Thursday, December 30, 2010


With all the venom directed at public employees these days, it’s hard to separate the facts from the attacks. Here’s a guide to common claims made about government spending, taxes, and public employees.

The Claim: Government employees are overpaid.

The Facts: The Economic Policy Institute measured state and local public workers against their private sector counterparts with the same age, experience, and education. They found that public workers earn about 11 percent less. (CLICK HERE TO SEE THE REPORT)

Public workers had better benefits on average, but even when health care and retirement were included, public workers were still 4 percent behind private sector counterparts.

Claims that state and local government workers are overpaid often fail to account for their education and experience. Fifty-four percent have at least a four-year college degree, compared to 35 percent in the private sector.

The Claim: The federal deficit is out of control.

The Facts: It’s true that this year’s budget deficit—projected to be 10.3 percent of U.S. economic activity—is the highest since World War II. Whether it’s a problem depends on your time frame and how we address it.

Short-term government spending was the only thing that kept the economy from cratering in 2008. It staved off a second Great Depression.

With no private sector investment in sight, public spending will be the only engine for job creation in the foreseeable future. Aside from the pain created by high unemployment, no jobs means no recovery for tax collections and therefore a widening deficit.

The deficit is a long-term problem if we do nothing, but before doing something we have to look at spending and revenues. The bulk of federal spending is on the military (22 percent) and health care, including Medicare, Medicaid, and children’s health programs (21 percent).

The obvious place to start trimming is today’s military budget, which is two and a half times what it was 10 years ago. Health care costs are also skyrocketing, because they are driven by for-profit health care. A single-payer system like “Medicare for all” would correct that.

The Claim: Taxes are too high.

The Facts: Depends whose taxes you mean. According to Citizens for Tax Justice, overall taxes in the U.S. are the third lowest among industrialized countries (only Turkey and Mexico are lower). Corporate taxes are also lower than in most other industrial nations.

But there are inequities—and they favor the rich. People at the bottom of the income ladder, the lowest 20 percent, pay almost twice as much of their income in state and local taxes as the top 1 percent. The poor pay 11 percent, the rich just 6 percent.

At the end of World War II corporations paid more than a third of all taxes collected by the federal government. Today they pay only 10 percent. The burden was shifted to individuals, and as taxes on the wealthy were cut over the last 30 years, the liability has been transferred to working people.
The Claim: The private sector is more efficient than government.

The Facts: Advocates claim outsourcing will save money. But after more than two decades of experience, reality isn’t so clear-cut.

Cost overruns combined with the cost of contract monitoring and administration often makes privatization more expensive than in-house services. According to a 2007 survey by the International City/County Management Association, more than one in five local governments had brought previously outsourced services back in house.

In most cases insufficient cost savings were cited as a primary reason. And where contracting out does produce savings, they typically come from lower wages and benefits for workers—not some supposed inherent superiority of business.

The Claim: Government waste, fraud and abuse are rampant.

The Facts: Government-bashers love to talk about overpaid, do-nothing bureaucrats, but if you’re looking for misused tax dollars your best bet is to scour the Chamber of Commerce’s membership list. Defense contracts and construction projects like the “Big Dig” in Boston hold taxpayers hostage with wildly inaccurate, often fraudulent cost estimates.

According to the Project on Government Oversight’s database of federal contractor misconduct, the top five defense contractors have racked up 156 instances of misconduct since 1995, totaling $3.57 billion in fraud and waste.

Mobilization at MCH

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A simple guide for talking unions this holiday season

by Zoe Bridges-Curry

It’s no secret: Not everyone sees unions as key to rebuilding America and the middle class. It’s easy to tune out the misinformation about unions and the workers who make them strong when you hear it on the news, but what should you do when the same misinformation comes from your friends and family? We’re here to help with some simple facts so you can speak up the next time you encounter someone attacking unions, and help shed light on what unions are really all about!

MYTH: Unions are run by big, overpaid bosses.

FACT: Unions are run by workers.

A union is simply a group of employees who join together to address workplace issues, so they can improve their working conditions and have a fair shot at a better life for themselves and their families.

Unions are democratic institutions. At the local, state, and national level, all union leadership is elected by majority votes—just like elections for public office.

MYTH: Unions only care about their members.

FACT: Unions are fighting to improve the lives of all workers.

It’s easy to forget that we have unions to thank for a lot of things we take for granted today in today’s workplaces: the minimum wage, the 8-hour work day, child labor laws, health and safety standards, and even the weekend.

Today, unions across the country are on the frontlines advocating for basic workplace reforms like increases in the minimum wage, and pushing lawmakers to require paid sick leave.

Studies show that a large union presence in an industry or region can raise wages even for non-union workers. That means more consumer spending, and a stronger economy for us all.

So it’s no wonder that most Americans (61%) believe that “labor unions are necessary to protect the working person,” according to Pew’s most recent values survey.

MYTH: Union workers are lazy, and unions are bad for business.

FACT: Unions and profitability go hand in hand.

Actually, unions make the workplace more efficient – despite the stereotype that we all hear.

Unions raise productivity on average by up to 24% in manufacturing, 16% in hospitals, and 38% in the construction. Union workers have higher professional standards because unions increase opportunities for worker training. Many even offer their own training programs.

Union workers are employed in some of the most respected professions. They’re nurses, firefighters, teachers, day care providers, engineers, and NASA scientists. Union members are responsible for building nuclear subs, the space shuttle, The Smithsonian, the Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge, and even the American flag.

Even small business owners think that unions are good for workers—and the economy. In fact, over 80% agree “strong unions make the free market system stronger.” They’re right. Unions exist at some of the most successful companies out there, including AT&T, Costco, UPS, and Southwest.

MYTH: Unions ask for too much. In this economy, people should be thankful for any job.

FACT: Good jobs mean a stronger economy, and that means more jobs.

This idea is coming straight from the same corporations that ran our economy into the ground. Now they’re taking advantage of our financial worries to grab an even bigger slice of the pie.

It’s just plain wrong to make working Americans foot the bill for Wall Street’s party. And it’s also bad for the economy. Because when workers can’t afford the products they produce, consumer spending takes a serious hit, and the economy does, too.

But when workers can bargain for family-sustaining pay and benefits, consumer spending increases. The result is a stronger economy—one that creates jobs and enables people to work their way into the middle class.

MYTH: Public employees are to blame for our budget woes.

FACT: Public employees earn less than private-sector workers in similar jobs.

You’re going to hear this a lot more soon. But we can’t afford to have extremist policymakers get away with scapegoating civil servants like teachers, fire fighters, and police officers.

Private-sector workers should be angry about the inadequate benefits they receive, but the solution isn’t to take hope away from the public sector workers who keep our communities strong. We have to make the economy work for everyone.

Recent studies show that public employees make significantly less than private-sector workers with comparable education and experience, even when you factor in benefits. And according to Nobel laureate economist Paul Krugman, state and local employees’ pensions make up only 6 percent of non-federal public sector spending.

Still not convinced? It turns out that what’s bad for public workers is bad for the economy, too. The Center for Economic Policy Research reports that freezing federal workers’ pay will mean a loss of $2.5 billion in consumption by 2012—18,000 private sector workers stand to lose their jobs as a result.

And don’t forget, it was Wall Street’s recklessness that caused budget shortfalls in states across the country—not public service workers. Making public service workers pay for Wall Street’s wrongdoing won’t create jobs, and it won’t save the public services we all depend on.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Mobilization inundates the Monroe County Legislature Meeting on 12/14/10!

Despite the snow storm members of CSEA Unit 7400 flood the Monroe County Legislature Tuesday 
December 14, 2010. CSEA members are asking the Legislators to assist CSEA in getting a fair contract!
Click on this picture to enlarge!

Members of CSEA Unit 7400 attend the Monroe County Legislature on Tuesday December 14th.  CSEA members from across the Monroe County travelled through a blizzard (parts of 390 and 490 were closed) to communicate to the County Legislature that we need a fair contract.

A number of CSEA members spoke directly to the Legislature outlining the important contributions Monroe County Employees make to maintain a high quality of life in Monroe County.

Unit 7400 President Cris Zaffuto reminded the legislators that Monroe County Works Because We Do. To read Cris's comments CLICK HERE. 

Region President Flo Tripi called on the legislature to get involved in the current contract dispute, and help us work towards a resolution.  Here is a full text of Flo Tripi's speech before the Monroe County Legislature:

Honorable Legislators, I am Flo Tripi, president of CSEA’s Western Region.

I would like to thank you for the proclamation earlier tonight recognizing CSEA’s 100th anniversary. You have recognized our importance, our strength, and our dedication to public service. You have honored our past, and wished us well for the future. We hope that CSEA and the Monroe County Legislature can continue to work well together in the years to come. Even more importantly, we hope we can count on you to work with us right now as we continue to pursue a contract that is fair and respectful, and that recognizes the importance of the work we do.
Flo Tripi, CSEA 
Western Region President
Almost every Monroe County resident would agree that the services we provide are an important addition to the outstanding quality of life in this county. Legislators, wouldn’t you also agree that “Monroe County Works Because We Work?” Take a look at the men and women here tonight wearing the yellow shirts. They are the backbone of this county. They work tirelessly every day for the good of all.  They provide essential services to residents of Monroe County every single hour of every single day.

CSEA Unit 
President Cris Zaffuto 
addresses the County Legislature

Young or old; city, suburban or rural; we are there when you need us.

Today alone, our members worked to protect children and the elderly from abuse and neglect. We worked to keep criminals off the streets and to monitor those sentenced to probation.

We provided mental health care to those in need and protected crime victims.

Today, we also made sure the water from your tap is clean and healthy. We made sure restaurants safely prepared your food and that the scales in grocery stores weighed your purchases accurately.

We helped residents register their vehicles, and access vital records.

Today, we helped families receive the help they need to heat their homes, to put nutritious food on their tables, and to acquire medical coverage.

This is just the beginning. There is so much more that hard-working, dedicated CSEA members do, every single day, to protect and serve.

But, honorable legislators, it is important to note that these same hard-working, dedicated CSEA Monroe County Unit members have been working without a contract for almost two years.

Christmas Tree in the Monroe 
County Office Building.
We know you agree that our work is important and essential. We know you agree that the work we do makes Monroe County a better place. We know you agree that Monroe County Works Because We Work.

We know you agree that after almost two years, CSEA members need a fair contract. A contract that recognizes the importance of the work we do.  A contract that treats the workforce with dignity and respect. We ask that you join us in our effort to negotiate that fair contract.

Legislators, you count on US to provide essential services. Now we need to be able to count on YOU to do whatever you can to help us. Tonight you recognized our history, our strength and our dedication to public service. Tonight, we hope that you will also commit to helping us reach a fair agreement with the county. I am asking you to get involved. I am asking you to work with us toward a resolution.

Two years is far too long to go without a contract.

Thank you for your time, and we look forward to working with you in the future.

Flo Tripi
President, CSEA Region 6

Sue Newman and Don Wallace
Pictures by CSEA LRS Robert L. Leonard.

Monday, December 13, 2010


Come to the Monroe County Legislature Meeting on Tuesday December 14th at 5:45pm. Stand with your negotiation team as we advocate for a fair agreement. Hard working Monroe County employees have been working without a contract for nearly two years. That is just too long! 

Also, join the facebook cause for a fair contract by clicking here!

Happy Holidays from CSEA

Yes, my dear friends, once again 'tis the season,

We're sending this letter for more than one reason.

A gift from "YOUR UNION", to wish you good cheer,
But also to tell you of gifts throughout the year!

Our dues are all taken right out of our pay;
But what do we get for those dues, some may say.
So, along with glad tidings, we're sending this letter
To reassure some, just to make you feel better.

Here are some things from the dues that you pay.
These are items you use, from your Union, each day.
We'll give a brief rundown and do it real quick.
These are gifts from YOUR UNION, not from St. Nick.

Your dental and medical, and much more.
Sick Leave and Drug Plan, to name just a few.

The raises you get (although sometimes too small)
Your CSEA reps negotiate for them all.

Your unused sick leave credits enhancing your pension,
Co-pay reimbursement and Oh, did we mention
due process and arbitration
These are some things worth bargaining for.

Our sick leave, annual leave and lest we forget,
Those wonderful holidays off that we get.
We can't take them for granted, they're not given free.
Our union reps fight for these - for you and for me.

We have our own elves, who work long into the night,
Negotiating for us, so we all get what's right.
They bicker and bargain and put up a fuss,
But they always try to do what's best for us.

Now, before we conclude,
We've just one more thing to say,
If Santa were union, he'd be CSEA!

By: Gina Sciortino, CSEA Member (Modified)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Dear Sisters and Brothers,

Public service workers are under attack everywhere — on the front-page, cable news, the radio —
 every day. It's time for us to fight back. 

Wall Street CEOs — with the help of their political friends in Congress and the media — are trying to divert attention from the simple fact that they caused our economy to collapse by blaming public employees. And we're not going to let them get away with it.Today, we announce our campaign to Stop the Lies.

Our "Stop the Lies" campaign will let no attack against us, or the vital public services we provide, go unanswered. We will use every tool at our disposal: hard-hitting videos; rapid responses to attacks; advertising in national and local media; online actions targeting those who seek to harm us with their hypocrisy and lies; ground actions in state capitals across the country and more. And we will do it for as long as it takes to win.

Of course, the most critical element of our campaign is YOU. AFSCME members at all levels of our union must actively participate in our Stop the Lies campaign in order for us to really make a difference. Those who attack us may have big money and big mouths, but we have the power of our 1.6 million members.

The first thing you can do is watch our new video and add your name to our Stop the Lies open letter. 

Wall Street CEOs and their greed caused 15 million Americans to lose their jobs, and caused unprecedented state budgets shortfalls and services to get slashed everywhere.Public service workers are not the problem. Attacking public service workers won’t create jobs. It will not solve the problem of states trying to save vital public services that so many rely on.

But with so many anti-government politicians and friends of Wall Street about to take office, the lies are only going to get worse and the threat of cuts more severe. Over the coming weeks and months we will be asking you to make calls, send letters, talk to your co-workers, tell us your stories, and more. Are you in?

The first step is to add your name to our open letter and ask your friends and co-workers to join us: http://AFSCME.org/StopTheLies

Thanks for everything that you do to keep our communities running and to make America happen. We'll keep you updated in the coming weeks and months with campaign news and next steps.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A proclamation will be read at the next Monroe County Legislature Meeting

CSEA  received a letter last week from Monroe County Legislator  Harry Bronson that there will be a proclamation read at the Monroe County Legislature meeting for CSEA's 100th anniversary. Please join us at the Monroe County Legislature meeting on 12/14/10 at 5:45pm to hear the proclamation and to show support for your Union Negotiation Team.

Our union has had a great impact on New Yorkers' lives since a group of state employees formed the Association of State Civil Service Employees on Oct. 24, 1910. Nearly 100 years later, the Civil Service Employees Association (as the association was renamed in 1946), is one of the largest, most influential unions in the United States.