Monday, January 25, 2010


New data shows union represented public sector workers now outnumber union private sector employees


Washington, D.C.--  In a New York Times article published on Januay 23, writer Steven Greenhouse reports that union government workers are now outnumbering private sector union employees.

With the loss of jobs in automaking and construction, the private sector lost union members, while government increased its organized members.

In the Bureau of Labor Statistics annual report on union membership which was published on January 22, the bureau undercut the longstanding notion that union members are overwhelmingly blue-collar factory workers. Read the report here

It found that membership fell so fast in the private sector in 2009 that the 7.9 million unionized public-sector workers easily outnumbered those in the private sector, where labor’s ranks shrank to 7.4 million, from 8.2 million in 2008.

According to the labor bureau, 7.2 percent of private-sector workers were union members last year, down from 7.6 percent the previous year. That, labor historians said, was the lowest percentage of private-sector workers in unions since 1900.  Among government workers, union membership grew to 37.4 percent last year, from 36.8 percent in 2008.

Some highlights from the 2009 data are:

*More public sector employees (7.9 million) belonged to a union than did private sector employees (7.4 million), despite there being 5 times more wage and salary workers in the private sector.

*Workers in education, training, and library occupations had the highest unionization rate at 38.1 percent.

*Black workers were more likely to be union members than were white, Asian, or Hispanic workers.

*Among states, New York had the highest union membership rate (25.2 percent) and North Carolina had the lowest rate (3.1 percent).

To find out more about this subject, please click here to read the NYT article.  To read a copy of the Regional and State Employment and Unemployment Summary, click here.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


Local 828 members in attendance included left to right:
Sue Trottier, Caril Powell-Price, Pat Wolff, Paul Cummings
T. Judith Johnson and Bess Watts
photo by Ove Overmyer

Cheektowaga, N.Y.--  More than a dozen Local 828 members attended the Region 6 Winter Conference that was held from January 22 to 24 at the Millennium Airport Hotel in suburban Buffalo.

The Erie County event drew over 250 CSEA members from around western New York.  The agenda items focused on better safety and health practices in the workplace.

CSEA President Danny Donohue and statewide Secretary Denise Berkeley also attended the workshops and networked with attendees.  The keynote speaker was Sharon Simon, faculty member at the National Labor College in Silver Springs, MD.  Simon spoke about recent developments surrounding H1N1 and other noteworthy subjects.

A business meeting scheduled for Sunday morning was productive and fast-paced.  Region 6 President Flo Tripi announced committee assignments and spoke to the need of showing more of a political action profile in 2010.

For a more in depth look at the weekend, please click here to see a slideshow.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


New York State Capitol Building, Albany, N.Y.
photo by Ove Overmyer

Western New York State-- CSEA will participate in AFSCME's annual Lobby Day in Albany on Monday, Feb. 8. Help us lobby against the governor's proposed budget plan that targets the working poor and middle class.

Danny Donohue, president of CSEA said in press release dated January 19, "Governor David Paterson's unwillingness to address the misuse of $62 million in taxpayer money on temporary state workers should be evidence that there are still better budget choices to be made. Hiring and shortchanging temporary workers in dozens of state agencies for years on end is a misguided priority and a violation of the law. Before the governor asks union-represented state employees for concessions, he needs to change his own administration's practices that undermine working people."

He added, "CSEA will address these issues and so many others in the course of the weeks ahead with the objective of protecting jobs and services and their impact on the quality of life for New Yorkers."

Buses leave the Buffalo area at 5:30 a.m. and will arrive at the RIT Inn and Conference Center parking lot at 6:45 am.  We will leave Rochester promptly at 7:00 am.  To reserve your seat, call Political Action Coordinator Courtney Brunelle at 716-691-6555 or 1-866-568-7734. Click here to see the Lobby Day flier.

The return bus home is scheduled to arrive no later than 8 pm.  Meals will be provided.  A light breakfast, full lunch upon arrival to Albany, and a light dinner will be provided.

Take advantage of this opportunity to visit our state’s capital and let our state legislators know what issues matter to our working families!

Saturday, January 16, 2010


Pat Wolff
photo by Evelyn Evans

Rochester, N.Y.-- In an email distributed on January 15 to Unit Presidents and Treasurers, President Watts states that due to personal reasons, Pat Wolff regretfully submitted her resignation as CSEA Local 828 Treasurer to the 828 Executive Officers on January 13, 2010 to be effective January 15th.  Watts adds,  "We will miss Pat and appreciate the hard work and commitment that Pat has shown during her brief tenure."

CSEA’s Local Executive Officers, after serious discussion and consideration, appointed Sue Trottier as Interim Treasurer effective Monday, January 18, 2010. Your support for Sue as she transitions back into this position will be appreciated. Permanent appointment will be an agenda item at the March 16, 2010 Local Meeting.

Pat would like the Local members to know that she wishes CSEA the very best and looks forward to seeing the members in her capacity as Vice President #4 of MCC Unit 7402.

Watts says, "We also look forward to working closely with Sue Trottier who has incredible experience from which to draw and whose willingness to assist the Local at this time reflects her ongoing commitment to the Union. We hope that, in time, we will build a reservoir of good people to fill important roles within the Union."

Trottier is presently the Unit Treasurer for the Town of Webster 7411 and has previously served as long time Treasurer for the Local 828.

If you see either Pat or Sue, please thank them for their service to your union!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Temp Workers Do Not Save Taxpayers Money

(click on image above)

Commentary by Ove Overmyer
CSEA Local 828 VP
CSEA Unit President of the City of Rochester Library Workers 7420

Rochester, N.Y. -- Public worker unions and New York's Assembly are angling to curb the hiring of temporary workers and consultants instead of permanent state employees who Gov. David Paterson says saves taxpayers money. Any recent critical study about this issue would suggest that the Governor's assertions are not completely true.

The conflict here, besides him reneging on a promised moratorium of hiring practices and violating public labor laws, has serious implications for the 2010-11 budget. It means the Democratic governor faces another battle with us and the Legislature just as he appeared to end one that began in last December. Evidently, Paterson has nothing to lose in his fight against us. Governor Paterson leads the New York State history books in one category though-- never has an elected official had such low approval ratings.

NYS Assemblyman Sheldon Silver said to the Associated Press on January 14, "This practice not only contradicts the executive mandate of a hard hiring freeze, it also appears to allow state agencies to circumvent the Division of Budget approval process for new hires."   He went on to say, "Terminating temporary positions statewide would help close the budget gap, improve government transparency and help re-establish New Yorkers' confidence in their government."

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were approximately 1.2 million temporary help agency workers in February 2005. Every year since then, temp agency jobs increased by hundreds of thousands of workers. The trend to hire nonunion workers must be curbed if the rank and file public employee (and we are taxpayers too) is going to get any justice at all in his or her workplace.

With regard to the Paterson adminstration's heavy use of temp or contracted workers, the general public should not be fooled by the misguided talking points coming from the Governor's top staff.

If you've ever thought that temporary workers or consultants cost less than full-time workers on a daily basis — think again. Studies show that it generally costs the same or just slightly less to hire temporary employees compared to bringing on a full-time worker. Essentially, when you use temporary workers, you're paying a premium to have help available when you need it.

The rate you pay temporary workers is composed of many elements. Your entity does not assume the costs or the responsibilities of providing and coordinating the benefits program for temporary employees. All your government entity has to do is pay the employment agency for the services used. The temporary agency, in turn, will pay the temporary workers' wages and benefits.

While it's convenient for local governments to outsource or hire temporary and part time workers with no benefits, the taxpayers pay for that simplicity — part of the bill for a temporary worker goes to cover the temporary agency's administrative costs. The temporary employee receives only a portion of what you're charged for their services. The markup over wages paid to the temp worker depends on the assignment, job specialty, experience required, and any other special requirements stipulated by the government entity. Markups can range from as low as 25 percent to as high as 100 percent — or even higher!

New York State taxpayers should know about the consequences of the Paterson administration circumventing civil service law:

Training Needs

Every time a temp starts a new work assignment – no matter how skilled or unskilled – a certain amount of training is required in order for them to perform their assigned tasks to suit the specific needs of that entity.

Morale Issues

Morale and employee relations problems can arise when you have temps working alongside permanent employees for months, doing the same work and putting in the same hours, but not receiving the same benefits afforded their permanent employee coworkers. Workplace democracy becomes nonexistent and temp workers can be terminated without just cause.

Safety Issues

Certain types of jobs are inherently dangerous and require careful safety training. Studies show that frequency and severity rates of on-the-job injuries are significantly higher with temporary workers. No matter what a temp’s experience is, care must be taken to see that dangerous tasks are performed safely. Never assume a temporary worker is fully prepared to work unsupervised until you have taken the time to see that they can safely perform their work tasks.

Legal Concerns

Recent court decisions have highlighted the fact that state and local governments as well as businesses must be careful how they contract for temporary staff. There must be no doubt about the workers’ status and about the lack of eligibility for the benefits of permanent employees.

This commentary relflects the opinion of the author only.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


WASHINGTON, D.C.--  According to the Associated Press, moments ago the White House reached a tentative agreement with union leaders to tax high-cost insurance plans, officials said, removing one of the major stumbling blocks in the way of a final compromise on comprehensive health care legislation sought by President Barack Obama.  It appears our call to action yesterday has paid some dividends.

Complete details of the tentative deal were not immediately available, although the White House was expected to present it to senior lawmakers later in the day. Union leaders were also returning to the White House.

Rep. Joe Courtney, D-Conn., who led the opposition to the tax in the House, said the agreement involves several measures that would ease its impact. Among them: excluding the value of dental and vision benefits in applying the tax, as well as raising the $23,000 threshold at which it would take effect for families.

Union officials are also pushing to provide that anyone who makes $200,000 or less would be excluded from the health plan benefits tax, a concession that would benefit employees who are not unionized as well.

In a win specifically for union members, negotiators were working out a plan to delay the tax from being imposed on collectively bargained health plans for several years.

To read the AP article, click here.


Governor David Paterson
(photo by Ove Overmyer)

ALBANY, NY -- CSEA is blowing the whistle on the Paterson administration's exploitation of temporary workers and undermining of state workers. CSEA has uncovered over $62 million tax dollars being used to systematically hire temporary workers through temporary personnel agencies in place of state workers in almost every state agency.

These workers, who receive no benefits and have no rights, have been used for years to hide the fact that the state work force has been depleted to such an extent that the agencies are no longer able to deliver promised services to the citizens of this state. What's more, the Paterson administration is paying a premium for these workers with the bulk of the money going to the temp agencies. Taxpayers should question this clear lack of leadership and this misuse of the public trust.

CSEA brought this matter to the attention of the administration months ago and there has been no response. The governor has proclaimed the need to create jobs in the state and to spur economic development and yet is not willing to address this misuse of workers or the overburdened state agencies who have been unable to fill positions. It is a underhanded way to avoid the civil service law and to deceive the taxpayers as well.

The "winter of reckoning" should start with the governor looking at his own administration's failure. "I don't even think the governor knows the workload of his own work force," CSEA President Danny Donohue said. "This is apparently another example where Governor Paterson wants to be judged by what he says, not by what he does."

More than 12 state agencies and facilities have spent millions on temporary workers hired through temporary service agencies since April 2008. The worst offender is the state Department of Health, which has spent more than $13 million taxpayer dollars on temporary services followed by the State University system at $9 million, the Office of General Services at $5.6 million, state Education Department at $4.7 million, Law Department at nearly $3.4 million and the Department of Transportation at more than $3 million.

CSEA is preparing legal action immediately to stop the exploitation of these workers and to uphold the integrity of the civil service law. CSEA is committed to organizing these workers and upholding the standards that every worker of the state should have.

The following story was a news release issued 1/14/10 by the Civil Service Employees Association.  To read the original text, click here.

Monday, January 11, 2010


Western New York--  Today, the Senate is moving forward with a 40% tax on employer-based "Cadillac" health care plans. Many of us CSEA members are covered under those plans:

The Senate proposes to tax health benefits that are in excess of $23,000 for a family policy and $8,500 for an individual policy. These totals include both the employee and employer contribution and also include the total cost of health, dental, and vision benefits and any health savings account that you may have.

So what can we do? The time to act is now! Wednesday, January 13 is National Call-In Day---call AND email your congressperson to let him/her know that we will not accept a tax on healthcare benefits!

Our alternative: The House of Representatives’ bill (The Affordable Health Care for America Act (H.R. 3962), is much better for working families and contains no tax on health benefits. Instead, it proposes a reasonable tax surcharge on individuals who make more than $500,000 and couples who make more than $1 million annually.  Let your representative know you support this legislation.


Gillibrand, Kirsten E. - (D - NY)
478 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510
(202) 224-4451

Schumer, Charles E. - (D - NY)
313 Hart Senate Office Building, Washigton, D.C. 20510
(202) 224-6542

U.S. House:

Dan Maffei
New York-25th, Democrat
1630 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515-3225
Phone: (202) 225-3701

Chris Lee
New York-26th, Republican
1711 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515-3226
Phone: (202) 225-5265

Louise Slaughter
New York-28th, Democrat
2469 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515-3228
Phone: (202) 225-3615

Eric Massa
New York-29th, Democrat
1208 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515-3229
Phone: (202) 225-3161

For more newsworthy information about this development, read Steve Greenhouse in the New York Times. The article is titled, Unions Rally to Oppose a Tax on Health Insurance.

Saturday, January 9, 2010


Rochester, N.Y.--  Attention to all Local 828 Unit Presidents and members:  Join Team CSEA Region 6 and Monroe County Local 828 as we plunge into a chilly Lake Ontario in support of Special Olympics New York. The annual POLAR PLUNGE will be held Sunday, Feb. 14, at Charlotte Beach in Rochester.

CSEA Western Region President Flo Tripi and Local 828 President Bess Watts will lead our effort. Anyone may take the plunge with us, and President's Tripi and Watts ask that donations be made to the team. As an incentive, Locals reaching a certain level in donations will have the opportunity to throw a pie in the face of the Western Region Officer of their choice. Join in the fun as we support this very important organization. For information, contact Bess at .

President Watts says, "Volunteering is at the heart of what CSEA public employees do.  It's in our DNA.  The Special Olympics is a great organization to be associated with and does valuable work for our families.  I encourage everyone to pledge or participate this year, and I will be reaching out to all the Unit Presidents very soon to monitor their progress."

Here are some tips for the rookie plungers:

*To register with the Region 6 Polar Plunge Team, click here.  Will we have the biggest team?  With your help, we will!

*Be unique and WEAR A COSTUME! Encourage your teammates to do the same!

*Remember to pack a towel and water shoes (everyone MUST wear Shoes, sneakers, crocs, sandals, etc.)

*Wear your swimsuit under your clothes so you'll be ready for the Plunge fun.

*Bring along easy to slip-into warm clothes and shoes for after the Plunge.

*For your safety, never dive into the water.

*Bring a plastic bag for wet clothes, and a waterproof backpack or bag to store your dry clothes.

*A disposable, waterproof camera is a great way to capture a Plunger's view of the excitement.

*Invite a pal to witness, photograph and have a towel at the end ready for when you leave the water.

*Don't forget to thank your donors and send them photos after the event!

After the plunge, everyone is invited to Flo's house for hot soup and drinks!  For more information, please go to the official 2010 Polar Plunge Website.  Stay tuned to the CSEA Local 828 Voice Reporter for 2010 Polar Plunge updates!

Friday, January 8, 2010


Albany, N.Y.--  You only turn 100 once.  New York's leading union will reach its milestone 100th anniversary in 2010. The association began in October 1910 with a small group of New York state employees dedicated to merit and fitness in public employment. Today, CSEA has nearly 300,000 members living and working in every community in New York. While most CSEA are still public employees, the union has a growing private sector division and a membership that is a microcosm of the diverse New York population.

"A benchmark event like a 100th anniversary provides an opportunity to look back and reflect on where we've come from and how we got here," said CSEA President Danny Donohue. "More importantly, it provides an opportunity to look forward to the future and think about how we can become better."

The story of CSEA is extraordinary in many ways. It is a story about individuals but it is also a story about collective action - people working together. Most importantly, it is a story about aspiration.

"From the very start on Oct. 24 1910, the story of CSEA has been about people wanting to do better and believing it could help make New York a better place," Donohue said."That's still true today."

But the CSEA leader noted that it's important to consider all that has occurred between now and then: When CSEA came into existence, America was just becoming a world power.  Theodore Roosevelt was the dominant political figure of the time, women did not have the right to vote, people of color were at best second class citizens, cars were just being mass produced and radio broadcasting was in its infancy.

Since then, we have come through two world wars, a Great Depression; Communism rose and fell; endless other wars and conflicts; terrorism; we've endured cycles of boom and bust and social, cultural, sexual and technological revolution. Throughout it all, CSEA has grown, changed, adapted and yet still remained true to its core values.

CSEA is marking the centennial with a several sets of traveling displays criss-crossing the state to tell the union's story. Public events are also being planned in various locations as well along with the union's 100th Annual Delegates Meeting scheduled for Albany in October. CSEA has not held a statewide convention in Albany in decades.

But CSEA will also be focused on standing up for its members and essential services in 2010.

"The past year has been difficult and based on what we're already seeing across New York; there are some enormous challenges ahead in our centennial year," Donohue said. "If there's one lesson to take from our history, it is that CSEA is always at its best in adversity."


Danny Donohue (center), President of CSEA, Local 1000 AFSCME
photo by Ove Overmyer

Albany, N.Y. -- CSEA’s new television and radio ads feature President Danny Donohue standing up for the rank and file as the governor and legislators return to Albany for what’s sure to be a long budget neotiation. Here’s the script:

“I’m Danny Donohue for CSEA. These are challenging times for New York and our nation. CSEA members take the situation very seriously, and you should know that we are part of the solution, not the problem. On the job we work hard through good times and bad to deliver essential services you depend on. Off the job, CSEA members help improve our communities, supporting numerous organizations and causes with time, talent and money. And CSEA members pay their fair share of taxes, too. Simply put, we contribute to the quality of life in every part of the state every day. Cutting jobs and services will not make things better in New York. CSEA will continue to do our fair share. We urge Gov. David Paterson, state legislators and local officials across New York to find a fair balance that protects services and keeps people working.”

Announcer: “CSEA — New York’s leading union, with a history of service for nearly a century.”