Friday, January 31, 2014


"Libraries and library systems are the educational and intellectual lubrication that keeps the gears of New York's economy moving in the right direction."  -Ove Overmyer

A message to all our NYS library advocate friends: 

January 31, 2014-- There is some mixed messaging coming from Albany and some library groups that are encouraging you to contact Gov. Cuomo and the Executive Branch concerning his lapse of judgement when he proposed library funding levels for the next fiscal year. Simply put, this is not the best approach. 

Actually, it would be better to reach out to your state officials in-district. We have already heard from Cuomo-- and only the state legislature can now restore library funding to appropriate levels. Cuomo has proven to be on the side of wealthy corporate interests and focusing on big tax-giveaways to the uber rich. He does not, we repeat, he does not give much value to public services or to the workers who deliver those services-- especially when it comes to libraries and libraries systems in New York State.

Some of you know Gov. Cuomo continues to ignore state education law that mandates library funding be linked with population and census statistics-- which would mean the the state should be funding libraries at around $102 million for fiscal year 2014-15. What is even more maddening is the idea that total library funding represents less than one-tenth of one percent of the entire state budget. Libraries and library systems give NYS taxpayers the best investment possible when matched against any public service-- bar none. Libraries and library systems are the educational and intellectual lubrication that keeps the gears of New York's economy moving in the right direction.

Cuomo's 2014-15 Budget proposal is $20 million dollars less than required by state law. This is shameful. Talk to your state lawmakers at home. We have already heard from Cuomo and we know where he stands, and its not with the majority of New York State taxpayers or the library community.

Contact your reps:

NYS Assembly
NYS Senate

-Ove Overmyer

CSEA Monroe County Local 828

Saturday, January 25, 2014

NY Governor’s Budget Proposal a Bitter Pill

The NYS Budget focus from the Executive Branch for the upcoming fiscal year will once again benefit wealthy New Yorkers at the expense of hard working middle class families who need vital essential services. photo: Ove Overmyer
New York State-- Let’s get some facts straight-- New York State has the worst income inequality in the nation. It is hurting our working families and our local communities. After our initial reading of the new budget document, it astounds us that we are not taking the opportunity to properly address some of the biggest challenges of the day. We repeat, when nearly half of New Yorkers are at or near the poverty line, why is Governor Cuomo proposing a gigantic $2 billion tax relief for the richest New Yorkers? Could it be that 2014 is an election year?

If budget proposals are moral documents, Governor Cuomo has proven that his amoral priorities should be vociferously challenged. This budget tells most New Yorkers that better days are not ahead—unless you are privileged and wealthy. New York needs and deserves a fair state budget.

Simply put, Gov. Cuomo’s tax break centerpiece of his unethical 2014-15 budget plan does very little to address the biggest problems facing New Yorkers-- chronic long-term unemployment, poverty and income inequality. This budget does not reflect the best interest and common good of all New Yorkers and will compromise what little quality of life we have built for our local communities.

Instead of providing additional aid to local governments, the Executive Budget “incentivizes” local governments to consolidate and share services. The budget would provide a two-year property tax freeze for homeowners living in jurisdictions that abide by the two percent property tax cap in the first year, and agree to implement an efficiency plan for the second year.

In order for homeowners to get the tax credit in the second year, school districts and local governments must continue to stay within the cap and must consolidate or share services to create savings equal to one percent of the tax levy in 2016-17, two percent in 2017-18, and three percent in 2018-19.

Other recommendations include a property tax “Circuit Breaker” for households earning up to $200,000, a personal income tax credit for renters (which we find completely patronizing to working families), a 20 percent real property tax credit for New York manufacturers, completely eliminating corporate income taxes for upstate manufacturers, increasing the Estate Tax threshold from $1 million to $5.25 million and lowering the top rate over four years, and lowering the corporate income tax rate.

These reforms will take billions of dollars away from state revenues, that ironically, mostly benefit the rich and multi-national corporations doing business in New York State. 

This budget should be about ensuring the economic survival of our local communities. The residents of New York have a choice. Either we make decisions that will either continue the loss of decent middle-class jobs which will decimate public services throughout the state or we can invest in jobs in our communities that pay a decent living-wage that provide quality services that people depend on everyday.  

Simply put, we need our elected leaders to create a budget and enact policies that lift up all New Yorkers and build new ladders to the middle class. The last thing we need is to provide more tax cuts to the uber rich while working families continue to lose hope in their elected officials. No economy can prosper without strong consumer-based middle class priorities.

AFSCME / CSEA Lobby Day is March 4, 2014. Get on the bus and tell your elected officials we need a New York that grows our economy from the bottom up by creating jobs and investing in our public services.
If you are an AFSCME or CSEA member and live in WNY, please call our Region Office at 1.716.691.6555 to reserve your seat today. Your local community is counting on you to speak for those who can’t or won’t represent themselves in the political arena.

Friday, January 24, 2014


CSEA Local 828 will also be awarding three scholarships for second year applicants. If you have previously won a CSEA scholarship and want to apply for a second year award, please contact Barb in the Local 828 office.

For all your scholarship informational needs, please consult our "Scholarships for Union Families" tab at the top of this page, or you can go HERE. You can also find help by calling our CSEA Local 828 office at 328.5250.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Whatever Happened to "We The People?"

New York State-- Imagine trying to pay your bills on minimum wage, a part time salary (like many union families are doing today) or relying on unemployment insurance or Social Security Disability Insurance to make ends meet-- now imagine cutting that figure in half. That's what the Senate GOP and the NYS Executive Branch is up to-- all the while orchestrating tax breaks for rich folks and corporations who are insulated from any financial harm. It's just plain creepy and immoral on so many levels.

NY Gov. Cuomo is proposing huge tax breaks for wealthy corporations-- as if existing companies today rightfully pay what they should. They don't. The FPI states that the top 10 largest corporations doing business in NYS do not pay any taxes at all. How is that fair? Shame on them and shame on working people for letting this type of political theatre play out in the Empire State. A recent news report just revealed that less than one percent of Gov. Cuomo's political donations came in the form of a small donation (less than 1K)-- meaning the only folks backing his agenda are greedy rich people and corporations trying to make more money or keep the status quo.

We all need to be telling a new and meaningful story about preserving public services and paying taxes that celebrates the concrete opportunity it offers “we the people.” The problem is, without the public systems and structures that taxes pay for, the New York we know and love would cease to exist. Working people need to stand together this legislative session and tell our elected officials to get with the program.

And let us be clear— according to the most reliable and highly regarded economists, there is no correlation between giving tax breaks to wealthy corporations and job growth or improving our economy. Do you hear us Governor Cuomo? Make the rich pay their fair share by ending unfair tax breaks. 

If we are going to survive as a country and prosper as a state, we need to invest in our public systems and the people who provide these essential necessary services. A functioning democracy should be designed to have a progressive tax structure that is in proportion to the means and ability to pay for the essential vital services we demand and cannot do by ourselves as individuals.

Please join us in our fight to protect our middle class quality of life-- our communities survival is depending on whether we succeed or not. The proverbial ball is in your court. What are you going to do about it?

CSEA/AFSCME Lobby Day is March 4, 2014. Please call the CSEA WNY Region Office 716.691.6555 for more details.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Here's My Ten Point Plan for a Better America

Here’s my ten point plan for a better America in 2014. It's an equality focus featuring a pro-middle class anti-poverty agenda. It's also the biggest nightmare for every Congressional Conservative.

By Ove Overmyer

In January of every year, lawmakers, corporations, civic groups, lobbyists and activists create game plans or “agendas” to re-define their mission statements if you will. This year is no different. In fact, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has already delivered his vision for the upcoming legislative session—with mixed reviews I might add.

While it’s true that I do belong to many organizations, including taking an oath of office with my union (CSEA), I have my own personal agenda for what I think might be the right path to shared prosperity for all Americans. If you know me at all, this will not come to you as a surprise— the biggest issue facing our country today is income inequality and the devastating role that poverty plays in our communities.

As soon as most folks hear the word “poverty,” certain beliefs and prejudices automatically kick in. On the political right, the word conjures notions of bad choices and personal failings-- and sometimes, racial makeup. On the left, people think more of hard circumstances beyond one’s control and the lack of opportunity.

Whatever our politics, if we stay the present course it’s less likely that we will be able to think of poverty as something that affects just the few. If you haven’t noticed folks, the middle class is shrinking very fast. No functioning democracy can survive without a strong middle class with living wage jobs—we need everyday consumers who have purchase power to buy goods and services to keep our economy moving in the right direction.

Here is my ten point plan:

Congress must pass ENDA this year and protect the civil human rights of our global community. Moreover, we must advocate protecting United States voting rights such as access to voting, especially in places where such rights are under attack like in the Deep South. The U.S. Department of Justice should validate all same sex marriages in the United States. These families should not be held to a higher standard by enduring prolonged discrimination and paying higher taxes.

Restore the rights of all working people with respect to collective bargaining, due process and protections from wage theft.

All Americans must understand that austerity policies do not work, and only exacerbate our country’s economic woes. Federal, state and local governments must not starve municipal budgets.

We all need to be telling a new and meaningful story about paying taxes that celebrates the concrete opportunity it offers “we the people.” The problem is, without the public systems and structures that taxes pay for, the America we know and love would cease to exist.

Let me be clear— according to most economists, there is no correlation between giving tax breaks to wealthy corporations and job growth. Do you hear me Governor Cuomo? Make the rich pay their fair share by ending unfair tax breaks. A functioning democracy should be designed to have a progressive tax structure that is in proportion to the means and ability to pay for the essential vital services we demand and cannot do by ourselves as individuals. 

Expand and broaden Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, as so eloquently explained by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Protect people from going hopelessly into debt through the high price of receiving healthcare and medical services. The ACA has failed to put a tight lid on potential total medical costs. Eventually, we must join the civilized world with single payer healthcare.

Increase federal and state aid to state-supported education. It’s absurd that poor and middle class families have to go into debt just to pay for an education. The economic disparity between rich schools districts and poor school districts should be marginalized.

Strengthen federal regulations so irresponsible companies like big oil and banks do not rob ordinary tax-paying Americans and destroy the land, water and air we breathe.

Create posterity bill language to extend federal benefits permanently for the long term unemployed. Why does Congress do this every three months? This is called unemployment insurance for a reason. The only people who are eligible for unemployment insurance have met the working criteria earlier in the working life. And, let’s remember the lesson learned in the Great Depression: when the private sector can’t come up with jobs, the government must fill the void by assisting those out of work and create jobs with them in mind.

Protect the workplace, healthcare and reproductive rights of women. That’s all I need to say here.