Friday, April 25, 2014

CSEA Activists Stand in Solidarity With Postal Workers; Living Wage Jobs at Risk

CSEA activists join their Rochester area labor brothers and sisters at a USPS anti-privatization rally on April 24, 2014.
(photos by Bess Watts)
Irondequoit, N.Y. – Over 100 people rallied outside of the Staples retail store on E. Ridge Road in Irondequoit yesterday, waving and connecting with thousands of commuters on their way home from work yesterday. It was one of 50 locations across the country where U.S. postal workers gathered in response to a pilot program between Staples and the U.S. Postal Service. Effectively what will happen if Staples is successful in their bid to privatize public services is that living wages jobs will disappear while untrained minimum wage workers would replace seasoned postal employees.

This program will open post office counters in stores and staff them with retail employees. "Anybody that works for the postal service has background checks done on them, they're fingerprinted you know what their background is," said Susan Lewis, Executive Vice President, N.A.L.C., Branch 3 Buffalo, WNY. At Staples they hire anyone off the street, I'm not saying they're workers aren't any good, but you know what you're getting when you're getting the postal service."

Armed with signs reading "Saving the Middle Class = Priceless," and "Save America's Postal Service" protesters marched along the sidewalk outside of Staples hoping their actions would keep a U.S. Postal Service counter out of Rochester Staples.

"What's going to happen is you're going to have Staples employees taking in mail without asking security questions without asking the appropriate information to make sure the mail is safe," said Ken Montgomery, President of The National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 210.

A spokesperson with Staples wouldn't comment on the workers' concerns, only saying the store is always testing new ways to serve its customers. 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

NYS Budget 2014-15 Overview

Albany, NY-- The 2014-15 FY state budget has been voted on and signed by the Governor. Below are details on some of the most important areas impacting CSEA members. Please visit our website for more information.


Property Tax “Freeze”: The Governor’s proposal to freeze local and school property taxes is included in the final budget with modifications.

In order to receive a credit in the first year, homeowners must live in a local government or school district that stays within the two percent property tax cap. In the second year of the freeze, municipalities will be required to submit a plan for savings. Past actions of shared services, mergers and other efficiencies will be counted towards the savings goal. There is no penalty if local governments do not meet their efficiency plans.

Estate Tax: The final budget raises the exemption level for the Estate Tax to $5.25 million over 4 years. The budget does not lower the tax rate.

Business Taxes: 
The budget merges the Bank Tax with the Corporate Franchise Tax. The Corporate Franchise Tax rate would then be lowered to 6.5% beginning on January 1, 2016. Additionally, the budget eliminates the Corporate Franchise Tax for all manufacturers. Qualified manufacturers will also get a 20 percent credit on property taxes. Qualified manufacturers have all of their real and personal property in New York or have an adjusted basis of said property under federal law of at least $1 million.

Local Governments

The final budget includes $438.1 million for the Consolidated Local Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS).  The budget also includes $40 million to localities for road repair.

Local governments will not receive any increase in AIM funding.

Health Care

The budget rejects the Governor’s proposal to allow for-profit hospitals in New York.

The budget includes the Safe Patient Handling bill that CSEA has been working on for over 12 years. Safe patient handling procedures protect both health care workers and patients by replacing the manual lifting and moving of patients with assistive devices. The provisions in the budget require a statewide work group to define best practices and issue a report.  Health care facilities are required to implement best practices by January of 2017.

The health care budget includes a $1.2 billion bond authority for health care facilities over a 7 year period. This money can be used to invest in health facility infrastructure.

Human Services COLA

Once again the COLA is delayed by 6 months. In January of 2015, a 2 percent COLA would be paid to direct care personnel. The language directing the payments to the actual worker is very strong and providers must forward a resolution of their board attesting to the fact that the money went to the direct care worker. In April of 2015 another 2 percent COLA will be applied pursuant to the same terms.

SUNY Hospitals

The state subsidy to SUNY hospitals is increased by $27.5 million bringing total aid for Upstate, Downstate and Stony Brook to $87.5 million.


Total funding was increased by $1.1 billion. This is an increase of $500 million over the governor’s proposal.  The budget also includes a $2 billion education bond to put new technology in schools and for the construction of new classroom space. The bond will have to be approved by voters in a referendum.

Universal Pre-K

A proposal for Universal Pre-K is included in the final budget. It is funded at $340 million: $300 million to NYC and $40 million for the rest of the state. It does not contain a dedicated tax of high-income earners in New York City to fund it.


Library funding faced a cut of $4 million from last years’ appropriation in the Governor’s budget. The Legislature restored that cut and increased funding by an additional $1 million.

Child Care

There is an increase of $34 million for child care subsidies.  Facilitated enrollment is funded at last year’s level of $7.265 million.

Other Issues

The final budget rejects allowing OCFS to close limited secure facilities without providing one year notice prior to closure (delays Close-to-Home in regards to limited-secure youths by an additional year)

DMV: The budget rejects allowing the DMV to be open on Saturdays on a permanent basis.

Public Financing: 
A one year demonstration program for the public financing of elections would be implemented for the 2014 election for State Comptroller only. The money for the program would be provided by abandoned property funds rather than taxpayer money. Candidates will need to opt-in to the program to participate.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


Governor, legislative leaders' budget priorities favor bankers and wealthy campaign contributors at the expense of everyone else

New York State-- CSEA believes the state budget should put the needs of people and struggling communities before special deals for the favored few. The new state budget reflects bad policy and poor choices-- something every "right minded" New Yorker should be concerned about.

Statement of CSEA President Danny Donohue on 2014-15 State Budget:
“The state budget says a lot about priorities and it’s not good. Who do Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the legislative leaders really care about?
Under their plan, schools will continue struggle to maintain teachers and programs. Counties, towns and villages will continue to struggle to maintain essential services. Critical programs for the poor, hungry and sick will be cut. But bankers, millionaires and billionaire campaign contributors are getting a huge windfall.
The governor and legislative leaders’ priorities have made it clear who they serve. No political gimmicks like election year property tax rebate checks and a lot of sound bite nonsense can change what they’ve done at the expense of working New Yorkers.”



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