Saturday, March 30, 2013


Albany, N.Y.-- Both houses of the Legislature finished voting on the budget this week.

CSEA President Danny Donohue said that the Legislature showed “a much better approach than what Gov. Andrew Cuomo originally proposed,” but that New Yorkers are still seeing too many misplaced priorities.

Here is a quick summary of the budget.

Mental Health

Both the Assembly and the Senate stood strong with CSEA on giving us back our one year notice for closures, consolidations and mergers.

Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS)

This year’s Executive Budget proposed expanding the ‘Close to Home’ initiative and would have resulted in the closure of all OCFS non-secure juvenile facilities. The Legislature rejected the expansion of the ‘Close to Home’ initiative, preserved the one-year downsizing and closure notification and the measure was removed from the budget.

SUNY Downstate

The Governor dug in and failed to provide necessary fiscal relief to SUNY Downstate hospital. Instead, the budget will allow SUNY the flexibility to enter into contracts without a competitive bid or request for proposals and requires the SUNY Chancellor to develop a fiscal viability plan for the facility. The plan must be approved by the Commissioner of Health and the Director of the Division of the Budget and the Chancellor must consult with labor in preparing the plan.

It is our intention to be actively involved in the preparation of this plan and to continue to work with community groups and the Brooklyn delegation to make sure any plan addresses our concerns. It is also our intention to seek funds for some parts of this plan as laid out in the Assembly one-house bill.


$54 million is provided for stadium renovations for the Buffalo Bills and provides the Cuomo administration with a 12-seat luxury box in the stadium.

The budget provides a tax credit of $350 per year in the form of a check to families with children up to the age of 18 earning between $40,000 and $300,000 for three years beginning in 2014.

The ‘Millionaire’s Tax’ was extended for another three years.

Minimum Wage

Minimum wage will be increased to $9.00 an hour by 2016.

Tax breaks will be provided to businesses that hire youth between 16 and 19 years old at the minimum wage. This program will blunt the positive economic impact of increasing the minimum wage by discouraging employers from giving raises and keeping workers who are making above the minimum wage.

Please visit our website for CSEA’s full summary of the budget.

Click here for CSEA’s news release on the budget.

Friday, March 29, 2013


March 29, 2013
Lawmakers improved Cuomo blueprint but more needs to be done
Danny Donohue
ALBANY – CSEA is encouraged and thankful that state lawmakers took strong stands in key areas of the final state budget.
“Lawmakers understand there’s a moral and an economic impact when the state abandons people with mental health challenges and fails to reinvest in community care – it’s an unfunded mandate when localities have to pick up the pieces of broken lives simply because the state has abandoned its responsibilities,” CSEA President Danny Donohue said. “It’s also clear that most lawmakers recognize we need real reform, not lip service in juvenile justice.”
“These are just a couple of areas where the final budget shows a much better approach than what Governor Andrew Cuomo originally proposed,” Donohue said.
The CSEA leader said that, unfortunately, New Yorkers are still seeing too many misplaced priorities in this budget.
“Something’s not right when Governor Cuomo and lawmakers can give a politically motivated tax rebate to people earning up to $300,000, but still threaten the very existence of essential services that people with developmental disabilities need and hit the lowest-paid workers delivering those services with the brunt of the impact,” Donohue said. “It’s shocking that there hasn’t been more outcry over this harmful action given the governor’s public statements about improving the quality of care in this field.”
Donohue also pointed out that it is outrageous that the budget includes a sweetheart deal to NBC to lure the Tonight show back to New York and a luxury suite for Cuomo administration use as part of the taxpayer financed renovation of the Buffalo Bills’ stadium ‘ all at the same time he leaves an essential hospital, like Downstate Medical Center at significant risk of closure and struggling localities without relief.
“The governor’s got money to spread around when it suits his interests, but localities get a flat budget that will absolutely mean more cuts in services and loss of jobs across the state,” Donohue said. “It’s also galling that he concocts a pension fund scheme and tries to pass it off as mandate relief.”
Donohue pointed out that since 2010, nearly 60,000 public sector jobs have been lost, eroding services and stalling the state’s economic recovery. He also indicated that this is just one area where the governor’s economic development policies are counterproductive.
“Giving minimum wage workers a small increase over three years and linking it to a business tax break that will actually encourage the creation of more minimum wage jobs is unconscionable, especially in a state that already has the most inequitable income distribution in the nation,” said Donohue.
“Unfortunately, the facts – and the people affected – don’t seem to matter much to Governor Cuomo, who continues to privatize public services and undermine middle-class jobs in a race to the bottom,” Donohue said.

Sunday, March 24, 2013


Rochester, N.Y. Coalition Will Address Landmark Civil Rights Cases of the U.S. Supreme Court

Rochester, N.Y. (March 24, 2013) -- This week the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on same-sex marriage, a high-stakes moment for both for American society and for the Court itself. On March 26th the Court will hear arguments on California’s Proposition 8 (Hollingsworth v. Perry) case. Shortly thereafter, the Court will review the federal Defense of Marriage Act in U.S. v. Windsor.

In response, a call to action has been spearheaded by LGBT icons Cleve Jones and David Mixner. Civil Rights advocates have coalesced into 150 nationwide vigils and events sponsored by a national coalition called “United for Marriage – Light the Way to Justice.” Supporters were urged to go to Washington, D.C. to rally at the Supreme Court Building during the hearings or produce a local event in their area.

In Rochester, N.Y., a very diverse coalition of labor, faith, business and LGBT Rights advocates will join other nationwide actions in solidarity by hosting a press conference, panel discussion and candlelight vigil.

Monday, March 25, 2013
4:30 PM: Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley, Auditorium Center, 875 E. Main Street, 1st Floor, Rochester, N.Y. 14605

Press Conference: The ERC will host a press conference to highlight the historic nature of these two civil rights cases coming before the U.S. Supreme Court. Marriage equality advocates and affected couples will share their hopes and concerns with regard to these decisions and make themselves available to media.
6:30 PM: The Gay Alliance will host a Community Forum titled, “The DOMA Decisions – Equality on the Line.” A panel of noted speakers will address the potential legal and societal ramifications of the decisions.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013
4:30 PM: The Kenneth B. Keating Federal Building, 100 State Street, Rochester, N.Y. 14614

Candlelight Vigil: As the U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments on California’s Proposition 8 case and shortly thereafter the U.S. v. Windsor challenge to the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), Rochester area residents will coalesce at a candlelight vigil and public demonstration featuring many prominent local elected officials and dignitaries, including NYS Assemblymember Harry B. Bronson. Noted speakers will address the attendees at 4:45 PM.

Statement from NYS Assemblymember Harry B. Bronson:

Harry B. Bronson
“We are on the eve of a historical moment, not unlike two years ago when we passed marriage equality here in New York State, as the Supreme Court readies itself to hear the cases against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California’s Proposition 8. 

It is my hope and desire that the Supreme Court adheres to one of the most important principles of our country and affirms what many Federal Courts have already said: DOMA’s treatment of one group of citizens violates the Constitution and must fall similar to the fall of such violations of civil rights of our past.  Federal laws provide a safety net for married couples in the form of health care coverage, family leave, tax treatment, immigration and many other protections and responsibilities and to deny this safety net to one group of people is legally wrong –and simply morally wrong.  The Constitution does not permit the Federal Government nor any State (like California’s proposition 8) to strip away from one group of citizens any freedom, including the freedom to marry.” 

Bronson added, “It is more urgent than ever that we not only make that point to the Supreme Court through our demonstrations, but also we make it to the court of public opinion –which is trending on our side and on the side of full equality.  The public events of this week are necessary to remind everyone in the Greater Rochester area that even though we have fought for and achieved marriage equality in New York State, our work is not done.  We cannot be fully equal until the Federal government and all states recognize our marriages for what they are:  the commitment of two loving, dedicated adults who want to build a family, supporting each other emotionally and financially while sharing in the benefits and the responsibilities of the union of marriage.”

Friday, March 22, 2013


State Budget Not Yet Finalized

Governor Cuomo and legislative leaders announced a “conceptual agreement” on the state budget, but as of now specific details are lacking. Bill printing has begun for some issues, and it is expected that the budget will be finished next week.

There are several issues that are said to be finalized, but we have yet to see specific language. They include a broad agreement on tax cuts, an increase in the minimum wage, and an extension of the “Millionaire’s Tax” for another three years.

Most CSEA priority issues are still being discussed. These include:

•        Mental Health closures, consolidations, and downsizing;

•        OPWDD provider cuts;

•        Expansion of the ‘Close to Home’ Initiative within OCFS;

•        SUNY Downstate;

•        Subsidy to SUNY teaching hospitals;

•        Workers compensation and Unemployment Insurance reform;

•        Education distribution;

From the bills that have been printed, we know that Bayview Correctional and Beacon Correctional DOCCS facilities will be closed with 60 days notice.

Federal News

Congress avoided a potential government shut down but locked in harmful sequester cuts this week by voting on a new “Continuing Resolution” that funds the federal government until September 30th. The resolution was set to expire on March 27th.

In addition, the House of Representatives passed Rep. Paul Ryan’s devastating budget plan this week before leaving for a two-week recess. Mr. Ryan’s budget would end Medicare and Medicaid as we know them, force deep cuts to Social Security, and give new tax breaks to Wall Street and the wealthiest 2% of Americans.

In the Senate, where Senator Patty Murray has put forward an alternative budget that will prioritize jobs and make wealthy Americans and corporations pay their fair share, the Ryan plan was brought to a vote and failed to pass. It is expected that the Senate will soon vote on Ms. Murray’s budget resolution.

Thursday, March 21, 2013


Legislation and politics affect us every day. Our salaries, benefits, job security, and even our jobs themselves depend on budgets and legislation passed in Washington, Albany, and in our home towns. The Legislative and Political Action Department coordinates the legislative and political activities of CSEA.
On this page you will find the most recent news relating to legislative and political action. Please visit the links to the right for more detailed information. 
  • Support the Murray Senate Budget Dear Sisters and Brothers, Budgets are about priorities and choices. After three years of repackaging the same hurtful policies, we all already knew what Paul Ryan’s budget priorities would be: End Medicare and Medicaid as we know them; force deep cuts to Social Security and make sure the cuts from “sequestration” are made permanent. But members of ... Read more...
  • This Week in Albany Week ending March 15, 2013. Headlines include: Budget Negotiations Expected to Continue Through Weekend and More of the Same from Rep. Paul Ryan. Read more...
  • Tell Your Representative to Vote No on the Ryan Budget! Next week, we expect BOTH the House of Representatives and the Senate to vote on their budgets. Call your Representative toll-free at 1-866-695-2510. Urge him/her to vote against Rep. Ryan’s unbalanced, unfair budget proposal because it would end Medicare and Medicaid as we know them and slash vital services to pay for tax breaks for ... Read more...
  • SPECIAL EDITION This Week in Albany – ACT NOW Recent state budget developments indicate serious threats to our jobs in mental health, OPWDD, OCFS and SUNY Downstate. The next 48 hours are CRITICAL. TAKE ACTION NOW to help us keep people working and delivering public services ... Read more...
  • Doubling Down – Paul Ryan’s Budget is Bad for America! A letter from AFSCME Unwilling to compromise with President Obama, Congressional leaders recently forced $85 billion in across-the-board budget cuts known as “sequestration.” These cuts could mean losing up to a million jobs in an already weak economy. But House leaders demanded the cuts even as they refuse to close tax loopholes for Big Oil and ... Read more...
  • Same Old, Same Old from Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) rolled out his latest budget proposal, balancing the federal budget by cutting Medicaid, cutting MEDICARE and making it a voucher program and gutting the food stamp program. The Ryan plan also calls for massive tax cuts for the wealthy.  Specifically, he wants to replace the current progressive rate structure ... Read more...
  • Take ACTION Now! The Senate and Assembly have each released their one-house versions of the budget. On this page, you will find legislative memorandums in support or opposition to specific proposals contained in the one-house budgets. ... Read more...

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


Rally to End Gun Violence

WHERE: Rochester City Hall, front steps
WHEN: Wed. March 20th 2013 12 noon.
Join Rochester Mayor Thomas Richards, City Council President Lovely Warren, and other Community Leaders in support of Governor Cuomo's New York SAFE Act.

Every time we pick up the newspaper or look at the TV news, there is a story about gun violence that has destroyed another family.  Many of us have been touched personally by this plague.

These tragedies happen far too often and now is the time to enact sensible gun laws that take deadly weapons out of the wrong hands.

Join us to take on the National Rifle Association (NRA) and big gun companies in support of the Governor's smart plan to protect our families

WHERE: Rochester City Hall, front steps
WHEN: Wed. March 20th 2013 12 noon.

Saturday, March 9, 2013


Budget Talks Heat Up - The Time to Act is Now

While Governor Cuomo insists on building a “new New York” with an emphasis on creating private sector jobs, the State of New York lost 50,000 public sector jobs between 2010 and 2012. This has put a severe strain on the availability of public services New Yorkers need on a daily basis, including mental health, health care, and developmental disability services. This budget continues the state down that path.

Governor Cuomo continues to eliminate good paying middle class jobs with good benefits and a pension to the private sector that pays less in wages and benefits and further erodes the middle class. This will hurt local economies and the quality of life for all New Yorkers.

There are rumblings around the Capitol that discussions on the budget may be moving faster than anticipated. It is expected that the Senate and Assembly will introduce one-house budget proposals over the weekend with the goal of getting the budget done by March 21st. With this condensed time frame, we must act now.

It is absolutely critical that you contact your legislators immediately and tell them to oppose this budget.

Call your legislators next week at 1 (877) 255-9417.  

Here are some talking points:


CSEA is opposed to the executive’s “pension lock-in” proposal as it will result in the underfunding of the pension system. The pension system was not created to provide Governor Cuomo with mandate relief. 

Instead of addressing the fact that the 2% tax cap mandated on local governments and school districts was a flawed policy that only yielded political points, the Executive budget proposes a plan that would allow municipalities and school districts to make a lower payment for pension obligations.

Allowing this type of scheme would jeopardize the integrity of the most secure pension fund in the nation and result in a severe underfunding of pension obligations as happened in Illinois, New Jersey, and other states.  

Mental Health

Mental health services across the country are in a crisis and recent tragedies have magnified the need for providing services to an increasing population. Governor Cuomo proposes to reduce mental health services at a time when we need them the most. The proposed budget would allow the Commissioner of the Office of Mental Health sole authority to close, consolidate, merge or significantly reduce mental health services provided by the state without the legally required one year notification. The one-year notification law was put in place for a reason. It helps patients and their families prepare for new medical care, it allows employees to find a new job, and it allows the surrounding area the time to adapt to the loss of a contributor to its local economy.

This is not the time to put a person out of work. Doing so would make them unable to contribute to the economy and make them more likely to access public programs that the state must pay for.

If the Governor really wants mandate relief he should look at bringing up mental health services in communities instead of in the county jails. Due to years of cuts, jails and prisons have become de facto treatment centers. A study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that over half of all jail and prison inmates have mental health issues. 

This puts a tremendous strain on the state correctional facilities, county jails, employees and local taxpayers. 

Most importantly, many of these individuals wouldn’t even be incarcerated if they could get care and treatment in their community. Our state needs to take care of its most vulnerable citizens and not count on prisons to treat them.

Rather than having people with mental illness receive treatment in local jails, they should be diverted to effective mental health programs that are more economically beneficial to counties and taxpayers. CSEA strongly urges the legislature to reject this language and force the Executive to develop a plan that ensures that there are mental health services in place.

Health Care
CSEA opposes the Governor's proposal to create a “pilot-project” to allow private for-profit corporations to own and operate hospitals in New York State. This provision is in no doubt aimed at privatizing SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn because of the utter failure of high paid administrators at the facility to manage this valuable institution.    
Allowing a for-profit corporation to operate hospitals in New York should not be allowed and would be a tremendous mistake for New York taxpayers.   Well documented research shows for-profits are more likely to take extraordinary measures for money. They are also known for understaffing and cutting corners to earn more profit at the expense of quality health care.  
Allowing SUNY Downstate Medical Center to be privatized will undoubtedly set a path for Stony Brook and Upstate Medical Center to follow. These institutions are a vital part of their communities as well as the State. The privatization of the hospital would lead to lower quality health care, fewer available services, and the loss of middle class jobs.   

CSEA strongly opposes the expansion of the ‘Close to Home Initiative.’ The enactment of this proposal will continue the wholesale privatization of the State’s juvenile justice system and will lead to the State’s abandonment of its commitment to rehabilitating youths in need of critical services.

The additional proposed closures in this year’s budget are Red Hook Residential Center in Dutchess County, Lansing Residential Center in Tompkins County, Middletown Residential Center in Orange County, and Brentwood Residential Center in Suffolk County all in the name of “Close to Home.”


The Governor has walked away from the state’s commitment to a quality level of care for OPWDD clients. The privatization of OPWDD programs and services in this budget is alarming because it will have a devastating impact on families and communities in your district. In the future, nearly all of the work in this field could be shifted to the private, non-profit sector. 


Oppose the closure of Beacon Correctional in Dutchess County and Bayview Correctional in Manhattan.


Hundreds of CSEA members from across the state traveled to Albany on Tuesday, March 5th to urge legislators not to pass this budget that will hurt the mentally ill, developmentally disabled, local economies, and our families. CSEA President Danny Donohue, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, and others addressed the crowd and members lobbied their legislators to keep people working. 

Call Congress to Stop Sequestration

Across the board federal budget cuts known as sequestration took effect last week. While the full impact will not be felt for several weeks, the long-term effects on public programs will be dramatic. The services that you provide, including education, public safety, job assistance, and public health, are at risk due to these cuts. Call Congress today at 1-888-659-9401. Demand that they stop across the board cuts and instead close corporate tax loopholes for the 1% to ensure vital services continue to be provided.

Friday, March 8, 2013


What Congress did to the American people last week was reprehensible.
Do something about it. Call your representatives today. photo: Ove Overmyer

Rochester, N.Y. -- The middle class got hung out to dry last Friday, and it didn't have to happen. The majority of Americans got screwed while the top 1 % got propped up by their GOP puppets.

Congress failed us. They failed you and me. They failed to compromise -- with most Republicans insisting on protecting tax loopholes for the wealthiest Americans. And, because of this disastrous outcome that was self-inflicted, a series of devastating budget cuts known as the sequester are now in effect.

Americans across the country are starting to feel the consequences. From local governments, school teachers to air traffic controllers to families with kids in a Head Start program. We're talking about funding for our local fire departments and programs that feed our seniors. This is not just policy dysfunction—this happenstance is completely immoral.

This isn't a game folks-- and Congress needs to hear from the people they represent. They can put an end to these cuts right now but you have to do your part.

Here's a quick and simple action that you can take right now to send a message that members of Congress -- and everyone else -- can't ignore.

Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask for your Senate and House legislators. Here are some basic tips to help you along.

Congress can put an end to these disastrous budget cuts at any time -- but they need to feel the pressure to come to the table and find a common-sense solution. Please act now. Your family’s quality of life depends on it. 

-Ove Overmyer

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Lobby Day: Wake Up Everybody!

Albany, N.Y.-- CSEA members from across the state traveled to Albany on Tuesday, March 5, to remind lawmakers of the value they and their work provide. CSEA members are particularly concerned about Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed state budget, which, while touting flat spending, operational efficiency, consolidation and savings, is really code for “do more with less.”

CSEA members spent the day reminding lawmakers that they add value to their communities every day, and they will not apologize for working to maintain necessary public services.

They also raised concerns about their jobs, and the fact that cutting public sector jobs will only hurt the state’s fragile economic recovery.

Saturday, March 2, 2013


Photo: Ove Overmyer
March 2, 2013-- Members of Congress snuck out of Washington just as automatic across-the-board spending cuts took effect and no one is quite sure what the hell is going to happen. But we do know this-- to reduce spending at a time like this is like denying food to your child who is being nursed in an incubator. And, when lawmakers eventually return back to their DC offices they'll find many pressing matters that require their immediate attention. They also will be witnessing a lot of pain and suffering in their districts back home.

The biggest thing hanging over our heads is a possible Government Shutdown. After dealing with the fiscal cliff and sequester, the federal government is now faced with running out of money unless Congress passes a continuing resolution to fund the government past March 27. Both President Obama and Speaker John Boehner have hinted they’ll pass something well before the deadline. I will believe that when I see it.

And, possibly at the same time lawmakers will try and tackle Immigration Reform. Both parties see political benefits to passing comprehensive immigration reform and unlike most issues on Capitol Hill, there are actually bipartisan talks on how to hammer out a deal. But until there’s a deal, I’ll believe it’s for real when I see Obama bring out the pen.

For most Americans, you would have to living under a rock not to have been personally affected by Gun Violence at some point in your life. The Senate Judiciary Committee is set to take up several proposals pushed by President Obama including enhanced background checks, an assault weapons ban and a gun trafficking measure. There appears to be some agreement on background checks, but Democrats are less optimistic on the other common sense measures. Be ready for some ugliness coming from the NRA. You haven’t seen anything yet. 

Another quagmire in DC is the inability of Obama to fill high level cabinet posts. These Confirmation Hearings have been nothing but a charade. President Obama’s appointments for Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense both passed but a slew of other cabinet officials are leaving and their replacements must be confirmed by the Senate. The most controversial is John Brennan’s nomination to head the Central Intelligence Agency which is currently stalled in the Senate Intelligence Committee. The NLRB is also a wounded duck—crippled by Republican buckshot. And, Congressional Republicans would like nothing better than to drag these appointments out as long as they can as political spite—reinforcing the notion that they truly are the Party of obstruction.

As far as the Debt Ceiling goes, this is the least of our problems. Even if Congress can avoid a government shutdown, they’ll face a new crisis in late May when the federal government hits its debt limit. The big difference this time is that lawmakers will not get paid unless both the Senate and House also pass a budget. And for the record, we don’t have a spending problem. We have a priority problem. We also have a radical extreme element in the House of Representatives that call themselves the Tea Party that is creating real havoc for hard working American families. They have now proven without a doubt that they hate Obama more than they love America.

-Ove Overmyer
This editorial does not necessarily reflect the opinion of CSEA as an organization.




Rochester, N.Y.-- The offices of Civil Service Employees Association Monroe County Local 828 and Monroe County Employees Unit 7400 will be moving effective March 11, 2013.

The new address will be:

1354 Buffalo Road, Suite #6 (close to Howard Rd.)
Rochester, New York 14624

All contact information will remain the same.

Friday, March 1, 2013


CSEA Pushes Back Against Budget Plans

Albany, N.Y. -- (March 1, 2013) -- The Senate and Assembly held joint budget hearings throughout the past month to examine Governor Cuomo’s proposed budget. On February 27th, CSEA Director of Legislative and Political Action Francine Turner testified before the Senate Finance Committee and the Assembly Ways and Means Committee regarding workforce development contained in the proposed budget.

The main focus of the testimony was explaining to legislators that this budget presents us with a choice.  We can either take the route presented by Governor Cuomo, which reduces and privatizes public services and has resulted in the loss of 50,000 public sector jobs across the state since 2010, or we can embrace our commitment to good jobs with good wages and benefits.

We strongly urge you to call your legislators to reject the further erosion of our communities and reject the trend of balancing budgets by dismantling the public workforce.

Read our full testimony here.

Additionally, CSEA joined the Public Employees Federation and the New York State Sheriff’s Association to call on the Governor to release a specific plan for changes to the mental health system in the state. As currently proposed, the 2013-14 budget provides vague language that will downsize state services without a plan in place for where new services will be made available. The Executive Budget calls for only a small amount of the promised savings to be reinvested into the community.

We have created a series of video discussions with Legislative and Political Action Director Francine Turner that go over the areas of the budget that are most important to CSEA members.

Click here to see the videos.

Sequestration Takes Effect

As of this writing, President Obama and Congress have failed to reach a deal to avert $85 billion in federal spending cuts, resulting in the loss of $275 million in federal aid to New York this fiscal year. The cuts will hit the state hardest in education, public health, public safety, environmental protection, and job assistance programs.

Please call your Congressional Representative today at 888-659-9401 to tell them to reverse this plan.

Week Ahead

Don’t forget the annual CSEA/AFSCME lobby day is on March 5, 2013 from 11AM – 3:30 PM at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center.