Monday, May 23, 2016

CSEA Local 828 Scholarship Award Presentations

Webster, N.Y.—On Monday, May 23, CSEA Monroe County Local 828 Executive Board, Local 828 Scholarship Committee hosted the 23nd Annual Scholarship Awards Dinner at Liberty Lodge at Finn Park, 850 Maple Dr., Webster, N.Y. Many members from the Retirees Local 912 also served on the Scholarship Committee as well.

At the picnic supper, Local officers formally announced the winners of the CSEA Local 828 George M. Growney Memorial Scholarships and Unit 7400 Scholarship Awards for 2016. This year, $10,000.00 was awarded to deserving area students whose parents or caregivers are members in good standing of CSEA Monroe County Local 828.

Since 1993, CSEA Local 828 has awarded over $145,000 in scholarship prize money. In 1993, the Monroe County Employees Unit 7400, the largest Unit in the Local, created their own scholarship program and have distributed more than $25,000.

Mr. Growney was a long time local labor leader and activist. He was employed as a probation officer with Monroe County. He served as local president for nearly two decades before his retirement in 1995. George had a passion for kids to succeed, and would be proud that his union brothers and sisters have carried on his legacy of love and commitment to youth. George M. Growney died on August 10, 1997. The scholarship program was named in his honor in 1998—one year after his passing.

“This is one of the best things we do as union activists,” said Bess Watts, President of Local 828. She added, “It’s very rewarding to know we are helping our young people succeed in life and it is my favorite event of the year.”

CSEA Local 828 Scholarships are open to graduating high school seniors whose parents and caregivers are members or agency shop fee payers of Monroe County Local 828. The scholarship committees have reviewed thousands of applications in the past 23 years, which demonstrates the significant need of financial resources for young adults continuing their formal education. Scholarships applicants are judged on academic achievement, a written essay, financial need and potential.

Here are the winners:

A special thank you to the Scholarship committee for all their hard work!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Village of Brockport Dissolution: My view from here

A Main Street shop owner sweeps up the sidewalk near her storefront on a spring afternoon.
Photo by Ove Overmyer, ©2016
Guest Essay by Ove Overmyer

Brockport, NY-- As Election Day approaches May 24, I have some thoughts I want to share with you. First of all, I was born many years ago at Lakeside Memorial Hospital in Brockport, NY. I am from a very large family and I'm sure most residents who have lived in the area will recognize the family name. I attended High School there and I still have plenty of family and friends who I care deeply about who still call this historic Victorian canal town home.

I mention this only because I want to squash any impression that I don’t have a horse in this race— in fact, I do and so do you no matter where you call home. Anytime there is a threat to one’s quality of life, folks need to speak up and take a stand for each other. This is because it’s not just a fight for Brockport residents to keep their village whole-- this is about something much bigger. It’s a threat and attack on the existence of government itself. Government is a positive social and civil contract that attempts to improve people's lives and hold everyone accountable. Government gets a bad rap and I'm here to defend it.

By virtue of full disclosure, I must also state that I work for a union who represents the DPW workers who are employed by the Village of Brockport. That being said, this makes my resolve all the more meaningful.

I personally consider putting a vote to village dissolution an act that threatens our personal safety and risks our financial security— and it will inevitably diminish everyone’s way of life. While I know some people think local governments are dysfunctional, I respectfully disagree. After careful consideration of the facts and circumstances surrounding this particular village dissolution vote in Brockport, I’m pretty sure you will come to same conclusion that I did. The residents of the Village of Brockport, a high-profile SUNY college town at that, will have a better quality of life and a more efficient delivery of services if they vote NO on May 24.  

Dissolution is devoid of any civic meaning

If you believe the dissolution argument, the conservative and libertarian arguments, then you probably believe Americans are cast as victims of a vast corrupt system. As the narrative goes, we are just taxpayers bearing up under the obligation to pay into federal, state and local coffers. Some are stoic in the face of the inevitability of “death and taxes,” while others burn with resentment like the old Tea Party folks.

Here is the problem. What is missing from this picture is any sense of a larger meaning in the act of paying taxes in the first place. Most other things that require effort and sacrifice-- family, service, charity, and volunteerism-- have virtuous or at least redeeming value associated with them. That meaning helps us face life’s collective challenges with a larger sense of purpose that makes these acts worth the investment.

When we lose sight of this, taxes and government are seen as merely depriving us of our individual property. If, on the other hand, we see ourselves as government stewards of common good, as citizen managers of public systems and structures that secure the village, city, state and country we live in, then taxes are our contribution to something bigger than our individual selves.

The stories we hear about government dissolution and paying less tax reflect a chronic disconnection from our role as citizens; they are devoid of any civic meaning. The real meaning of local government and taxes pays for the things that underpin our public life and connect us to one another through our villages, our communities, our states and our country. The fact remains, no one can predict what will happen if the village dissolves. Your taxes might even go up. Every village dissolution process is different—and yields unintended consequences every time. To compare other jurisdictions that have dissolved to what might happen in Brockport is like comparing apples to oranges.

Three words motivate the dissolution movement: power, profit and greed.

First of all, there are many national right-wing think tanks that provide tool kits and playbooks for dissolutionists to use as reference. The fundamental question is, does such an extreme "outsider" ideology have a place in determining your future when it comes to delivering vital village public services? Only you the voter can answer that question. 

It should be important for everyone to know what motivates the few families who are pushing this dissolution vote in Brockport— and someone needs to openly shed a light on what’s really going on here. It’s no secret the dissolutionists inordinately own most of the real estate rental property in the village and want to stick their bony finger in the eye of village government. After all, village officials are the only stop-gap measure in preserving your property values and the historic landmarks that dot each village street. 

The landlords selfishly think eliminating village government, code enforcement and public safety officers will remove all barriers yielding an increase in their business profit margin— all at your expense. This is really about greed folks—plain and simple. Is this the way a civil community responds to such critical issues of the day? Voting to dissolve their village? I think not. As it is, this landlord group continues to badmouth those who politely disagree with them and thumb their nose at their neighbors while at the same time, they decimate the housing stock in one of New York State’s most historically vibrant communities. It would be a travesty if voters allow them to get away with it.

On Election Day, please remember our local village government keeps you safe like nobody else can. Your government educates your children. Your government provides you and your community vital services you cannot do on your own.

Your government also creates ladders of opportunity so citizens can create their own personalized version of the American Dream. I know firsthand how extraordinary local government can be— I worked in a public library system for 18 years and witnessed how it can transform lives.

We all need to be telling a new and meaningful story about the positive aspects of government and taxes that celebrate the concrete opportunity it offers we the people. Please vote NO on May 24. 

Monday, May 2, 2016

CSEA Monroe County employees delcare contract impasse

CSEA Declares Contract Impasse with Monroe County
Rochester— The Civil Service Employees Association Monroe County Unit 7400, Monroe County’s largest public service union, has declared a contract impasse today with its employer. Impasse was declared with the New York State Public Employment Relations Board after the negotiating team polled members and determined that a final contract could not be reached without assistance from a mediator. CSEA hopes the intervention of a neutral third party will be able to break the county’s refusal to negotiate in good faith and bring both sides to a fair and equitable agreement.

CSEA’s collective bargaining agreement with Monroe County expired on December 31, 2013 at midnight. The county has refused to honor its meeting requirements and have told workers that their position on contract details have not changed since the Brooks administration. The last negotiation meeting was scheduled for Monday, March 21. Union leaders got a call late afternoon on Thursday, March 17 only to find out county officials unilaterally canceled the meeting with no just cause. Currently, one out of eight full time bargaining units has a valid negotiated contract with the county.

"We are very disappointed that the county chose not to meet with us. With respect to terms and conditions of employment, county officials and their outsourced law firm are dictating-- not negotiating a fair and equitable deal," said Jim D’Amico, Unit President for the county workers.

In the past 8 years, county workers have only received a 2 percent cost of living adjustment, well below the threshold for the consumer price index and rates of inflation. During the same time period, some top county management officials have garnered a 21 percent wage increase during the same time period.

D’Amico added, "In our last contract, workers made big concessions and got nothing in return. Morale is at an all-time low. However, we are ready, willing and able to get back to the table and hammer out a fair contract. Unfortunately, in my opinion the county is more concerned about keeping an outsourced law firm on retainer than making sure county workers have the support and resources necessary to deliver the high quality services our county residents have come to know, love and respect. Our members decided that impasse was the best course of action."


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 300,000 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.