Monday, April 30, 2012


NYS Assembly Passes Gender Expression Nondiscrimination Act

Albany, N.Y.-- Today, we as a state move one step closer to full equality for ALL with the Assembly's passage of Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA); a bill which I am proud to be a co-sponsor.             

Transgender individuals whose gender identity, appearance, behavior or expression differs from their genetic sex at birth under current law are not protected from discrimination in housing, employment, public accommodations and many other areas of life, and they are particularly vulnerable to hate crimes. We must end this discrimination.

Many people who supported SONDA (the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act) believed that it covered transgender discrimination. However, gender identity or expression is not the same as sexual orientation; thus the passage of GENDA legislation is necessary for us all to have equality.

I will continue my strong support and fight for civil rights for ALL New Yorkers. Everyone deserves the right to safe and equal protection under the law. Long overdue, GENDA will make it illegal to fire someone from their job, kick someone out of their apartment or deny credit to someone simply because of their gender identity or expression. This is a crucial step in supporting civil rights.

The experience of transgender individuals, and the discrimination they face, are unique, and should be specifically identified and unambiguously rejected in our State's civil rights laws, just like discrimination based on age, sex, sexual orientation, religion, race, disability, or ethnicity.

The Assembly Majority has always been a supporter of equal rights and we hope our partners in the Senate will join us and pass this very important piece of legislation.

Monday, April 23, 2012


Rochester, N.Y.-- On April 28, CSEA and AFSCME and the unions of the AFL-CIO observe Workers Memorial Day to remember those who have suffered and died on the job and to renew the fight for safe workplaces. 

This year, CSEA will be hosting a memorial service during it's bi-annual Health & Safety Conference in Lake Placid, N.Y. to mourn the dead and fight like hell for the living. 

Four decades ago, Congress passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act, promising every worker the right to a safe job. CSEA and AFSCME and our allies have fought hard to make that promise a reality—winning protections that have made jobs safer, saved hundreds of thousands of lives and prevented millions of workplace injuries and illnesses.

But our work is not done. Many job hazards are unregulated and uncontrolled. Some employers cut corners and violate the law, putting workers in serious danger and costing lives. Our basic right to collective bargaining and a voice on the job is under assault. Each year thousands of workers are killed and millions more injured or diseased because of their jobs.

The Obama administration has strengthened protections with tougher enforcement on serious violators and has proposed new safeguards for workplace hazards. But business groups and the Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives are attacking these stronger measures, falsely claiming they kill jobs.

They are pushing legislation to make it difficult, if not impossible, to issue needed safeguards to protect workers and the public. CSEA and AFSCME will not let them turn back the clock and destroy the progress we have made. Safety laws and regulations don’t kill jobs —but unsafe jobs do kill workers.

On Worker Memorial Day, we will remember those who have suffered and died on the job and to renew the fight for safe workplaces. This year we will fight to create good jobs in this country that are safe and healthy. We will fight for the freedom of workers to form unions and, through their unions, to speak out and bargain for respect and a better future. We will demand that our country fulfill the promise of safe jobs for all.

Sunday, April 22, 2012



When the Governor and the majority of our State Legislature, under the cover of darkness, sold working people out and undermined retirement security by passing a new pension tier, Tier 6, they also passed a boondoggle of a taxpayer giveaway to themselves and political appointees. 

They voted for a retirement perk worth thousands of dollars for themselves and their political appointees at your expense. Under Tier 6, taxpayers are on the hook for paying for an 8 percent of salary retirement perk for politicians and their appointees every year! These politically favored few will be allowed to skip out overnight, taking thousands of taxpayer dollars after just one year of service. 

We need to repeal that boondoggle and hold them accountable. 

Click the link below to visit our new e-mail campaign, input your zip code, and send them a message to repeal this giveaway to the politically connected and restore fairness to the State Pension Fund! 

Click here to Stop the Giveaway.

Saturday, April 21, 2012



This Week In Albany
Week ending April 20, 2012

Legislators Come Back to Albany

After being in their legislative districts for the previous two weeks, State Senators and Assemblymembers came back to Albany to begin work on post-budget issues.  Major policy issues to emerge so far include raising the state’s minimum wage, creating new tax breaks for small businesses, and campaign finance reform.

While these issues are currently being discussed, it is unlikely that any resolution will occur prior to the last few weeks of session.  The Legislature is scheduled to adjourn for the year on June 21.

Now that legislators are back, we need to continue to remind them that they need to repeal the Dark Deal they included in the Tier 6 pension bill.  Under Tier 6, taxpayers are on the hook for paying for an 8 percent of salary retirement perk for politicians and their appointees every year.  You can tell your state legislators to stop the giveaway, and you can help build support for the repeal on Facebook!

Registered Republicans Will Vote This Tuesday

This Tuesday is the Republican Presidential primary in New York.  The candidates on the ballot are Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum.  Even though it seems Mitt Romney has the nomination locked up, it is still important to exercise your right to vote and make your voice heard.

You can find your polling location, along with voting hours, at the Board of Elections website.

Editor's Note: There is still time to switch your party enrollment from Republican. We at the Voice Reporter challenge any right-minded union member to a frank discussion why they would belong to a national party that continues to marginalize working families and oppress working poor. Do the right thing and reinvest in your own future by re-registering today.

Monday, April 16, 2012


Washington, D.C.-- April 17 Equal Pay Day; Equal Work Deserves Equal Pay
I can’t believe that in this day and age, women still earn three-quarters of what men do for the same work. Tomorrow, April 17, is Equal Pay Day -- the day of the year marking how much longer women have to work to earn as much as men.

So today I’m participating in New York City’s sixth annual Equal Pay Day Forum to call attention to this inequity.

I’m also co-sponsoring the Paycheck Fairness Act, a critical piece of legislation that will help close the persistent pay gap in this country.

A year and a half ago, the Senate had the opportunity to pass a similar bill, but it failed. We can’t let that happen again. Join me today in support of this bill and let’s put an end to the era of unequal pay.

Click here to stand with me in support of equal pay for all. We can’t allow our country to remain in the dark ages. We have to move forward.

While fairness is central to the issue of equal pay, it’s not the only consideration. Equal pay is also key to economic growth. Women are huge drivers of our economy, and they contribute to family incomes more than ever before. That means all of us suffer when women don’t earn what they deserve. Some say the U.S. GDP would grow by up to 9 percent if women were given equal pay.

We’ve made progress over the years, but right now we’re at a standstill. In Wisconsin, Governor Scott Walker has actually rolled back our progress by repealing his state’s Equal Pay Enforcement Act, which was designed to help victims of wage discrimination pursue damages. And Mitt Romney's now calling Governor Walker his hero.

In the face of that kind of opposition, we have only one option -- push harder! And that’s exactly what I’m doing.

I hope you’ll join me and use this day to win on an issue we’ve been fighting about for far too long.
Click here to sign my petition in support of the Paycheck Fairness Act. Let’s end wage discrimination once and for all.

With your help, we can make sure we never have to observe another Equal Pay Day again.

Thanks for your continued support,


Saturday, April 14, 2012


Rochester, New York – March 27, 2012.  Republicans in the Monroe County Legislature Monday night voted against two proposals that would have reformed the process in which elected officials are provided pay hikes. The reform proposals would have required that the public receive notice of any pay raise before it is passed and that a compensation committee approve the pay raise before it is submitted to the legislature.
Democratic Legislator Michael Patterson (D-Rochester), the sponsor of the public Compensation Committee legislation, said, “Our Republican colleagues voted against two good government proposals last night.  I find these votes baffling.  It is as though they have made a commitment to maintaining opportunities for legislative abuse of power at the expense of the taxpayers. What does the Republican majority stand for?  What kind of Republicans are these?”
Democratic Legislator Josh Bauroth (D-Rochester), the sponsor of the public notice legislation, said, “Clearly there is no legitimate reason why the public should not be notified before this legislature votes on a pay raise for elected officials. I am saddened that our Republican colleagues failed to support accountability and transparency in Monroe County.”
These proposals are in response to a last minute pay raise given to the Sheriff by Republicans in the Legislature last December. The Sheriff’s salary will increase to $160,000 April 1st, 2012, with the early passage of the State Budget. There is no identified source of revenue to pay for the Sheriff’s raise, so it remains unclear where that funding will come from.
To view Legislator Patterson's proposal, click HERE.


Rochester, N.Y. -- Democrats in the Monroe County Legislature have introduced two proposals earlier last month, in an effort to add accountability measures that would reform the way elected officials can legally receive a pay raise. The reform proposals would require that the public receive notice of any pay raise before it is passed and that the Compensation Committee approve of any pay raise before it is submitted to the Legislature. On March 27, the GOP majority nixed the idea-- basically to protect their agenda come hell or high water. Ironically, this comes at a time when most County workers have been on the job without a contract since December 31, 2008. 

With that in mind, the minority caucus fired off a letter last week to the Brooks Administration to advise her and her GOP colleagues that a fair contract for County employees should not be a partisan issue and at the same time, the hypocrisy over huge pay hikes for our County's top officials smacks of self-interest. Workers who are represented by CSEA and FSW will take to the streets one more time on April 17, rallying out in front of the Monroe County Office Building in downtown Rochester before the general meeting of the County Legislature. Right-minded folks of our area are encouraging the County Executive to return to the negotiating table and bargain in good faith-- something this administration has a hard time grasping.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012



A new study shines a bright light on the politics of income inequality.
Is the concept of "compassionate conservative" an oxymoron?
Rochester, N.Y. -- The Voice Reporter recently came across an article in Scientific American that measured how much empathy we Americans have for one another. The kicker here is a variable with respect to personal wealth—and the results really didn’t surprise us at all. In fact, it just reinforced a notion that was consistent with our own empirical observations.

Who is more likely to lie, cheat, and steal—the poor person or the rich one? It’s tempting to think that the wealthier you are, the more likely you are to act fairly. After all, if you already have enough for yourself, it’s easier to think about what others may need. But research suggests the opposite is true-- as people climb the social ladder, their compassionate feelings towards other people decline.

Berkeley psychologists Paul Piff and Dacher Keltner ran several studies looking at whether social class (as measured by wealth, occupational prestige, and education) influences how much we care about the feelings of others. In one study, Piff and his colleagues discreetly observed the behavior of drivers at a busy four-way intersection. They found that luxury car drivers were more likely to cut off other motorists instead of waiting for their turn at the intersection. This was true for both men and women upper-class drivers, regardless of the time of day or the amount of traffic at the intersection. In a different study they found that luxury car drivers were also more likely to speed past a pedestrian trying to use a crosswalk, even after making eye contact with the pedestrian.

In order to figure out whether selfishness leads to wealth (rather than vice versa), Piff and his colleagues ran a study where they manipulated people’s class feelings. The researchers asked participants to spend a few minutes comparing themselves either to people better off or worse off than themselves financially. Afterwards, participants were shown a jar of candy and told that they could take home as much as they wanted. They were also told that the leftover candy would be given to children in a nearby laboratory. Those participants who had spent time thinking about how much better off they were compared to others ended up taking significantly more candy for themselves--leaving less behind for the children.

A related set of studies published by Keltner and his colleagues last year looked at how social class influences feelings of compassion towards people who are suffering. In one study, they found that less affluent individuals are more likely to report feeling compassion towards others on a regular basis. For example, they are more likely to agree with statements such as, “I often notice people who need help,” and “It’s important to take care of people who are vulnerable.” This was true even after controlling for other factors that we know affect compassionate feelings, such as gender, ethnicity, and spiritual beliefs.

In a second study, participants were asked to watch two videos while having their heart rate monitored. One video showed somebody explaining how to build a patio. The other showed children who were suffering from cancer. After watching the videos, participants indicated how much compassion they felt while watching either video. Social class was measured by asking participants questions about their family’s level of income and education. The results of the study showed that participants on the lower end of the spectrum, with less income and education, were more likely to report feeling compassion while watching the video of the cancer patients. In addition, their heart rates slowed down while watching the cancer video—a response that is associated with paying greater attention to the feelings and motivations of others.

These findings build upon previous research showing how upper class individuals are worse at recognizing the emotions of others and less likely to pay attention to people they are interacting with (e.g. by checking their cell phones or doodling).

But why would wealth and status decrease our feelings of compassion for others? After all, it seems more likely that having few resources would lead to selfishness. Piff and his colleagues suspect that the answer may have something to do with how wealth and abundance give us a sense of freedom and independence from others. The less we have to rely on others, the less we may care about their feelings. This leads us towards being more self-focused. Another reason has to do with our attitudes towards greed. Like Gordon Gekko, upper-class people may be more likely to endorse the idea that “greed is good.” Piff and his colleagues found that wealthier people are more likely to agree with statements that greed is justified, beneficial, and morally defensible. These attitudes ended up predicting participants’ likelihood of engaging in unethical behavior.

These findings help elucidate the politics of income inequality. Given the growing income inequality in the United States, the relationship between wealth and compassion has important implications. Those who hold most of the powers in this country, political and otherwise, tend to come from privileged backgrounds. If social class influences how much we care about others, then the most powerful among us may be the least likely to make decisions that help the needy and the poor. They may also be the most likely to engage in unethical behavior. Keltner and Piff recently speculated in the New York Times about how their research helps explain why Goldman Sachs and other high-powered financial corporations are breeding grounds for greedy behavior. Although greed is a universal human emotion, it may have the strongest pull over those of who already have the most.

Are you surprised by these findings? Neither are we. To reference the article, you can go here and read the article by Daisy Grewal Posted: 04/11/2012 8:32 am Updated: 04/11/2012 8:32 am.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012



Rochester, N.Y. — Who says economic policy has to be wonkish and boring? Not John Schmitt, senior economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR). He gets right to the point in his new report, “The Minimum Wage Is Too Damn Low.”

The minimum wage was last increased-- to $7.25 an hour-- nearly three years ago. He writes that the minimum wage is now far below its historical level by all of the most commonly used benchmarks-- inflation, average wages and productivity. If it kept pace with the Consumer Price Index, today’s minimum wage would be $10.52 an hour.

Click here for the full report.

In another recent report, CEPR showed that the costs of family health insurance and college tuition for minimum wage workers are incredibly out of reach. Click here.

Until decision-makers in Albany and Washington understand the plight of America's working poor, our economy will continue to suffer. And, for the record, there is a huge difference between minimum wage and a living wage. The only way to fiscal wellness for families, federal, state and local governments is building a strong middle class society-- lifting working folks out of poverty so they can become contributing consumers of a global economy.

Pressure rises to raise worker wages

As the nation’s economy slowly recovers and income inequality emerges as a crucial issue in the presidential campaign, lawmakers are facing growing pressure to raise the minimum wage.

State legislators in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Illinois and elsewhere are pushing to raise the minimum wage. These moves are giving momentum to an effort to persuade Congress to embrace a higher national minimum wage. Progressive and labor groups, capitalizing on the energy and message of the Occupy Wall Street movement, are urging Senator Tom Harkin, Democrat of Iowa and chairman of the Senate Labor Committee, to head a Congressional effort to raise the federal minimum to $9.80 an hour by 2014. NYS Democratic Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver is overtly pushing for raising the minimum wage.

Although some states raise the minimum wage automatically every year as the cost of living increases, federal law does not provide for an automatic increase. Stay tuned to further developments.

Thursday, April 5, 2012


Rally for a Fair Contract has been
rescheduled for April 17 @ 5 pm
Attention Rochester & Monroe County area union members and our allies:

The Monroe County Legislature meeting scheduled for Tuesday April 10th has been rescheduled to Tuesday, April 17th. Therefore, our rally has been rescheduled as well.


WHEN: April 17, 2012
TIME: 5:00 pm – 6:00 pm

WHERE: Monroe County Office Building, 39 West Main Street, Rochester New York

At 6 pm, we ask that you attend the first hour of the Monroe County Legislature open forum to listen to your union officers speak on your behalf.

-Please wear your union colors-
For more information, call (585) 328.5250


National Library Week is April 8-14, 2012.

Rochester, N.Y. -- Whether you are a job seeker looking for resources to land a new job, a parent looking for free activities for children or a student searching for your next favorite book, you belong at your library.

Today’s libraries help level the playing field by making both print and digital information affordable, available and accessible to all people.  Libraries provide cultural heritage and genealogical collections, materials in print and electronic formats, job seeking resources, English as second language and citizenship classes and many other creative and resourceful programs.

Libraries have historically served as our nation’s great equalizers of knowledge. The strength of libraries has always been the diversity of their collections and commitment to serving all people. This National Library Week, which is slated for April 8-14 this year, we are asking you to join our nation’s libraries and library workers by celebrating the place where we all belong.

“Today's libraries provide a wide range of opportunities for people with diverse needs and interests,” says Ove Overmyer, CSEA President of the City of Rochester Library Workers Local 828 Unit 7420. “That means providing our communities with tailor made collections and services for people of diverse backgrounds, language abilities and technological skills.”

First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country each April. 

For more information, visityour local library today.


Rochester, N.Y. -- Its official--The Legislature and Governor finally agreed on a State Budget for fiscal year 2012-13. This is the second year in a row it was done before the April 1 deadline.

The budget agreement includes $2.615 million in additional Library Aid as well as $1.3 million in funding to those libraries impacted by the MTA Payroll tax (in lieu of exempting those libraries from the payroll tax). In addition, the Legislature moved $200 million from competitive school grants to formula funding in School Aid, providing more direct aid to schools.

CSEA and AFSCME members who work in our libraries across the state number in the tens of thousands. Congratulations to library advocates across the state who helped to ensure that our elected representatives understood the value and importance of libraries. Our voices in Albany made a difference. Not advocating for strong libraries and a strong state library system would devastating to the quality of life for New Yorkers and wreak havoc on our fragile economy in our local communities. Even though funding is a slight increase from last year and appears essentially flat over the past several years— libraries across New York State will have an easier time managing their own budgets compared to previous year's past.

We have a lot of library champions to thank—but let’s start with New York Library Association’s former executive director Michael Borges. Bravo to Michael for all his tireless efforts and showing great vision. We wish him luck in his new venture and will miss him greatly. NYLA’s new interim executive director is Jeremy Johannesen.

Monday, April 2, 2012


If you can't make the connection between GOP policies and social injustice,
then you are living in a fantasy world. No justice, no peace.

Rochester, N.Y. -- Today, more American civilians are killing people and claiming self-defense. This comes at a time in our nation’s history when the overall U.S. homicide rate is declining while more civilians are killing each other and claiming self-defense--a trend that is most pronounced in states with new 'stand your ground' laws.

The Voice Reporter was sickened by the news that NYS Senator George Maziarz is asking the state legislature to pass a similar version of the Stand Your Ground Law, which essentially makes it easier to kill people with no consequences.

These laws, which grant people more leeway to attack and even kill someone who is threatening them, are attracting close scrutiny following February's controversial killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Florida by a neighborhood watchman. Florida has one of the broadest self-defense laws of the 25 states with some edict of a 'stand your ground' principle.

In the wake of the controversy, New York State Senate Democrats have asked Republican State Senator George Maziarz to withdraw his proposed "Stand Your Ground" bill . In a prepared statement they said, "This legislation has the effect of justifying murder because of a perceived threat, even in cases where that perception appears to be based more on racial stereotyping than on any real danger," noting that the bill's language is exactly the same as Florida's.

So-called justifiable homicides nearly doubled from 2000 to 2010, the most recent data available, when 326 were reported, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of crime statistics from all 50 states. Over that same 11-year period, total killings averaged roughly 16,000 a year, according to the state figures.