Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Richards era coming to a close; Time to support Lovely Warren

Tom Richards and Lovely Warren
photo provided
Mayor Tom Richards ends campaigning; Time to support Lovely Warren

By Ove Overmyer

Rochester, N.Y. -- Mayor Tom Richards has proven to be one of the best mayors we could have possibly hoped for. He was a reluctant mayor at first, but came at a time when we really needed stability, vision and a sure hand. In my humble opinion, and judged on the basis of his job performance, his ability to build relationships, bring diverse people together and assessing his overall governmental acumen, he should go down in history as one of our better mayors.

The fact is Mayor Tom Richards has been the total package and a role model for those who follow him. He is a class act and I share this with you speaking from a first-person perspective. As a LGBT city library employee and democratically elected union official who negotiates collective bargaining agreements between CSEA and the City Of Rochester, I have worked with four different mayors, plenty of bureaucrats and dozens of city council persons spanning 16 years. I represent thousands union workers who live and work in the city, and I can honestly say that in my opinion, when it’s all said and done Tom Richards will rank right up there with the best of them.

In a span of about two years as Mayor, Tom Richards constructed a great working relationship with both the business community and the private sector and public sector trade unions. Richards 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 libraries and facilitating open communication with the RCSD. And, right now, he is still partnering with City Councilman Matt Haag to champion policy to improve workplace equality for all local workers. Every time I was around Mayor Richards, he is without a doubt always the smartest guy in the room, uses an economy of words and respects everyone at the table. He has really set the table for our next Mayor.

Time to support Lovely Warren

While the Primary Election was not the outcome most observers expected, I am still very optimistic about the future of our city. Democrats, Independents, Republicans and citizens of every political stripe need to put governing our city first as a priority and put politics on the back burner. We need to all collectively get behind our next mayor, presumably City Council President Lovely Warren. We realize that may be hard to do-- with the advent of a general election fast approaching on November 5.

After all, most Rochester residents have the same expectations from their local governments-- safe streets, good schools, fiscal responsibility, transparency and equal opportunity for all. It’s just that we differ on how to get there. We should openly welcome constructive debate too-- and stop the finger-pointing and bullying behaviors. It's time we start building bridges and stop putting up walls.

My job and my city colleague’s work remains the same no matter who is mayor-- to make Rochester, N.Y. the best mid-sized city in the U.S. in which to live, raise a family, visit and grow a business. We make it our mission to be renowned for our safe neighborhoods, vibrant economy, great libraries, educational excellence and customer service. City employees take personal responsibility for serving our customers - residents, taxpayers, visitors and investors and we do it with great pride.

With that in mind, I think it’s important for all communities of interest to rally behind Lovely Warren in her effort to lead our city forward. It’s just the right thing to do.


CSEA and the labor community are calling Joseph D. Morelle, Jr. a rising star for working families. Morelle stands with supporters at the Rochester Labor Day Parade, Sept. 2, 2013. photo: Ove Overmyer
CSEA endorses Joseph Morelle, Jr.

            ROCHESTER – CSEA has endorsed incumbent Monroe County Legislator Joseph Morelle, Jr. (District 17, Irondequoit) in the general election slated for November 5.

”Joseph Morelle, Jr. is a rising star for working families in Monroe County. Since taking office in January of 2013, he has already skillfully 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. “Mr. Morelle has clearly demonstrated a vision and ability to work across the aisle and get things done. We look forward to working with him on many tough challenges facing the residents and members who live in the Town of Irondequoit and Monroe County. CSEA wholeheartedly supports the campaign of Joseph D. Morelle, Jr. for Monroe County Legislature, 17th District."

            Morelle acknowledges the role that working families make to create a great quality of life here in Monroe County. He credits public employees and CSEA for helping build strong communities.

            “I want to thank the hard-working members of CSEA for the endorsement,” said Morelle. He added, “I am honored and humbled by the support and look forward to continuing to work with CSEA on behalf of county residents.”

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.

# # #

Thursday, September 5, 2013


Taking It To the Streets
photo: Jeff Markarian
Confessions of a Union Political Activist

September 5, 2013-- Here we are once again, Primary Election Day staring us right in the face. It's GOTV time folks-- a time when we activists try to mobilize support and make sure the promise of democracy is delivered right here in our local municipalities. I know a ton of union folks who should be able to relate to what I am saying here-- I certainly believe these observations are not just unique to me. I am going to be very candid here-- and if that makes you the least bit uncomfortable then I am probably doing my job.

Every year it's a bit of a challenge to motivate friends, family and co-workers on the importance of political participation-- whether it's educating yourself on the issues of the day or just making sure you know your polling place and that you are indeed registered to vote. I can't really think of anything else that even comes close in importance than making sure we have a functioning democracy. It's very hard work though-- and let's face some facts here-- a lot of folks just do not put volunteering on their list of priorities during election time or default to the belief that they are somewhat dismayed by "all politics" in general. I get that. I really do.

I hear the retorts in my sleep-- "I have been working all day and I have to go home to make supper for my family. Sorry, I can't make the phone bank." Or, "I have more important things to do. My elderly father is sick and he needs me." Yes, all very good responses but something still tells me that we all should be sacrificing at least a moment of your personal time once in awhile for the greater good-- because in the end we all will prosper together, or -- God forbid -- we all will suffer together as one community.

There are interviews to be scheduled, phone calls to make, documents to create and letters to write. There was research to be done and plenty of meetings to formulate strategics and share information. We checked voting records and canvass books-- and asked the tough questions. Through it all, I must tell you I have taken a slightly different approach this year on how to get things done for the people I serve. I have told myself the work of changing hearts and minds needs to get done so I will work twice as hard this year to make sure I can affect change the best way I know how. I know some of my colleagues will tell me I failed if I can't gather "so many" volunteers or "create a buzz around a certain candidate." I will not follow or wait for others to do the work they promised to do. So this year, I'm accepting the fact that I might once again spend more time "going it alone" rather than trying to convince others to join me in these endeavors. And, when you really examine all the parts here, change happens most often when it's "one on one." And this time, I'm coping with that realization extremely well. 

Another realization I have come to bare witness to is that you can always do more and accept that fact. However, at some point you have to tell yourself at the end of the day, "Did I do everything I could today? Do I have regrets about how I spent my time and worry what didn't get done today?" In the final analysis, you have to conclude, "Yes, it was a good day" and be satisfied with that.

Right now I'm personally making hundreds of phone calls by myself to my union brothers and sisters. I am knocking on hundreds of doors in my neighborhood. I am dropping tons of literature on the east side of the City of Rochester, and I'm waiting for every opportunity to talk to my neighbors and friends to make sure they have everything they need to make educated choices on Primary Election Day. Suffice it to say, my social media contacts are probably considering to "unfriend" me as we speak to lighten their inbox a bit. I get that too-- I really do.

Despite all the challenges and work ahead, I feel pretty good about what is to come. I believe in this unique thing called "American Democracy" and I have faith in the process and most of my elected officials. As a public employee and a democratically elected officer, I can't think of a more important relationship to have than with the folks and decision-makers who determine policy, budgets and priorities for our local communities. They can't do it alone and they need everyone's help to build stronger neighborhoods and communities. That's why it's critically important that everyone find their role and contribute what you can. That's why it's imperative working families and the voice of labor are always at the table.

By no means necessary am I implying that you should go it alone. There are terrific volunteer opportunities out there-- all you have to do is make the first move and know who to call.

If anything I said here struck a nerve with you-- let me know one way or another. I have developed really "thick skin" these days so I can take whatever you dish. Let's have a conversation and move our discussion forward. Even though this goes without saying, political action work and revealing one's soul is not for the faint of heart.


Ove Overmyer
CSEA Monroe County Local 828



Rochester, N.Y.-- Primary Day is less than a week away and we need you now more than ever to help elect Mayor Richards and our Democratic friends. Join Democratic Chairman Joe Morelle, Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, and Mayor Tom Richards as we rally Saturday, September 7th at 9:30 am at Workers United (750 East Avenue, Rochester, NY 14607).

The countdown is on and volunteers are needed to fill phone bank slots, knock on doors and drive voters to the polls. Below are some ways you can help:


Saturday, September 7th, 9:30 am with:
ü  Democratic Chairman Joe Morelle
ü  Congresswoman Louise Slaughter
ü  Mayor Tom Richards

Door to Door Canvassing:

Where: MCDC (1150 University Ave, Building 5)
Saturday- 10 am- 2 pm
Sunday- 12 pm- 4 pm
Monday- 4pm- 8 pm
Tuesday (Primary Day)  10 am- 7 pm

Phone Banks:

Where: MCDC (1150 University Ave, Building 5)
Saturday- 10 am- 2 pm
Sunday- 12 pm- 4 pm
Monday- 4pm- 8 pm
Tuesday (Primary Day)- 10 am- 7 pm

Rides to the Polls:

Primary Day 11 am – 8 pm

Help your co-workers and union partners elect labor friendly candidates. Please call 585.423.9862 or 232.2410 for volunteer opportunities.


-And the-


Are offering CSEA Members driver’s improvement classes to reduce up to four points on your driving record and a 10% reduction on your insurance premiums for up to 3 years.

Online classes are available by logging onto www.nysponline.com and entering code “CSEA” to receive the reduced rate of $23.95 per person.

In-Person classes are scheduled at the CSEA Rochester Satellite Office: 3495 Winton Place, Building E, Suite 3,  Rochester, New York 14623. All classes will be held from 10:00 AM to 4:30 PM at a cost of $19.00 per person:


To register for any of the above in-person classes, please call the NYSP directly at
1-800-942-6874. In order to register, you will need your NYS driver’s license number, credit card information and an email address.
(Coffee, tea & water will be provided.)

Thank you!

Monday, September 2, 2013