Thursday, February 28, 2013

SNAPSHOT NY! Libraries Matter: Scenes from the front lines

Rochester, N.Y.-- Library employees for the Central Library of Rochester & Monroe County, N.Y. and it's 10 branch city neighborhood libraries are staffed by AFSCME and CSEA members. CSEA is partnering with our employers and local governments to advocate for restoring NYS library aid back to 2008 levels when funding was at $102 million.

Once again, the Governor's budget proposal for FY 2013-14 has marginalized the library community by under funding system services by $18 million. It's everyone's job to convince the state legislature to act on the will of the people and fully restore library services mandated by NYS Education Law and U.S. Census figures dating back to 2010.

Please contact your local lawmakers today.

Monday, February 25, 2013


ATTENTION:  All CSEA members are urged to call their Congressional representatives today at 888-659-9401 to tell them to stop the looming sequestration cuts. 

Thousands of jobs in New York are at risk if these devastating cuts go through. Visit CSEA's website at to learn more about and download a fact sheet on how these cuts will affect New York.

Friday, February 22, 2013

SNAPSHOT NY! A Day in the Life of a Library


This Week in Albany

Week ending February 22, 2013

Budget News

Governor Cuomo released 30 Day Amendments to the Executive Budget and announced that developmental disability services will suffer from the loss of $500 million in federal revenue. $120 million in cuts will be made to OPWDD by a six percent reduction to rates for not-for-profit providers, and another $380 million in cuts will come from other adjustments in Medicaid.

Also included in the amendments was an expansion of the misguided pension smoothing plan to include BOCES, Nassau University Medical Center, Westchester Medical Center, and Erie County Medical Center.

Canal Cuts Bad For Boaters, Business in NY

CSEA has joined with a statewide coalition of businesses, individuals and boaters who are opposed to the layoff of more than 40 Canal Corporation workers who operate the locks across the Barge Canal system. The coalition has started a grass-roots online petition to make their opposition to the cuts known to the Governor. Please sign the petition at: 

Comptroller DiNapoli Praised in Independent Review

An independent review of the state’s pension fund conducted by Funston Advisory Services found that Comptroller DiNapoli has been able to “restore integrity to the Office of the State Comptroller.”

The Comptroller said that the review was “a validation that we are on the right path and should reassure the people of New York the Fund is being managed properly and ethically.”

Sequestration Looms

Over $1 trillion in automatic federal spending cuts will begin to take effect on March 1st if the President and Congress can’t come to an agreement to stop them. According to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Budget, sequestration will result in the loss of 750,000 jobs this year alone.

The White House says that these across the board cuts to domestic spending could result in up to 373,000 seriously mentally ill individuals going without treatment, could slow the processing of disability claims and disbursements, and could put more than 30,000 teacher and staff jobs at risk. With 35% of New York’s budget coming from Federal funds, these cuts put all of us at risk.

Call your Congressional Representative today at 888-659-9401 to tell them to work with the President to stop these devastating cuts.

At a Glance

CSEA will express its deep concerns with the Governor’s proposed budget at a joint legislative budget hearing on Wednesday in Albany.

Don’t forget to mark your calendar for the annual CSEA/AFSCME lobby day on March 5, 2013 from 11AM – 3:30 PM at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center. Call your region coordinator to sign up:

Long Island Region 1: Gretchen Penn - 631-462-0030
Metropolitan Region 2: Matthew D’Amico - 212-406-2156
Southern Region 3: Chris Ludlow - 845-831-1000
Capital Region 4: Bryan Miller - 518-785-4400
Central Region 5: Rick Noreault - 315-433-0050
Western Region 6: Chris Rackl - 716-691-6555

Saturday, February 16, 2013


This Week in Albany

Week ending February 15

State Comptroller releases criticisms of Executive Budget

Comptroller DiNapoli’s office revealed its concerns with Governor Cuomo’s proposed budget in a summary released this week.

The Comptroller said that the budget uses broad language and gimmicks to give the Executive more authority with less oversight and that those measures “have the potential to eliminate established checks and balances over spending and procurement, and remove important areas of spending from the purview of the Legislature.”

The report also said that the budget will increase state debt and uses “backdoor borrowing” to skirt the provision in the state constitution that requires all debt issuances to be approved by voters.

President Obama delivers State of the Union address

President Obama delivered his fifth State of the Union address on Tuesday night.

The President’s speech focused on what he called “the true engine of America’s economic growth – a rising, thriving middle class.” The President called for getting rid of tax loopholes and deductions for the rich, reforms that “don’t violate the guarantee of a secure retirement,” and increasing the federal minimum wage to $9.00 an hour while tying future increases to the cost of living. The President proposed working with states to provide high-quality preschool to every child, and making sure that high schools are preparing students for good jobs once they graduate.

Additional proposals touched on immigration reform, equality for women in the workplace, and gun control measures.

Take action to help the middle class

There is no doubt that our tax system helps the rich get richer while we cut back on vital programs the middle class relies on. The richest Americans and big corporations get tax loopholes and giveaways while all lawmakers talk about is cutting programs to reduce the federal deficit.

Call your Congressional Representative today at 888-659-9401 to tell them to oppose benefit cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid and to close loopholes for the wealthiest Americans.

Visit the “Federal Issues” page of our new website to see our top issues in Washington and what you can do about them.

In-district lobbying

With legislators back in their home towns next week, call your region coordinators for information on legislative in-district lobbying.

Long Island Region 1: Call Gretchen Penn at 631-462-0030
Metropolitan Region (NYC) 2: Call Matthew D’Amico at 212-406-2156
Southern Region 3 (Hudson Valley): Call Chris Ludlow at 845-831-1000
Capital Region 4 (including north to Clinton County): Call Bryan Miller at 518-785-4400
Central Region 5: Call Rick Noreault at 315-433-0050
Western Region 6: Call Chris Rackl at 716-691-6555


Photo: Don Fox
Albany, N.Y.-- CSEA and other concerned individuals, businesses and organizations are questioning the wisdom of plans to lay off 42 New York State Canal workers for reasons that are more political than practical. In Cuomo's 1013-14 Executive Budget proposal, the layoffs are among the 234 people to be terminated by the NYS Thruway Authority, which oversees the canal operations.

“This is just a bad idea — the canals are an invaluable resource for New York State in so many ways,” said CSEA President Danny Donohue. “It is very important that we let the public know how this ill conceived plan will hurt people, businesses and communities.”

The canal system is a symbol of New York’s forward thinking on economic development and innovation. While commercial traffic has diminished since the canal’s heyday, the canal system still drives economic development in waterway communities, especially through tourism and recreation. The layoffs come at a critical time when major storms and flooding continue to threaten communities along the Mohawk Valley. Locks in some parts of the state require hands-on manipulation by skilled workers to control dam movement and regulate water levels. The intricacy of this work should not be underestimated.

Statewide support for strong canals is growing. CSEA released statements from a wide range of individuals, businesses and organizations in support of strong Canal operations. CSEA has also joined a grass-roots coalition effort to stop the cuts, New Yorkers Against Canal Cuts, which has established a petition site to galvanize support.

Among other activities, the coalition will start handing out flyers at the Central New York Boat Show in Syracuse this weekend.

CSEA believes the layoffs are political retaliation because ongoing labor negotiations have not concluded. The fact that management employees and political appointees have been spared from layoffs is further evidence that unionized workers are being targeted in a vindictive action that makes no economic or operational sense. “Governor Cuomo says his administration is about jobs and the economy but putting dedicated workers out of work and undermining the state Thruway and Canal operations is a lousy way to promote a jobs agenda,” Donohue said.

Statements of Support for a Strong New York State Canal System

“I think laying off lock operators will diminish the efficiency of lock operations and it will definitely diminish the recreational experience for both boaters and land side users. The lock operators are the heart and soul of  New York State’s Canal System and the Canal Corporation has already drastically reduced its workforce in previous years to about half of what they had at the start of the millennium.”

— Thomas X. Grasso, President, Canal Society of New York State

“We conduct daily tours from Mother’s Day to the end of October. We use the bridges and the locks several times per day. If we cannot, it is going to put us out of business. Millions of dollars have been spent to improve the waterway and build businesses along that corridor. It would be a detriment to one of the greatest resources New York State has. The canal has helped to create and build communities. Our tours are narrated. We educate people about the canal and its history. We carry thousands of schoolchildren on the canal every spring, giving them a first-hand experience.”

Additionally, “The canal employees are very important to us. These people who work the locks and bridges are incredible. They do everything possible to keep things running smoothly and safely. They will also add to the experience for visitors by talking about the locks. We are talking about people who are priceless to the canal system. Someone somewhere has his eyes closed and needs to wake up. The state must not be clear on what this system does in terms of bringing money to the communities along the canals. There is enormous economic benefit. To chop these people and tell them to go home is crazy.”

— Captain Lee Poinan, Colonial Belle Tours, Fairport, NY

CANAL NEW YORK, Marketing and Business Alliance, Inc. encourages the NY State Thruway Authority and the Canal Corporation to maintain full and complete operation of the Canal System throughout the typical season from May 1st to November 1st. This iconic canal system is a significant economic generator as it serves residents of and visitors to the communities along its banks.

The Canalway stretches for a total of 525 miles. It is part of 234 municipalities, six of the 11 current Vacation Regions and six of the Regional Economic Development Councils Estimates are that the system generates over $380 million in spending each year.

— Richard C. Rivers, Chairman, CANAL NEW YORK, Marketing and Business Alliance, Inc.

“Cutting back on services to tourists could not come at a more inopportune time for Lockport. After years of delays, the NYS Canal Corp and the City of Lockport are moving forward with an ambitious plan to restore two original Erie Canal locks to operating condition. The economic impact study associated with this development determined that this change will bring an additional $10 million per year into Lockport businesses as well as hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional sales tax revenue for Niagara County. Let’s hope we don’t shoot ourselves in the foot by not being ready for business once the tourists arrive.”

— Douglas Farley, Director Erie Canal Discovery Center, Lockport, NY

“The efforts made to put the canal on the front-burner and make it part of the economic recovery of upstate are significant. These layoffs would be counterproductive. It will make day-to-day business more difficult for us. It is going to affect the image of the canal, the ability to enjoy the canal, not to mention all the businesses along the canal.

In the bigger picture of revitalizing upstate New York the canal is critical. Marinas, tour boat operators, fishermen, restaurants, bed and breakfasts, shops, and the communities all invest a lot in this canal to have it open. As boat operators we pay leases and permit fees to the canal for the luxury of using it. Anything that takes away from the value will get our attention. We are invested in this canal.”

— Dan Wiles, Mid-Lakes Navigation Co., Skaneateles/Macedon, NY

New York’s canal system and Canalway Trail represent a world-class tourism destination that adds many millions of dollars in spending to the state’s economy while also providing critical public health and quality of life benefits to New York residents. Maintaining skilled, experienced staff is essential to ensuring that these resources are safe and offer an enjoyable experience for local citizens as well as tourists.”

— Robin Dropkin, Executive Director, Parks & Trails New York, Albany, NY

“I would like to comment from my personal experience navigating the entire NY Canal System several times with over 400 lock throughs, and as a USCG Master Captain for Corn Hill Navigation’s tour boats, that the lock tenders are the best goodwill ambassadors NY has, greeting and serving boaters and tourists from around the world. The Canal System is a key to economic development through tourism, recreation and community redevelopment. It is a shame to see the dedicated staff being cut even more. Shouldn’t making New York “open for business” include keeping its canals open for business as well?”

— Captain John Johnston, Corn Hill Navigation, Rochester, NY

Friday, February 15, 2013



AFSCME Members Take their Message to the HillSen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) speaks with Eddie Rodriguez, president of DC 37, and a group of AFSCME members from New York during a lobby day on Capitol Hill. (Photo by Khalid Naji-Allah)
Washington, D.C.-- On the heels of a State of the Union address by Pres. Barack Obama that focused on rebuilding the middle class and growing the economy, AFSCME members from across the country went to Capitol Hill Wednesday and lobbied their legislators to do just that.
At more than 75 meetings with members of the Senate and the House of Representatives, they discussed several major issues: building an economy that works for all, protecting vital public services and passing comprehensive immigration reform. The visits were part of AFSCME’s 2013 Legislative Conference.
A large group of AFSCME members from New York gathered in a private room in the Capitol Visitors’ Center for a meeting with Sen. Charles Schumer (N.Y.). Some hurried in from meetings with their representatives.
Patty Kaufman, a member of CSEA Local 1000, had just returned from a meeting with Rep. Paul Tonko (N.Y.-20) along with six of her sisters and brothers from CSEA and District Council 37.
“The meeting went very well,” Kaufman said, “He is very supportive of our issues – Medicare and Social Security as well as immigration reform. He doesn’t want families to be separated.”
Schumer stressed his commitment to economic growth. On preserving programs like Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security, Schumer said, “Instead of cutting these programs with a meat axe, we need to close the loopholes for all these fat cat corporations and individuals.”
Several members asked about immigration reform. Senator Schumer said he is optimistic that comprehensive immigration reform will pass this year. “We are going to fight on immigration,” he said, adding his gratitude for AFSCME’s leadership on the issue.
Eddie Rodriguez, AFSCME international vice president and president of DC 37, brought up privatization. He said, “We have to make sure we don’t lose jobs in public sector. When they create jobs in the private sector, we are losing them in the public sector. They are contracting out our jobs. That’s not job creation.”
Senator Schumer replied definitively, “I am against privatization.”
Before he was whisked away for another meeting, Senator Schumer talked a bit about the crucial role of unions and public workers, “We have this beautiful lady in our harbor, the Statue of Liberty. She is holding a torch. Whether you came here or your parents or your grandparents or your great grandparents came here, they came for that torch. That torch is the American Dream…The fight against unions is going to make the American Dream more and more remote. We have to fight for you, because you represent that statue. “
G.L. Tyler, political director for DC 1707, reflected on the meeting. “The senator listened to the issues. He has proven himself to be an advocate for working families.”

AFSCME Legislative Conference 2013

Washington, D.C.-- Hundreds of AFSCME members gathered on Capitol Hill demanding that Congress protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid on February 12, 2013. 

The rally was part of AFSCME's 2013 Legislative Conference, a gathering where over 500 members aseembled to organize and strategize at a series of workshops on the Affordable Care Act (ACA), retirement security, privatization, taxes and budgets, attacks on workers rights and immigration fairness. This video details some highlights of the four day event. All images by Ove Overmyer.