Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Are you worried about your NYS pension? Governor Andrew Cuomo is giving you good reason to be.

Rochester, N.Y.-- Gov. Cuomo's 2012 budget calls for the addition of Tier 6 to the retirement system. In addition to forcing new employees to work longer for a smaller benefit, the new tier offers a dangerous 401(k) option. How is it dangerous? New employees will have little choice BUT the 401(k) option, as the Tier 6 option is such a degraded benefit. As more employees choose to put their money into 401(k)s, less money will go into the pension system, until the fund becomes insolvent and can no longer pay out pensions.

We have the opportunity to STOP this from happening, but we need your HELP! Please join for a short training on the facts about Tier 6 and how we can fight to protect our pensions!




WHEN: Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012 at 10:30 AM - 1:00 PM

Fran Turner, Director of Legislative and Political Action for CSEA will be in Rochester to conduct the training. Click here and listen to Fran Turner being interviewed by The Buffalo News. It is important that you attend. There will be other trainings in the Buffalo area and in other areas of Region 6 that are yet to be scheduled. See below for details:

Thursday, January 26, 2012


Michael Borges
NYLA Executive Director
Testimony of NYLA Executive Director, Michael Borges

Joint Legislative Budget Hearing on Education
 January 23, 2012

Good morning and thank you for letting me speak to you today about state funding for libraries and library systems.

I first want to thank Governor Cuomo for not reducing our funding in the Executive Budget. I especially want to thank Senator Hugh Farley for persuading the Senate to establish the Select Committee on Libraries with an outstanding 19 members volunteering to serve on it. And I also want to especially thank Assemblymember Bob Reilly for having the courage to hold a hearing by the Assembly Library Committee back in November on library funding and particularly what the Assembly could do for the library community. And finally I want to thank all those members of the Legislature who voted for our seven legislative priorities last year of which three were signed into law.

However, despite all these recent positive steps, the fact is library funding is still down 23% from 2007 – at a time when library use is up 11%. Library Aid is currently at $79 million, which is less than when I started this job eight years ago. If you look at the chart that accompanies my testimony, you will see that we are back at 1994 levels of funding. No other educational institutions are funded at 1994 levels, not schools, not colleges, not BOCES, so why are libraries?

Libraries are educational institutions, chartered by the Board of Regents, administered by the state Education Department, receive state funding and local support and serve the educational needs of their communities just like schools do – and even beyond what schools do -- and yet time after time, we are the last to receive funding increases and the first to receive cuts, and disproportionate cuts at that. What the library community wants is parity, equity, fairness, call it what you will, we want to be treated the same as schools, the state courts have already recognized libraries as educational institutions, the time has come for the Legislature and Governor to follow suit.

The library community has always been reasonable and flexible with our requests, we have never asked for more than the state can realistically provide. Our needs are small, so small that the amount of Library Aid in the budget is less than one tenth of one percent of the entire state budget. Libraries are in our communities, in our schools and on our college campuses. Libraries are with us at every point in our pursuit of life-long learning. If you combine the 10 million public library cardholders, with the 3 million k-12 students served by school libraries, and the 1.4 million college students served by college libraries, libraries serve approximately 75% of the state’s population. No other state supported service serves so many people for so few dollars.

The New York Library Association commissioned a poll with the Siena Research Institute two weeks ago and their survey of registered voters showed that 71% supported giving libraries the same state aid increases as schools. I mean in percentages and not in real dollars, which means a very modest $3 million more in 2012-13, which would bring Library Aid back up to $82 million, which is still less than the amount libraries were getting in 2004 when George Pataki was Governor.

Photo: Bess Watts
Also according to the Siena poll, 24% of respondents had someone in their household use the resources at the library to apply for a job, search for a new career or improve their employment skills in the past twelve months. In a Siena poll conducted over the summer, they found 57% of New York household have experienced at least some type of job loss or dislocation (reduced hours, etc) and based on the new data at least 42% of those households facing job search needs have in the last year used a library as part of their search. Bottom line, a large percentage of unemployed or underemployed are using libraries to look for jobs.

Libraries have been providing this “safety net” for the unemployed with no help from the state. In fact, as I stated at the beginning, the state has actually cut library aid 23% since the economic crisis began. Well, we can’t continue much longer to provide these needed services – not if all we have are 1994 dollars. We need your help now.

In addition to helping the unemployed during these difficult economic times, average families are using libraries in greater numbers. The amount of items borrowed by your constituents has risen from 136 million in 2004 to 165 million in 2010 an 18% increase. Visitation to libraries increased from 107 million in 2004 to 117 million in 2010 a 9% increase. And those numbers are telling in that circulation of materials increased at twice the rate of visits to libraries, which means more library users are taking advantage of downloadable materials (like ebooks) from library websites.

When your constituents get to vote on local library funding, they do so in overwhelming numbers, with 97% of library budgets being approved over the last three years, which is an outstanding approval rate given the tough economic times we have been through.

The library community knows times are time tough and the economy is in flux and state finances are fragile. But that is why you should be supporting libraries, because during tough economic times libraries are used even more. The numbers don’t lie, whether, its polling data, circulation numbers, or budget passage rates. New Yorkers, your constituents use and support libraries, and you should as well, especially since it takes very little effort and resources to satisfy our needs.

I have also included in my written testimony a list of legislative action items from my presentation to the Assembly Library Committee in November.

1. Going forward recognize libraries as educational institutions and tie percentage increases in Library Aid with School Aid.

2. Exempt public libraries from the MTA payroll tax like public and private schools are now.

3. Allow libraries to access other sources of state funding like Adult Literacy Education (ALE), Employment Preparation Education (EPE), Universal Pre-K and Workforce Development funds that can support the services and programs that libraries are providing in their communities.

4. Support the passage of legislation that allows libraries to partner with other governmental entities like BOCES to provide internet access, or that provide flexibility in procurement practices and in the allocation of library aid.

5. Broadband access and high-speed internet connections are essential not only to our libraries and other community anchor institutions, but to the viability of our economy. Since libraries are a key provider of community internet access, a stable funding stream through a state Universal Service Fund should be created that supports broadband deployment, high speed access to libraries and schools, and digital literacy efforts to bridge the digital divide and expand the number of digitally literate New Yorkers.

6. According to the state Library there is approximately $2.5 billion in library construction and renovation needs throughout the state and yet the state provides only $14 million annually for public library construction funds. A modest increase to $20 million would be welcome.

Monday, January 23, 2012


Albany, N.Y-- Over the last three years, Library Aid has been cut by 23 percent, going from $102 million in 2008 to $79 million in 2011, which is below 1994 levels of funding. No other educational institutions are being asked to operate and provide services at 1994 levels, not schools or colleges, and neither should libraries. What's up with that?

The Voice Reporter is asking you to please contact your state legislators by going to The New York Library Association homepage and click on the Contact Your Elected Officials button on the lower left of the screen to send a fax or email to your state representatives.

The Governor has released his proposed 2012-13 Executive Budget and has kept Library Aid funding flat at last year's final level of $79 million (including the $3 million restored by the Legislature) and has also included $14 million in Public Library Construction funds.

CSEA and AFSCME both represent tens of thousands of library workers throughout New York State. AFSCME is the international parent union of CSEA, New York's largest public employee union.

In addition, School Aid (as promised by the Governor earlier) has been allocated a 4% increase or $805 million in additional funding to $20.3 billion (30% of state general fund).  The caveat is that the increased aid is tied to school districts adopting the new teacher evaluation process.  

CUNY and SUNY also receive same amount of general fund support as last year with the authority to spend the additional tuition increases ($113.2 million for SUNY and $66.6 million for CUNY). 

Community colleges were also held at last year's levels of $2,122 per student reimbursement. Adult Literacy Education (ALE) funding was also flat with last year at $4.2 million. 

It is not all bad news, considering our recent history with budget funding. This year we can begin our advocacy efforts with the Legislature on obtaining an increase in Library Aid (similar to schools) and not having to fight to get funds restored from last year. 

A quick reminder to all AFSCME/CSEA library workers: NYLA’s SnapshotNY is scheduled for week of February 12-25th so please visit ProtectNYLibraries.org to upload your photos, testimonials and factual data that will help our advocacy efforts. 

And Tuesday, March 6th is AFSCME/CSEA and NYLA Advocacy Day.  NYLA and library supporters will convene in Meeting Room Six in the Empire State Plaza. AFSCME/CSEA folks will register outside Meeting Room Six and enter the Convention Center for a rally, lunch and legislative prep sessions. Legislative visits will take place directly after lunch.

CSEA WNY Region 6 members can call 1.716.691.6555 to reserve your seat on the bus. Libraries Matter: See the Light.


Mario Cilento
Original post appeared in the Buffalo News
By Mario Cilento, President
New York State AFL-CIO

January 22, 2012-- It’s hard to pick up a paper or turn on the TV or computer and not see something about pensions. The media, elected officials and so-called think tanks are rightly focusing on the role of pensions in our society; unfortunately, they are missing the point.

It’s easy to be distracted by short-term rhetoric that plays on fear and ignorance, but the fact remains that the defined benefit pension, along with Social Security and Medicare, remain an essential ingredient to the retirement security of middle-class families.

We don’t hear that the average benefit for a member in the largest plan in New York, the state and local employees’ retirement system, is $19,000 per year, or that 76 percent of pensions are less than $30,000 per year.

For years, these workers have been part of the engine that fuels our economy. But now, they are blamed for collecting the pensions they’ve earned through deferred wages.

There is no doubt that state and local governments face difficult budgetary decisions, but some corporations and their messengers have tried to capitalize on the economic crisis to justify their own rollback of pensions in favor of 401(k)s in the private sector. This is audacious considering that corporate greed and misconduct caused the collapse of the economy, the budget crisis and billions in pension losses.

The public should not be fooled by the pension feeding frenzy. First, just two years ago, the state enacted a new pension benefit — Tier 5 — that the State Division of Budget estimated would save taxpayers $35 billion over 30 years. Second, slashing pension benefits yet again will yield little to no savings in the short term, but will permanently impact the livelihood of those who dedicate a career to providing essential services to the public.

We are all in this together. Pensions benefit the economy as a whole. Retirees spend their money in their communities supporting local businesses and supporting jobs. We need to think about pensions as an economic stabilizer for middle-class families and their local economies.

Unfortunately, a financially secure retirement is slipping away from American workers. More than half are at risk of not being able to maintain their standard of living in retirement, according to the National Retirement Risk Index. Not coincidentally, this retirement insecurity comes at a time when the number of people with defined benefit pensions is declining.

If we want to ensure that all workers can retire with dignity while at the same time supporting our economy, we must bolster wage replacement in retirement for all, not diminish retirement security for those who have some semblance of it through their pensions.

Finally, we must remember that what our state really needs is jobs, jobs, jobs. This is the shared agenda of all New Yorkers. Adding yet another pension tier will not produce one job and is simply a distraction.

Sunday, January 22, 2012


Rochester, N.Y.-- The US Labor Department estimated recently that 13 million people were unemployed. Another 8 million people were working part-time but wanted full-time work. Even more millions who are not working are not counted in those numbers because they have been unemployed so long.

A study by Northeastern University found that in the poorest families, unemployment is nearly 31 percent. Underemployment is also much more of a problem in poor homes, with over 20 percent of those workers reporting they are working part-time but seeking full-time work.

Our nation can do so much more. We say our country values work. It is time to do something about it.

If the US truly values work, we need to support the millions of our sisters and brothers who are low wage workers. Steps needed include: raising the minimum wage to a living wage; protecting workers from getting ripped off; making it easier for workers to organize together if they choose to; and creating jobs, public jobs if necessary, so that everyone who wants to work can do so. Many are already working on these justice issues.

Let's make America a land where we can still have hope and dream big.


The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees has entered the Republican presidential race, and the public-employee union could be a serious contender.

John Nichols
Post by John Nichols in The Nation, January 21, 2012 - 12:45pm ET

AFSCME, which has been a key player in the struggle to defend state and local workers against the anti-union juggernaut launched by newly elected Republican governors and legislators, has long been at odds with Newt Gingrich. When the former House Speaker decided that the fundamental challenge facing the American economic system was the persistence of child-labor laws, AFSCME pushed back with a muscular campaign that asked: “Really, Newt?”

Challenging the speaker’s proposal that school janitors be replaced with “poor children,” AFSCME launched a national campaign that got thousands of Americans to sign a statement that said:

The US outlawed child labor because it denied children the chance at a real education and allowed employers to exploit children—and because children were often injured or killed on the job. That’s why labor unions fought to pass laws outlawing child labor and protecting all workers.

And the people you want to fire and replace with kids? A lot of them are parents. That job puts a roof over kids’ heads, food on the table, and provides them with health care and the chance to get an education. That job is the only thing between a kid and poverty. Firing someone’s mom and hiring the kid for less money isn’t exactly the “process of rising.” It is, in fact, the process of falling. It is the process of exploiting and destroying working families.

The fact that you don’t get that makes you not only out of touch, but utterly unqualified to serve in any elected position, let alone President of the United States. Newt, “You’re Fired!”

But it turned out that Gingrich’s anti-labor zealotry did not make him an outlier in the Republican race. If anything, the man with whom the former Speaker is now locked in an intense struggle for the party’s presidential nomination, Mitt Romney, is just as bad. In fact, it was Romney, not Gingrich, who was the first candidate to air advertisements supporting union-bashing “right-to-work (for less)” laws and promising to go after “union stooges” on the National Labor Relations Board.

So, now, AFSCME has waded into the fight, with the purchase of almost $1 million in advertising time on Florida television stations. The advertising will air in the week running up to the January 31 Republican primary—where Romney and Gingrich are in the fight of their lives.

The advertising, which will make AFSCME a major player in the final week before what could be a definitional Republican primary, targets Romney. And appropriately so. While AFSCME’s got a gripe with Gingrich, the union has just as much reason to be angry with Romney. And the AFSCME ad explains why: Romney’s been engaged with corporations that have gotten in big trouble for Medicare fraud, an issue that is of particular importance to a union whose members provide frontline medical care and assistance to the elderly and the poor.

Citing a devastating Boston Globe exposé of Romney’s creepiest business activities, the ad (which features imagery so stark that it raises the question of whether Romney is one of the undead) asks: “What kind of a businessman is Mitt Romney? While Romney was a director of the Damon Corporation, the company was defrauding Medicare of millions.”

The AFSCME ad also links Romney with Florida Governor Rick Scott, an antilabor Republican who stands accused of engaging in similar business practices, and whose approval rating of 38 percent rivals those of fellow GOP zealots Scott Walker in Wisconsin and John Kasich in Ohio. Among Floridians who think the state’s economy has gotten worse over the past year, Scott is blamed for the circumstance by an almost two-to-one margin over Democratic President Barack Obama.

It is no secret that AFSCME favors Obama, the unions endorsed candidate in 2008 and again in 2012.

Nor is it any secret that AFSCME is looking to weaken Romney, who until the last week or so appeared to be the “inevitable” GOP nominee.

But the union has taken the lead in calling out both Gingrich and Romney. And union leaders tell me they are likely to continue to “play” in what is starting to look like a long Republican primary process.

Polling confirms that the overwhelming majority of Americans oppose Republican attacks on unions—especially the attacks on the collective bargaining rights of public employees. But it is not just Democrats and independents driving those numbers, According to a USA Today/Gallup Poll, which produced similar results to other recent surveys on the issue, 41 percent of Republicans opposed attacks on collective bargaining rights.

Forty-one percent!

That’s more support than any Republican got in Iowa, or in New Hampshire.

So AFSCME has a constituency within the GOP: two of every five Republicans are on the side of the union on its most fundamental issue.

This raises a question. Since AFSCME has a clear constituency for its views within the Grand Old Party, since the union is making big ad buys in GOP primary states, and since it is doing so openly (not with front groups like the Koch brothers–funded Americans for Prosperity) and transparently (not using the Super PAC deceptions employed by Romney, Gingrich and the other contenders), maybe this is the alternative that Republicans—who polling suggests are deeply dissatisfied with their options—need at this point.

Maybe its time to pass over Newt, Mitt, Ron, Rick and whatever hangers-on may remain and find the open space at the bottom of the ballot. Maybe it’s time to write in AFSCME.

Yes, yes, we are all aware that election laws are inflexible; just ask Gingrich about the trouble he’s having getting write-in votes counted in Virginia.

And yes, yes, even if the election laws were more flexible, there might still be some grumbling about the little detail that AFSCME is not, officially, a person. Rather, it is a union of 1.4 million persons.

But this technicality ought not be overblown. Romney says that "corporations are people.” If we take him at his word, then surely unions are people too.

So there can’t be much objection to counting votes for the union that maintains a position on union issues that attracts more support from Republicans than Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich is getting: AFSCME.

Saturday, January 21, 2012


South Carolina-- As the extreme GOP presidential candidates peel off one by one, the nominating process is narrowing the field. Today, the day of the S.C. primary vote, one thing is for sure. Two or three candidates could still go all the way. And, for the others who tried? We aren't missing them at all.


Governor Proposes Executive Budget

Governor Cuomo presented his proposed Executive Budget this week. While the Governor claims that this budget will create jobs, the truth is that this budget attempts to privatize government services and attacks our defined pension system. This budget will lead to the loss of thousands of good paying middle-class jobs and will harm the pension system for current and future workers.

Over the coming weeks and months, you will be needed to fight back against these proposals in order to protect our jobs and pensions.

We have outlined portions of the budget below. However, a more thorough, detailed summary available on the CSEA website.

Tier 6

Governor Cuomo proposes to slash pension benefits for future retirees through the creation of a new Tier 6 pension plan. The new tier would apply to employees hired after April 1, 2012. It would raise the retirement age from 62 to 65, increase employee contributions based on a person’s salary, increase vesting time from 10 to 12 years, exclude all overtime from a person’s final average salary, and base a pension on the final average salary for five years, rather than the current three. Further, it would also allow employees to enroll into a 401(k) retirement plan rather than a defined benefit pension. Cuomo’s plan for a 401(k) pension will weaken our pension fund and put your pension at risk.

For more information regarding this specific proposal, including flyers and talking points, please visit the CSEA website.

State Agency Mergers

The budget proposes to following mergers of state entities:

-The Division of the Lottery and the Racing and Wagering Board

-The Department of Civil Service and the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations

-Transfer the management of Belleayre Ski Center from the Department of Environmental Conservation to the Olympic Regional Development Authority.

It is unclear if further mergers may be in the works through the Spending and Government Efficiency Commission (SAGE). We will be monitoring this commission for further developments.

State Takeover of Medicaid Administration

The budget proposes that the Department of Health take over all Medicaid administrative responsibilities from local Social Service Districts by April 1, 2018. This could include making county employees become state employees. Further, the proposal would allow the Commissioner to privatize nearly all of the work currently performed by county social service employees

DiNapoli Warns Against ‘Dismantling Pensions’

Comptroller Tom DiNapoli fought back against the inclusion of a 401(k) pension proposal in Governor Cuomo’s budget during a speech to the National Public Pension Coalition in Washington D.C.

DiNapoli said, “The solution to dismantle current defined benefit plans long term is not a solution, in fact it could create more challenges and costs down the road,” He continued by saying, “401k’s were never intended to take the place of pensions. They were designed to be savings vehicles to supplement pensions and social security income. And overall, in their relatively short history, they have proven to be woefully inadequate for those who rely on them for their primary retirement income.”

Pensions help our local economies as well. The Comptroller stated that the pensions paid to New York retirees result in an estimated $6.5 billion in spending, $9.5 billion in economic activity, and $1.3 billion in property taxes paid. Further, the idea that taxpayers foot the bill for these pensions is wrong. The Comptroller states that 83 cents of every dollar in benefits paid to New York retirees come from investment returns, not employee employer contributions.

During this time of increasing attacks on defined benefit pensions, it is important to have a leader like Comptroller DiNapoli fight to protect our pensions.

The Week to Come

Wednesday, January 25th – CSEA will testify in front of the state legislature regarding Workforce Issues in the state budget.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


CSEA President Danny Donohue
photo: provided by CSEA

CSEA president Danny Donohue responds to the proposed 2012-13 NYS Budget:

 “Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposed budget lays out some complex challenges in many areas. CSEA remains concerned that the governor seems out of touch with the day-to-day challenges that public workers in both state and local government face as a result of his budget priorities. Too many necessary services in every part of the state are deteriorating because people are working short staffed and at risk without adequate equipment, training and backup.

“CSEA has no hesitation in saying that the proposal for a new public employee pension tier is an assault on the middle class and a cheap shot at public employees. It will provide no short-term savings and will mean people will have to work longer, pay more and gain less benefit. Simply put, the Tier VI provisions would be onerous on working people and undermine middle class security and the governor ought to be more concerned about that.

“The governor’s proposal of a 401K style option as part of Tier VI would certainly be attractive to highly paid political appointees who could max out their contribution, have it matched by the public employer and take it with them as they come and go. It’s a lot different for front-line career employees who have to worry about whether being at the mercy of Wall Street ups and downs will provide them with adequate retirement security 30 years from now.”

Monday, January 16, 2012


Joe Cannarozzo
photo: Lynn Miller
 Webster, N.Y.--  It is with great sadness that I share the news of the loss of one of our beloved CSEA members, Joe Cannarozzo.

Joe recently retired and worked and lived in the Town of Webster and served on the CSEA Region 6 Planning committee for years. He died on January 14, 2012 at age 58.

He was an active and long time member of CSEA Monroe County Local 828, Town of Webster Highway Department Unit 7411. Joe never missed the opportunity to participate in the annual Rochester Labor Day Parade.

Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and close friends. Joe will remain forever in our hearts. --Bess Watts, president CSEA Monroe County Local 828.

Joe was predeceased by his father, Joseph Frederick Cannarozzo. Survived by his beloved wife of 30 years, Nancy (Secora) Cannarozzo; his children, Brett (Kara) Cannarozzo, Laura (Beau) Rabetoy, Katelyn Cannarozzo; his mother, Lucy Cannarozzo; sisters, Linda Cannarozzo, Mary (Dennis) Cudzilo, Donna (John) Horvath; brother-in-law & sister-in-law, Steve (Linda) Secora; also many aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews and dear friends.

The arrangements are as follows: Calling hours are Tuesday, January 17 at 2-4 and 7-9 at the Falvo Funeral Home, 1295 Fairport Nine Mile Point Rd., Route 250.

On Wednesday, January 18, please meet the family at 9 AM in St. Paul's Church, 783 Hard Road, for the celebration of his Funeral Mass. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Pluta Cancer Center, 125 Red Creek Dr., Rochester, NY 14623. Interment, Webster Rural Cemetery.

Sunday, January 15, 2012



MLK shakes president Johnson's
hand after hhe signed the Civil
Rights Act in 1964.
(Rochester, NY) - For the 31st consecutive year, University of Rochester Medical Center staff will mark the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with a celebration of poetry, song, dance, and spoken word on Monday, January 16.

This year’s keynote speaker is Gregory Galluzzo, founder of the Gamaliel Foundation, which under his leadership grew to a nationwide network of community organizing projects. Galluzzo, a former Jesuit priest, became a trainer of organizers. He hired and trained Barack Obama in Gamaliel’s Chicago program, and is often called the President’s “organizing mentor.”

Rather than retire when he stepped down as Gamaliel’s executive director, Galluzzo continues to travel the country training community organizers. He is a regular visitor to Upstate New York where Gamaliel has projects in Buffalo, Niagara Falls, and Syracuse.


WHEN: 11:30 AM, MONDAY, JANUARY 16, 2012


The event is co-sponsored by 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East and the Strong Memorial Hospital Division of the University of Rochester Medical Center. The program is free and open to the public.

For further information, please contact Zola Brown at (585)-244-0830 x318.


Senator Farley Announces Establishment of Senate Library Committee

Albany, N.Y.-- State Senator Hugh T. Farley (R,C, I - Schenectady) reports that he was named Chairman of a newly-created Senate Select Committee on Libraries. This 19-member bipartisan body was established on January 10th through passage of a Senate resolution.

“This new committee will help the Senate in promoting libraries and addressing their needs,” said Senator Farley. “I am proud to have been a lifelong advocate for libraries, and will continue my efforts to assist them in meeting the needs of the public.

AFSCME and CSEA, New York State's largest public employee unions, represent tens of thousands of school and public library workers from Niagara Falls to Montauk Pt.

“From 1978 to 2008, I was Chairman of the Subcommittee on Libraries,” Senator Farley said, explaining the history of the committee. “When the Senate changed leadership in 2009, the Democratic Majority eliminated this committee. I was extremely disappointed and concerned by this. Libraries have their own special needs, and I had recommended reestablishing a special Senate Committee to focus on and address their issues. I applaud Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos for recognizing the importance of libraries and appointing this committee.”

The Select Committee is authorized to conduct meetings, conferences and public hearings, to gather information and to make recommendations on library-related legislative proposals.

Mike Borges, Executive Director of the New York Library Association, attended the Senate Session and said “The library community is very pleased that the Senate has reactivated a special committee on libraries and looks forward to working with all the members to address the needs of libraries and library systems around the State.”

Senator Farley reports there are some 750 public libraries in New York State, with a total of about 7,000 libraries when academic, school and special libraries are included. There are 17 public libraries and two library systems which serve Senator Farley’s district. Each year, Senator Farley meets with local library officials to hear their concerns and get their input.

“Libraries are very important to our communities and our State,” Senator Farley said. “They provide educational services and opportunities to people of all ages. Whether you are learning to read, doing a school project, advancing your education, learning new skills, seeking a job, pursuing your hobbies and interests, seeking access to the Internet or simply looking for a good book to read, libraries offer a wide variety of resources and services to the public.”

Senator Farley has sponsored virtually every piece of major library legislation since 1978. He was a member of Governor Mario Cuomo's Commission on Libraries and was also an elected delegate to the White House Conferences on Libraries in 1979 and 1991. He has fought to secure State funding for libraries and to establish new forms of library services, including school library systems and hospital library programs.

In 2009, the Mohawk Valley Library System honored Senator Farley for his advocacy and support of libraries. In 2011, Senator Farley received the Ex Libris Award from the organization New Yorkers for Better Libraries in recognition of his leadership on library issues.


Governor Calls Special Elections

Governor Cuomo has called a March 20 special election to fill the seats of five members of the New York State Legislature who have left office. The districts are:

Assembly District 93 (Region 3) – Formerly held by Mike Spano

Assembly District 100 (Region 3) – Formerly held by Tom Kirwan

Assembly District 103 (Region 3 & 4) - Formerly held by Marc Molinaro

Assembly District 145 (Region 6) – Formerly held by Mark Schroeder

Senate District 27 (Region 2) – Formerly held by Carl Kruger

Furthermore, it was announced that State Senator Suzi Oppenheimer (D – Westchester County) will not run for re-election in November. This seat is expected to be heavily contested by both political parties.

CSEA Fights Back Against OCFS Assaults, Use of Prison Labor at DMV

President Danny Donohue spoke out about increasingly dangerous conditions in OCFS facilities statewide. In one facility, 19 staff, including the facility director, recently became victims of violent attacks by youths in their care. President Donohue blames the injuries on insufficient staffing and training. OCFS officials have repeatedly ignored the union’s concerns that front line workers aren’t being given necessary resources and support.

CSEA also came out against a program at the DMV that allows convicted felons to staff DMV call centers. President Donohue questioned how the state can give jobs to convicted felons when thousands of law-abiding New Yorkers are struggling to find work.

Triborough Amendment in the News

The Empire Center, a corporate-funded think-tank, issued a report this week calling for the repeal of the Triborough Amendment in order to provide mandate relief to local governments. Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino also called for the repeal of the law.

However, The Wall Street Journal reported that Governor Cuomo will not include the repeal of the law in the Executive Budget.

The Week to Come

The Governor will release his 2012-13 FY executive budget on Tuesday. We will provide a detailed breakdown in next week’s edition of This Week in Albany.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


USA-- Tensions between the rich and poor are increasing and at their most intense level in nearly a quarter-century, a new survey shows. Americans now see more social conflict over wealth inequality than over the hot-button topics of immigration, race relations and age.

The survey released Wednesday by the Pew Research Center highlights U.S. perceptions of the economic divide, an issue that has moved to the forefront in the 2012 presidential campaign amid stubbornly high unemployment, increasing poverty and protests by the Occupy movement.

The findings come as voters in New Hampshire's primary last Tuesday night made clear that the economy was the issue that mattered most to them. In the end, they chose Mitt Romney by a large margin, even as Republican rivals already gearing up for more competitive contests in South Carolina and elsewhere had stepped up populist attacks on him as a heartless corporate raider who slashed jobs.

President Barack Obama has been promoting a campaign message of middle-class opportunity, calling for higher taxes on the very rich and successfully pushing a two-month extension of a payroll tax cut.

The Pew survey shows that younger adults, Democrats and African-Americans remained the most likely as in previous years to cite the existence of strong disagreements between rich and poor. But in the last two years, three important swing groups — whites, middle-income Americans and political independents — registered some of the biggest increases in those who now also hold this view.

As a result, majorities of each political party and ideology all agree that serious disputes exist between Americans at the top and bottom of the economic ladder.

Still, while overall U.S. awareness of class conflict has grown significantly in recent years, public attitudes toward wealthy Americans remain largely unchanged.

For instance, about 46 percent of Americans hold a disapproving view that rich people are wealthy because they were fortunate enough to be born into money or have the right connections. But almost as many people — 43 percent — say wealthy people are rich "mainly because of their own hard work, ambition or education."

That suggests some people who see more conflict between the classes may believe that anger toward the rich is misdirected.

A recent Gallup survey also found that fewer than half of Americans said reducing the gap between rich and poor is "extremely" or "very important," compared with more than 8 in 10 who said policies to build economic growth should be a high priority for government.

"These changes in attitudes over a relatively short period of time may reflect the income and wealth inequality message conveyed by Occupy Wall Street protesters across the country in late 2011 that led to a spike in media attention," said Pew survey analyst Richard Morin. "But the changes also may reflect a growing public awareness of underlying shifts in the distribution of wealth in American society."

In recent weeks, a slew of recent census data have illustrated a widening divide, including the share of overall U.S. wealth held by the top 10 percent of the population that increased from 49 percent in 2005 to 56 percent in 2009. A separate census measure also found that a record number of Americans — nearly 1 in 2 — have fallen into poverty or make earnings that typically classify them as low income.

"As the presidential campaign begins in earnest, it is reasonable to expect that these issues will be a part of the political dialogue," Morin said.

About 3 in 10 Americans polled said there are "very strong" conflicts between the rich and poor, according to the independent research group. That is double the share who believed so in July 2009 and the largest proportion reporting that view in the 24 years the question has been asked in surveys.

In all, about 66 percent of those polled now say there are "very strong" or "strong" conflicts between the top and bottom income groups.

In contrast, a slightly smaller share of Americans — 62 percent — said there were "very strong" or "strong" conflicts between immigrants and native-born Americans. Even smaller shares of people saw such levels of conflict between blacks and whites (38 percent) and between young and old (34 percent).

That is a change from 2009, when immigration topped the survey list as causing the strongest levels of social conflict. At that time, about 55 percent reported "very strong" or "strong" conflict between immigrants and native-born Americans, compared to 47 percent who saw such conflict between the rich and poor.

-Associated Press Reports 1.12.12

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Vt. Senator Bernie Sanders (I)
photo: Jamaicaplainforum.com
Washington, D.C.-- I know that many of you are deeply concerned about the economy, health care, education, global warming and the environment, Social Security and Medicare, civil liberties, war and peace and the national debt. But here's an issue that's even more important because it encompasses all of these issues -- and much more.

Will the United States survive, in any significant way, as a democracy in which ordinary people can control their future? Or, will "democracy" simply become another commodity owned and controlled by billionaires and corporations in order to serve their own purposes?

Today, as a result of the absurd Citizens United Supreme Court decision, corporations and billionaires can spend unlimited sums of money, without disclosure, in political campaigns. And that is exactly what they're doing.

Karl Rove's American Crossroads has already pledged to spend at least $240 million in the elections of 2012. The extreme right-wing billionaire Koch brothers may be spending even more. And then there is Wall Street, the oil and coal corporations, the insurance and drug companies and the military-industrial-complex with all of their money.

The goal of the top 1 percent is simple. They will spend as much as it takes to elect candidates who support a right-wing corporate agenda. They will spend as much as it takes to defeat those candidates who are fighting for working families. And that's about it!

Please join me, Daily Kos and Democracy for America in pledging to fight to overturn Citizens United.

Our strategy must be equally simple. Short-term, we must do everything we can to support those progressive candidates in 2012 who are fighting for the middle class and the values we believe in. Long-term, we must overturn Citizens United and fight for real campaign finance reform which limits the power of big money.

Last month, I introduced a constitutional amendment, the Saving American Democracy bill, to overturn Citizens United. This amendment states that:

•Corporations do not have the same constitutional rights as human beings.

•The people have the right to regulate corporations.

•Corporations are prohibited from making campaign contributions.

•Congress and states shall have the power to set reasonable limits on election spending.

As we approach the second anniversary of the Citizens United decision, please join me, Daily Kos and Democracy for America in pledging to fight to overturn Citizens United and to counter the unlimited resources of the right-wing in 2012.

Your pledge of support today will show the Big Money interests that while they may have unlimited sums of money, we have something more important -- the power of the people. Your support could mean volunteering on local, state or national elections, organizing against Citizens United, donating to progressive candidates or running for office yourself.

Please pledge your support today. Please stand with us so that, together, we can transform American politics.



Sen. Bernie Sanders
U.S. Senator from Vermont


There will be a members-only test prep workshop at:

CSEA Region 6 Office
120 Pineview Drive
Amherst, NY

on 1/14/12 from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm

It will cover the topics found on the Administrative Aide/APA exam being given in February as well as general test-taking tips and strategies.

Understanding and Interpreting Written Material

Preparing Written Material

Evaluating Conclusions in Light of Known Facts

Understanding and Interpreting Tabular Material

The fee is $15.75. You will need to bring a calculator. Food will not be served, but you can bring your own. Please pay by 1/6/12. THIS WORKSHOP WILL NOT BE HELD UNLESS WE GET AT LEAST 15 PREREGISTRATIONS.

You may pay with a credit card or by check/money order.

If you would rather register by phone, call us at 866-478-5548, but if you do this, you may not use a credit card.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Albany, N.Y.-- Recently hired New York State public employees who will eventually pay into the NYS Retirement System should be steaming mad. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has once again put pension reform at the forefront of New York state politics. In his State of the State address last Wednesday, Cuomo insisted that the current benefits system is not sustainable, and he'll seek to establish a new tier this year.

Cuomo originally announced his vision for a new pension for state workers, a Tier VI, in June of last year.

The new pension would make a number of adjustments to the system currently in place, Tier V, which was signed into law by former Gov. David Paterson just over two years ago, in December of 2009. At the time, unions agreed to take a number of concessions in our effort to help balence the budget.

Just recently, Civil Service Employee Association President Danny Donohue said a new pension tier with fewer benefits for public employees will hurt the middle class.

Here is a tip for Gov. Cuomo: You can not have a strong New York economy with a weak middle-class. When you remove the spending power of working families, the economic climate is not conducive to grow our economy. Having a strong middle-class is what built America. Products and services mean nothing if there are no consumers to purchase those goods. What Gov. Cuomo is proposing fits nicely into the narrative that income inequality is growing because of executive decision-making by ultra-conservative lawmakers. Income inequality is not only Un-American, it is responsible for deteriorating the quality of life for millions of people.

If Tier VI is passed, the retirement age for new public employees would increase from 62 to 65 years old, with early retirement no longer available. Employees would also have to contribute 6 percent of their salary for their entire career. Vesting requirements would be increased from 10 to 12 years under the new plan.

The method for determining the final average salary of an employee, which affects the benefits he or she receives, would also be adjusted in a number of ways. Excluded in the calculation would be lump sum payouts from unused vacation time and overtime pay. Employees would also be restricted from using unused sick time to their credit at retirement.

The governor's office believes the proposed system would save the taxpayers of New York over $90 billion over the next 30 years, lessening the burden on local governments and reigning in property taxes.

Public Employees Federation President Ken Brynien, in a press release last Wednesday, insisted that reform to state worker's pension is not the solution to the state's economic woes and is only a short-term solution.

"The ability to attract good workers will be important if the governor seeks to pursue his ambitious agenda," Brynien said.

A better approach is to study use of consultants

There are other ways to cut state expenditures that don't hurt employee benefits, PEF leaders believe. The union says that using private contractors for state projects, which Cuomo once again advocated for in last Wednesday's State of the State speech, is often just as expensive as using public employees.

"What we propose is a cost-benefit analysis bill, which would compare prices just like when you buy a car or shop for groceries," said Darcy Wells, a spokeswoman for PEF.

A bill introduced in 2011, S-3093, would define under what conditions a state agency can hire outside consultants, and force it to perform a cost-benefit analysis before spending any more than $500,000. The analysis would then become a public document.

The cost-benefit analysis bill was sponsored by our local Assemblyman Harry Bronson, D-Rochester, and our local Sen. Joe Robach, R-Rochester. By a procedural rule, it was pushed back to committee the same day Governor Cuomo gave his State of the State speech.

PEF says the bill is necessary because New York state's spending on consultant services has increased 25 percent over the last seven years, to $2.8 billion in the fiscal year 2010-2011. They also say the cost of an average private consultant is 70 percent more than a state employee of the same position.

The governor's pension reform vision does have supporters, however. Nortorious anti-labor State GOP Chairman Ed Cox said in a statement last Wednesday that pension reform is one of the most important issues New York is facing today. He went on to challenge the governor to make his rhetoric a reality.

We can not overstate this: The Civil Service Employees Association, New York's largest public employee union, refutes the governor's claim that the new tier will aid the economy, saying the proposal will only serve to hurt the middle class.

Saturday, January 7, 2012



Governor Cuomo Delivers 2012 State of the State Address

Albany, N.Y.-- In his speech on Wednesday, Governor Cuomo outlined his goals for the 2012 Legislative Session.

His agenda includes:

• Closing the remaining $2 billion budget deficit with no new taxes or fees

• Implementing Mandate Relief, including the creation of a Tier 6 retirement plan.

• Creating the New York Works Fund and Task Force that will leverage capital investment to improve or replace bridges, repair work to roadways, upgrade municipal water systems, improve state parks and historic sites, and repair work to flood control projects and dams.

• Appointing a bipartisan education commission to transform Public Education including teacher accountability, student achievement, and management efficiency.

• Investing $1 billion in Buffalo for economic development.

• Instituting a Second Round of Regional Economic Development Awards.

• Supporting a constitutional amendment to allow gaming in New York State.

• Building the largest convention center in the country at the Aqueduct Race Track venue in New York City.

• Allowing SUNY's 60 campuses to compete for three $20 million challenge grants.

• Implementing campaign finance reform.

More specifics on these initiatives will be available when Governor Cuomo releases his 2012-13 Executive Budget on January 17th.

Governor Cuomo Unfairly Attacks Public Employee Pensions

During his State of the State speech, Governor Cuomo announced his intention to push for pension reform. Cuomo’s Tier 6 reforms would mean that employees would have to work longer, pay more and earn a lesser benefit.

It is currently unclear whether Governor Cuomo’s proposed Tier 6 will be included in the budget or in a separate bill. Irregardless, it is vital for CSEA members to become familiar with the real facts regarding the pension system and contact their legislators to give them the facts about our pensions. Tell them to stand up for workers all over the state and tell Governor Cuomo that his Tier 6 proposal is wrong.

Please click here for some talking points for you to fight back with.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


Ezra Klein
via Wonkbook at
Washington, D.C.-- The straightforward interpretation of Wednesday's controversial recess appointments is that they were just another salvo in the ongoing war being waged by the Obama administration and congressional Republicans over nominations.

In this view, what's interesting is that Republicans were blocking a record number of appointees and using continuous "pro forma" sessions -- that is to say, keeping Congress technically in session despite the fact that most everyone has gone home -- to deny President Obama the power to make recess appointments. In response, the Obama administration is taking the position that, legally speaking, pro forma sessions are recesses -- the Constitution is very vague on what is and isn't a recess -- and is making recess appointments anyway. If Republicans disagree, they can take him to court. Congress-expert Sarah Binder thinks, for the record, that they'll lose that case.

The less obvious, but perhaps more true, interpretation is that Wednesday's appointments are a salvo in an ongoing war over a controversial tactic that's Thomas Mann has dubbed "a modern-day form of nullification.”

Obama made four recess appointments on Wednesday. One of them lifted Richard Cordray to head of the Consumer Financial protection Bureau. Another added three members to the National Labor Relations Board. But despite having hundreds of nominees outstanding -- including for important positions like the Federal Reserve's Board of Governors and the FDIC -- Obama didn't pull a Teddy Roosevelt and make 160 appointments on the same day. Why? What makes these four nominees different from all other nominees?

The answer is that, without them, the institutions they're intended to lead will fail. Obama's maneuver was about the agencies, not the appointees. In the absence of a director, the CFPB can't exercise its powers. The expiration of Craig Becker's term on the NLRB, meanwhile, means the board is about to fall from three members to two members -- a number that the Supreme Court has ruled is less than a legal quorum, and so a number that means the NLRB cannot make binding rulings.

This is not an accident: Republicans have straightforwardly argued that they would obstruct the confirmation of any and all nominees to the CFPB until the Obama administration agreed to radically reform the agency. They were, in other words, using their power to block nominations to hold kill or change agencies that they didn't have the votes to reform through the normal legislative order. Much the same has been happening at the NLRB. A That's what Mann means when he invokes "nullification": just as the original nullification crisis was about states refusing to implement federal laws that their representatives did not have the votes to overturn, the modern-day incarnation features Republicans refusing to implement laws they don't have the votes to overturn. And this is what Obama is fighting.

As Brian Beutler puts it, Obama's maneuver "does more than fill vacancies. It actually restores the power the agency was given under the law — power Republicans were hoping to strip without passing new legislation. That’s the key thread connecting these recess appointments — and why other languishing nominees haven’t been recess appointed." So though Obama is setting a new precedent with this move, it's not clear that the precedent he intends to set is related to the obstruction of nominees. Rather, it seems related to Republican attempts to use the nomination process to undermine agencies they dislike.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


ALBANY, NY (01/04/2012) (readMedia)-- In a prepared statement released hours after the State of the State Address, CSEA President Danny Donohue said, "Gov. Andrew Cuomo presented a challenging vision of New York's future and CSEA fully expects to be actively engaged in discussion and debate with the administration over the details."

He added, "I am frankly surprised that the Governor gave such high priority to a new pension tier with emphasis on immediate impact. A Tier V was only recently enacted and will not provide the state and localities with any significant savings for many years. A Tier VI would be no different and would only mean that working people would have to work longer, pay more and benefit less – hardly in keeping with the Governor's goal of strengthening the middle class.

Finally, it was disappointing that the Governor's appropriate recognition of first responders to the recent series of natural disasters seemed to focus on the uniformed services without real appreciation for the wide range of front line state and local government employees who were essential in New York's addressing the emergency. Many of these workers put duty first to respond while their families faced risk and devastation. So many of these workers are at risk from state and local cutbacks and property tax capping."


MLK shakes hand of President
Johnson after the signing of the
Civil Rights Act of 1964.
photo: Getty Images
Rochester, N.Y.-- The struggle for union rights is often considered to be of no great significance in comparison to other landmark milestones in 20th century American history. However, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. knew better. He also knew that the right to unionize was one of the most important components to economic and social justice. Virtually his last act was in support of that right, for he was killed by an assassin's bullet on April 4, 1968, as he was preparing to lead strikers in yet another demonstration.

Those marchers were striking union members, AFSCME sanitation workers demanding that the city of Memphis formally recognize their union and thus grant them a voice in determining their wages, hours and working conditions.

The 5,000-plus demonstrators were described as working-class, church-going people who donned their Sunday best because they believed in the righteousness of the strike and they believed in King.

He had come to Memphis to support them despite threats that he might be killed if he did.

There are, of course, many other reasons for honoring him on January 16, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but we shouldn't forget that one of the most important reasons, one that's often overlooked, is Dr. King's championing of the cause of the Memphis strikers and others who sought union recognition.

The strikers' eventual victory in Memphis led quickly to union recognition victories by black and white public employees throughout the South and elsewhere. They had passed a major test of union endurance against very heavy odds, prompting a great upsurge of union organizing and militancy among government workers.

Anyone doubting that the labor and civil rights movements share those goals need only heed the words of Martin Luther King, Jr.:

"Our needs are identical with labor's needs: Decent wages, fair working conditions, livable housing, old-age security, health and welfare measures, conditions in which families can grow, have education for their children, and respect in the community. The coalition that can have the greatest impact in the struggle for human dignity here in America is that of the blacks and forces of labor, because their fortunes are so closely intertwined."

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


Rochester, N.Y.-- Five Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand Six Hundred Minutes. Five Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand moments so dear. Five Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand Six Hundred Minutes, how do you measure-- measure a year?

Monday, January 2, 2012


Rochester, N.Y.-- According to the 2010 U.S. Census, in Rochester, N.Y., 23.4% of families and 25.9% of the population were below the poverty line including 37.5% of those under age 18 and 15.4% of those ages 65 or over. It’s a freakin crime. Period.