Saturday, August 31, 2013


DiNapoli Announces Decrease in Pension Contribution Rates

August 30, 2013-- New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli announced that employer contribution rates for the New York State and Local Retirement System will decline in Fiscal Year 2014-15. The average contribution rate for the Employee Retirement System (ERS) will decrease by 0.8 percent of payroll, from 20.9 percent to 20.1 percent. The average contribution rate for the Police and Fire Retirement System (PFRS) will decrease by 1.3 percent of payroll, from 28.9 percent to 27.6 percent.

The Comptroller said, “The New York State Common Retirement Fund’s strong gains over the last four years have mitigated some of the impact of the financial market collapse of 2008-2009. Strong investment performance, along with a revision in actuarial smoothing, has lowered the employer contribution rate for 2014-15.”

Cuomo Wants to Give Tax Cuts Rather than Create Middle-Class Jobs in Communities

Despite the fact that our communities are continuing to lose good middle-class jobs and the State is expected to have a budget deficit of $1.7 billion, Governor Cuomo said that he will push for a tax cut next year that will likely benefit the wealthiest New Yorkers the most. The Governor has not indicated how this tax cut will be paid for. However, there is a fear that it will be paid for by additional losses of good jobs in communities throughout our State.


Red Fedele's Brook House
920 Elmridge Center Dr., Rochester, N.Y.

Rochester, N.Y.-- Monroe County Local 828 President Bess Watts has sent notification of a Local 828 executive board meeting scheduled for Tuesday, September 10, at 5:30, at Red Fedele's Brook House Restaurant, off West Ridge Road in Greece, N.Y.

Please call the Local 828 office 585.328.5250 and confirm your attendance with Barb as soon as possible. The agenda for the meeting will include approving the budget for the fiscal year starting October 1, 2013.

Friday, August 30, 2013


Rochester, N.Y. -- The Rochester & Vicinity Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO will hold a press conference before the kick-off of the 2013 Annual Labor Day Parade on Monday, September 2nd in honor of Labor Day to recognize the working men and women who are the foundation of progress and the cornerstone of the City of Rochester’s growth.

Rochester Labor Council members, workers, families and community leaders are coming together to discuss how the productivity of working families has powered the City of Rochester and surrounding counties’ social and economic expansion while the fabric of the American Dream has frayed under a generation of stagnation, growing income inequality and failed public policy.

With the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington this year, and critical immigration reform legislation on the table in Washington, D.C., our members and leaders want to remind the community of how far we’ve come in the last 50 years, but how much further we have to go. As we celebrate the contributions of ALL workers this Labor Day, we recognize that our approach to change must be rooted in our values as a nation. We believe in hard work, in the dignity of all work and in respect for one another. What unites us as Americans is our belief in shared values and in the country we all call home, not where we were born or where we come from.

Strong protections for worker standards and worker rights are essential to the economic future for all working people—EVERYONE should be able to attain the American Dream.

Where: Seneca Waterways Boy Scouts Building, 474 East Ave. in Rochester

When:  Press Conference at 10:00 AM; Parade begins at 11:00 AM

Who: Guest speakers include Mayor Tom Richards, President of the Rochester Labor Council Jim Bertolone, City Council Candidate Rev. Marlowe Washington and Public Employee Federation's Denise Young.

The parade kicks off at 11:00 AM near the corner of East Ave. and Alexander St. and proceed west toward downtown East Main Street.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


Union PlusCollective Bargains - Tips, Deals and Discounts for Union Members
In this issue
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Monday, August 26, 2013

The Dream Lives On: National Action to Realize the Dream 2013

Washington, D.C. (August 24, 2013)-- Video and still photos shot at the National Mall by 
Ove Overmyer & Sterling Comfort Productions, © 2013.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

50 years later, Civil Rights activists connect to the past and look toward the future

Marchers pass the Lincoln Memorial at the National Action to Realize the Dream March on  Saturday afternoon, August 24, 2013. Attendance estimates of the event range from 80,000 to 100,000 people who convened on the National Mall. The National Park Service does not publish crowd estimates. 
Photo: Ove Overmyer
50 years later, Civil Rights activists connect to the past and look toward the future

By Ove Overmyer

Washington, D.C. -- They carried signs that screamed “Protect Voting Rights,” “Jobs for All” and “Love One Another.” They protested the vigilante killing of an unarmed black teenager from Florida and his killer’s acquittal. They denounced racial profiling in the country’s largest cities. Some attendees openly wept at the moving testimonies delivered from the podium sitting high atop the steps in front of the Lincoln Memorial. Early on in the day, others stood firm arms folded by the reflecting pool staring with a steely gaze as they looked toward the large viewing screens where national leaders shouted words of anger, faith and hope.

A message of cross-generational common cause extended from 1963 as a recurring theme. This isn’t 1963 but 2013, when so many of the issues that gave rise to the March on Washington fifty years ago remain unfulfilled and under siege today. That’s why, on this summer August day, a broad coalition of civil rights organizations, unions, progressive groups and Democratic Party leaders rallied at the National Mall.

Organizers expected 100,000 people to attend the rally and march. The event was homage to a generation of activists that endured fire hoses, police abuse and indignities to demand equality and justice for African Americans.
The National Park Service does not make crowd estimates and organizers did not immediately respond to request for their own.
After the morning speeches in front of the Lincoln Memorial, the event organizers and the tens of thousands of activists proceeded to march by the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial then on to the Washington Monument to honor the fiftieth anniversary of the 1963 march and to dramatize the contemporary fight.

The National Action Network (NAN) was the primary organizer for the march. Founded by the Rev. Al Sharpton in 1991, NAN is one of the leading civil rights organizations in the nation with chapters throughout the entire United States. NAN works within the spirit and tradition of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to promote a modern civil rights agenda that includes the fight for one standard of justice, decency and equal opportunities for all people regardless of race, class, religion, sexual orientation, nationality or gender identity.

The Supreme Court’s decision gutting the Voting Rights Act in late June and the acquittal of George Zimmerman less than three weeks later make this year’s assembly exponentially more urgent with respect to pressuring Congress and arousing the conscience of the nation.

“Just like a lot of other people who believe the 1963 March on Washington was one of the most significant events in American history, we just felt we needed to be part of this today, “ said 71 year-old Michael Searles of Waynesboro, Ga. He added, “We were not disappointed. The speeches we very moving, and I especially liked the Rev. Al Sharpton message.”

Searles also referenced a huge need to educate America about the attack on voting rights. Republicans in southern states, especially North Carolina are shutting down polling places at college campuses and preventing students from running for office.

 “One of the main themes today is voting rights, amending state laws like ‘stand your ground’ or local laws like stop-and-frisk, and the whole question of jobs and union-busting,” said the Rev. Al Sharpton of the National Action Network, who convened the march along with Martin Luther King III. He added, “Fifty years after the original march for jobs and justice, we have a new version of the same issue. Dreams are for those who won't accept reality as it is, so they dream of what is not there and make it possible.

In 1963, current Georgia Congressman John Lewis—who nearly died marching for voting rights in Selma, Alabama—was the youngest and most controversial speaker at the March on Washington. When Lewis returned to the Lincoln Memorial to address the rally on Saturday, he was the only surviving speaker from that historic August afternoon. “We have come a great distance since that day,” he said at the morning session, “but many of the issues that gave rise to that march are still pressing needs in our society—violence, poverty, hunger, long-term unemployment, homelessness, voting rights and the need to protect human dignity.”

At 9:00 am, the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and the National Mall begin to grow to tens of thousands of Civil Rights activists. Photo: Ove Overmyer

There is conclusive evidence that seven Southern states have passed or implemented new unconstitutional restrictions that disproportionately target people of color since the Court’s Voting Rights Act ruling. This follows a presidential election in which voter-suppression efforts took center stage and blacks waited twice as long as whites to vote, on average. On a more structural level, one out of thirteen African-Americans (2.2 million people) cannot vote because of felon disenfranchisement laws—four times higher than the rest of the population.

When it comes to the criminal justice system, there are more black men in prison today than were enslaved in 1850, according to Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow. African-Americans comprise 13 percent of the population but made up 55 percent of shooting deaths in 2010. Under Florida’s “stand your ground” law, “people who killed a black person walked free 73 percent of the time, while those who killed a white person went free 59 percent of the time,” according to the Tampa Bay Times.

When it comes to the economy, the black unemployment rate (12.6 percent) is nearly double that of whites (6.6 percent), almost the same ratio as in 1963. The average household income for African-Americans ($32,068) lags well below that of white families ($54,620) and declined by 15 percent from 2000 to 2010.

These jarring statistics show a clear need for a twenty-first-century civil rights movement. “After the march, my hope is we will see more people going home being committed to doing work in their own communities,” says Rochester, N.Y. resident and organized labor leader T. Judith Johnson. She added, “The Moral Mondays protests in North Carolina, the sit-ins by the Dream Defenders in Florida and the spontaneous rallies in 100 cities following the George Zimmerman verdict are evidence of a new wave of civil rights activism. I just feel it.”

“We’re seeing the civil rights movement rise again,” says Searles.  Johnson added, “This generation is beginning to understand that we have to get back to organizing and movement-building to create better outcomes for our working families.”

For many years, civil rights organizations like the NAACP focused on building institutional power through litigation, lobbying and voting. Though they accomplished a great deal—we now have a two-term African-American president, after all—there’s a growing realization within the civil rights community that the protests and civil disobedience that defined the movement of the 1960s are once again essential to draw more attention to contemporary problems.

 “I wish this activism had more outbursts than just in North Carolina and Florida,” says civil rights veteran Julian Bond. “You wish it was twenty times as great, but to see these things that are going on—it’s exciting. These tactics are tried and true. They’ve worked in the past, and they’ll work now.”

Yet while the civil rights coalition is more diverse than it was in 1963—now including supporters from the labor community, women’s rights, environmental, pro-immigration and LGBT groups—the funds are scarce today even as the needs are growing. The declining strength of organized labor, which has accelerated following the passage of anti-union laws in GOP-controlled states since 2010, has drained the coffers of the organizations most accustomed to mobilizing masses of people. “The movement is more financially strapped than it has been in modern memory,” says Ben Jealous of the NAACP.

Another daunting obstacle for the civil rights coalition is the right wing’s success in promoting the notion that historic remedies for centuries of discrimination, like the Voting Rights Act and affirmative action, are no longer needed. “One of the great difficulties we have in helping people understand where we are on civil rights today is the desire of so many people to fix the civil rights movement in historical amber and visit it like a museum, without honoring that movement by being dynamically engaged in the principles that the movement stood for,” says Sherrilyn Ifill, director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, another co-sponsor of the march.

Despite all the criticism, the 1963 march remains a singularly important event in American history: the first time the country really understood what the civil rights movement stood for. The effect was greatest on the marchers themselves. “Many of the people at the march had never been to Washington before,” said Julian Bond. “It was evidence to them that they had done something great and that great things would follow.”

Some fifty years later, “there is, unfortunately, too much parallel between now and then,” says Jealous. He added, “Now is the moment for all of us to be re-baptized in the struggle.”

Thursday, August 22, 2013



Rev. Al Sharpton; Martin Luther King, III; Congressman John Lewis; Attorney General Eric Holder; Nancy Pelosi (Democratic Leader); Congressman Steny Hoyer; Corey Booker; Myrlie Evers-Williams; Marc Morial (NUL); Ben Jealous (NAACP); Bernice King; Rev. Joseph Lowery; Randi Weingarten (AFT); Lee Saunders (AFSCME); The families of Emmett Till and Trayvon Martin; and many others.

Pre-March Program – Lincoln Memorial
8:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. Prayer
9:00 a.m. – 12:00 (NOON) Program

Main Speakers 11:00 a.m.
Nancy Pelosi
Bernice King
Steny Hoyer
Myrlie Evers-Williams (Widow of Medgar-Evers)
Attorney General Eric Holder
Martin Luther King, III
Rev. Al Sharpton
Trayvon Martin family
Emmett Till family

March at 12:30 p.m.
We will march down Independence Ave. passing the King Memorial to the Washington Monument.

The Washington Monument is the official dispersal point. Once there, marchers will be told to go to their buses. Below you will find a map attached with the march route:

Immediately after the march, Rev. Sharpton and Martin Luther King, III will hold a debriefing (at Washington Monument). Again, marchers are encouraged to return to their buses immediately following the end of the march at the Washington Monument.

Monday, August 19, 2013


(Video by Ove Overmyer) Washington, D.C.-- The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom took place 50 years ago on August 28th at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC.  It was during this march that Dr. King gave his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech that has reverberated for decades.  While we celebrate all that was achieved in the 50 years since that march, we recognize that the “Dream” has not been fulfilled and the battle for justice is ongoing.

The name of the march on August 24th is the “National Action to Realize the Dream March”.  It is important that you use the name when speaking about the march so that people understand that this march is not just a commemoration, but a continuation of the efforts 50 years ago.

The talking points for the march are below:
  • Jobs & the Economy – Jobs are still a major focus of the march 50 years later. Unemployment is still plaguing many communities. The black community still sees double the unemployment rates of the rest of the country. Youth unemployment is nearly six times higher.
  • Voting Rights – Voting Rights have been thrust to the forefront of the agenda after the Supreme Court dismantled a crucial section of the Voting Rights Act. Now, without protections to keep states with a history of disenfranchising voters, those states are left susceptible to new laws that threaten to keep them from the polls. This after winning crucial battles in 2012 against misleading claims of voter fraud.
  • Workers’ Rights – Workers’ Rights have been under attack in states across this country. Low wage earners in certain industries have been banned the right to unionize and collectively bargain for fair pay, benefits and other protections. Others who have been protected have had their rights attacked or taken away through the introduction and passage of bills that threaten workers’ protections.
  • Criminal Justice Issues, Stand Your Ground Laws & Gun Violence – The Trayvon Martin and Marissa Alexander cases put Stand Your Ground laws under the microscope. The cases brought to light the inequalities that lie within its interpretation and the fact that it is in place in a majority of states underscores that we must fight to repeal the laws. Gun violence has been an issue in low income communities for years, but the Sandy Hook tragedy created an urgency to address gun laws. While Congress failed to act on sensible gun legislation, we must continue to demand action. Other criminal justice issues include sentencing disparities, the prison pipeline and racial profiling.
  • Women’s Rights – Women continue to have to fight laws that limit their ability to make decisions about their own health. Many states have legislation that has either recently passed or that has been introduced that eliminates a woman’s right to choose even in instances of incest, rape or health. Women are also still making less than male counterparts but living longer. The implications of this are numerous but keep women in vulnerable positions.
  • Immigration – Immigration reform has been discussed for many years, but gained traction in the recent months with the introduction and passage of a bill in Senate. While it has stalled in the House, this legislation will have a huge, positive impact on the economy and create civil rights for the millions of immigrants living in this country. Despite the fact that many immigrants are Latino, this is not just a Latino issue – it is an American issue and affects many immigrant communities including blacks and Asians. We need to grant citizenship to the many immigrants who are here and allow them to fully achieve the American Dream.
  • LGBT Equality – This year the LGBT community made progress in their work to achieve equality. With 13 states now allowing gays and lesbians to marry and the Supreme Court overturning DOMA and Prop 8, the crucial victories set up a forward march. However, the LGBT community still faces employment discrimination and other challenges that block their ability to achieve full rights.
  • Environmental Justice – Many low income people and minorities face environmental challenges that threaten their health and their lifestyle. In Los Angeles, African Americans are twice as likely to die in a heat wave. 68% of African Americans live within 30 miles of a coal plant and this creates more incidences of asthma. Latino children are twice as likely to die from an asthma attack as non- Latino children. There are many more issues related to the environment that impact outcomes for these communities.
  • Youth – Many of the aforementioned issues affect youth, but in addition to those challenges, youth often deal with college loans. In recent years the college loan interest rate has been at risk for doubling multiple times.

Friday, August 16, 2013


The Affordable Care Act: What Unions Need to Know

A Workshop for Union Representatives

This one-day workshop will provide union representatives with the information they need to help members understand how the new health care law will affect them.  Additionally, union reps will learn how the provisions of the Act may play out at the bargaining table for small groups, large groups, Taft-Hartley plans and more.

Learn about:

            • The Exchanges and the Marketplace
             Guidelines for Large Group, Small Group & Multi-Employer Plans
            • The Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) Exchange
            • Coverage for early retirees, part-timers & special circumstances
            • Financial considerations
            • Penalties, Incentives, Tax Credits
            • Strategies for Bargaining

 Rochester Location on Thursday, September 12, 2013 at Rick’s Prime Rib House, 898 Buffalo Rd., Rochester, N.Y. 14624.

Click here for more information and to register.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

AFSCME and CSEA Join Other City Unions in Supporting Mayor Tom Richards for Re-election

Officers and staff of AFSCME and CSEA stand with Rochester Mayor Tom Richards at a press conference at the Rochester Police Department Locust Club on Lexington Ave this morning. photo: Bess Watts
Rochester, N.Y. -- Mayor Tom Richards’ campaign today received support from several unions representing the City of Rochester’s workforce. The endorsements – which included the Rochester Police Locust Club; the Rochester Firefighters Association Local 1071; the City Employees Union (AFSCME Local 1635); the City libraries staff (AFSCME/CSEA Local 828 Unit 7420) and the City School District support staff (BENTE/AFSCME Local 2419) – reflect a new partnership that has emerged at City Hall under Mayor Richards’ executive leadership.

“The challenges faced by upstate cities have been well-documented, and are no different here in Rochester. However, I am confident that we have maintained more solid fiscal footing than others, thanks partially to our union workforce,” said Mayor Richards. “With their cooperation, we have not had to cut back on the level of service that residents have come to expect from their government, something very important to preserving quality of life in Rochester.”

Remarks by Ove Overmyer
President CSEA City of Rochester Library Workers Local 828 Unit 7420:

My name is Ove Overmyer and I have been employed by the City of Rochester for 16 years. I am the President of the CSEA City of Rochester Library Workers and a Vice President of Monroe County Local 828. I am here with my CSEA colleague Bess Watts, President of Monroe County Local 828.

As many of you know, CSEA is New York State’s leading union, representing employees of New York State and its counties, cities, towns, villages, school districts, library systems, authorities and public corporations. Together with a growing population of private sector members and retirees, CSEA forms a union of 290,000 people strong. It is also the largest affiliate of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) which, in turn, is one of the largest affiliates of the AFL-CIO.

When Tom Richards became mayor in 2011, he really hit the ground running. Since then, Mayor Tom Richards has crafted a great working relationship with the public sector and private sector trade unions as well as the local business community. We have watched him navigate tough landmines in governing our city—no easy feat for anyone. He does it with charm, grace, wit and a lot of hard work—attributes we should all admire. Mayor Richards respects everyone at the table and to tell you the truth, he is always the smartest guy in the room. He uses an economy of words and is open and honest—no smoke or mirrors here folks. Although we recognize we are not where we want to be as a city, we remain very optimistic that our Mayor is the visionary who can lead us to a better day. We have the utmost respect and confidence in his ability to govern.

Mayor Richards has clearly demonstrated a vision and ability to improve public safety, balance budgets, create private sector jobs and improve our educational efforts through literacy, supporting our schools and public libraries. But most of all, Tom sees the city workforce as invested stakeholders in our community, something other administrations had a hard time realizing. CSEA joins our city union brothers and sisters when we say we enthusiastically support the re-election campaign of Rochester Mayor Tom Richards.”

Friday, August 9, 2013

Rochester Mayor Tom Richards: Simply the Best


Five CSEA Locals from Monroe County PAC's unanimously endorsed
Rochester Mayor Tom Richards for re-election. photo provided
CSEA endorses Rochester Mayor Thomas Richards

ROCHESTER – CSEA has endorsed Rochester Mayor Thomas Richards in the 2013 Primary. Primary Day is Tuesday, Sept. 10.

Mayor Tom Richards has crafted a great working relationship with the public sector and private sector trade unions as well as the local business community,” said CSEA Monroe County Local Political Action Committee Chairman Ove Overmyer. “Mayor Richards has clearly demonstrated a vision and ability to improve public safety, balance budgets, create private sector jobs and improve our educational efforts through literacy, supporting our public workers and facilitating open communication with the Rochester City School District. CSEA wholeheartedly supports the re-election campaign of Rochester Mayor Tom Richards.”

Richards credits public employees and CSEA for building a partnership with the city throughout his term in office.

"One of the primary reasons that Rochester has been able manage our fiscal challenges has been our ability to work in partnership with our public employees," said Mayor Richards. "Rochester is fortunate to have a dedicated workforce who shares a desire to build a stronger community and I thank the members of CSEA for their support."

CSEA-represented Rochester voters work for public and private employers, including New York State, Monroe County, the City of Rochester, and the private healthcare industry.

CSEA is New York State’s leading union, representing employees of New York State and its counties, towns, villages, school districts, library systems, authorities and public corporations. Together with a growing population of private sector members and retirees, CSEA forms a union 290,000 strong. It is also the largest affiliate (and Local 1000) of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) which, in turn, is one of the largest affiliates of the AFL-CIO.

# # #

Monday, August 5, 2013


Coalition for Immigration Justice Rally and Vigil
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Buffalo Federal Detention Center, Batavia, NY

Remarks of Denise Young
United Steelworkers of America Delegate
Public Employees Federation Staff
On behalf of the Rochester, NY and Vicinity Labor Council, AFL-CIO

July 30, 2013

Good afternoon, Sisters and Brothers:

PEF's Denise Young
photo: Ove Overmyer
My name is Denise Young.  I am here speaking on behalf of the Rochester Labor Council, an organization of many unions, representing over 60,000 members in the Rochester area.  Our president, Jim Bertolone, sends his greetings to the many advocates and supporters assembled here today.

The Rochester Labor Council, as an affiliate of the national AFL-CIO, strongly supports the reform of our immigration system and a path to citizenship for the 10 - 12 million undocumented working people - men, women and children - here in the United States.

We may have disagreements about particular tactics and strategies for accomplishing comprehensive reform of the immigration system, but there are a number of fundamental issues upon which we agree today…and will always agree.

There is no such thing as an “illegal human being.” Immigrants…documented or not…come here looking for jobs and justice.  They are workers, and sometimes, families, who, because of the great fluxes in the US economy's demand for labor, come to harvest our crops, tend our elderly, work in our restaurants and construction areas.  Sometimes, they participate in the STEM arenas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.  Without legal protections, these workers are subject to unsafe working conditions, theft of their wages, threats of violence, unlawful retaliation and the ultimate threat of deportation.  

In short, in far too many communities around our nation and right here in Western and Central New York, working people - with the same aspirations as you and I - live in fear  - and sometimes in the conditions of indentured servitude.

We must have an immigration policy that reflects OUR values, not the interests of the corporations and politicians who are anti-worker, regardless of the status of workers' citizenship.  In fact, the most rabidly anti-immigrant politicians in US politics are also some of the most anti-worker politicians in the country.  Many such politicians have skillfully diverted attention from their anti-worker agenda by drumming up anti-immigrant anxiety and fear in their constituents. 

These are not the values of the labor movement and its allies.  Our values call for full and complete access to the protection of labor, health and safety, and other laws; for an effective labor standards enforcement initiative that prioritizes workers' rights and workplace protections; that free and quality education is available for all; that wages and working conditions enable workers and their families to live lives without deprivation.  That NO workers should live in fear of the terror of deportation ripping their families apart.  

These values, which working people have fought and died for, must be the path to citizenship - in a nation and its Congress  - which affirms the rights of working people and their inherent dignity.
Para todos los trabajadores, no solo un estatus temporario, para aquellos que sean escogidos por las corporaciones.  Como ven, esto nos concierne a todos!

Working people are strongest when we struggle together. The labor movement is strongest when it is open and comprised of ALL workers.

Si se puede!

As a staff member of the Public Employees Federation, Denise Young is a member of its staff union affiliated with the United Steelworkers of America (USW).  She is a Delegate to the Rochester and Vicinity Labor Council, AFL-CIO, and serves on its executive board.  She previously worked as organizing director for SEIU Local 1199 Rochester and as executive director of Metro-Justice of Rochester.