Friday, July 30, 2010

COME GET YER SUMMER!

Click on image twice for a larger view

Thursday, July 29, 2010

CSEA ENDORSES TOM DINAPOLI FOR COMPTROLLER

CSEA – New York's leading union – has formally announced its endorsement of New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. CSEA President Danny Donohue said the decision is based on DiNapoli's demonstrated honesty and competence as Comptroller since 2007 coupled with his unblemished record as a public leader.

"Tom DiNapoli is an outstanding and capable leader who has demonstrated character and ability throughout his career in both the private and public sectors," Donohue said. " No one should doubt his unflinching integrity and commitment to doing what's right for all New Yorkers – we can't afford to have anything less in these times."

"I know and work with the members of CSEA each and every day and it is a distinct honor to receive this endorsement," said Comptroller DiNapoli. "I share many of the values for which this organization stands: honesty, accountability and fiscal responsibility. Together with Danny Donohue, and all of CSEA's membership, I will work to ensure that our state and local governments make every dollar that we spend count and that our pension fund remains one of the strongest in the nation."

Beyond the New York State Comptroller's responsibilities as fiscal watchdog over the state's finances and the management practices of state agencies, the position has particular importance to CSEA members. As the sole trustee of the state pension system, the state comptroller's judgment and decisions have enormous implications over the retirement security of more than 300,000 retired and active CSEA members.

"CSEA was instrumental in helping to establish the state retirement system in 1920 and since that time, the state comptroller's stewardship has always matterd to us" Donohue said. "As we prepare to begin our second century we have total confidence that Tom DiNapoli will maintain the traditions of New York's best comptrollers, while leading the system forward to meet the needs of today and tomorrow."

Donohue pointed out that another important factor in CSEA's decision to back DiNapoli is the unwavering support for him from CSEA members who work in the Comptroller's office. "It speaks volumes about Tom as an individual and a manager that the people who know him best are urging this endorsement," Donohue said.

Democrat DiNapoli faces Republican Harry Wilson, a former hedge-fund manager, in the November elections.

(click on images for a larger view)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

CITY OF ROCHESTER LIBRARY WORKERS WIN WXXI GROUP VOLUNTEER AWARD


Rochester, N.Y.--  The local Public Broadcasting Station WXXI hosted its annual Volunteer Recognition event on Tuesday, July 20 at the station.  Members of Local 828 Unit 7420, the City of Rochester Library Workers, received the Group Award for their on-going efforts in assisting the nonprofit with it's membership drives.

Ove Overmyer, Local 828 VP and Unit President for the City of Rochester Library Workers says, "Our members understand how important it is to give back to our community.  Our mission at the library and with our union is completely consistent with the objectives of WXXI--we share the same belief that WXXI puts the community first with programming that stimulates and expands thought, inspires the spirit, opens cultural horizons and promotes understanding of diverse community issues.  We library workers honor that vision."

Pittsford’s Jim Sheldon received the 2009 Charles M. Wise Volunteer of the Year award at the celebration. Recognized for his outstanding dedication to the station, Sheldon and 150 WXXI volunteers attended the event.  A total of 350 volunteers donated more than 11,000 hours to the station in 2009. Other volunteers recognized at the awards ceremony included:

• Jack Hansen, of Rochester, who received the Jack of All Trades Award for his work on the Speaking of Women's Health Conference and WXXI's membership drives.

• Dolores Parlato, of Irondequoit, who received the Super Star Award for her work with Assignment: The World, Speaking of Women's Health Conference, and the Met Operas at the Movies.

• Bonnie Arnold, of Irondequoit, who received the Yeoman Award for her volunteer work at the WXXI booth at summer festivals, the Speaking of Women’s Health Conference, membership drives and WXXI Auction.

Photo above is Ove Overmyer staffing the phones at a recent WXXI membership drive. (photo by Bess Watts)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

MOTT'S STRIKE 65 DAYS OLD AND COUNTING



















CSEA Local 828 President Bess Watts (left) hands a monetary donation and bags of food to the striking Mott's workers from Williamson, N.Y.  The Local 828 executive board, Unit presidents and some family members pitched in to help out the RWDSU workers who have been on strike since May 23.  (photos by Anne Tischer)

Williamson, N.Y.--  Please join us tomorrow in assisting the striking Mott's workers (RWDSU Local 220) by participating in a leaftlet line.  It will be held at 10:00 am on Wednesday, July 28, 2010 at Wal-Mart, 990 Routes 5 & 20, Geneva, NY

Nearly 300 Mott's workers have been unfairly forced to go on strike after Dr. Pepper Snapple Group (DPS) proposed slashing wages by $1.50/hr, reducing 410k contributions, and undermining retirement security.  President Watts has called this action the epitomy of "corporate greed."

The irony here is that DPS's three highest paid executives, including CEO Larry Young, all saw their pay increase more than 100% between 2007 and 2009. Their stock has rocketed 28% since their most recent earnings announcement in February of 2010. In fact, their stock price is outperforming the industry as a whole by 443% since that earnings release.

Additionally, MCC Unit 7402 is now sponsoring a food bank drive for the striking workers.  The organizers are looking for canned goods, nonperishable foods and personal hygiene items. For more information about this effort, please contact MCC Unit President Tom Pollizi at tpolliz1@rochester.rr.com.

For additional information how you can help the cause, please log on to No Bad Apples.org.

Monday, July 26, 2010

DONOHUE TO GOV. PATERSON: STOP CRAZY TALK
















Albany, N.Y.--  In a formal statement released today, CSEA President Danny Donohue responds to yet another call for layoffs of the state workforce.

Donohue said, "Governor Paterson knows full well that he has a binding agreement with CSEA that has been upheld by the courts precluding layoffs before 2011. He should also know that talk of layoffs under these circumstances is counterproductive, impractical and bad for New Yorkers all around. They may also constitute bad faith bargaining.

It is also important to note that the governor continues to stretch credibility when he insists the state work force must be reduced while his administration refuses to target positions for downsizing through the early retirement incentives. The fact is that the state work force is already stretched too thin to adequately do the job. The governor can't have it both ways.

CSEA has tried repeatedly to work constructively with the Paterson administration, but its continuing assault on the state work force undermines the very basis of good labor-management relations. All New Yorkers would be better served if Governor Paterson would stop his inflammatory public statements and instead work with the legislature and other parties to solve the state's challenges."

Thursday, July 22, 2010

PRIDE AT WORK BUILDING COALITIONS IN THE LABOR COMMUNITY


The RWDSU 8-foot sign tags behind the Pride At Work float at the 21st Annual Rochester Pride Parade in downtown Rochester, N.Y.  The PAW float won the Stonewall Award.
(photos by Ove Overmyer)
(video by Bess Watts)

Rochester, N.Y.--  On Saturday July 17, members of the Rochester Finger Lakes Chapter of Pride At Work invited union brothers and sisters to walk with them in solidarity at the 21st Annual Pride Parade in the eastside downtown area of Rochester, N.Y.

The Rochester Pride Parade featured over 75 units, several more than previous years.  Marchers carried signs that highlighted snippets of the progressive history of LBGT rights in the Rochester area. There were also marching bands, floats, a very large faith contingent, motorcycle riders, politicians, candidates and of course the protesters on megaphones.  PAW friends Out & Equal Finger Lakes Chapter, another LGBT workplace rights organization, also fielded a strong gathering of marchers.

Participating labor organizations that showed support of LGBT workplace rights included Workers United, CSEA, SEIU, Next Generation United, IBEW, RWDSU, NYSUT and others.

An 8-foot sign on wheels supporting the Mott's strike for the workers of RWDSU was displayed alongside the PAW giant float that read, "Labor Unions: looking out for you." Rochester Police estimate that over 15,000 spectators lined Park Avenue and Goodman Street and over 3,000 people marched in the parade.

Bess Watts, president of the local PAW chapter said, "We had a great day. It was good to see the wonderful reception the Mott's workers received from the spectators." She added, "We handed out thousands of palm cards telling the community that the Mott's strike is nothing more than 'corporate greed gone wild' versus 'the middle class way of life.' The parade-goers got the message and cheered the RWDSU workers and that was very heartwarming."

To see a quick video of PAW and the Mott's workers reception at the Pride Parade, you can go here.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

SENATE ACTION IS NO JOBS BILL

Rochester, N.Y.--
Washington Democrats are set to pass an extension of unemployment benefits today. The presence of Carte Goodwin, Sen. Robert Byrd's temporary replacement, gives them the 60 votes necessary to break the Republicans' -- and Ben Nelson's -- filibuster of the bill.

The good news today is that there is an unemployment bill that will be passed. The bad news? It`s not a jobs bill. It used to be a jobs bill. Once upon a time, our fearless Senate leaders saw that the economy was still in very bad shape, that the unemployment rate in this country was still above 9 percent.

There is of course an extension of unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed which is the most efficient way for the government to stimulate the economy because it puts money into the hands of people who need it badly and will therefore spend it right away putting it straight back into the economy.

This unemployment extension alone is expected to support 800,000 jobs through economic stimulus. But there were going to be so many other things in the jobs bill, too. Aid to state governments so that states don't have to layoff teachers. An extra tier of unemployment benefits so when people have used up their benefits and still don't have a job they don't immediately fall off the financial cliff and become homeless and a giant strain on the economy. Or extra Medicaid funding so that state governments don't have to make big budget cuts and layoffs to pay their Medicaid bills.  This is not good news to the public employees of New York state.

But this small victory obscures the bigger picture. Republicans managed to take a jobs bill, weaken it to an unemployment benefits package and state and local relief bill, weaken that to an unemployment benefits bill, and then weaken that bill altogether.

The bill does not include an extension of the $25-a-week Federal Additional Compensation funds, tacked onto many unemployment checks. It also does not include any of the other provisions originally included in or proposed for the jobs bill or extenders package: It does not close tax loopholes, or provide Medicaid funding to states, or include funds to keep teachers and other state employees working. It also does not create an additional fifth tier of benefits; federal extensions only continue in states with higher than an 8 percent unemployment rate, and the maximum weeks of state and federal benefits remains ninety-nine.

Republicans in the Senate, in other words, have won the fight over further spending on job creation.  This effort should be seen for what it truly is.  Republicans have no interest in improving the jobless rate so they can have political ammunition for November.  It is criminal to behave this way.  The GOP has the Democrats where they want them.  The jobs bill argument was narrowed to unemployment benefits only, and Democrats can't even reliably win those votes. So much for bold progressive action to improve the quality of life for middle class America.  That should trouble working families everywhere.

Commentary by Ove Overmyer

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

SENATE DEMS BREAK GOP FILIBUSTER; MILLIONS TO RECEIVE JOBLESS BENEFITS

WASHINGTON, D.C.-- Today the U.S. Senate cleared the way to extend long-term unemployment benefits, breaking a partisan stalemate that has caused more than 2 million jobless Americans to lose the weekly checks that help them stay afloat.

By a vote of 60 to 40, Democrats overcame a Republican procedural hurdle and moved toward a final vote, expected later today. The House of Representatives is expected to approve the measure on Wednesday and send it President Barack Obama to sign into law.

With congressional elections looming in November, the Senate had been locked in a partisan standoff for weeks over how to pay for extending benefits for those who have been out of work the longest.

Democrats, eager to show voters they are doing all they can to bring down the 9.5 percent unemployment rate, tried to extend the benefits when they expired at the end of May.

But they were blocked by Republicans who said the $34 billion price tag should be covered by cuts elsewhere rather than more borrowing that would add to a trillion-dollar budget deficit.

Nearly half of the 15 million Americans out of work have been jobless for more than six months, the highest level of long-term unemployment since the government began keeping track in the 1940s. Nearly a quarter of the unemployed have been out of work for more than a year.

Democrats broke the deadlock shortly after swearing in the new senator from West Virginia, Carte Goodwin, who gave them the 60th vote they needed to overcome the Republican procedural roadblock in the 100-seat chamber. Goodwin succeeds Robert Byrd, who died last month after 57 years in Congress.

Moderate Republicans Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe voted with the Democrats, while centrist Democrat Ben Nelson voted against the extension.

The fight over jobless benefits is the latest skirmish in a broader debate over whether Congress should spend further to stimulate the economy or start making the painful cuts needed to bring down record budget deficits, which hit 9.9 percent of GDP in the last fiscal year.

The GOP are a bunch of foolish hypocrites

On Monday, President Obama sought to cast his Republican opponents as hypocritical for having voted for extensions of unemployment benefits when his Republican predecessor, President George W. Bush, was in the White House, but not now.  He accused Republican leaders of subscribing to what he called a misguided notion that providing unemployment aid to people lowers their incentive to look hard for a job.

"That attitude, I think, reflects a lack of faith in the American people," Obama said.

The GOP really want the 2010 election to be about spending and the deficit. They say they want to run on their fiscal conservative credentials -- which is a framing that Democrats should welcome.

Here's how the national debt has increased under Republican and Democratic presidents.  On the Democratic side, the national debt went up 42 percent under Jimmy Carter and 36 percent under Bill Clinton. On the Republican side, it went up 189 percent under Ronald Reagan, it went up 55 percent under George Bush senior, and it went up a whopping 89 percent under George Bush Jr.

So, is that the record of fiscal conservatism that Republicans want to run on?  Please, be my guest.  God forbid the truth gets in the way of GOP messaging.  Democrats and working families should welcome that debate.  It should make our jobs that much easier come November.

Friday, July 16, 2010

LINES HAVE BEEN DRAWN; THE CHOICE IS CLEAR

Washington, D.C.-- Yesterday, 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. Take a look at these talking points:

*Privatize Social Security
*Cut taxes for the rich
*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

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.

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 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 candidates now.

The Chamber 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 Republican platform will derail any chance of economic recovery.

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. Working families should be dedicated to supporting candidates and lawmakers who vote to create jobs and hold Wall Street and big business accountable for their actions.

Voters now have a clear picture of those who stand on the side of working families and those who choose instead to stand on the side of Wall Street, big oil and inequality.

Commentary and photo by Ove Overmyer.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

CONGRESS WILL PASS WALL STREET REFORM; OBAMA'S RESUME IS LOOKING BRIGHTER

Washington, N.Y. -- The broadest overhaul of Wall Street financial rules since the Great Depression is well on its way to becoming law today after it cleared a crucial hurdle in Congress.

By a vote of 60 to 39, backers barely cleared a Republican roadblock in the Senate, setting up a final series of votes for 2 p.m. (Final passage looks assured as of post time of this article.) 

"We're on the cusp of victory," Democratic Senator Jack Reed said at a news conference. "This bill is going to be passed."

President Barack Obama, who proposed reforms more than a year ago, has said he wants to sign the measure into law next week.

The House of Representatives has already approved the bill, which tightens regulation across the financial industry in an effort to avoid a repeat of the 2007-2009 financial crises.  You can read more about what just happened by clicking on this link.

The legislation would establish new consumer protections, give regulators greater power to dismantle troubled firms, and limit a range of risky trading activities in a way that would curb bank profits.

With Republicans thinking they will have big gains in the November congressional elections, Democrats are countering by showing voters that they are cracking down on an industry that dragged the economy into its deepest recession in 70 years and that they are really improving the lives of middle class Americans.

Obama has done a good job despite the naysayers, haters and fear mongers

The news today of the passage of the financial reform package got me thinking about what has been accomplished since Obama's inauguration. You have to be living under a rock not to know that Republicans have been the party of "NO" and have been "one note" obstructionists since January 21, 2009. They could care less about good government, and have provided no leadership or desire to pass meaningful legislation. They would even block Gandhi or Mother Theresa from becoming a Supreme Court Justice if Obama thought it was a good idea.

So, here we go. Here is a little primer on what President Obama has accomplished despite the despicable behavior of Conservatives, Tea Partiers and the Republicans.

The first bill signed into law by Obama was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, relaxing the statute of limitations for equal-pay lawsuits. Five days later, he signed the reauthorization of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) to cover an additional 4 million children currently uninsured.

On February 17, 2009, Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, a $787 billion economic stimulus package aimed at helping the economy recover from the deepening worldwide recession. The act includes increased federal spending for health care, infrastructure, education, various tax breaks and incentives, and direct assistance to individuals, which is being distributed over the course of several years.

In March 2009, Obama reversed a Bush-era policy which had limited funding of embryonic stem cell research to only a small number of lines. Obama stated that he believed "sound science and moral values...are not inconsistent" and pledged to develop "strict guidelines" on the research.

Also in March, Obama's Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner, took further steps to manage the financial crisis, including introducing the Public-Private Investment Program for Legacy Assets, which contains provisions for buying up to $2 trillion in depreciated real estate assets. On March 23, The New York Times noted that "investors reacted ecstatically, with all of the major stock indexes soaring as soon as the markets opened."

Sonia Sotomayor, nominated by Obama on May 26, 2009, to replace retiring Associate Justice David Souter, was confirmed on August 6, 2009, becoming the first Hispanic to be a Supreme Court Justice.

In June 2009, dissatisfied with the pace of economic stimulus, Obama called on his cabinet to accelerate the investment. He signed into law the successful Car Allowance Rebate System, known colloquially as "Cash for Clunkers", running from July to August 2009, which not only reduced inventories but set off increased production runs at GM, Ford and Toyota, resulting in the rehiring of plenty of our brothers and sisters who were laid-off workers.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and a broad range of economists credit Obama's stimulus plan for instant economic growth. The CBO released a report stating that the stimulus bill increased employment by 1–2.1 million, while conceding that it was impossible to determine how many of the reported jobs would have existed in the absence of the stimulus package.

On September 30, 2009, the Obama administration proposed new regulations on power plants, factories and oil refineries in an attempt to limit greenhouse gas emissions and to curb global warming.

Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, a measure that expands the 1969 United States federal hate-crime law to include crimes motivated by a victim's actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability, on October 8, 2009.

That same day on October 8, 2009, Obama was named the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize laureate.  On November 7, 2009, a health care bill featuring the public option was passed in the House.  On December 24, 2009, the Senate passed its own bill—without a public option—on a party-line vote of 60–39. On March 21, 2010, the health care bill passed by the Senate in December was passed in the House by a vote of 219 to 212. Obama signed the bill into law on March 23, 2010 which will positively transform the lives of millions of Americans.

On March 30, 2010, Obama signed the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, a reconciliation bill which ends the process of the federal government giving subsidies to private banks to give out federally insured loans, increases the Pell Grant scholarship award, and makes changes to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2009.

In foreign policy, Obama began a gradual withdrawal of troops from Iraq, increased troop levels in Afghanistan, and signed an arms control treaty with Russia.

This is far from a complete list of notable work from the 111th Congress and the Obama White House. Our working class families need to take a hard long look at who is really governing our country and who is working to improve our communities-- and exactly who is just playing obstructionist politics. 

And another thing...

How we vote in the midterm elections will be critical to Obama in his last two years of his first term.  Either we vote to continue to get out of the mess the Republicans created or we succumb once again to their failed ideology.  If we had Wall Street reform sooner, if we has healthcare reform sooner, if we had an energy bill sooner, the jobs would already be here and we would be emerging from this recession we are in.  I believe all these bills will foster an economic climate for the possibility of sustainable long term jobs in the future.

After the Senate vote on Wall Street reform today, Republican talking heads like John Boehner were still siding with big banks by suggesting that the bill should repealed.  Alabama Senators Jeff Sessions and Richard Shelby both slammed the vote as well.

Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell put his foot in his mouth too, saying that Republicans "have their groove back."  Maybe McConnell didn't have time to read the latest Time Magazine Poll released earlier today.  By a 5 percent margin, voters place greater trust in the Democratic Party's ability to preside over an economic recovery, and 43% said they currently plan to vote for a Democratic congressional candidate, edging those who prefer their district's Republican.  Right now, the national GOP approval rating is hovering around 26 percent.  That probably won't get it done.

Why would any right-minded, middle-of-the-road voter think that tax breaks for the rich, stopping unemployment benefits, dismantling Social Security, currying favor with big oil companies like BP and voting "NO" on every bill would improve our economy and create jobs?  We've been down that road before and the scenery sucks.  Take my advice.  Do not look back.  

Commentary by Ove Overmyer.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

WILL DEMOCRATS AND PROGRESSIVES STEP UP AND SAVE SOCIAL SECURITY?


















Cartoon published when Bush 43 was peddling the idea of privatizing Social Security.  Where are the Democrats now?

A familiar story is brewing in our nation's capital.

Washington, D.C.--  On one side are conservatives and the Blue Dog Democrats. Most of them supported Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy and two unfunded wars. Eight long years of Republican and conservative ideology is responsible for our national debt today. 

The GOP belief system has nothing to do with rational analysis.  The main tenet is that imposing suffering on the weak and poor is somehow showing leadership in tough economic times.  And now, they say, we have to focus on the deficit— even if it means cutting Social Security and leaving millions of Americans jobless for years. (See related story about economist Paul Krugman's NYT op-ed.)

On the other side are progressives who agree we have to rein in our deficits, but think we should do it in a way that protects the middle class and makes Wall Street clean up its own mess.

Here's the scary part-- the conservatives are winning hands down. They're spending millions of dollars to push their position and hoping that the president's new deficit commission—which is stacked with conservatives—will strike a deal to cut Social Security before the end of the year.

If we're going to have a shot at slowing down this right-wing runaway train, we need to start dealing with the deficit the right way— by getting the middle class back on their feet and making Wall Street pay its fair share. This attack on Social Security and working families must be stopped dead in it's tracks.

Social Security belongs to the American people, who pay into it every working day of our lives. But this election could determine whether conservative budget hawks finally have their way and make deep cuts to our benefits.
And there is a disturbing pattern of conservative fear-mongering on Social Security that is ramping up each day. Most recently it was Republican Leader, John Boehner followed by several other Republican congressmen. And before that former Senator Alan Simpson, the head of a commission that will make recommendations on Social Security this fall, called Americans who rely on Social Security "lesser people." Utah Senator Orin Hatch wants to go as far as drug testing unemployed people.

We need to push back on the lies about Social Security, hold politicians who want to cut it accountable, and get progressive solutions to the deficit—like a bold job creation program or making sure corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes— on the table. It is time for labor activists to roll up their sleeves and get to work to protect what is ours.

DINAPOLI SAYS HR 4173 WILL BOLSTER NYS RETIREMENT FUND


Albany, N.Y.--  Americans have faced the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Millions have lost their jobs, businesses have failed, housing prices have dropped, and savings were wiped out.  The failures that led to this crisis require bold action. We must restore responsibility and accountability in our financial system to give Americans confidence that there is a system in place that works for and protects them. We must create a sound foundation to grow the economy and create jobs.

New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli reaffirmed his support on July 13 for the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act in a letter to New York’s congressional delegation. DiNapoli described the proposed legislation as an essential step forward in restoring confidence in the financial services sector and stability to financial markets.

“A thriving Wall Street is vital to New York’s economic growth,” DiNapoli said. “I want to see our institutions prosper. But we need new rules to protect taxpayers from being on the hook if big banks fail. When Congress adopts these new regulations, I’m confident that we’ll see improved transparency, risk management, and a healthier Wall Street that generates sustainable profits.”

DiNapoli’s letter also identified the regulation’s benefits for the $133 billion New York Common Retirement Fund, which he heads. Improved regulatory oversight and risk assessment helps the Fund to better predict its investment returns and reduce taxpayers’ contributions, DiNapoli said.

Click here to read the full text of the letter or visit the Office of the State Comptroller here.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

CSEA LOCAL 828 OFFICERS TO HOST SUMMER TIME SOCIAL JULY 21

Sun setting at the picturesque Braddock Bay State Park, Rochester, N.Y.  This is the site of the CSEA Local 828 Summer Social for Unit Presidents and their executive boards. 
(photo provided by Ove Overmyer)

Rochester, N.Y.--  CSEA Monroe County Local 828 officers are inviting Unit Presidents and their executive boards to a SUMMER TIME SOCIAL on Wednesday, July 21st, 2010 starting at 5:30 pm.  We will have a brief business meeting followed by a good ol' fashioned cookout.  President Watts is looking forward to meeting all the Unit executive board officers of our 20 Units in the Local.

Immediate family is encourged to attend for a small fee of $5.00.  Please come meet your Local officers, delegates, and committee members who are doing great work on behalf of their members and the citizens of  Monroe County.  We will also have a suprise special guest on hand to greet you at the event.

Contact Barb at the Local 828 office if you plan on joining your brothers and sisters on the 21st.  You can call 328.5250 or email her at csea828@rochester.rr.com with a count of attendees.  You must respond no later than July 15th.

Here is everything and anything you always wanted to know about the Braddock Bay State Park, Greece, N.Y.

Location - 199 East Manitou Road, six miles west of Rochester in the Town of Greece, Monroe County

Maps - Google Map, and Google Directions

GPS - N 43.29917 / W 77.71627 (park entrance)

Directions - To get to the Braddock Park, take 390 North to the Lake Ontario Parkway heading west.  Then take the parkway to East Manitou Rd. and head north.

Turn right on East Manitou Road then a quick left onto Braddock Bay State Parkway.

At the next intersection, turn right.  Enter the parking lot on the left at the end of the parkway.

FOOD DRIVE FOR MOTT'S WORKERS

Also, this is an opportunity for Local 828 to show our support and solidarity for the Mott's workers.  Please bring to the social non perishable food items, personal hygiene items and paper products to be donated to the families of the striking workers.  Please be generous and thoughtful.  After all, an injury to one, is an injury to all.
(Photo by Bess Watts)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

IS ANYONE IN CONGRESS LISTENING?

NYT editorial by economist Paul Krugman provides clairty in a time of economic uncertainty

Washington, D.C.--  The new unemployment figures came out just before the July 4th holiday and they are ugly. We lost 125,000 jobs and the unemployment rate is 9.5%.

But instead of helping those who are out of work, Congress just went on vacation without extending unemployment benefits. That means 2 million Americans are losing a desperately-needed source of support because of Congress' continued failure to act.

Congress seems to think they're doing the popular thing by pulling back support for the economy, but in fact, a recent poll shows that the overwhelming majority of Americans want benefits extended, even if it means temporarily increasing the deficit.

Thankfully, our New York senators, Schumer and Gillibrand did the right thing and voted to extend benefits. But there weren't enough senators willing to stand with them.

The recent unemployment numbers drive home the point that Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman made last week in a NYT editorial about the perils of government inaction. He goes so far as to say we may be heading for a depression. This is one more example of when Congress puts politics before policy-- we all suffer the consequences. But unfortunately, it disproportionately affects the poor and working poor even harder.

Krugman said, in no uncertain terms:

We are now, I fear, in the early stages of a third depression. It will probably look more like the Long Depression than the much more severe Great Depression. But the cost—to the world economy and, above all, to the millions of lives blighted by the absence of jobs—will nonetheless be immense.

And this third depression will be primarily a failure of policy. Around the world...governments are obsessing about inflation when the real threat is deflation, preaching the need for belt-tightening when the real problem is inadequate spending.

Unemployment—especially long-term unemployment—remains at levels that would have been considered catastrophic not long ago, and shows no sign of coming down rapidly.

In the face of this grim picture, you might have expected policy makers to realize that they haven't yet done enough to promote recovery. But no: over the last few months there has been a stunning resurgence of hard-money and balanced-budget orthodoxy.

While long-term fiscal responsibility is important, slashing spending in the midst of a depression, which deepens that depression and paves the way for deflation, is actually self-defeating.

So I don't think this is really about Greece, or indeed about any realistic appreciation of the tradeoffs between deficits and jobs. It is, instead, the victory of an orthodoxy that has little to do with rational analysis, whose main tenet is that imposing suffering on other people is how you show leadership in tough times.

You can read the whole thing and pass it on to your friends here

(Above image of economist Paul Krugman created by Alain Roche)

DIGNITY FOR ALL STUDENTS ACT WAITING FOR GOV'S SIGNATURE

Rochesterian and Pride At Work member Todd Plank has been
a tireless advocate for the Dignity For All Students Act. 
Here he is marching in the Rochester Pride Parade in 2009.
(photo by Ove Overmyer)

Albany, N.Y. -- In an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote of 58-3 on June 22, the New York State Senate passed a bill combating bias-based bullying, harassment and discrimination in the state's public schools. The Senate vote follows the Assembly's May 17 passage of the "Dignity for All Students Act" or "Dignity" (A.3661/S.1987) with a vote of 138-4.

Western New York Senate Republicans George Maziarz (62nd District-- Niagara, Orleans and parts of Monroe County) and Dale Volker (59th-- parts of Erie, Wyoming, Livingston and Ontario Counties) both voted no on the bill.

The Dignity bill was first introduced in the Legislature in 2000 and has been passed nine years by the Assembly with overwhelming bipartisan support. This is the first time the Senate has passed a bill that would extend protections for gender expression, gender identity and for transgender people.

The New York State Assembly had previously approved the bill on May 17. Governor David Paterson is expected to sign the legislation into law.  It will take effect July 1, 2012.

Assembly Member Daniel O'Donnell, the Assembly sponsor of the bill said, "For too long, our educational system has been blind to the plight of these students. I am proud that the Assembly led the way on this important issue, and that the Dignity for All Students Act will finally reach the Governor's desk."

Your Local 828 officers have been vocal proponents of this legislation, helping the Region 6 Women’s Committee craft and pass a similar resolution at the CSEA statewide delegates meeting last September in Buffalo, N.Y..

The Women's Committee is co-chaired by Judy Dipaola (Local 335) and Rose Conti (Local 859), and they should be publicly thanked for their courageous leadership on this issue.  CSEA represents many workers in the public school environment, and this legislation will give members the necessary tools to help create safer public school environments.

Here is a press release from Senator Tom Duane, the senate sponsor of the bill.

This legislation would establish reporting requirements, as well as clear procedures for responding to incidents of abuse and bullying. The bill also calls for the prevention of harassment through education by training students and staff on how to foster a learning environment free of harassment based on a person’s race, national origin, sex, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. Right now, New York is one of only eight states nationwide without an anti-bullying law.

“Bullying and harassment in any form are disruptive to a student’s ability to learn and a threat to the safety and security of our children. No student should have to fear for his or her safety while trying to learn in school,” said Local 828 President Bess Watts.

Key provisions include: developing rules to prevent and respond to discriminatory harassment and hate violence; establishing teacher, staff and administrative training guidelines; incorporating discrimination awareness into civility and character education curricula; and, required reporting of incidents of bias harassment to the State Education Department.

(Above file photo of Senator Tom Duane provided by NYS Senate)

Friday, July 2, 2010

DAY FOUR: ELECTION GOES TO MCENTEE AIDE LEE SAUNDERS

Lee Saunders was elected as the new
AFSCME Secretary-Treasurer on Thursday, July 1

Boston, Mass.--  A top assistant to Union President McEntee was sworn-in as the Union's number two officer during the Friday morning session.

CSEA President Danny Donohue has failed in his quest for the post of secretary-treasurer of AFSCME, the national union that includes nearly 300,000 CSEA members.  CSEA is one of the nation's biggest locals.  Donohue lost by 4,306 votes out of a total weighted vote of 1.3 million. Saunders received 652,660 votes in the election, then followed by Danny Donohue, President, Civil Service Employees Association CSEA)/AFSCME Local 1000 (NY) who received 648,356 votes. A third candidate, Mark Foley, President, Local 2019, California Council 57, received 1,489 votes.

Coming into Boston, it was speculated Saunders was favored to win as he is the executive assistant and favorite son to AFSCME President Gerald McEntee.

The election caused some tension and a rare split in the AFSCME union this past week. The outgoing secretary-treasurer, Bill Lucy, who has held the position for 38 years, backed Donohue.

"Danny Donohue and I are both deeply committed to our members and deeply devoted to this union," Saunders said. "Both of us waged very vigorous and energetic campaigns. I am very grateful for his words of support and look forward to working together to advance the interests of our members and the working people of this country.”

Donohue’s past endorsement of Republicans (namely former Gov. George Pataki) became an issue during this heated campaign, with Danny arguing perhaps more vociferously than his brothers and sisters in the movement that Democrats should not take them for granted and automatically expect to receive their political and financial support. It seemed like the message resonated with most members, but didn't put him over the top when all the votes were counted.


Cris Zaffuto and I are returning to Rochester Friday evening after the general session.  Attending the AFSCME convention has been an eye-popping experience, and I have alot of information I want to share with all of you upon my return.

In Solidarity,

Bess Watts
President, CSEA Monroe County Local 828
AFSCME Delegate 2010
(photos and video by Bess Watts)