Wednesday, February 29, 2012


NYS Comptroller Tom DiNapoli
Albany, N.Y.-- New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s push for a 401(k)-style plan threatens the economic security of the state's current and future retirees, and in an op-ed in today’s New York Daily News, New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli warns policy makers not to “knowingly push future generations toward inadequate retirement security.”

Defined contribution plans such as the one promoted by Cuomo in his new “Tier 6” proposal are far more volatile than traditional pensions. In the Daily News piece, DiNapoli points out that the current defined benefit retirement plan for state workers is sustainable and affordable.

DiNapoli has been a tireless advocate of retirement security for public workers and recently participated in a panel organized by the National Public Pension Coalition – of  which AFSCME is a leading member. He calls Governor Cuomo’s proposal to create the new, riskier pension system “unacceptable.”

-repost from AFSCME 
by Jon Melegrito  |  February 22, 2012


2012-13 Budget Overviews

March 1, 2012-- 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.

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.

State Aid for libraries represents less than one tenth of one percent of the state budget. Library use is up dramatically throughout the state.

A 2011 survey shows that 98% of libraries in New York State have helped someone find a job in the last 3 months and 85% have helped taxpayers access public assistance.

No other state funded institution serves so many residents (over 75% of New York households) with so little state funding.

Monroe County Library System

MCLS circulated over 8.5 million items in 2010. An estimated 4 million people walked through the doors of Monroe County Libraries.

Other MCLS Statistics

       8.5 million items circulated
       4,000,000 items shipped
       330,000 item holds
       40,000 kids in our summer reading programs
       E-Books-- MCLS circulated 26,129 downloadable electronic/audio books in 2009. One year later, that number increased to 43,119. In 2011, the number skyrocketed to 110,438. 

Library advocates are asking our legislators to restore library aid to 2010 levels of $84.78 million or at very least receive the same 4% increase as schools. It is not a big ask, and will be a huge investment for local communities.

Sunday, February 26, 2012



Rochester, N.Y-- Through the misty stench that defines the GOP nominating process, some things have actually become more clear as we enter the 2012 presidential election cycle. By no means do these following concepts apply to just the POTUS race, but to every local election from your Congress representative right down to your village dog catcher.
When will voters support candidates who will tax the rich in a meaningful amount? A 1 percent tax increase on billionaires is both cowardly and tokenism at its worst. Corporations and the super-rich should be made to return the money they stole from the American people a few years ago. If the only candidates on the ticket continue to force poor and working people to pay for the "deficit" created by the rich and the Pentagon, throw the bums out. Placating the rich is unacceptable regardless of which party sells us out.
It's also time to end the store-bought elections that the Supreme Court sanctioned in the Citizens United case. Democracy cannot exist if elected offices go to the highest bidder. Support only candidates who oppose these rigged, undemocratic charades we now call elections.
Americans should vote only for candidates who want to shut down our impossibly over-crowded prisons, and to replace repression with educational opportunities and jobs. If all of the potential candidates are afraid to oppose the police-state mentality that currently dominates our domestic society, then raise your voice a little louder this election cycle. As Martin Luther King, Jr. once pointed out, "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." 
The American people have been disenfranchised from the electoral process, and from any semblance of democratic decision-making. We have been bought and sold by corporate hooligans. The only way out of this is to fight back against these thugs. Continuing to support the "lesser of two evils" is suicidal when the only choices we are given consist of "candidates" chosen by our enemies.
Wake up America. Multi-national corporations pull all the strings and are creating a new America right under our noses-- one for the haves and one for the have-nots.
-This commentary does not reflect the views of CSEA as an organization.

Governor Cuomo: Say It Isn't So

Friday, February 24, 2012


Call Governor Cuomo Wednesday (3/1) & Thursday – No Tier 6

The battle against Tier 6 is heating up.  This week we saw Wall Street funded organizations continue to attack Comptroller Tom DiNapoli for telling the truth about the pitfalls of the Tier 6 proposal.  We can not let Wall Street funded organizations takeover this conversation – we need to let our voices be heard.

This Wednesday and Thursday, please call Governor Cuomo at 1-877-255-9417 and tell him Tier 6 affects all of us - retirees, current employees, and future workers.  Tell him to stop pushing for a Tier 6.  

Budget Fight Heats Up

While the State Legislature was not in session this week, budget discussions have been taking place.  While the budget is officially due by April 1, there are rumors that it may be adopted as early as March 22.

Below are key dates regarding the budget.  These dates are not set in stone.  Always remember that you may be needed on a moments notice to call or e-mail your legislators when each chamber begins to take action on the budget.

February 29     Governor Cuomo Call-in Day

March 6            CSEA / AFSCME Lobby Day

March 12          Senate & Assembly propose their one-house budget bills

March 13          Senate & Assembly budget conference committees begin to meet to resolve budget

March 19-20    Joint Legislative Conference Committee issues its final budget proposal

March 19-22    Final budget bills are voted on by Senate & Assembly


Rochester, N.Y.-- President Obama was recently in Miami talking about gas prices (see video below), making a pitch for an "all-of-the-above" energy policy that would rely on oil production, alternative energy, and improved fuel-efficiency standards. Anticipating the Republican response, Obama added, "Anybody who tells you we can drill our way out of this problem doesn't know what they're talking about, or just isn't telling you the truth."

If an "all-of-the-above" policy sounds vaguely familiar, there's a good reason: as recently as 2008, it's what Republicans said they wanted, too. But like health care mandates, cap and trade, the DREAM Act, the payroll tax cut, and contraception coverage, the GOP is now against what they were for a few years ago.

Regardless, Republicans aren't just demanding expansive drilling. They're also pushing foolish talking points that's quickly become ubiquitous on the right. The GOP must think the American people are stupid-- that we can't figure this out on our own. House Speaker John Boehner says the president would like everyone to forget that gas prices have doubled over the past three years while he consistently blocked and slowed the production of American-made energy. Nothing could be further from the truth.

These talking points are just ridiculous nonsense; oil production has increased every year under Obama's presidency, and is now higher than it was at any point in Bush's second term. But it's the first part that's important.

At first look, the GOP line may seem compelling. Indeed, at a certain level it's just a matter of arithmetic -- either the price has doubled or it hasn't.

But for those who care about context and a more thorough understanding of the situation, the relevant details make all the difference.

Most American consumers know the price of gas always rises in the summer-- and predictably, prices will go down right about the time when the kids go back to school.

Nothing Santorum or Boehner or Gingrich or Obama says is going to change the fact that the United States is an increasingly small part of the global demand picture. When China, India, or Brazil get richer, their citizens start trading bicycles for scooters and mopeds for cars. They’re flying more airplanes. This increases the global demand for oil and pushes prices up. All else being equal, this is inconvenient for American drivers.

But it’s far from clear that it’s permanently harmful to the American economy. American firms are hoping to export goods and services to rapidly growing economies. Every time Boeing sells a plane to an Asian airline, that increases the demand for jet fuel and makes driving marginally more expensive. But we’re better off in the fast-growing world than in the slow-growth, cheap-gas world of three years ago.

Monday, February 20, 2012


Tax Breaks are Breaking the 99%
 Ward’s Natural Science Is Taking Off With Our Money!
WHAT:   Press Event to demand that corporations start paying their fair share, rather than raiding our local and state budgets while cutting jobs!
WHEN:   Tuesday, February 21st
               11:15 AM
WHERE:  County of Monroe IDA
                Ebenezer Watts Conference Center
                49 S. Fitzhugh Street
                Rochester, NY 14614

 DETAILS:  Corporations in NYS aren’t paying their fair share in taxes. We need to rein in over $8 billion dollars in corporate giveaways to support vital public services like education and health care, while preserving and growing the good jobs that working families need. VWR/Ward’s Natural Science has laid off 41 warehouse workers after receiving tax break after tax break from the Erie County IDA as far back as 1971. Now they’re getting tax breaks in Rochester and promising that community they’ll create jobs. It’s time to stop the madness.
For more information, contact Andy at the Coalition for Economic Justice at 892-5877 or

Friday, February 17, 2012


ACT NOW: Your Retirement Security is at Risk!

Governor Cuomo’s 401(k) option will take money away from the New York State and Local Retirement System (NYSLRS) which will ultimately put your pension in jeopardy.  Please call 1-877-255-9417 and take the time to speak to your legislators to tell them to oppose Tier 6.

For flyers regarding Tier 6, please visit the PAC page and look for the Tier 6 Action Center on the right side.

Get your Family and Friends to Contact their Legislators

A secure retirement is already slipping away from American workers.  Public employees provide essential services to the people of our state everyday. Your retirement security should not be jeopardized to pay for Wall Street’s collapse. Have your friends, family and neighbors call their legislators to Oppose Tier 6 NOW!

Please forward this video around and explain that because of defined benefit pension plans, retired public employees have a huge impact on New York’s economy.  77% of New York retirees continue to live in New York State and contribute $9.5 billion in economic activity and $1.3 billion in property taxes.

CSEA Opposes Dangerous OCFS Budget Proposal

CSEA submitted testimony to the Senate Finance and Assembly Ways & Means Committee in opposition to a state budget proposal that would release violent youths from OCFS facilities and place them back in their communities.

Under this proposal, youths from New York City who have been adjudicated of violent crimes and are currently in OCFS facilities could be moved back to their home communities.  These clients would receive treatment at not-for-profit providers who do not have the trained staff or resources to properly treat them.  These clients pose a direct danger to staff at these facilities as well as the surrounding community.  CSEA has grave concerns about how this proposal will impact public safety and is asking the legislature to reject it.

You can read the testimony on the CSEA website.

Congress Agrees on Payroll Tax Cut Extension

The U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives have come to a compromise to renew a payroll tax cut for 160 million workers.  The deal also renews expiring jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed, as well as prevents a payment cut for doctors who treat Medicare payments.

Without this compromise, workers would see their Social Security payroll tax contribution increase from 4.2% of salary to 6.2%.  This tax cuts gives the average family an extra $1,000 in their pay checks this year. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012


Danny Donohue
ALBANY, NY (02/15/2012) -- CSEA President Danny Donohue, one of the most influential and well-respected leaders in the American labor movement, has been returned to office without opposition.

"These are some of the toughest times CSEA has faced in our 102 year history, but there is only one way to go and that is forward," Donohue said. "I want to thank CSEA members for their confidence in my leadership."

CSEA - New York's leading union - is the largest affiliate of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees. The union has grown stronger and larger under Donohue's presidency, achieving unprecedented organizing success in the public and private sectors and today boasts a membership 300,000 strong. Donohue's vision led to CSEA recently becoming the representative for more than 25,000 independent child care providers across the state, under a new model of union representation. Donohue also significantly strengthened the union's role and influence in both the AFL-CIO and AFSCME, where he serves with distinction as an International Vice President.

In tough economic times, Donohue continues to fight for fairness for middle-class New Yorkers, while protecting public services and the benefits workers have fought so hard to get. The union's most recent contract with New York state, negotiated in a challenging fiscal environment, kept union members working while protecting their rights and benefits. CSEA negotiates contracts on behalf of members in more than 1,100 bargaining units.

Born in Brooklyn, Donohue began his career in public service as an attendant at Central Islip Psychiatric Center. He burst into CSEA's leadership ranks in 1975 when he won a write-in campaign to become local president there. He became increasingly active in CSEA at region and statewide levels, including becoming Long Island Region President at a very young age.

Donohue was the first Long Islander elected to a CSEA statewide office when he won a five-way race for executive vice president in 1988. In 1994, he became CSEA's 23rd statewide president.

Expanding CSEA's outreach and community presence has been a hallmark of his leadership. Donohue's down to earth personality is his greatest asset, allowing him to connect with both rank and file union members and elected officials.
"There is no force in New York more powerful than CSEA when we work together," Donohue said. "But no CSEA member should take anything for granted. We have to communicate and support each other. There is a responsibility on the part of leaders to provide information, create understanding and build solidarity, but there is also a responsibility on the part of each individual member to stay informed and involved. No one should expect things will just get better unless you are willing to participate.

Also returned to office for four-year terms without opposition were CSEA Executive Vice President Mary E. Sullivan and Statewide Secretary Denise Berkley. Treasurer Joseph McMullen was re-elected.

Sullivan was first elected Executive Vice President of the union in 1994. Sullivan began her professional career as a social worker and staff trainer in the Herkimer County Department of Social Services. She was CSEA's first local government division member to serve in statewide office. Sullivan is an International Vice President of AFSCME. In 2009 she was elected president of the Capital District Area Labor Federation, which represents 120,000 union members and their families across 11 counties in the state's greater Capital Region.

Berkley was first elected CSEA Statewide Secretary in 2008. Berkley's union activism began at the Brooklyn Developmental Center. A longtime union activist, Berkley remains committed today to the ongoing struggle for social, racial and economic justice for workers and communities.

McMullen, who has served as treasurer since 2007, is responsible for overseeing CSEA's budget and ensuring the union's fiscal responsibility. McMullen is a trained electrician who worked at the State University of New York at Oneonta for 30 years.

Lester Crockett, a longtime activist and leader from the New York State Insurance Fund was elected Metropolitan Region president. Crockett filled the position since last fall following the retirement of George Boncoraglio.
Capital Region President Kathy Garrison was re-elected to her fourth term.

Long Island Region President Nick LaMorte, Southern Region President Billy Riccaldo, Central Region President Colleen Wheaton and Western Region President Flo Tripi were all returned to office without opposition.

The election also filled seats on the union's 122 member statewide Board of Directors.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Rochester, N.Y. -- A proposed redrawing of New York State’s political districts came under intense criticism this past week, as civil rights leaders said the maps did not fairly represent blacks, Hispanics and the LGBT community in an increasingly diverse state. Some Democrats have even gone as far as saying they would file a lawsuit asking a judge to intervene.
The proposed State Senate and State Assembly maps, released last week, are being disputed by several good-government groups, newspaper editorial boards and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who called into an Albany television program on Monday to declare the proposal “hyperpartisan,” and vowed to veto it.
Locally, Rochester resident Ove Overmyer testified before the Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research andReapportionment (LATFOR) commission Wednesday morning in council chambers of the Monroe County Legislature. You can read a transcript of his testimony below.

The critics say that many of the proposed legislative districts seem to have been drawn to protect the interests of incumbents, and that the Legislature has not yet proposed a new map of Congressional districts, even though a judge has ordered that the primary elections for House races be held in June instead of September.

But among the strongest objections are those being raised by groups representing minority voters, who had hoped that the decennial redistricting would give them fair and equal representation.

One thing is for sure, the battle to draw the district lines with fairness and equality has just begun.

Below is the LATFOR testimony of Mr. Overmyer.

Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment

Redistricting Hearing
Monroe County Office Building
Monroe County Legislative Chambers, rm. 406
February 15, 2012

Testimony of: Ove Overmyer

Ove Overmyer
Thank you for allowing me to testify today. My name is Ove Overmyer. I am employed as a librarian with The City of Rochester. In the interest of full disclosure-- I am also an elected officer of the Civil Service Employees Association, New York’s largest public employee union. I am president of the City of Rochester Library Workers, Monroe County Local 828 Unit 7420.

Among many other responsibilities, I am also a writer and photographer for The Empty Closet, New York State’s oldest continually published LGBT newspaper with a print subscription of over 10,000 readers. I’m also a caregiver of three teenage boys who attend the Rochester City School District.

But I’m not here today to talk to you about a union agenda, media concerns or parental responsibilities—I’m here representing myself as a constituent who cares deeply about his family and community, and as a person who cares about advancing policies that allows citizens to fully participate in the democratic process.

I live on a small residential street called Canfield Place in the city—it’s a very quiet one way dead end street near the East End and Monroe Ave areas. The houses on my street were built at the turn of the 20th Century—almost all of them are owner occupied homes. I have been residing there for 6 years-- I previously rented an apartment on East Main Street near the Auditorium Theatre. I moved to Rochester in 1996 after living twenty years on Long Island and New York City.

When I moved here, I was looking for a neighborhood that was culturally rich and diverse. As a labor and LGBT activist, I was also looking for volunteer opportunities and found my way to the east side of the city, donating many hours at the Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley which is now located in the Auditorium Theatre in the Neighborhood of the Arts.

As you may know, this part of Rochester, the east, southeast and Southwedge part of the city, is a contiguous community of interest if there ever was one. The new Assembly district maps for The City of Rochester, specifically the newly redesigned 137 and 138 Districts, represent the ultimate partisan gerrymandered districts people just love to hate for obvious reasons to all who live here.

In an article written Feb. 7, 2012 in the Wall Street Journal, The Senate's Republican majority was quoted as saying the proposed lines comply with all voting rights acts and protect the voices of minority voters. I would argue when it comes to the Senate and Assembly Districts covering the Rochester area and its gay residents, nothing could be further from the truth.

Presently, I reside in the 131st District and we presently have a contained community of interest. The new district maps have now been butchered into objectionable puzzle pieces of some unknown value and quantity. The City of Rochester is also divided into three senate districts, which makes even less sense.

I would like to submit for the record, according to the US Census, The City of Rochester has the fourth highest number of self-identified gay households in New York State. The 14607 area zip code, basically the contiguous neighborhoods I’m referring to, is the sixth gayest zip code in New York State—including all five boroughs of New York City and Yonkers.

If communities of interest are drawn to reflect the social, cultural, racial, ethnic, and economic interest’s common to the population of the area-- we must reconsider redrawing these lines on the east side of The City of Rochester.

If you want to help build our city and help our small businesses grow, please keep in mind when you review your plan that our community of interest is a local population that already has common social and economic interests that benefit from the unified political representation provided by inclusion within a single political district—which now happens to be the 131st District.

I know many area residents who identify as gay or lesbian who chose to buy a house in the East End, Neighborhood of the Arts, or Monroe Avenue area because of its rich diversity and because it was populated by many gay friendly businesses.

I submit to you that the proposed Districts 137 and 138 deeply divide our neighborhoods with similar identity, racial and economic characteristics.

To be even more direct, I was deeply disappointed when I first saw these redrawn districts. I feel as if the rug has been pulled out from underneath me. You took me and my neighbors, many of them self-identified same-sex households on Lafayette Park, Gardiner Street and Buena Vista Place and put us in a district that could in essence, might as well be half way around the world. We have very little in common with downtown or North east residents— if you take a look at the City of Rochester road map, you can clearly see a gargantuan barrier moat called the Inner Loop which divides us like oil and water.

Please believe me when I tell you I know my community— I have worked and volunteered in every corner of this city and know our Rochester residents and communities of interest very well.

I implore you to keep my neighborhood intact. It makes more sense to assemble the Northwest part of the City together and keep the South, Southeast, Southwedge part of the city together.

I would also add that I recommend that LATFOR undergo substantial revision for proposed Assembly Districts 137 and 138.

I also believe that district lines should be fairly drawn pursuant to a set of clear criteria and be executed in a non-political manner.

If we value traditional redistricting factors, like contiguity, identity, compactness and respect for county, city, town, village, and school district lines whenever possible, we have failed miserably at our first attempt to redistrict.

I also recommend we establish a permanent Independent Redistricting Commission to redraw boundaries for congressional and state legislative districts.

In conclusion, I see redistricting in New York as a system that has prioritized incumbency and partisan interests over democratic representation. This process needs to be about the people and not the politics. To help restore faith in our State government, we need to reform the system.

By considering my suggestions and recommendations, I would argue that this process would take a giant leap forward toward greater independence, transparency, and a commitment to fair representation and equality.

Respectfully Submitted,

Ove Overmyer
Rochester, N.Y. 14607

Saturday, February 11, 2012




Fight Tier 6

CSEA is fighting the Governor's proposed Tier 6 pension plan. If he succeeds in getting Tier 6 passed into law, retirement security for all New Yorkers will be in jeopardy. 401(k)’s were never intended to take the place of pensions. They were designed to be savings vehicles to supplement pensions and social security income. The financial crisis of 08-09 dramatically demonstrated how a financial collapse can decimate 401(k) retirement savings.

Tier 6 provides no short-term savings to the State or localities. In fact, New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli has warned that Tier 6 would end up costing the state more in the long run, instead of less. The only thing it would do is have people work longer, pay more and benefit less.

Please take a moment to send your legislators a Valentine FAX asking them to oppose Tier 6. Click here.

State Comptroller DiNapoli Warns of Governor Power Grab

This week, Comptroller DiNapoli warned that the Executive Budget would “dramatically increase” Governor Cuomo’s abilities to move money from one agency to another, without regard to the original appropriation of the funds. CSEA opposes these changes that will reduce transparency and consolidate even more power under the Governor. As a result, public oversight and accountability involving our tax dollars would be at risk.

Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos and Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver joined DiNapoli in expressing concerns over Cuomo’s proposals that could leave the Legislature out of crucial funding decisions.

Thursday, February 9, 2012



Rochester, N.Y.--  A public hearing on state Assembly and Senate redistricting will be held in Monroe County on Wednesday, February 15.

The State Legislature redraws district lines every 10 years, based on Census data. The lines determine who will represent you in the Assembly and Senate. Proposed maps were released recently and can be viewed here.

The public hearing will take place on 11:30 a.m. on February 15 in the Chambers at the Monroe County Office Building, Room 406 on the fourth floor, 39 West Main Street.

Anyone interested in presenting a five-minute oral testimony regarding whether the community's best interests are being represented under the proposed new lines can sign up here or call Diana Weissman at 212-618-1101. People planning to speak at the hearing must provide 10 copies of their testimony.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012



Here we go again.

Out-of-work Americans narrowly averted losing their unemployment insurance when Congress passed a two-month extension at the end of 2011.

But that extension is set to expire at the end of this month, and House Republican leaders are expected to push for drastic cuts in benefits and create new barriers for millions of unemployed workers’ and their families. This includes thousands of AFSCME and CSEA members across the country who feel the painful realities of state and local service cuts.

Send a message to Congress telling them to renew unemployment through December without any changes to the program.

Congressional leaders are trying to significantly change unemployment insurance through a bill, H.R. 3630, which would:

•Cut the length of benefits in half in the highest unemployment states;

•Impose drug testing of recipients;

•Make jobless workers pay for reemployment services;

•Deny benefits to workers who did not receive a high school diploma or GED;

•Allows states to use unemployment funds for other purposes.

These disasterous reforms would affect millions of jobless workers and their families. We must stand together and protect our AFSCME and CSEA sisters and brothers from losing their insurance.

Tell Congress that extending unemployment insurance is necessary for millions of out-of-work Americans and their families’ survival.

Congress should create jobs to put unemployed Americans back to work, not punish them by cutting off their support lifeline.

Saturday, February 4, 2012



Rochester, N.Y.-- Governor Cuomo's Tier 6 proposal is no more than political calisthenics-- he is willing to take the risk of conquering and dividing New Yorkers by proposing a budget that will jeopardize the stability of working family life in the Empire State.

By advocating for a Tier 6 proposal, which essentially turns a defined benefit system into a sort of defined contribution plan, Cuomo is embracing appeals to his very wealthy benefactors like the the Koch brothers and his big Wall Street donors. Some big names include real estate moguls Joseph Moinian, Jerry Speyer, Daniel Tishman and Andrew Farkas. Moreover, this plan weakens the ability of middle class consumers to spend and grow our economy.

In effect, he is turning on people who work for a living, labor constituents and the middle class in order to appeal to a more conservative, wealthy national base of contributors. This will assist him if and when he determines the climate is right for a national campaign for President.

A "pro-business" group has also been doing Cuomo's dirty work. The multi-million dollar Committee to Save New York (CSNY) was created to sway public opinion to support legislation that could help the private sector, mostly by targeting taxes and dismantling public services. This legislative session, the organization's cross hairs are set on our pensions that they claim are crippling state and local governments, and by extension, taxpayers. This is a big fat lie and nothing could further from the truth.

Don't be fooled by Cuomo's talking points

Do not be fooled by his or his surrogate's rhetoric when they come to your town-- there are no taxpayer savings here and the NYS Comptroller says that implementing such a plan would cost local governments millions of dollars to manage. You can read Tom DiNapoli's report here.

The fact is that Tier 5 has only been in existence since 2010. Working families made huge concessions then, with the thinking that we must do our part to balance the State Budget in extraordinary times. This tier has been projected to save the state and local government many billions of dollars over the next few decades-- however, it will not realize savings in the short term. Therefore, there is no demonstrated need for yet another pension tier. Period.

The fact is that the New York State Retirement System has been a proven and stable system for more than  nine decades. It has survived several world wars, the Great Depression and numerous recessions over that period. Governor Cuomo is banking on the fact that we have short term memories. For the better part of the 1990's, the system required very low if no contribution from the state and local governments, thereby saving those municipalities hundreds of millions of dollars in funds. The determination of whether the pension system is working can only be analyzed over a period of several years-- never in the short term.

This is a fully funded system which provides modest benefits to members. The average pensioner receives about $17,500 per year-- hardly an excessive amount by any means. Can you live on that? When our economy fully recovers from this recession and contributions by local governments will again fall to insignificant levels, this is a fact the governor and his staff would never share with you.

This fundamental question remains-- are we to have a stable and predictable retirement benefit or are our retirees going to be subjected to the swings in market values to the detriment of their retirement income?

In the event of a severe market decline, like what happened after George W. Bush left the economy is such disrepair in 2008, retirees would then be the victim of substantial reductions in their income and would probably have to work until the day they die. As it is, the middle class bailed out those banks and fools on Wall Street in the biggest shift in wealth transference in American history. What would make you think we would want to give our retirement money to a bunch of greedy fools in the form of a 401(k) so they can gamble it away on Wall Street?

Let's get to the crux of the issue. This an attempt to return our country to a circa 1932 state, where the elderly were always under threat of extreme poverty, and almost solely dependent on relatives for survival. Our Governor's attempt to destroy public pension systems by destabilizing them, or reducing social security benefits or making those benefits contingent on market performance have the potential to take middle class retirees into a world where financial stability is not a given, but a crap shoot.

Who will benefit from a Tier 6?

Moreover, who will benefit from this so-called reform? It won't be middle-class taxpayers-- it will be those New Yorkers who are already insulated from any financial harm and those business elites who are already lining up behind a Cuomo 2016 campaign. 

Any right-minded New Yorker should see this effort for what it truly is-- a thinly-disguised political chess game to attack the working class and perpetuate our race to the bottom.  Cuomo is an opportunist-- he knows the climate is just right to push for these measures when you consider what is going on in Ohio, Arizona, Florida, Wisconsin and Indiana.

Well, we New York working families have news for Governor Cuomo-- we will fight a Tier 6 proposal to our very last breath. We will fight this Tier 6 proposal like we have never battled a issue in the past. When this budget year is all over, he will wish he never went there. We will never surrender on this one. If Cuomo wants a fight-- we will give him everything he can handle.

To understand some simple facts about the Tier 6 Proposal, read on: