress and a good GOTV program will determine whether progressive champion Nancy Pelosi or corporate sellout John Boehner is sworn in as Speaker of the House next year.

Where else on earth but public employment do workers get to choose who their bosses are? It would be irresponsible and foolish of us not to exercise our own political capital.  Our state legislators, mayors and county executives are just hired help, and we can determine the fate of our own municipal budgets and the future of our working lives by getting out the vote.

Hundreds of CSEA folk are now lining up to particpate in labor walks with candidates, man the phone banks and drop literature in our communities-- join us this election cycle so we can elect a labor-friendly progressive majority in Congress, Senate, and the New York state legislature.

Bess Watts, President of Local 828 says, "It is crucial that we elect fair minded candidates who are willing to work with us.  We must have a strong showing at the polls.  Let's get out the vote." 

If you have any questions about the CSEA PAC or endorsement process, you can contact Local 828 PAC co-chairs Cris Zaffuto or Ove Overmyer.  For a list of targeted candidates who have been endorsed by CSEA, you can go here to a previous post of the CSEA Voice Reporter.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Politics run amok; Congress forgets why they were elected to govern

Washington, D.C.-- Late this afternoon, Senate Republicans blocked an effort to give our military the necessary funds to operate and also successfully blocked the effort to repeal the law banning gays from serving openly in the military.  It doesn't take a trained observer to note that the GOP is more interested in petty political posturing rather than protecting our service men and women in uniform.

The developments today can be only described as a profound lack of leadership in our federal government.  The partisan vote was a defeat for gay rights groups who saw the provision in a defense authorization bill as their last chance any time soon to overturn the law known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

"This ain't over," Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), who authored the repeal of the military policy on openly gay service members, said even before the vote. "It's long past time to repeal this policy."

The outcome was all but set earlier Tuesday when Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, a key Republican who supported repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" signaled her unease with the limited floor schedule for debate.

Collins had been the only Republican to support the repeal in an earlier committee vote. Activists, including musician Lady Gaga, rallied in Collins' home state of Maine on the eve of the vote to encourage Collins and fellow Maine Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe to vote to advance the bill.

Republicans complained that Democrats were using the bill as a vehicle to tack on election-year issues that would motivate Democratic voters to go to the polls, even though Republicans had similarly added provisions to past Defense bills.

Democrats fell short of the 60 votes needed to advance the legislation, which authorized $726 billion in defense spending including a pay raise for troops.  In a suprise twist, Virginia Senator Jim Webb did not want to hold up the bill despite his previous statements and perceived reservations about the DADT and Dream Act amendments.

Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins had been seen as the crucial 60th vote because she supports overturning the military ban. But Collins sided with her GOP colleagues in arguing that Republicans weren't given sufficient leeway to offer amendments to the wide-ranging policy bill.

By blocking the bill, Republicans also held up passage of the so-called Dream Act, which was to provide a route to citizenship for youths who were in the country illegally but had attended college or served in the military.
But Democrats argued that Republicans were unwilling to allow the debate to open, even when promised a chance to offer an amendment to cowardly strike the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy from the bill.

The Defense bill includes a 1.4% pay raise for the troops as well as funding for the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan. Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), the Senate Democratic whip, also vowed to bring the Dream Act back for another vote.

Both political parties have used the authorization bill in years past to advance other legislative goals, so the failure of the military spending plan was seen as unusual. But the process had grown politicized, especially in the limited time remaining before Congress was to adjourn to campaign full time.

The "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law, enacted in 1993, has been targeted by President Obama for repeal, and a federal judge in California this month declared it unconstitutional. Under the proposed legislation, repeal would take effect 60 days after completion of a Pentagon report on steps needed to ensure military readiness. The report is due in December. The House passed the repeal in the spring.

According to reliable sources, more than 13,500 service members have been discharged under the policy for being openly gay.


Former Secretary of State Colin Powell argues that the Dream Act legislation is a way to prioritize the education of the country's young people: "America is going to be a minority nation in one more generation. Our minorities are not getting educated well enough now. Fifty percent of our minority kids are not finishing high school. We've got to invest in education."

Above:  The CSEA Local 828 2010 George M. Growney college scholarship award winners and their friends may find the going tough when they finally graduate from their university and college programs.  Will there be jobs and citizenship in their future?  (photo by Bess Watts)

Washington, D.C.-- Republican senators are threatening to filibuster the defense authorization bill (with a vote expected later today, within just a few hours), in part because Senator Harry Reid tacked on the immigration-related DREAM ACT as an amendment.

Though the bill's other controversial amendment -- enacting the repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" military ban on openly gay service -- has grabbed most of the media's attention, the DREAM Act (whose acronym stands for Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) has been on the immigration reform agenda for more than 10 years. If it wins passage, it will put almost a million young people on the path to citizenship.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid did not know if they had enough votes to pass the bill as of last night.  Sources say that Senate Democrats will not get support from some of the Blue-Dog Democrats, including Senator Jim Webb of Virgina.

Democratic leaders are said to be counting Webb as a no vote against blocking a promised Republican filibuster this week on legislation that would end the policy that enforces workplace discrimination in the military.

So what is this bill?

The DREAM Act has actually been floating around Congress for almost 10 years now, and was first introduced by Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, who now opposes the measure. The idea behind the bill is to give people who were under 16 when they entered the United States the opportunity to become legal residents. Those who have a GED or high school degree, have lived in the United States for at least five years, and are younger than 35 would be eligible for conditional legal status for six years. During that time, they would have to graduate from two years of college or honorably serve two or more years in the military. Then they would qualify for U.S. citizenship.

Participants would not be able to travel abroad for lengthy periods and would not qualify for federal Pell Grants to help pay for college. They also could not acquire criminal records.

Who's against the bill?

Though in 2007 the bill fell only eight votes short of the 60-vote threshold to stave off a filibuster threat, many Republicans who supported the measure then have now come out against it.

What's the argument against it?

Opponents argue that the bill provides amnesty. They also say that it's a "political" move on Reid's part to tack it onto the defense bill, since it doesn't concern defense funding. But military officials have long pushed for the DREAM Act as a way to boost recruitment.

"Democrats are trying to check a box with Hispanic voters at the expense of our men and women in uniform," Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina told Politico. "It's very unfortunate they are planning to use the defense bill in such a fashion." Graham had formerly been a pivotal supporter of immigration reform in the Senate.

Meanwhile, two former sponsors of the DREAM Act, Hatch and fellow Utah GOP Sen. Bob Bennett, have said they now oppose the measure.  Go figure.

What's the argument for it?

Some people brought into the country illegally when they were children have no idea they are not citizens, and were raised as Americans. This bill would prevent young people in this position who want to get higher education or serve the United States from being deported after the country has often already invested in their grade-school education.

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell argues that the legislation is a way to prioritize the education of the country's young people: "America is going to be a minority nation in one more generation. Our minorities are not getting educated well enough now. Fifty percent of our minority kids are not finishing high school. We've got to invest in education."

How many people might become citizens if it's enacted?

The nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute estimated this summer that about 2.1 million people would qualify for the program, but that only 825,000 would actually gain citizenship at the end of the six-year period. Not all those who qualified would be able to afford college or vocational school for the required two years.

Saturday, September 18, 2010


Will the American Dream become the American nightmare for the poor and middle class?
(photos and commentary by Ove Overmyer)

Rochester, N.Y.--  Not long ago, a flair for rhetoric, a passing familiarity for biblical verses, and a real need for a "following" could be enough to land someone in a small-town pulpit. Today, it seems, it is the recipe to a political office and a top-tier Republican candidacy-- or perhaps even becoming President. Sarah Palin and Delaware's Republican Senate candidate Christine (Witchcraft) O'Donnell immediately come to mind.

This new defintion of conservative leadership is one lesson we can take away from the August rally on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. and the recent primary election results. In Washington, D.C., Fox egomaniac and Mormon convert Glenn Beck kicked off the get-out-the-vote phase of the 2010 election with a revival aimed at the GOP base.  Plus, the stunning victory of angry-man Carl Paladino over GOP designee Rick Lazio in the Republican primary for New York Governor has sent shock waves throughout the Empire State.

Like the frenzy of McCarthyism that drove GOP gains in 1950 or the 1980 turnout that Jerry Falwell spiked with revivalist fervor, Republicans are eyeing 2010 as a once-in-a-generation chance to alter the political landscape. With the completion of the census and reapportionment now upon us, it could also furnish them authority to remake the maps of election districts in their favor.

Beck, Palin and the new standard-bearers 

Beck may surpass Palin in on-screen exposure and a knack for mimicking the language and cadence of scripture, but he is her understudy in another skill-set now prized for Republican candidates—scapgoating and being irrational.

Palin's intolerance, by contrast, is more focused and more expert at playing on fragile emotions for political advantage.  Her use of glittering generalities, gaffes and lack of specifics support the notion that she is intellectually bankrupt when it comes to Civics 101.  Someone asked me my opinion of Palin, and I responded without hesitating--  "She is a disturbing, poor actor in a bad movie that I hate watching.  She is all fluff with no shread of substance or knowledge of national public policy-- despite her lofty perch on the far right of the political continuum."

Palin isn't the only conservative dressing up appeals to intolerance in a wardrobe of new words. Riding her coattails is a host of characters exploiting hard times, the power vacuum among Republicans and a scarcity of reporters and editors well-versed in both religion and politics. The absence of scrutiny and silence by fellow Republicans eager for electoral gain are allowing the opportunists to remake themselves as the standard-bearers for the right.

Personal attacks and innuendo against immigrants and religious minorities, including the Christian faith of President Obama himself, have joined traditional diatribes against gays and black people in the GOP script for getting votes this year. This is just fear-mongering and finger-pointing at its worst. They echo in the rally cries for Republicans now vying to take over our Congress and statehouses across the country.

GOP policies will perpetuate unemployment

Leading the ranks of the gate-crashers are those responsible for the very unemployment crisis they like to blame on the Democrats.  Here is a perfect example of Republican logic--  multimillionaire California Senate Republican nominee Carly Fiorina sent more than 9,000 U.S. jobs overseas and fired 30,000 employees in less than 6 years.  She was forced to resign as Hewlett-Packard CEO in 2005 for poor performance.  Now she wants to create jobs in California.  Get real.

Farther to the right of Fiorina, who has called for overturning Roe v. Wade and voted for Prop 8, are Senate candidates Sharron Angle in Nevada and Rand Paul in Kentucky who assail landmark laws against discrimination, such as the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1990 Americans With Disabilities Act. A series of other GOP candidates including O'Donnell, Florida's Marco Rubio to Alaska's Joe Miller, espouse the extreme goals of fringe ideologues, such as ending Social Security and claiming either that equality is artificial or that the imposition of social equality is detrimental to society.

The Tea Partiers, for all their contradictions and energy, have raised the stakes in this election. It's about far more than who prevails and who concedes on Election Day, November 2. It's about the direction of the country and whether the intolerant far-right will gain the upper hand and stop any progress the Obama White House and Congress has made in the past 22 months.

A sense of urgency

I've never been more motivated and frightened in my life than I am right now.  This includes the turbulent 60's, when I was an unknowing tot vicariously living through the lives of my older brothers and sisters.  I know some may call me hyperbolic, but I did predict that we would be in this mess back in 2001 when then President George Bush and his Congress passed his tax cuts for the rich and started to deregulate Wall Street and the banks which crippled our economy some ten years later. (Source: see archives of the Empty Closet Newspaper at the turn of the 21st century.)  And believe me, things will be a lot worse for poor folk and the middle class if the likes of Congressman John Boehner from Ohio becomes Speaker of the House. Perish the thought.

Fluency in fringe ideology and appeals to intolerance now substitute for leadership among conservatives. What probably will happen in November will skew the course of decision-making rightward and backward. That means rehashed fights about posting of the Ten Commandments, citizenship and voting standards, enforcement or overturning civil rights and pro-gay legislation, access to contraception, and the legality of the clean-water and emissions standards, the minimum wage, and fighting for Social Security. It means a diminished state of our democracy and our standing in the world.  Tea-Partiers and conservative voters want to turn back the clock.  If this doesn't motivate the Democrats to get out and vote, I don't know what will.

Progressives perturbed at the pace of change in federal law or the stances and statements of the Obama administration do not have the luxury of simply holding the president's feet to the fire. A very different fire is at hand. We are at risk of losing everything we have been fighting for, and it's time we put aside the debate of the liberal versus blue-dog complexities of Democratic rule.  To be fair, we also have to admit that the compromised meat and potatoes legislation that has been signed into law since January 2009 has not matched the lofty rhetoric of the Obama campaign.

We must unite and send a strong message to those moderate voters that, sure you may hate the Democrats because they are in charge right now, but it was the Republicans and conservative ideological thinking that has gotten us into this mess in the first place. That should be enough to tell you who you should be voting for on Election Day.

Friday, September 17, 2010


Members from the labor, LGBT and faith communities rallied at the Liberty Pole in downtown Rochester, N.Y. at noon on September 17 to spread the word about ONE NATION WORKING TOGETHER. (photos by Ove Overmyer)

Rochester, N.Y.--  Dozens of Rochester-area commuity groups plan to join others from around the country in a march on Washington, D.C., on Saturday, Oct. 2.

A national coalition named One Nation Working Together, includes community, labor, faith-based and several LGBT organizations.  ONWT is a social movement of individuals and organizations committed to putting America back to work and pulling America back together. Coming from a diverse set of backgrounds, experiences, beliefs and orientations, we are determined to build a more united country with good jobs, equal justice, and quality public education for all.

Some of the local coalition members includes SEIU 1199, CSEA, Pride At Work, Metro Justice of Rochester, Local 215 of the American Postal Workers Union, Human Rights Campaign, the Green Party of Monroe County and the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists of Rochester.

The marchers in Washington will “demand the changes we voted for,” which include immediate relief for those who are currently unemployed, the extension of jobless benefits, mortgage assistance for the middle class and educational funding.

If you are interested in going to D.C., please contact CSEA Political Action Coordinator Courtney Brunelle by calling the Region 6 office at 716.691.6555 or 1.866.568.7734.  The bus ride to our nation's capital is free and is open to all CSEA members and family. 

The bus will leave the park and ride lot at Thruway Exit 49 at midnight Friday night, Oct. 1. Participants will arrive in Washington D.C. by 9 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 2. The bus will return home following the march.

For more information about ONWT, please visit the website.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Monroe County employees who are represented by CSEA are rallying around "The Cause."
photo by Ove Overmyer

Rochester, N.Y.--  This is an open letter to all members, friends and family of CSEA Monroe County Employees Unit 7400, Local 828:

Dear Friends,

We are entering a very important period with our campaign to get a fair contract for hardworking Monroe County Employees. Now more than ever, we need your help. First, if you are facebook user, please join our facebook cause here.

We are also asking that you send this link to all your friends and family on facebook, especially if they live or work in Monroe County. In addition, please put this link on you facebook front page. This can be inserted in the link option in the "What's on your mind" field on your facebook home page.

If you don't have a facebook page, please consider creating one here so you can join the cause page.

For negotiation updates for the full time workers of Unit 7400, please check out the Unit 7400 Blog here.

Thank you for all you do!

-Cris Zaffuto, CSEA Unit 7400 President and Local 828 VP
-Bess Watts, CSEA Local 828 President

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Rochester City Councilman Matt Haag (left) congratulates Democratic Assembly nominee for the 131st District Harry Bronson at Matthew's Grill on Primary Election night.  Bronson's candidacy is enthusiastically endorsed by CSEA.  (Photos by Ove Overmyer.  Click on images for a larger view.)

Rochester, N.Y.--  Three well-known Rochester residents squared off to represent the 131st Assembly District on Primary Election Day September 14. All three are elected officials, who were trying to grab the vacated seat left by Assemblywoman Susan John who is stepping down after serving the district for 20 years.

Turnout was very low Tuesday, as predicted. CSEA endorsed County Legislature Minority Leader Harry Bronson defeated the two Rochester Board of Education members, Board President Malik Evans and Willa Powell. With 81 of the 82 districts reporting, Bronson tallied 1,532 votes (39.51 percent) to Evans 1,315 votes (33.83 percent) and Powell's 1,040 votes (26.75 percent).

After calling the race on Tuesday night around 11:00 pm, Bronson shook hands and thanked supporters at Matthew's Grill on East Avenue.  Bronson told the CSEA Voice Reporter, “I am humbled and honored to have received the Democratic nomination tonight in the primary and look forward to carrying a message in the general election of reform. I will always put people before politics and look forward to addressing the serious problems this State currently faces.”

Bronson hammered home the message that he is more “aligned” on the issues with people in the district than his opponents, specifically because he is a small business owner, he grew up on a 200-acre farm, and he has the necessary experience to govern in the troubled waters of the state capital.

He also said his County Legislature district, which includes part of southwest Rochester and parts of Henrietta and Brighton, is similar to 131st Assembly District because it includes urban, suburban and rural areas. Voters seemed to agree.

Openings like the one in the 131st Assembly District are very uncommon, according to a 2009 report from the government watchdog group, Citizen’s Union. In the previous 10 years, only 31 of 212 New York State legislature seats have become vacant because of retirement.

In an earlier interview with the CSEA Voice Reporter, Bronson said, "My experience both as a county legislator, as an attorney, as a small business owner-- all those things gives me a skill set that's necessary to negotiate the kind of compromise and legislation that we need to really reform Albany."

The 131st Assembly District includes portions of the city of Rochester, and the towns of Riga, Rush, Chili and Wheatland. There are more than five hundred CSEA members who live in this area.  The district’s voter registration is 47 percent Democratic and 24 percent Republican.

Republican Ken Kraus, a lawyer from Chili, will face Bronson in the general election on November 2.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Members of CSEA and the Rochester Finger Lakes Chapter of Pride At Work rally in support of the Mott's workers earlier this summer.  (Photo by Bess Watts)

Wayne County, N.Y.--  On September 13, members of RWDSU Local 220 at the Mott’s plant in Williamson, New York voted to accept a new contract and to end their strike against Mott's, part of the Plano, Texas-based Dr Pepper Snapple Group.

Among the provisions of the new agreement are restored wage levels and the continuation of the pension plan.  They have walked the picket line for 114 days and now workers say this development is far from a win-win situation.  Some union workers feel like they now have a "target on their back" and are very apprehensive about returning to work.

Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) Local 220 Union President Michael LeBerth told reporters that union workers voted on and ratified a new contract on Monday morning.

A total of 304 employees went on strike on May 23; 295 of them stayed off the job for the duration.

LeBerth said under the proposed offer, existing workers would have their wages frozen for three years, get a 2 percent match on their 401(k) plans, and retain their pension. New hires will get a 4 percent 401(k) match, but receive no pension.

The Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, Mott's parent company, will pay 80 percent of health care premiums, with employees picking up the other 20 percent. Any increase exceeding 10 percent will be split 50/50.

The workers also receive a 30-day protection if they are moved to a lower paying position, which means they will work at the higher wage for those 30 days.

The striking workers stood up for working people both in their community and nationally. The striking workers obtained support from a wide variety of unions, including CSEA members in WNY Region 6.

Additionally, leaders and elected officials including AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka, New York State AFL-CIO President Denis Hughes, presidents of numerous International Unions, the entire New York State Democratic Congressional delegation and many New York elected officials, members of the Canadian Parliament, and unions and union federations from around the world came to aid of the Mott's workers.

The strike was also the subject of national news coverage from the CBS Evening News to PBS Newshour, The Nation and The New York Times.

Bess Watts, CSEA Local 828 President said she is proud of the workers at Mott's for showing "the true spirit of union perserverance, sacrifice and character."

"Not a day went by without people stopping by to drop off a financial or food donation for the strike fund. The International, National and local community supported us thoroughly, and the RWDSU and Local 220 members want to share their thanks," said Stuart Appelbaum, president of the RWDSU. "The RWDSU members at Mott's have a message for working people everywhere: Stand up for what you believe in, and stay united."

Once the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group accepts the union vote, the strike will officially be over, and the workers would be back on the job next Monday.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


Rochester, N.Y.--  With the Primary and General Election looming, I wanted to share some information with you before you submit your voter's ballot.  Back in July, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce -- which is a thinly disguised right-wing political action group representing large corporations-- proposed what it's calling an economic recovery plan. The reality though, is a plan that will keep the wealth of our nation in the hands of just a few billionaires and you should be justifiably outraged. 

Take a look at these talking points: 

*Privatize Social Security

*Extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy

*Log the national forests

*Expand offshore gas and oil drilling

*Privatize highways and waterways

*Eliminate the Employee Free Choice Act

*Stop Unemployment Benefits to qualified Americans

*Repeal advances of the Healthcare Bill

Look familiar? That's what the agenda of a Republican Congress looks like and the Chamber of Commerce plans to spend more than $50 million to make it a reality. Do we want to revert back to failed policies that got us into this mess in the first place?

Earlier this year, in the case known as Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that corporations have the right to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence elections. If corporations have more influence, they're going to continue to rig the system to create even larger profits for their CEOs and shareholders at the expense of taxpayers, labor unions, environmentalists and civil rights advocates.

Only people-powered campaigns can compete against that sort of money -- they're the only thing that ever have. CSEA and the labor movement need to counteract these efforts and start mobilizing around progressive lawmakers more than ever. It's also why you should support AFSCME and CSEA endorsed candidates this election cycle.

The Chamber of Commerce and a whole slew of 527's can run ads now through Election Day, but nothing is more effective than committed volunteers and union members talking to their family, co-workers and neighbors about how the Conservative and Republican platforms will derail any chance of economic recovery.  Your financial wealth depends on who's in charge.  Take a look at this graph:

Source: Larry M. Bartels.
Chart by Catherine Mulbrandon of VisualizingEconomics.com.
Click on image for a larger view.
As we look ahead to November, voters now have the ability to stay on the path to change America or look back to the failed policies of the past. As of today, we now have a clear defining line in the sand. Middle class and working families should be dedicated to supporting candidates and lawmakers who vote to reverse income inequality, make the rich pay their fair share, create living wage jobs and hold Wall Street and big business accountable for their actions.

This argument should be viewed for what it is--  self interest and profit over the general welfare and common good of ordinary citizens of a civil society.  What is so disturbing is that Republicans make no bones about their failed and flawed ideology.  They continue to use trickery and sleight of hand to convince well meaning average Americans to vote against their own best interest-- mostly using ignorance, fear and hate as motivators.

Recognizing the problems that plague us as "One Nation" is one thing, but having the will and energy to move our country forward is another. It's up to each member of every middle class family in America to vote this year and recognize a "sense of urgency."  If history has taught us anything, it's high time for union households and everyday working Americans to once again have ownership over the destiny of our own lives.

Commentary by Ove Overmyer

Saturday, September 11, 2010


Photo above: Harry Bronson, the designated Democratic candidate for the 131st Assembly District walks down East Main Street in the 25th Annual Rochester Labor Day Parade on September 6.  (Photos by Ove Overmyer)

Rochester, N.Y.--  The New York State Primary Election Day is fast approaching. CSEA and the Honorable Harry Bronson, our endorsed candidate for the 131 NYS Assembly District, needs your help from now until Tuesday, September 14th.

Harry Bronson’s passion for social justice, equity and fairness has defined his public service, legal and business careers. He has represented the working families of the 24th Legislative District in the Monroe County Legislature since first being elected in 2005 and has been a proven champion and ally for CSEA and the private sector workers of our community.  Harry is the designated Democratic candidate, amassing nearly 80 percent of the vote of the Monroe County Democratic Committee during the designation process and is endorsed be every major union in New York State affiliated by the AFL-CIO. 

Despite these developments, the labor commuinity should take nothing for granted.  We need to have a strong showing in this Primary Election on Tuesday to establish momentum going into the General Election on November 2. 

The stakes in this election cycle for public employees could not be higher-- we must make sure we have allies like Mr. Bronson in Albany to help stop the elimination of jobs and to spark firery dialogue to address quality of life issues of our eroding middle class.   We also know Harry will protect our pensions, help find real solutions to revitalize our local economy and be a leader to help reform the "culture of corruption" in Albany.

Harry is seeking a vacated seat that has been held by Assemblywoman Susan John since 1991. The 131st Assembly District incorporates parts of the City of Rochester and the towns and villages of Chili, Churchville, Mumford, Riga, Rush, Scottsville, and Wheatland.  We have hundreds of Local 828 members who live within this district and we need to GET OUT THE VOTE.

What:  GET OUT THE VOTE for Harry Bronson for NYS Assembly 

When:  Sunday, September 12 starting at 10:00 a.m., all day Monday (9-13-10) and all day Primary Election Day on Tuesday, September 14.

Where:  Monroe County Democratic Committee Headquarters, 1150 University Avenue, Building 5.  You can also call 232.2410 for directions and more information about these volunteer opportunities.

CSEA is also looking for volunteers to attend a phone bank at the CSEA Region 6 Satellite Office from 4:30 pm to 8:30 pm on Monday night, September 13.  You can call CSEA Local 828 Political Action Co-Chair Ove Overmyer at 585.423.9862 or email Courtney at court.brunelle@gmail.com to RSVP and find out more information about this effort.  Dinner will be provided.  Click here for a map to the CSEA Region 6 Satellite Office.

You can also schedule to volunteer "on your own time" with Harry's campaign by calling 585.730.4866 or 585.230.6234.  Polls are open at Noon to 9 p.m. on Tuesday.  To find your polling site or ask a voter related question, you can call the Monroe County Board of Elections at 585.753.1550.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Rochester, N.Y.-- After a decade-long struggle, today in Albany Governor Paterson signed into law a landmark statewide legislation with specific protections for our school aged children.  Area labor activsts are now celebrating a victory and what they call "a giant step forward toward reducing incidents of bullying in our public schools."

The Dignity for All Students Act prohibits and combats bullying and discrimination in public schools, including bias harassment based on traits like race, ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, and gender identity and expression.

"Every student has the right to a safe and civil educational environment, but far too often young people are ruthlessly targeted by bullies," Governor Paterson said. "Bullying and harassment have disrupted the education of too many young people, and we in government have a responsibility to do our part to create learning environments that help our children prosper. I am proud to sign this bill into law as it will help ensure that students are protected from harassment, discrimination and bullying at school grounds and at school functions."

This bill was very important to many CSEA workers and activists. A similiar resolution to this bill passed on the floor of the CSEA Annual Delegates Meeting in September of 2009.  It was submitted to bring attention to the Dignity Bill that was sitting in committee in the New York Senate. 

CSEA workers who are employed by school districts testified at the ADM that they wanted to have the tools necessary to protect kids in public school environments. The resolution was introduced by the WNY Region 6 Women's Committee and their language was used by members to urge Albany lawmakers to pass the bill. 26 percent of workers who belong to CSEA work in school settings.

The law requires staff and teacher training on how to discourage incidents of bias harassment, inclusion of discrimination and harassment awareness in students’ civility and character education and the reporting of bias incidents to the State Education Department.

The Dignity bill recognizes that students who are bullied can not concentrate on learning, may drop out of school and sometimes take their own lives. It also marks the first time a New York state law has included explicit protections for transgender New Yorkers.

Local 828 President Bess Watts
Today’s historic victory is the result of 10 years of hard work by a broad coalition of organizations, including The Empire State Pride Agenda, the New York State United Teachers union (NYSUT), the New York Civil Liberties Union and the Anti Defamation League.

CSEA Local 828 President Bess Watts says the signing of this bill is important to all families of Monroe County who send their kids to publicly funded schools. She adds, "The law would make New York one of more than 40 states with anti-bullying laws, 14 of which plus the District of Columbia provide inclusive protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression."

Watts, who also doubles as the president of the Rochester Finger Lakes Chapter of Pride At Work, AFL-CIO, says when youth are threatened at school, or their property gets stolen at school, and they fight at school, the odds that they will attempt suicide more than double. She told the CSEA Voice Reporter, "Considering more than half of sexual minority youth in schools have been verbally harassed and one in ten is physically assaulted, the Dignity for All Students Act with the inclusion of gender identity and expression will be a giant step to reducing instances of self-harm and suicide that result from harassment by school peers."

This law takes effect on July 1, 2012, although rules and regulations necessary to implement the bill on that day may be promulgated before that date.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


CSEA hits the century mark; Labor Day is the day we celebrate the American worker (photos and story by Ove Overmyer.  Click on images for a larger view.)

Rochester, N.Y.-- The area community marked the 25th Annual Rochester Labor Day Parade on Monday, September 6, hosted by the Rochester Labor Council, AFL-CIO. More than 5,000 union workers and participants marched down East Avenue and East Main Street in support of the local labor movement. The day was highlighted by the Mott's strike in Williamson and our very own 100th anniversary. The parade featured more than 40 different units. Community activists and political representatives also marched together in solidarity.

This year's theme was "Walk with the Workers who make Rochester run!" Rochester's Labor Day Parade is one of upstate New York's largest annual parades.

Local union members have plenty to say when it comes to earning a living in today's economy. Bess Watts, president of CSEA Monroe County Local 828, says workers have not been getting the credit they deserve, nor the ability to lawfully bargain in good faith with local municipalities.

"It's a shame that our Monroe County workers can't even get a fair contract-- nevermind that they go to work each day and provide the best possible services to make this the great community it is," she says. Cris Zaffuto, Unit President for the full time employees of Monroe County reports that workers have been without a contract for 614 days. She adds, "The next negotiations informational meeting with members will be October 30th."

Union workers from Mott's in Williamson said they want to work too. They have been on strike for 107 days and counting after Mott’s parent company Dr. Pepper Snapple Group made some proposed changes to their pay and benefits.

Dr. Pepper Snapple Group said the company is disappointed union members rejected what it called a final offer. Mott's workers are represented by the Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), Local 220.

The union representing the Mott's workers is also accepting the U.S. labor secretary's call to keep working to end the 107-day strike.  Labor Secretary Hilda Solis urged both sides to get back to the bargaining table as a guest essayist in a piece that appeared in Saturday's Democrat & Chronicle.

Pre-parade press conference

At a press conference before the parade, RWDSU union president Stuart Applebaum said Solis was right when she said the best way to resolve this strike is through collective bargaining. The RWDSU said it is now waiting to hear whether or not Dr. Pepper Snapple Group will reject the U.S. secretary of labor's call to resume negotiations.

CSEA statewide president Danny Donohue, who marched with Western Region 6 Locals and spoke briefly at the pre-parade press conference, said CSEA members are ready and willing to help whenever and however they can until the strike is over. With approximately 75 Mott's workers standing behind Donohue at the front steps of the Boy Scouts of America building on East Ave, he turned around and said, "We want you to know that CSEA will always be there for you."

"100 years is a big deal"

Watts says CSEA's 100th annivesary is a really big deal. She says, "These are very challenging times for the labor community. However, when we look back on our CSEA union history, it proves to be a guiding light to direct us to a promising future. There is comfort in knowing we have made positive significant contributions to the New York State way of life for over a century. With each passing day, our struggle continues but with a greater sense of purpose and urgency."

Special thanks to all the Western Region Locals who participated in this year's Labor Day festivities. Local 828 president Bess Watts reports that she has recieved many postive reviews about the CSEA's presentation at the parade and gives thanks to Local 828 parade committee chair Holly Gudonis and her husband Mike for their excellent effort this year. 

Hats off to Western New York Region 6 President Flo Tripi for her leadership and to all of the Rochester area Locals for a job well done!  President Tripi also wants to give special acknowlegdement to Anne Tischer for her unyeilding support of the local labor community.

For a slideshow of yesterday's parade, you can go here.  All photos by Ove Overmyer.

Friday, September 3, 2010


Story by Karen DeWitt 

Albany, N.Y. (WXXI) - Labor unions in the United States have suffered in recent decades, as their membership and influence has declined. Here in New York, though, state employee labor unions are going strong, winning several key battles in the most recent budget cycle.

The state's Civil Service Employees Association, which has the most members of any state worker union, is celebrating its 100th year this year.

Formed in a time of corruption, Tammany Hall was in it's ascendancy, the original intent of the union was to provide a civil service, merit based system of hiring to counteract the rampant patronage in state government.

100 years later, in a time when state government has had more than it's share of corruption, Steve Madarasz, the long time spokesman for CSEA, says the union seems stronger than ever, but he says, with the severe fiscal crisis, "the stakes have never been greater."

To hear the complete radio transcript or read the text version of this article, you can go here.

Thursday, September 2, 2010


CSEA President Danny Donohue is a honorary Grand Marshal for the 2010 Rochester Labor Day Parade.  CSEA is also celebrating 100 years of public service to our communities.  We are employees of New York State and its counties, cities, towns, villages, school districts, library systems, authorities and public corporations.  Together with private sector members and 50,000 retirees, we form a union more than 300,000 strong. 

Albany, N.Y.--  CSEA was the first known organization of state employees when it was founded at the state Capitol in 1910. Since then it has grown to represent every kind of worker in every part of New York, including a growing private sector division.  With that in mind, here is a message from our statewide President on this Labor Day weekend:

"A benchmark event like a centennial anniversary provides an opportunity to look back at where we've come from and how we got to where we are today," said CSEA president Danny Donohue. "More importantly, it provides a chance to look forward and try to become better."

"CSEA has never been bigger, better, stronger at any point in our history but the challenges we face today have never been greater," Donohue said. "We wouldn't be here one hundred years if not for the ability to grow, change and adapt to new circumstances and that must shape our future moving forward."

"People who bash CSEA don't know CSEA," Donohue said. " The vast majority of our members are dedicated to doing the best work possible and adding value to their communities on and off the job. The strength of CSEA is in our members and they are some of the greatest resources in all New York – no one should take that for granted."

Donohue goes on to say:

"On Oct. 24 1910, a group of New York state employees came together at the state Capitol to form the Association of State Civil Service Employees. Their purpose was simple: Advance the concept of merit and fitness in the state civil service system to improve the working lives of New York state employees.  It was a humble and idealistic beginning in a much simpler time.

The story of the association's growth and transformation into CSEA-- New York's leading union - is today more complicated and entwined in the history and transformation of New York and our nation since that founding.

In this milestone year that marks our 100th anniversary, CSEA, like other organizations is facing its share of challenges. We can take some comfort in the perspective of our own history as a guide to finding our way through the tough times.

The Association was founded at the height of the Progressive era, when optimism about transforming the corrupt political patronage mills into a rational social science based system had vigorous momentum. In 1910, the trust-busting governor, Charles Evans Hughes had recently stepped down to become a member of the U.S. Supreme Court, while New York's Theodore Roosevelt dominated the political scene as he contemplated another run for the White House.

Many of the early leaders of the Association were high ranking state officials - well-educated and accomplished as career civil servants. The association's first President, William Thomas was chief clerk to the state's attorney general. Thomas was instrumental in the establishment of the state Retirement System in 1920, giving the association a significant early achievement that endures to this day.

When Gov. Alfred E. Smith pushed through dramatic reforms that changed the size and scope of New York state government in the mid 1920s, the association was poised for growth. Membership grew significantly in the onset of the Great Depression, helped in part by Gov. Franklin Roosevelt's recognition of the association as a legitimate representative of state employees.

Throughout the 1930s, the association grew dramatically and compiled impressive achievements to improve the pay, benefits and working conditions of its members through legislation - long before public employees gained the right to collective bargaining in New York.

In the 1950s, during the terms of Republican Gov. Thomas Dewey and Democrat Gov. W. Averell Harriman, CSEA made solid gains, issue by issue, year by year while continuing to increase its membership, particularly in local government chapters. News clippings and other historic documents of the era also suggest an emerging pattern for CSEA's dealings with governors and other public officials: praise and cooperation when supporting the association's agenda mixed with testy public confrontation and opposition when at odds.

It was Gov. Nelson Rockefeller in 1967 who opened a whole new era for CSEA at the stroke of his pen when he signed into law the Public Employees Fair Employment Act, known as the Taylor Law. It was and still is, the most comprehensive law of its kind providing for formal collective bargaining.

In 1978, CSEA joined the mainstream labor movement by affiliating with the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). Today, CSEA is the flagship affiliate of AFSCME, which in turn is the largest union in the AFL-CIO.
Danny Donohue leads march in Buffalo in September 2009. 
He will be a honorary Grand Marshal in the 2010 Rochester
Labor Day Parade on September 6.
(photo by Ove Overmyer)

CSEA's history with Govs. Hugh Carey, Mario Cuomo and George Pataki saw landmark advances in on-the-job safety and health protections, pay equity, management of health care and prescription drug programs, and improvements to the New York State Retirement System set against often bitter state fiscal crises and fights for the future of public services. Just as important has been CSEA's critical role in local government and school district activities where today more than half the union's members work.

The more recent years of the Eliot Spitzer/David Paterson era have seen a share of challenges that remain for history to judge.

CSEA's advocacy has always been based on the work of its members. Literally hundreds of thousands of people shaped CSEA's decades of accomplishment through their individual and collective action over the course of their careers or on a daily basis. It is their story that is still being written by the work they do every day."

photo:  Ove Overmyer