Thursday, May 31, 2012

Wisconsin: What’s So Important About Collective Bargaining?

There are many reasons to fire Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) next Tuesday. But some people in Wisconsin and others who are following the recall battle between Walker, who last year eliminated the collective bargaining rights of 380,000 public employees, and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (D), who supports workers’ rights to bargain, are asking:
What’s so important about collective bargaining in the first place?  CLICK HERE

Wisconsin: What’s So Important About Collective Bargaining?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

There Is Some Important Un-Finished Business in Monroe County

Returning to Negotiations Benefits All!!!

There Is Some Important Un-Finished
Business in Monroe County
CSEA is once again calling on the County Administration to re-start the negotiations process and meet with the union negotiating team. The process has been held up by the County’s actions for over a year and after the most recent hearing with the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB); a follow-up hearing may be necessary to hear more of the County’s explanation for their bogus charges against CSEA. A final decision from these hearings may take several months, as will the process for Fact-Finding; once the process is allowed to get started.

The PERB hearing did bring some information to light. First, the County seems worried about that the Fact-finding process could result in a report that would disagree with their proposals and actions over the past three years and be more favorable to the unions’ point of view.  Second, the County is hesitant to defend itself over two workforce issues that other counties throughout the state accept as standards of negotiations. The two issues are Retroactive Pay and Domestic Partner Benefits, which CSEA has requested to be part of the contact in the past, are not “new” proposals, and again, taken for granted to be a standard part of collective bargaining agreements by many government entities statewide. 

Now that the County’s motives have finally surfaced. CSEA is only asking that the County follow the process to explain their position on these issues in Fact-Finding, or drop their labor charges against CSEA and get back to the negotiation table. The CSEA negotiations team is very confident that the PERB hearing decision will exonerate the union from any bad-faith bargaining practices. The team is also motivated by the recent findings and expectations that a Fact-Finding report would be more favorable for the union as well. CSEA Unit 7400 President Cris Zaffuto said, “It would be better for all parties, if the County would just meet with us for proper negotiations, create a new agreement with us and move it forward to the membership. This constant stalling and waiting for decisions and reports only wastes time and will not be productive for the County in the end.” She added, “I hope the County sees the writing on the wall and we can work to re-build the decent labor/management relations we have had in the past.”

CSEA urges all members to come to the next meeting of the County Legislature and join your negotiating team as they request the legislator’s support in returning to negotiations with the Administration.

Important date to remember:

Tuesday, June 12th, 5:45 - Monroe County Legislative Meeting, Monroe County Office Building – “We’ll see you there!”
The CSEA Unit 7400 Leadership thanks all members for their continued involvement and will continue to keep all members up to date on the contract situation. Reminder: Get up to date info at the Unit 7400 Blog at http://unit7400.blogspot.com

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

This Week In Albany

Comptroller DiNapoli Announces Pension Fund Growth

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli estimated that the New York State Common Retirement Fund grew nearly six percent in the last year to a total of $150.3 billion.
The comptroller said the fund’s total holdings are now the highest since 2009.

96% of school budgets pass

New York State voters approved 96% of school district budgets on May 15.  Initial statewide results indicate that voters passed 651 of 675 school district budgets.  The 24 districts in the state where the budgets were turned down can opt to revote on the same budget or offer an amended one to voters on June 19. If it does not pass, or a second vote is not held, schools must adopt a budget with no growth in the district’s tax total.

93% of school boards produced budgets that kept tax increases within the cap.  Of those districts, 99% passed.  48 districts had budgets that exceeded the tax cap and required a 60% “supermajority” to pass.  Of those districts, 60% passed their budgets. 

Why Wisconsin Matters

CSEA President Donohue recently penned an op-ed about what we’re seeing in Wisconsin and other states like Ohio, Indiana, Florida and Minnesota.  “It is a concerted attempt by the rich and powerful to dismantle public service workers’ unions and silence the political voice they give working class Americans.”

In a survey of 472 recall voters conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research from May 19 to 21, Walker leads Barrett 50 to 47 — within the poll’s four-point margin of error. Barrett leads with independents, 50 percent to 44 percent.

CSEA is proud to stand with our union brothers and sisters in Wisconsin.  We were there at the beginning of this fight and we’re going to be there again in the weeks ahead with volunteers and whatever other resources are necessary to help our brothers and sisters in Wisconsin declare victory on June 5.

Happy Memorial Day

We hope everyone enjoyed the Holiday weekend. Once again: CSEA would like to thank those who have fought and died in service to our country.  

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Monroe County causes delay in contract talks with CSEA

ROCHESTER – CSEA will defend itself against an “improper practice” charge made by Monroe County during a hearing at 10 a.m. Thursday, May 24, in Rochester. The case will be heard by a Public Employment Relations Board administrative law judge.

In the charge, Monroe County alleges that CSEA has bargained in bad faith following the submission of fact-finding materials relating to contract talks.

“Once again, Monroe County has halted any possible progress toward reaching a collective bargaining agreement for CSEA County Unit members,” CSEA Western Region President Flo Tripi. “Simply put, enough is enough.”

The PERB hearing will focus on allegations that CSEA has added to its list of proposals too late in the game and submitted new items to the fact-finder. The county has not shared details of these alleged new items with the union.

“CSEA included no new proposals in its fact-finding materials. Everything included has been discussed during the last four years of negotiations,” CSEA Monroe County Unit President Cris Zaffuto. “The county’s charge against CSEA is simply a way for the county to cause yet another delay. If the issues truly had been improperly included in our report, the county simply needed to discuss it with the fact-finder.”

It will most likely be at least six months until a decision is made in Thursday’s case, and then appeals are possible. All told, the charge could delay any new contract for workers by at least another year. Members of the CSEA Monroe County Full-Time Unit have been working without a contract since the previous agreement expired in 2008.

CSEA has bargained in good faith throughout the process yet the county does whatever it can to choke progress,” Zaffuto said. “These allegations by the county are an insult to the CSEA negotiating team, and to the men and women working hard every day to serve the people of this county. It is time for the county to take a page from its own book and sit down with us for good faith negotiations.”

This is the latest in a long line of delays and stall tactics by the county against CSEA Monroe County Full-Time and Part-Time Unit members.

The county violated the Taylor Law in 2009 when it issued a survey to CSEA members in the CSEA Monroe County Part-Time Unit. That survey halted negotiations in the part-time unit until a hearing and subsequent appeals could be heard. Each legal decision came back the same: the county broke the law and acted inappropriately by issuing the survey.

In the Full-Time Unit, CSEA filed for “fact-finding” one year ago, after mediation failed. In fact-finding, both parties prepare a brief and present their case separately to a neutral, third-party fact-finder. The fact-finder then reviews the materials and issues a recommendation that both parties can either accept or reject.

Thursday, May 17, 2012


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

It has been a long 4 years without a contract; I want to give you an update regarding contract negotiations and fact finding.

As you know CSEA submitted proposals to the fact finder on June 20, 2011; as a result of that the County filed an IP (improper practice) charge against us for what they are claiming is “bargaining in bad faith”.

What seems to be getting the County “mad” is that we are now seeking retroactive pay.  We feel this is reasonable considering the delays by the county and the fact that we are almost four (4) years without a contract. ALSO THIS IS NOT A NEW DEMAND!

The other issue that they feel is “new” is that we are asking for “domestic partners” benefits.  THIS IS NOT A NEW DEMAND, EITHER.

The IP charge is being heard on May 24, 2012.  We have a strong defense that the issues were encompassed by proposals we made during the prior months of negotiations so they were not “new” issues.

Holding a hearing on the “bad faith” charge is especially unnecessary, because the County can just make their argument to the fact finder that these issues are not properly submitted.  Getting a hearing has resulted in another year delay already, and it will be another six months (at least) to  get the Judge’s decision… which can be appealed.  This is just a stall tactic on the County’s part to hold up negotiations longer.

We need to stand together to show the County administration that we are the people that make this county work.

Let’s send this message to the Brooks administration and the legislatures at every County Legislator meeting at 5:45 on the 4th floor.

Beginning June 12, July 10, Aug.14, Sept.11, Oct 9, Nov.13, and Dec.11. Thank you in advance and look forward to seeing you there.

Yours in Solidity,


The War on Public Sector Workers

By Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, DC. 
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.
They are outraged that many of these workers still earn enough to support a middle-class family. Even more outrageous, many of these workers have traditionally defined benefit pensions that assure them of a modicum of comfort in retirement. Having managed to ensure that most workers in the private sector did not benefit much from economic growth over the last three decades, the same upward redistributionist crew is turning their guns on public sector workers.
There are two major deceptions in their story. First, after working to eliminate traditional pensions in the private sector, they now tell us that getting a pension in the form of a guaranteed benefit is hugely more valuable than having the same money placed in a 401(k)-type defined contribution account. Second, after shoving stock down everyone's throat in the bubble years, they now tell us we cannot expect a very good return from investing pension funds in the market.
Starting with the pension story, it is really touching to hear conservatives singing the virtues of defined benefit pensions. They argue that if a state or local government puts $1,000 a year in a defined benefit pension and guarantees the market return for its workers, this is hugely more valuable than if it takes the same $1,000 a year and puts it into a 401(k) type account.
Since most public sector workers still have defined benefit pensions, this is a central part of their story about public sector workers being overpaid. By their calculations, the $1,000 that a government puts into a defined benefit pension today should be counted as being worth close to $2,000 since the government guarantees the return. Doing the math this way goes a long way toward showing that public sector workers are overpaid.
There are a few points that jump out here. First, it is amazing to hear many of the same people who touted the replacement of defined benefit pensions with 401(k) accounts now tell us about the great value of a guaranteed pension. When we do the math their way, it means that ordinary workers have even less to show from economic growth over the last three decades, since so many workers have lost pensions in this period.
The complaints of these conservative economists also make great reading when put side by side with their plans to privatize Social Security and get rid of its guaranteed benefit. When we were talking about cutting back protections for hundreds of millions of workers and their families we were not supposed to take into account the value of a guaranteed benefit. Now that we are talking about cutting the pay of public sector workers, it is essential to include the value of the guarantee in the calculation. Is it any wonder that so many people have contempt for economists?
Finally, it is important to keep our eye on the ball here. The extra value comes from the guarantee. There is no gain to the government if it replaces pensions with 401(k) accounts as many have advocated and some governments have done. The argument is not that the state is paying too much; the argument is that the worker is getting too much because of the value of the guarantee. If we eliminate a guaranteed benefit we have just taken away the workers' retirement security, we have not saved the taxpayers a penny.
The other part of the story is the claim that the returns being assumed by public pensions on their investments are overly optimistic. This one is really, really painful.
Some of us were making this argument at the top of our lungs back in the late '90s, when price to earnings ratios in the stock market were over 30. We continued to make this argument in the last decade when price to earnings ratios were still well into the 20s, far above historic averages. However we couldn't get anyone to listen back then, because the complaint about exaggerated stock returns did not fit the agenda of the upward redistributionists.
Now that the upward redistributionists have put the attack on public pensions at the top of their agenda it is convenient to raise concerns about overly-optimistic returns. However, now that the stock market has plunged (pensions have already taken their hits) their concerns are wrong. In fact, pension funds are being very reasonable in their return projections. Those familiar witharithmetic know that it would be almost impossible for them to earn a substantial lower rate of return, barring a complete collapse of the economy.
So, welcome to the latest episode in the long-running battle to redistribute ever more income to the rich. Having already achieved great success in depressing the pay of workers throughout the private sector, the call is to cut the pay and benefits of workers in the public sector. Won't you join the cause?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


CSEA Local 828 President Bess Watts (far right) stands with the recipients
of  the CSEA Scholarship Awards for 2012. photo: Ove Overmyer

Many of this years winners are children of Monroe County Employees Unit 7400. To see a full list of the 2012 recipiants: PLEASE CLICK HERE.


Webster, N.Y.—On May 14, the CSEA Monroe County Local 828 Executive Board and the Local 828 Scholarship Committee hosted the 20th Annual Scholarship Award Dinner at Liberty Lodge in Finn Park, 850 Maple Dr., Webster, N.Y. At the picnic supper, Local officers announced the winners of the CSEA Local 828 George M. Growney Memorial Scholarships, Unit 7400 and the Jane McManus Scholarship Award for 2012. Well over $8,000.00 was awarded to deserving area students this year. 

Read more by CLICKING HERE.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

This Week In Albany

Governor Cuomo Introduces Quality of Care Reforms

Governor Cuomo introduced legislation to reform and protect people with special needs and disabilities that are in state run and not-for-profit facilities.

The proposed legislation:

•    Creates a Justice Center to investigate reports of abuse and neglect.
•    Creates a statewide 24/7 hotline staffed by professionals to ensure abuse allegation are promptly reported to law enforcement. 
•    Develops a register of workers who have committed serious acts of abuse who will be prevented from working again with people with disabilities. 
•    Consolidates of background check procedures. 
•    Creates of a code of conduct for all individuals who work with people with disabilities.

CSEA is still reviewing this legislation and will fight to ensure that staff is well-trained and that staffing issues including mandated overtime are addressed.
Vote on Your Local School Budget on May 15

On May 15, school districts in New York will present their budgets to voters.
It is vital that you make your voice heard and get out and vote on your local school budget.

President Visits Albany, Announces Support of Marriage Equality the Following Day

President Obama visited the SUNY Albany NanoCollege to tour the facility and discuss the impact that this new type of technology is having on the New York and national economy.  It is his third visit to the Albany area since he became President.

In a television interview the following day, President Obama announced that he now supports marriage equality.

In response to this CSEA President Danny Donohue issued a statement that said, “President Barack Obama's statement of support for marriage equality marks an important advance for the cause of civil rights and a just society.”

Democrats Nominate Wisconsin Gubernatorial Candidate

Democrats in Wisconsin voted to nominate Tom Barrett, County Executive of Milwaukee County, as the Democratic candidate to face-off with Governor Scott Walker in the June 5 recall election.

This recall election has national implications.  The results will either help to stop some of the anti-public employee actions throughout the country or will embolden government leaders to further reduce benefits and pay and vilify public employees.  

Thursday, May 10, 2012

CSEA/AFSCME HONOR NURSES - National Nurses Week, celebrated May 6 through 12!!

Honor Nurses by Supporting Nurse-Patient Staffing Bill

BY CLYDE WEISS  |  MAY 11, 2012
National Nurses Week, celebrated May 6 through 12, is the time to honor these hard-working professionals who dedicate their lives to helping others. But it’s also an opportunity to consider what we need to do to make their jobs safer – and in the process, improve health care for us all.
The foundation for modern nursing was established by Florence Nightingale, whose work –  during the 19th century until her death in 1910 – is celebrated annually on National Nurses Day (May 6). During her career, she helped to improve medical care of the wounded during wartime and, later, patient care in peacetime.
AFSCME – a union for more than 360,000 health care workers across the nation, including more than 60,000 nurses represented by AFSCME/United Nurses of America – is carrying out Nightingale’s legacy by supporting Pres. Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. The law is helping to make sure that everyone can get affordable health care. But we need to make sure that those who provide it have the resources they need to deliver high quality and safe nursing care.
That’s why another priority of AFSCME/United Nurses of America is to pass the Nurse Staffing Standards for Patient Safety and Quality Care Act of 2011 (H.R. 2187), introduced by U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL). The legislation will save lives and improve the quality of care. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) introduced a similar bill (S. 992)
Specifically, the legislation would require that hospitals meet minimum nurse-to-patient staffing levels. Research shows that increasing the ratio of nurses to patients reduces nurse burnout, improves patient safety, and also cuts down on preventable complications, such as medication errors. Patients at hospitals where too few nurses have to cover the care for too many patients  had 9 percent more urinary tract infections, 6.5 percent more cases of hospital-acquired pneumonia and were 6 percent more likely to die from complications like shock or sepsis after surgery. Learn more here.  
AFSCME has long been a leading advocate for improving health care, including that of the professionals who provide it. We successfully pressed for legislation to help prevent nurses and other health care workers from getting injuries from needles and sharps.  That law is working. It has contributed to the decline in such injuries among U.S. hospital workers.
Learn more about AFSCME nurses and health care workers.

More from AFSCME Nurses:


Friday, May 4, 2012

This Week In Albany - Week ending May 4, 2012

Court Upholds 63rd Senate District

In a unanimous decision, the Court of Appeals ruled that the Legislature was within their constitutional rights when they added a 63rd Senate district.

The 63rd seat was created to the west and south of the Capital Region and goes from Amsterdam to Kingston.  Republican Assemblymember George Amedore is campaigning for the seat.  There is no declared Democrat.You can see your new Senate and Assembly districts at http://www.latfor.state.ny.us/maps

Governor Creates Education Reform Commission
Governor Cuomo established the “New NY Education Reform Commission” to examine the current structure of the state's education system.  The commission is charged with reviewing teacher recruitment and performance, student achievement, education funding and costs, parent and family engagement, problems facing high-need districts, and the best use of technology in the classroom.  It will also look at strategies to reorganize the state's education system including district consolidation, shared services and regional governance.

Cuomo Announces Membership of NY Works Task Force
Governor Cuomo announced the membership of the NY Works Task Force.  This task force will work to coordinate the state’s investment in infrastructure projects.  The task force will be co-chaired by former State AFL-CIO President Denis Hughes.

CSEA will be closely monitoring this task force for any proposals or actions that may result in the privatization of any state infrastructure assets.

For more details on this task force, please visit the Governor’s website at

Koch Brothers Bankroll New York Business Groups  
A new report by the Center for American Progress details the impact of the Koch brothers, who were made famous by their public support of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Ohio Governor John Kasich’s effort to eliminate collective bargaining for public employees.

Locally, the report showed that the Koch Brothers donated $1.6 million to the E.J. McMahon led ‘The Manhattan Institute’, which is an outspoken critic of public employee pensions, pay, and benefits.
You can read this report at http://www.americanprogressaction.org/issues/2011/04/pdf/koch_brothers.pdf

Wisconsin Recall Election Takes Shape
Democratic voters in Wisconsin will vote in a primary election Tuesday to determine who will run against Governor Scott Walker in the June 5th recall election.  The Democratic candidates are Tom Barrett, Mayor of Milwaukee, and Kathleen Falk, County Executive of Dane County.  Current polls have Tom Barrett leading the primary and have him in a dead heat with Governor Walker.