Sunday, April 29, 2012

CSEA renews commitment to on-the-job safety and health Nearly 1,000 activists to attend educational program in Lake Placid

Picture courtesy of CSEA - 2012 CSEA 

ALBANY - Nearly 1,000 CSEA safety and health activists will renew their commitment to on-the-job safety at the union's biennial Statewide Conference on Occupational Safety and Health in Lake Placid, April 27- 29.
"As union members are fighting to protect our jobs, benefits and pensions, it can be all too easy to put workplace safety and health on the back burner," said CSEA President Danny Donohue. "But safety on the job is one of CSEA's top priorities and something we have to fight for every day. That's especially true today, with misguided politicians trying to take away protections workers have fought long and hard to achieve."
The union members will join the other unions of the AFL-CIO and mark Workers Memorial Day on Saturday, April 28, with a ceremony remembering workers who have passed away while doing their jobs. Workers Memorial Day was established in 1989 as an international day of remembrance observed on the anniversary date of legislation establishing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
CSEA members whose lives will be honored at this year's Workers Memorial Day event are:
  • Nicole Gaulin, 35, a caseworker at the Orleans County Department of Social Services, who passed away April 21, 2010, from injuries sustained in an automobile accident while on the job;
  • Stacie Williams, 45, a patient care assistant at Nassau University Medical Center, passed away June 16, 2010, due to workplace violence stemming from a domestic incident;
  • Anthony Ruggiero Jr., 48, a Village of Tarrytown Department of Public Works employee, passed away Sept. 6, 2010, while working in a village manhole;
  • John P. Kelly, 51, a state Department of Transportation worker at the department's Region 8 Eastview Residency in Westchester County, passed away Sept. 6, 2010, while responding as a volunteer firefighter to the Tarrytown village manhole incident that also claimed Ruggiero;
  • Sandra A. Marasco, 49, a program coordinator at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo and a member of CSEA's Health Research, Inc. Local, passed away Jan. 27, 2011, from injuries sustained in an automobile accident while on the job;
  • Stephan Mueller, 47, a laborer at the City of Glen Cove in, passed away Sept. 17, 2011, from injuries sustained from being repeatedly stung by hornets;
  • John Lattimore, 62, a state Department of Transportation worker in the Capital Region, passed away Oct. 20, 2011, from injuries sustained during a bridge inspection; and
  • Robert DelVecchio Jr., 35, a highway worker at the Town of Mamaroneck, passed away Nov. 11, 2011, after being struck by a recycling truck at the town's sanitation and recycling center.
CSEA has long led the way nationally in seeking safer, healthier workplaces. The union was instrumental in the 1980 passage of the landmark Public Employees Safety and Health Act, extending OSHA protections to public employees. More than 24 states still do not have similar specific protections for public employees today. The union intensified its fight for safer work sites in 1992 after a disgruntled client murdered four CSEA members working at the Schuyler County Department of Social Services. CSEA's leadership and persistence, led to the historic Worksite Security Act, which brought about an enforceable Workplace Violence Prevention standard that has made many of New York's workplaces safer for workers and the public.
Despite the union's achievements, Donohue said there is still more work to do.
"Despite the strides we have made, going to work is still too dangerous for too many people," Donohue said. "We still wait for the year when we no longer have to "mourn for the dead" on Workers Memorial Day."


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Middle Class Hasn't Disappeared. It's Just Sliding Toward the Bottom

It used to be that the average American resided halfway between two extremes:

·         Steven Schwarzman's home was being partially replicated in a Park Avenue hall for his gala $5 million 60th birthday party. The guest of honor's full-length portrait greeted the invitees as they proceeded past rows of orchids and palm trees to the dining area, where they feasted on lobster, filet mignon, baked Alaska, and the finest of wines. Martin Short provided the laughs, and the music came compliments of Marvin Hamlisch, Patti LaBelle, and Rod Stewart.
·         Eloise Pittman's home had been purchased in the 1950s by her mother, who washed dishes to pay off the mortgage. In 1985 the younger Ms. Pittman, a schoolteacher, went to Chase Bank and took out a loan on the house. It was a predatory loan with balloon payments, and Ms. Pittman was forced to borrow more and more money to keep from defaulting. When she died in November 2011, she was $400,000 in debt. A week after her death her family received an eviction notice.

There's no 'average' anymore, in the sense of a normal curve with most of the people and most of the money in the middle.
Today, 400 individuals have as much wealth as an entire HALF of America.
Yet it's still argued by some conservatives that in real life the two extremes are split by a substantial group of average Americans in the middle. The income of the middle quintile, we are told, grew by over 35% percent between 1979 and 2007. But, as Jared Bernstein points out, 35% over 28 years is 1.1% per year, over a period when productivity grew at twice that rate. Census data shows that the inflation-adjusted salary of a full-time male worker in 2010 was almost exactly the same as in 1979.
In real life just 2 percent of Americans own HALF of all wealth outside the home. The top quintile owns 93% of all wealth outside the home. The poor half of America owns nothing outside of their homes, because most of them owe more than they own. And their homes have lost much of their value.
Conservatives counter that the 1% hasn't increased its share of wealth for many years, and that the "democratization of stock ownership" is beginning to spread the wealth around.
While it's true that the share of wealth held by the 1% has remained at the same high level since the 1980s, the rest of the richest 5% increased their share by almost 20%. The percentages for the poorest 80% of the population DECREASED by almost 20%.
In other words, the share of wealth owned by the top 1% leveled off because the "democratization of stock ownership" spread the wealth among just 5% of the population, those earning an average of $500,000 per year. A few people -- 5 out of 100 -- got very rich, but everyone else lost ground.
How can there be a "middle class" with such a lopsided wealth distribution? Is the middle class part of the 65 million households who have virtually NONE of the non-home wealth? Is it part of the 117 million households who have received NONE of the productivity gains over 30 years?
The middle class is somewhere between two extremes, sliding toward the bottom:
·         In California Paul Hannum eagerly awaited the birth of his daughter. He got sick, but he didn't have health insurance. His brother Curtis said, "He had a little girl on the way. He didn't want the added burden of an ER visit to hang on their finances. He thought 'I'll just wait,' and he got worse and worse." But he died from a burst appendix without ever holding his baby in his arms. Access to even a single health care worker might have saved his life.
·         In 2007 John Paulson had an idea: bet against the mortgage market. He went to Goldman Sachs to help design a financial instrument that would group bad loans in an attractive-looking package. Then he - and Goldman - could take out an insurance policy against their own financial instrument. It worked perfectly. Paulson made $4 billion, enough to pay the salaries of 100,000 health care workers.

Friday, April 20, 2012

This Week In Albany

Legislators Come Back to Albany

After being in their legislative districts for the previous two weeks, State Senators and Assemblymembers came back to Albany to begin work on post-budget issues.  Major policy issues to emerge so far include raising the state’s minimum wage, creating new tax breaks for small businesses, and campaign finance reform.  

While these issues are currently being discussed, it is unlikely that any resolution will occur prior to the last few weeks of session.  The Legislature is scheduled to adjourn for the year on June 21.

Now that legislators are back, we need to continue to remind them that they need to repeal the Dark Deal they included in the Tier 6 pension bill.  Under Tier 6, taxpayers are on the hook for paying for an 8 percent of salary retirement perk for politicians and their appointees every year.  You can tell your state legislators to stop the giveaway, and you can help build support for the repeal on Facebook

Registered Republicans:  Vote This Tuesday!

This Tuesday is the Republican Presidential primary in New York.  The candidates on the ballot are Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum.  Even though it seems Mitt Romney has the nomination locked up, it is still important to exercise your right to vote and make your voice heard.  

You can find your polling location, along with voting hours, at the Board of Elections website.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The War on Public-Sector Workers

By Dean Baker, Truthout | News Analysis
Politicians across the country are using heaping doses of the politics of envy to try to arouse the anger of workers. However, their targets are not the corporate CEOs pulling down tens of millions of dollars a year in pay and bonuses. Nor is it the Wall Street crew that got incredibly rich inflating the housing bubble and then took government handouts to stay alive through the bust. The targets of these politicians' wrath are school teachers, firefighters, and other public-sector workers.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

CSEA calling on Brooks administration to negotiate in good faith

      ROCHESTER – Members of the CSEA Monroe County Unit demonstrated tonight against a county administration that seemingly cares little about its county work force and appears to have no interest in negotiating a fair contract for the men and women who provide essential services to county residents.

            “For several years, hard-working, dedicated CSEA members have been working without a contract,” said CSEA Monroe County Unit President Cris Zaffuto. “CSEA has always offered, and will continue to offer fair proposals and compromises in negotiations with the county. Yet the county has categorically refused to revisit provisions in previous tentative agreements with the unit.”

            Several Monroe County Democratic Legislators recently sent a letter to County Executive Maggie Brooks calling on her to reconsider her current position and return to the negotiating table with CSEA and FSW … to find mutually agreeable resolutions to these long-standing disputes.

            “CSEA is always ready to bargain in good faith at the negotiating table,” Zaffuto said. “It is important for the Brooks administration to do the same so both parties can reach a fair agreement that recognizes the importance of the work union members do every day for the people of Monroe County.”

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.


Friday, April 13, 2012


Shawn Boburg, Staff Writer;
In a little noticed move, the Port Authority board has unanimously decided to strip unions of the right to negotiate health care benefits, putting it at the center of a debate that has ignited fierce protests in Wisconsin and Ohio.

Public Employees
The decision by the bi-state agency has drawn the attention of regional and national labor leaders, who are working behind the scenes to get the measure reversed. The issue has the potential to publicly highlight differences between Governor Christie and New York's Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who have come down on different sides of the national debate on collective bargaining and have veto power over the agency's decisions.

Their response carries potentially lasting implications for the two rising stars from opposing parties who have grander aspirations, experts say, as well as for the Port Authority's approximately 4,600 union employees. READ MORE: CLICK HERE!

Triborough Amendment

Since public workers are prohibited from striking, Triborough levels the field in negotiations, preventing employers from unilaterally changing terms and conditions of employment if a contract has expired. 

Triborough merely continues the terms of an expired contract while the parties negotiate a new one. It does not give workers raises. 

Without Triborough employers could wait until a contract expires and then simply impose new terms. 

Read More On This Issue:

Nurses, Probation Officers, Public Safety and all Public Employees are under attack....

Why we defend Triborough  -  READ MORE CLICK HERE



WHEN: April 17, 2012
TIME: 5:00 pm – 6:00 pm

WHERE: Monroe County Office Building, 39 West Main Street, Rochester New York

At 6 pm, we ask that you attend the first hour of the Monroe County Legislature open forum to listen to your union officers speak on your behalf.

-Please wear your union colors-
For more information, call (585) 328.5250

Thursday, April 5, 2012

NOTICE: The Monroe County Legislature meeting scheduled for Tuesday April 10th has been rescheduled to Tuesday, April 17th.


WHEN: April 17, 2012

 5 pm - 6 pm

 County Office Building, 
39 West Main Street, Rochester New York

At 6 pm we ask that you attend the first hour 6 pm to 7 pm of the Monroe County Legislature for those that can. 

If you have a CSEA shirt: WEAR IT!!


For more information, call (585) 328-5250.

Monday, April 2, 2012

This Week In Albany

CSEA Slams Final Budget Agreement 

The New York State Legislature is expected to finish voting on the 2012-13 budget by the end of the day.  The budget agreement will have long lasting consequences on working New Yorkers.  CSEA President Danny Donohue blasted it as another backroom deal that puts politics before people.

The budget includes eliminating 400 beds in the mental health system, turning violent youth over to nonexistent programs in New York City, shortchanging localities as well as other provisions that will adversely affect the essential services New Yorkers receive.

Please click here for a summary of the final budget.

CSEA Ramps Up Campaign Over Tier 6 "Dark Deal"

CSEA has launched a new front against the big political giveaway Governor Cuomo, State Senators and Assembly members voted for.  Under Tier 6, taxpayers are on the hook for paying for an 8 percent of salary retirement perk for politicians and their appointees every year. CSEA has TV, radio and print ads in every media market in the state and is prepared to actively take this issue into every community.

You can click here to tell your state legislators to stop the Giveaway, and you can also help build support for the repeal on Facebook!

You can also view the CSEA television ad here.