Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Paterson continues to threaten CSEA and PEF
with lay-offs and a pay freeze
(photo by Ove Overmyer)

Albany, N.Y.--  In a Buffalo News report dated March 30, Governor David Paterson reiterated his old tired song and dance one more time, blaming public employee unions for his budget woes.  The real issue here is his lack of vision and leadership--  there are alot of smart people in Albany-- too bad he can't find any public policy wonks to help him add to the revenue side of the budget.  And, simply stated, to say that unions are not sacrificing in these tough economic times is a complete fabrication.  The truth is Governor Paterson has proven that he is not up to the challenge of doing the people's business.

Paterson last year agreed to a no-layoff deal with CSEA and PEF in return for their support of a bill creating a new pension plan — with higher employee costs — for future government hires. But that deal ends Dec. 31, an aide to the governor said, and CSEA and PEF members could face layoff notices and stricter limits on things like overtime pay.

"This seems to be another measure of this administration's incompetence and learning disability," said CSEA spokesperson Steve Madarasz.  "They don't even seem to know what negotiations are."  He also added that Paterson has been talking up the same ideas for nearly two years, and won't budge on ideas suggested by our union.

"I don't think they know what they're doing at this point," added Darcy Wells, a PEF spokeswoman. "Management 101 is you don't threaten your employees, the people working hard every day trying to make the administration look good, as if such a thing at this point were possible."

Unions aren't the only ones criticizing Paterson's plans for the work force. A week ago, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver criticized both the governor's $250 million plan and $450 million by the Senate Democrats for "work force savings;" neither Paterson nor the Senate, Silver said, provide any explanation for how those savings will be realized.

A Paterson adminstration official said reducing the work force through attrition is an option, but said nearly three-quarters of the payroll is at agencies running prisons and mental health and mental retardation facilities — departments that need to fill jobs to continue critical services.

"Considering last year he made an agreement not to do layoffs this is not really resonating well with the state employees that he's threatening again to do layoffs," said one state worker who did not want to be identified.

"We don't make a lot of money so it's hard for the little people. We just suffer, we suffer," exlaimed another state worker.

To read the full story in the Buffalo News, click here.  I must warn you, that the Buffalo News organization has an agenda of its own.

Monday, March 29, 2010


Albany, N.Y.--  If you are a frequent visitor to this site, you are probably aware of the fact that thousands of workers who staff public and school libraries across our state are represented by CSEA. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, libraries and education are the top two disciplines for public sector unionized workers in America.

In New York State, the Governor has proposed a $2.4 million cut in Library Aid in his 2010-11 Executive Budget. It would be the 5th cut in less than two years and would bring Library Aid down to $84.5 million and below 1998 levels.

Last week, the Assembly and Senate passed their budget resolutions. The Senate proposal called for the full restoration of the $2.4 million cut and the Assembly proposal included a 40% or $960,000 restoration. The Legislature is on holiday break until April 7th, but legislative staff are working to resolve the differences between the Assembly’s and Senate’s proposals to address the $9 billion state budget deficit.

So, between now and when the Legislature returns, we need to fill their email boxes and fax machines with as many messages as possible. So please visit Protect New York Libraries and click on the Vote for Libraries button to send them a message.

To see a related story about library funding that was posted on February 22, go here: Libraries on the Chopping Block.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


This newspaper continues to alienate working families

Rochester, N.Y.--  Just recently, The D&C editorial page has stepped up its assault on anti-labor and anti public worker editorials and news reporting. Despite their efforts to break unions and paint public employees as blood sucking sea serpents, The D&C continues to misinform its readers and silence their critics.  Their business agenda is more imperative than reporting the objective truth. 

It is important to understand the difference between news coverage and editorializing. These definitive journalistic lines continue to be blurred.  To editorialize is "to express an opinion or point of view." The Editorial Board at the D&C has never, and will never be bound by expectations of journalistic objectivity. They are singularly motivated by profit and have a specific business agenda in mind-- to sell newspapers.

To historically understand the deplorable labor management relationship of Gannett Newspapers and its workers, is to understand how naive it is to think they will ever see things from anyone else’s perspective or purport a level playing field when it comes to the company's revenue and livelihood.  During the first part of this century, employees at the D&C continued to work more that 14 years with out a contract.

After repeated attempts to email and talk civilly about our working family concerns, our phone calls and emails sometime go unanswered.  A token letter gets published every once in a while

In their special supplement (Fed Up With Albany) on March 21, selecting four public employees they choose to give 150 words in print is hardly fair and balenced.  Fair and balanced reporting no longer exists on these news pages. The editorial pages have gone over the top by pummeling labor unions and working families. Have they forgotten who their subscribers are? Shouldn't that concern them? I assume most educated readers will see through these desperate efforts and stop advertising, stop subscribing and stop reading their drivel.

Let me give you another example. In a story authored by Aaron Wicks of the Smugtown Beacon, he reports that no note was attached to the brick throwing incident at Monroe County Democratic Headquarters, but a subsequent update reported a note that quoted Barry Goldwater: "extremism in defense of liberty is no vice." Additionally, it was implied that there might be a connection between the brick thrower and opponents of mayoral control: brick through window of MCDC, Joe Morelle Chair of MCDC, Joe Morelle supports mayoral control, ergo brick thrower must be an opponent of mayoral control.  The D&C editors have waffled a bit, but I get the sense that they support Bob Duffy's attempt to seize mayoral control of city schools.

The D&C clarified the details of its story by reasoning that Morelle implied that it was probably one of his mayoral control detractors. It causes one to wonder why the D&C was so quick to accept Morelle's speculation as the most likely explanation.

In Wicks' words, he says that this is impeachable logic -- and it's shoddy journalism that presented it to the public as a reasonable assumption. Wicks titled the article, "The Great Brick Caper: How the D&C Subtly Spins the News."

Additionally, I believe the labor community continues to place way too much emphasis and value on print media and especially the editorial page of this newspaper. It is clearly reflective of the age demographics of our older citizens.

According to my sources, the daily print news isn't even in the top three when it comes to how the general public gets their information and news. Frankly, folks in the age group that regularly read the D&C aren't likely to change their opinions about public employee unions anyway. I visited a communications class at St. John Fisher College one afternoon last December, and not one of the 30 students in the room read a print newspaper that day.

In today's Sunday edition of the newspaper (3/28/2010), they continued to hammer away at the local state delegation, trying to hold them accountable to their words when asked if public employees should sacrifice during these tough times. How many times do we have to tell our communities that we are sacrificing and have always had the best interest of our neighbors in mind? We have agreed to concession after concession, created a Tier V retirement system, state workers took early retirement buy-outs, we have negotiated away cost-of-living pay increases, and the list goes on. Anti-labor forces like the D&C will not stop until they can open up our contracts, raid our pensions and destroy workplace democracy altogether.

And, there is one other thing I personally take offense to-- when the editors of this newspaper call public employees a "special interest group." Those are code words for anyone you disagree with.

To be perfectly frank, when are 300,000 CSEA workers of New York State a special interest? It is in everyone's particular interest that we continue to keep the state operating because we are the ones that are plowing the roads, getting criminals off the street and staffing your community hospital and libraries.  We are the ones who are actually doing the "work."  Why are we blaming the custodians and clerical workers when we should be focusing on electing capable Albany lawmakers?  Isn't that where the D&C is saying the dysfunction is?

Public employees are the public's investment-- we continue to work "more with less" and still find a way to deliver the high level of services our communities expect. Our resources have been already stripped to the bone—as we speak, we are working with skeletons crews all over Monroe County.

It's time the general public begin to see the thinly disguised anti-labor advocacy efforts of this newspaper. It has become the personal sounding board for the right-winged Center For Government Research, the anti-labor UnShackle Upstate folks and for the Rochester Business Alliance's Sandy Parker.

The working families of this community deserve a better newspaper, a newspaper that understands the complex issues and gives everyone an opportunity to tell their story so readers can make educated decisions on public policy. It's not happening with the D&C-- but then again if they continue to pursue this destructive path, they will print their way into oblivion and irrelevance.  I for one, have lost complete faith in their ability to serve our needs as our area's daily information resource.  It's too bad most people have resigned themselves to the fact that they are the "only game in town."

If you want to read advocacy journalism, can I make a suggestion?  Try reading City Newspaper or the Smugtown Beacon.  At least they do not pretend to be something they are not.

Written By Ove Overmyer.  This editorial reflects the opinion of the author only.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


WNY Congresswoman Louise Slaughter
(photo by Ove Overmyer)

Rochester, N.Y.--  In the last week, Democrats have faced racial slurs and death threats. But Republican leaders have been mostly silent or dismissed these occurances as isolated incidents. The anti-health care protesters were out in force in Washington and in our back yard too—and some of their behavior was deeply disturbing.

Then this week, the Democrats who voted for reform started getting harrassed—one had a coffin left on his lawn and another was told snipers would kill the children of lawmakers who voted yes. Several Democrats had their district offices vandalized like my Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (D-NY 28th), and a gas line was cut at a home that tea partiers mistakenly believed belonged to Rep. Tom Perriello.  The labor community stands firmly behind all the lawmakers who voted for healthcare reform.

A crowd of tea partiers shouted the "n word" at Congressman John Lewis, a former civil rights leader who marched with Dr. King. They yelled homophobic epithets at Rep. Barney Frank, an openly gay congressman. And one protester actually spat on a Black member of Congress.

A few Republicans have spoken out against the racism and violence, but most are still treating them as "isolated incidents." These are not isolated incidents. They've been part of a Republican-supported effort for almost a year and they're a natural consequence of telling people that reform is a totalitarian plot.  The Tea Party movement is a thinly disquised hate group in sheep's clothing, but they are not pulling the wool over my eyes.

It's an outrage, and no American should tolerate it. How can we tell our children that bullying in school is unacceptable when right-wing nutjobs are intimidating our elected officials by using gun references and violent metaphors?

Instead of calming the tea partiers' anger, Republican members of Congress have stoked it. NBC reported that on Saturday, Reps. Mike Pence, Tom Price, and Michele Bachmann all addressed the tea partiers and that Bachmann stirred them "into a tizzy." Protesters from that rally then fanned out across Capitol Hill and were behind the assaults on Reps. Lewis, Frank, and Cleaver.

Yesterday, Ohio Rep. John Boehner called the violence and threats "unacceptable." He did not go far enough.  He should be owning this crap.  And, just last week, he referred to fellow representative Steve Driehaus as "a dead man" if he voted for health care reform. And while Boehner's office insisted his remark wasn't meant to be taken literally, as Rep. Driehaus pointed out, "It doesn't really matter the way you meant it, or the way I accept it. It's how the least sane person in my district accepts it."

And there's more--  during the debate on the floor of the House on Sunday, Rep. Randy Neugebauer shouted "baby-killer" at Rep. Bart Stupak. And after the vote, Sarah Palin told supporters "Don't Retreat—Reload," and then highlighted specific members of Congress she thinks are politically vulnerable using gun cross-hairs. Sheesh.

The Tea Party movement has been marked by racially inflammatory and violent outbursts since its inception a year ago. And while most Republicans are probably offended by this behavior, some Republican Party leaders have repeatedly tolerated it at events they support-- the should be telling these extremists to "dial it down."

When I put these events in perspective, one thing has become very clear. Washington Republicans are focused on “those Socialist Democrats” and Democrats are talking about solving the problems of working Americans. One party is playing dangerous obstructionist politics, and one is just governing—doing what they were elected to do. It’s just that simple.

Written by Ove Overmyer

Monday, March 22, 2010


CSEA Local 828 President Bess Watts
(photo by Ove Overmyer)

Rochester, N.Y.--  In a response dated March 22 aimed at highlighting our continued disappointment with a media giant and their relentless coverage that misinforms their readership about the realities of public employee unions and working families, Local 828 President Bess Watts fired off a letter to editors at the Gannett owned Rochester daily newspaper denouncing their coverage as "bias" and "anti-worker." 

On Sunday March 21, the D&C did a three page supplement (Fed Up With Albany Special Report) blaming public employee unions for the recession and budget problems of an inept state legislature and governor.  Most informed readers know that the recession was not caused by the janitor who cleans the Monroe County Office Building-- it was caused by eight years of Bush tax-breaks for the rich, unregulated predatory bank lenders, a housing bubble that burst and greedy Wall Street executives taking home exorbitant bonuses.  Her letter reads as follows: 

Dear D&C Editor,

I’m disappointed with the obvious bias demonstrated by the Democrat & Chronicle in the recent editorial page concerning public employees. The enormous cartoon and caption was clearly anti-worker.

In 1978, according to the Economic Policy Institute, the ratio of CEO salary to the average worker was 35 to 1; it is now 275 to 1. The working class is not the problem. Rather than write about jobs being shipped overseas, unregulated banks and Wall Street greed, it appears you find it easier to bash the public sector and pit worker against worker, taxpayer against taxpayer.

Anyone can retire with a public sector pension: pass a civil service test, get hired and work 25 years. It is not an exclusive club. The middle class is shrinking because of corporate greed and yet you advocate to strip yet another group of workers of financial security in retirement.


Bess Watts
President, CSEA Monroe County Local 828
167 Flanders Street
Rochester, New York 14619

We posted this letter in hopes that we can set the record straight and tell our side of the story.  We are not encouraged by Gannett's inability to be fair and balenced when it comes to the first admendment.  Letters to the editor from our Local members often go unanswered or are ignored.  Special reports and opinion comments that are disquised to read like credible journalistic news is doing a huge disservice to our community. 

The D&C has crossed the line again-- their anti-worker and anti-union agenda-laden rhetoric will not go unchallenged.  We submit that they were not just raising questions and sparking debate, they were pointing fingers and blaming middle class workers as the culprits to our state's fiscal crisis.  That notion is totally absurd and inexcusable.

(photo by Ove Overmyer)


Here are 10 things workers should know
about the Healthcare Reform Bill

1. Once reform is fully implemented, over 95% of Americans will have health insurance coverage, including 32 million who are currently uninsured.

2. Health insurance companies will no longer be allowed to deny people coverage because of preexisting conditions—or to drop coverage when people become sick.

3. Just like members of Congress, individuals and small businesses who can't afford to purchase insurance on their own will be able to pool together and choose from a variety of competing plans with lower premiums.

4. Reform will cut the federal budget deficit by $138 billion over the next ten years, and a whopping $1.2 trillion in the following ten years.

5. Health care will be more affordable for families and small businesses thanks to new tax credits, subsidies, and other assistance—paid for largely by taxing insurance companies, drug companies, and the very wealthiest Americans.

6. Seniors on Medicare will pay less for their prescription drugs because the legislation closes the "donut hole" gap in existing coverage.

7. By reducing health care costs for employers, reform will create or save more than 2.5 million jobs over the next decade.

8. Medicaid will be expanded to offer health insurance coverage to an additional 16 million low-income people.

9. Instead of losing coverage after they leave home or graduate from college, young adults will be able to remain on their families' insurance plans until age 26.

10. Community health centers would receive an additional $11 billion, doubling the number of patients who can be treated regardless of their insurance or ability to pay. This is great news for temporary and part time workers.


Being born a woman
is no longer a pre-existing condition

Washington, D.C.--  In a historic vote more than 60 years in the making, the U.S. House of Representatives late Sunday night voted to approve (220-211) what AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka calls a ”momentous step toward comprehensive health care.”

Amazing. After decades of attempts, this is a historic achievement. The bill is far from perfect-- and, our work and that of progressives throughout this fight made it much stronger—even bringing it back from the dead when many Democrats were ready to give up.

The bill survived a $100 million lie-and-distortion campaign by Big Insurance to kill it—the same kind of tactics these groups have aimed at health care proposals for six decades. Trumka says the bill is not “a baby step or half measure,” but a solid step forward to set our country on a path to health care that actually works for working families.

Throughout the health care battle, mobilized union members provided a strong and visible counterpoint to the insurance giants’ television and lobbying blitz. Union members made more than 4 million phone calls and sent more than 1 million e-mail messages to lawmakers. Leaders flew to Washington, D.C., and visited members of Congress in their districts, making more than 10,000 contacts.

While union members attempted to persuade the undecided, they also warned lawmakers they would be held accountable if they turned their backs on working families and voted against health care reform.

But we have one final push to make this week. There's one more crucial Senate vote (Reconciliation Act H.R. 4872) to make key progressive fixes—many to help insure more low-income families—to the final package.  Contact Senators Schumer and Gillibrand today!

To read more about this story, please go to the AFL-CIO blog.

A CSEA activist rallies outside Erie County
Office Building in September of 2009

photo by Ove Overmyer

Friday, March 19, 2010


AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka makes his case

Washington, D.C.--  After extensive deliberation with the AFL-CIO Executive Council, Richard Trumka is putting his support behind a bill that will revolutionize the lives of American working families.  Trumka says, "I strongly support and recommend  passage of the healthcare reform bill."  To see his message via youtube, click here.

This was not a decision we made casually because we know this bill is not perfect. But it is the best opportunity we have had in decades to begin fixing America’s broken health care system.

If you need proof this bill is worth fighting for, look no further than the swarm of insurance company lobbyists all over Capitol Hill trying to stop it!

Today, the labor community is asking you to join us and do everything you can to help pass this bill. Call your representative now: 1-877-3-AFLCIO and tell your representative to support the health care bill before Congress.

Together we have fought to improve this bill every day for more than a year, and our actions made it far better.

The president’s health care reform bill will:

*Immediately stop the worst greed-driven insurance company abuses—like denying care because of pre-existing conditions;
*Toughen penalties on employers that try to run from their responsibilities;
*Put the burden of paying for health care where it belongs—on the wealthy; and
*Get life-saving health coverage to 30 million more people.

This is our moment. We can’t miss this opportunity. The long-term health security that will result from this bill is the most important thing we can do for our future—for our children and their children.

Call your representative today: 1-877-3-AFLCIO, and tell your representative: Pass heath care reform!

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Watching Eric Massa's final media tour was frightening

Eric Massa and the Media: A head-on collision
By Ove Overmyer

Guilty until proven otherwise-- this is the new American way. And, no evidence is required to destroy someone’s career or public identity. Just ask the ACORN folks or New York Democrats David Paterson, Charles Rangel and Eric Massa.

I am not suggesting these individuals are innocent of any wrong-doing.  To the contrary, we are all flawed human beings and we all make mistakes.  Some can be forgiven, some can not.

Everything Americans have worked for over the past two hundred years, to establish the democratic rule of law over the emotions of mob mentality has been nullified by overzealous media hounds, political wannabes, scared staffers and hateful observers.

Unsubstantiated accounts of ethics violations and wrong doing, fake fear and terror are being perpetrated by folks whose sole mission in life is to “take somebody down” or find their own journalistic 15 minutes of fame. Indicted conservative activist and ACORN video pimp James O’Keefe comes to mind.

Media vigilante justice is nothing new. Due process, the rights to a fair trial, the right to be safe and secure in one’s home are all things of the past-- things we used to defend as the best traits of American virtue before we succumbed to the overstated hyperbole of the War on Terror, the Patriot Act and the ever-present stench of political corruption.

Let's take western New York Democratic Rep. Eric Massa for example.  He faced a harassment complaint by a male staffer and said on March 5 that he was stepping down from his seat with "a profound sense of failure."  The ethics complaint said the staffer felt "uncomfortable" during an exchange with him. The exchange reportedly had sexual overtones.

At first, I thought this is what taking personal responsibility looks like -- unequivocally holding oneself accountable for one's own mistakes and bravely accepting the consequences. Are we sad and disappointed in Congressman Massa? You bet. As one of my CSEA colleagues so aptly put it, “We never got the return on our investment.”

A visibly upset Massa said he didn't want to put his family through an ethics committee investigation. Who could blame him? He also had to endure plenty of embarrassment that he was partially responsible for-- a jaw-dropping exchange with Glenn Beck and Larry King's insipid questions, including "Are you gay?"

In Eric's attempt to set the record straight, so to speak, he did himself, his family and everyone who cares about good government a huge disservice. The news about the Eric Massa debacle is particularly disturbing to all the local progressives and CSEA activists who worked very hard over the past four years to get him elected and for those who supported him while he was in office.

With a little help from himself, the media took a basically well-meaning honest man and made him look like a foolish court jester. Watching him unravel on national television was like witnessing a Plymouth Satellite vault over a mountain cliff.

Eric openly admits that the ethics issue is his fault and his alone. But in the incredibly toxic atmosphere that is Washington D.C., with the destruction of our elected leaders having become a blood sport as he calls it, especially in talk radio and on the internet, there is also no doubt that most reasonable people would not subject themselves to such scrutiny.

If you truly want to find out "the dirt" on someone, it’s there for the taking. If it doesn’t suit your needs, all you have to do is embellish a little. Why should truth get in your way?  It begs the question, who in their right mind would want to run for public office if this is what you can expect?

In today’s destructive and unforgiving 24/7 political environment, Massa was ripe for the taking. Media types of all political stripes were free to ask and search for anything about Eric going back to his naval career as an officer. Again, in his defense, he said he simply cannot rise to that level of perfection people expect. He said we are all flawed human beings and imperfect people, and he is no exception. What a colossal understatement that was.

I for one accept Eric’s apology with reservations-- and I am having a hard time reconciling his bizarre behavior. Despite the betrayal and making me recoil on several occasions, I still hope Eric can find some clinical help and heal. And, I hold contempt for the mass media vultures, who unmercifully circled over him like a rotting jackal.

Eric Massa used to be a beacon of hope for many of us in the labor community-- and I have to make something perfectly clear. Our support of his candidacy was never about his person. It was always about the issues facing working families and the struggles of the middle class.

Despite losing a strong progressive voice in Washington, let Eric’s story be a lesson to us all. Congress persons will come and go, but our issues remain. Our fight continues to be about speaking truth to power and against the deceptions of omnipresent aggressors.

This commentary is the opinion of the author only.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


CSEA Irondequoit Library Workers Unit 7414-04
left to right:  Linda Luebbe, Linda Travers and Anne Boring
(photo by Bess Watts)

Rochester, N.Y.--  Local 828 President Bess Watts is pleased to announce the addition of our newest Unit, the Town of Irondequoit Library Workers.  The Unit consists of 18 members who work full time at two different branches, the Helen McGraw Branch East at 2180 Ridge Road East and the Pauline Evans Branch West, located at 45 Cooper Road.  CSEA Local 828 now has 20 Units in Monroe County.

Anne Boring, Unit Treasurer for the Unit attended her first meeting of the Local 828 on March 16.  "We are really happy to be part of a wonderful organization, and look forward to a bright future being represented by CSEA, " Boring said after the meeting.

The Town of Irondequoit Library Workers Unit 7414-04 officers are, President Linda Luebbe (MCGW-E), VP Linda Travers (EVNS-W), Secretary Michele Dwyer MCGW-E) and Treasurer Anne Boring (EVNS-W).  They will hold office until 2013.  You can contact President Luebbe at

CSEA Local 828 now represents over 40 different municipal worksites and has nearly 3,200 members throughout Monroe County.

Friday, March 12, 2010


 CSEA Members Fight Against Senate Democrat’s Layoff Plan

After CSEA caught wind of the Senate Democrats scheme for state layoffs and contract givebacks, CSEA members have come out in force to say that further cuts to an already depleted workforce would destroy essential services that the public depends on.

Please do your part and visit our website for flyers and call your State Senator to tell them, "No State Layoffs" or send your state Senator an e-mail to fight back!

Lieutenant Governor Ravitch Presents Five-Year Budget Plan

Lieutenant Governor Ravitch unveiled a plan to borrow $2 billion to help the state deal with its current deficit. The plan creates a financial review board to review the state’s budget and if the board deems the budget out of balance, it could grant the governor exclusive power to close any gaps.

Senate Passes Fiscal Relief Bill

The U.S. Senate passed a bill Wednesday that extends increased unemployment payments and the 65% COBRA subsidy until the end of 2010. The bill also extends enhanced FMAP payments for states until June 30, 2011. New York is expected to get $3.5 billion in increased FMAP funding, however, Governor Paterson has already accounted for this money in his budget. The bill will now be sent to the House of Representatives for passage.

The Week to Come

Tuesday, March 16 – Special election for the 13th Senate District in Queens.

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


Cris Zaffuto
Unit President, CSEA Monroe County Employees 
and Local 828 1st Vice President addressed the
Monroe County Legislature on March 9
(photo by Ove Overmyer)

Rochester, N.Y.--  At the full session meeting of the Monroe County Legislature on March 9, Local 828 officers Cris Zaffuto and Ove Overmyer took County Legislator Dan Quatro to task over disparaging comments he made toward county workers.  Both officers also reminded lawmakers that shameful and inaccurate remarks about county workers will not go unchallenged.  For a more in depth story about Quatro and his remarks, go here to read a post that was entered on February 27.

To see a video of Zaffuto and Overmyer's comments at the Monroe County Legislature on March 9, you can go to this site .  Their testimonies begin around the 41st minute of the meeting.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


Monroe County Workers Take To The Streets!
photos by Ove Overmyer

Rochester, N.Y.-- On Tuesday, March 9, members of the Federation of Social Workers IUE-CWA Local 81381 and the Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA) joined forces in solidarity to speak truth to power. 

Nearly 130 county workers shouted and carried signs in front of the Monroe County Office Building, telling lawmakers and administrators inside that they want repsect and deserve a resolution to the contract negotiations that have been straining labor/ management relations for more than a year and a half.  Pedestrians and motorists alike clapped and honked in approval to sounds of union chants and jeers.

"This was an opportunity to take our message to the streets in solidarity with our brothers and sisters with the Federation of Social Workers-- we are ready to get this behind us, " said Cris Zaffuto, President for the full time Monroe County Employees Unit.  "We have been working for too long without a contract, and it's important that county adminstrators know the public is 100 % behind the workers," Zaffuto added.

As of March 9, Monroe County workers have been without a contract for 432 days, since December 31, 2008. 

Friday, March 5, 2010


State Senate Democrats Considering State Layoffs to Plug Budget Gap

Senate Democratic Leadership is considering state layoffs and contract givebacks in place of revenue proposals put forth by Governor Paterson in order to balance the budget.

Instead of imposing a small tax on soft drinks, an increased tax on cigarettes and allowing the sale of wine in grocery stores, the Senate Democratic Majority wants to annihilate the state workforce.

In response to this proposal CSEA is targeting Senators in each region. You should visit our website for flyers and call your State Senator to tell them, "No State Layoffs."

You can also send your state Senator an e-mail to fight back against these layoffs!

CSEA Delivers Testimony at Hearing on the Use of Temporary Employees

CSEA testified at a hearing before the Assembly Committee on Governmental Employees regarding the use of temporary employees.  (See original post below dated March 3.)

CSEA testified that the state has created a shadow work force made up largely of temporary employees who have been hired to replace positions left vacant as a result of downsizing and contracting out. CSEA said it’s time for state agencies to come clean about their real work force needs.  Please visit the CSEA INC website for the testimony.

Final State Budget Revenue Number

The Governor and leaders of the Senate and Assembly came to a final revenue number for the state budget. They agreed that revenue will be $850 million less than the Governor projected in his budget, which places the total deficit at over $9 billion.

Action Needed for Additional FMAP Funding

A vote is likely to place in the U.S. Senate early next week that would give fiscal relief to state and local governments. The bill would give New York $3.5 billion in additional FMAP funding.

Your action to get this bill passed is necessary! Please call Senators Schumer and Gillibrand at 1-888-460-0813 to make sure that they vote YES on H.R. 4213, "American Workers, State and Business Relief Act."

Shakeup in Congress

Congressman Eric Massa (D-NY 29) has said that he will not seek reelection in the fall and will resign on Monday, March 8 amid allegations of sexual harassment.  Massa has been a fighter for the labor community for the past several years.

Congressman Charles Rangel has temporarily stepped down from his chairmanship of the House Ways and Means Committee while alleged ethics violations are investigated by the House Ethics Committee.

The Week To Come

March 8-12: Legislative call-in week for OCFS and DOCS employees.

March 12: In-district SUNY Lobby Day. Contact your region coordinator for more information. Please send the Senate and Assembly an e-mail to ask them to say NO to SUNY flexibility.

For more information on any of these issues, please contact the Legislative and Political Action Department at (518) 436-8622.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Courtney Brunelle (seated left), WNY Region 6 
Political Action Coordinator talks to members of the
Monroe County Part Time Workers Unit on March 3

Rochester, N.Y.-- An informational meeting by the Monroe County Part Time Workers Unit was held on March 3 at the Winton Place Satellite Office to discuss the conditions and unique circumstances that part timers experience in the workplace.  Workers from various site locations throughout the County were present, including the DMV, Coroner's Office and the Monroe Community Hospital.  

Don Wallace, Unit President of the PT Unit, called the meeting "productive and necessary."  Wallace also reminded members that CSEA  and the Monroe County Federation of Social Workers (IUE-CWA 81381) will demonstrate on March 9 in front of the Monroe County Office Building to demand a fair contract for all Monroe County Employees. Presently, the full and part time County workers and the Federation of Social Workers have been working without a contract since December 31, 2008.  Wallace says, "It is essential that all CSEA members stand up and tell the County that we want justice now.  We need a fair contract now."

Besides Brunelle, Robert Leonard, CSEA Labor Relations Specialist, and Flo Tripi, WNY Region 6 President also updated workers on contract talks and current news relevant to the labor movement.  Local 828 President Bess Watts and Monroe County Unit 7400 President Cris Zaffuto (who also doubles as Local 828 1st Vice President) were also in attendance to share information and support the workers.  For news updates and contact information for the Monroe County Part Time Workers Unit, please visit their blogspot here.  


please click on the flyer below for a larger image

For additional information, please call
the Local 828 office at 585.328.5250


"Temporary should mean temporary and not employment that extends for years."
- Fran Turner, CSEA Legislative and Political Action Director

Albany, N.Y.--  That was the message CSEA delivered to state lawmakers today as the union continued its fight to end the Paterson administration's exploitation of temporary workers and undermining of state workers.

Testifying at a hearing on the state's use of temporary employees before the New York State Assembly Standing Committee on Governmental Employees, CSEA Legislative and Political Action Director Fran Turner said it's time for state agencies to come clean about their real work force needs and that the need for temporary workers be addressed by a pool approach with deployment and retrenchment.

To read the full press release, go here.

Monday, March 1, 2010


A special commentary by Ove Overmyer
This article reflects the opinion of the author only and not CSEA.

I am getting a little tired of listening to congressional Republicans, and to a lesser degree some Monroe County legislators - pontificating about the stimulus not creating one job or saying that public employees are the cause of our economic decline.  The fact is the stimulus bill kept America working, and saved many local and state government budgets from total collapse.

There are so many hypocrites who trashed the stimulus I can't count them all (well, actually I did count around 21 Republicans) and voted against it, and then exploited it by bragging to their constituents how great this money would be for jobs and economic development in their communities.  Some even went as far as a photo-op-- donning the hard hat and standing next to that poster-sized cashiers check.  Sheesh.

They aren't that dumb, are they? They know these falsehoods, but they say it anyway to undermine and deflect attention away the real issues facing America's working families. There is a huge difference between policy and politics-- Republicans, the party of "NO," are filibustering away while thousands of people lose loved ones to undiagnosed diseases because they do not have healthcare (for one reason or another) or a job that gives them any benefits to protect their families.  MSNBC's Rachel Maddow compared the Senate to a roach motel, "where things go in and nothing comes out." 

Take lame duck GOP Senator Jim Bunning of Kentucky, for example.  For the past week, Bunning has been single-handedly blocking more than a million Americans from receiving unemployment and COBRA health insurance benefits, as of today, when their benefits funded under the 2009 stimulus law run out. The suspension of benefits affects everyone from doctors to government employees.
And, Republicans are so focused on trying to make President Obama and congressional Democrats fail that they don't seem to care who gets hurt in the process-- which is the majority of the American people. This doesn't mean the Democrats are off the hook, either. They need to get off their duff and go by way of reconciliation-- there is no other way we will pass any legislation in the 2010 session.

Millions of Americans are depending on our lawmakers, Republican, Independent and Democrat alike, to get the economy moving again and to do something about out-of-control health care costs and pass a jobs bill. The Republican members of congress have made it perfectly clear that they could care less about solving the healthcare crisis, or making policy initiatives to move toward greener energy, educating our kids, or create new private sector jobs or preserve public sector ones. But they'll say and do anything - no matter how extreme - if they think it will divide voters, confuse the issues and get them re-elected.

I can remember a time when facts, nonpartisan academic citations and data really mattered. We used to use these moments in time to come to a new, higher level of understanding of the issues of the day and possibly walk away with a new order of thinking. This is back before everything became a partisan shouting match, where the Republicans basically turn up the volume and frantically wave their arms. Their new motto has become "Who ever yells and screams the loudest wins."  Did you see Eric Cantor's (R-VA) behavior on Sunday's (02-28-10) newcast of Meet the Press?  I rest my case.

Suppose we had an argument and I produced facts from an authoritative source to back it up, you couldn't just dismiss it that easily. You might try to undermine my facts, might change the subject, counter with facts of your own, but you couldn't just pretend my facts had no significance or meaning. Now, Republican talking points ignore the facts and the truth, and then they expect the American people to believe them just because they said it was "so." Then they tell the same lie over and over again.  When did society say that this was ok? I never got that memo.

But that's the intellectual state of government today-- as evidenced by conservative lawmakers giving creedence to the emergence of the Tea Party, death panels, the birthers or that conspiracy theory called global warming. Or is it climate change?  Whatever.

But I digress, those are the facts, and the whole point here is that facts no longer mean what they once did. With the advent of all the different media outlets, people tend to gravitate to what they want to hear or believe. To listen to talk radio, to watch FOX and MSNBC, to read comments on the blogosphere, is to realize that increasingly, we are a country estranged from one another by geography and critical thinking,  We are divorced from logic and alienated from all objective truths that lie before us.

In the words of Leonard Pitts Jr., "We admit no ideas that do not confirm us, hear no voices that do not echo us, sift out all information that does not validate what we think is the truth. We respond to the world as we wish it were rather to the world as it is." If this is indeed true, what a sad, scary state of affairs.  Thank you Mr. Pitts, for telling it like it is.