Thursday, June 28, 2012

CSEA and Monroe County agree to meet again in negotiations…

Monroe County responded positively to Cris Zaffuto’s letter requesting that the CSEA Monroe County Employees' Unit and Monroe County resume negotiations.  Zaffuto stated, “the only way for these negotiations to reach a just conclusion is for the parties to keep meeting”. Zaffuto added, “the negotiation team will approach this new opportunity with cautious optimism”.

The mobilization and all efforts underway to secure a fair contract will continue while the parties meet. Sign up for mobilization/negotiation updates by CLICKING HERE!

Discussions on a meeting date are currently underway. Please keep checking this blog for up to the minute negotiation updates.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Struggle for a Fair Agreement Continues

CSEA Unit 7400 leadership continues the fight to protect our membership’s rights and benefits.  Last week CSEA Unit President Cris Zaffuto again advocated (in a letter to Monroe County) to get negotiations moving. In this letter, she pointed out the following:
CSEA has made it clear that we have continuously been willing and open to sitting down with the County at any time to work toward a fair settlement.
The letter from President Zaffuto went on to offer Monroe County several options to move the negotiations along:
While CSEA stands by the communications we have had with our members, the County Legislature and the press, we remain willing to meet with the County anytime, anyplace in an attempt to get a fair agreement. 
We are so ready to meet that we offer the County the following three alternative options to re-start negotiations; if any of these are acceptable to the County, we will agree to do so:
1.         As stated above, the parties can meet with the fact finder immediately, even while your charge against CSEA is pending. 
2.         A preferable option is that you withdraw your charge against CSEA and let the fact finder decide the proper issues that need to be addressed.  This way, we leave the issues in the hands of the fact-finder, without the uncertainty of litigation hanging over our heads. 
3.         Another option is to meet prior to going to the fact-finder to continue negotiations voluntarily to resolve our differences.
Please check back to this blog often. We will update you as soon as we get a response from the County on our legitimate request to get these negotiations back on track.

Rest assured, your negotiation team and union leadership will use every tool available to protect your benefits and encourage the County to come to the bargaining table with reasonable proposals. These negotiations have gone on far too long. There is unfinished business in Monroe County and it is high time the Brooks Administration prioritize these negotiations and works towards a fair settlement.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Monroe County needs to drop their IP charge against CSEA and get back to the negotiation table.

A message from Danny Donohue and Alice Goff

To Our AFSCME Brothers and Sisters-

This has been the most hard-fought and spirited national election ever held in AFSCME.

We want to thank all of you who took time away from the crucial struggles you are fighting on the frontlines every day to help choose a new leadership team for our union.

For us, from day one, this election has been about restoring this union to the members-to ensure that democracy remains AFSCME's hallmark and that all voices are heard, all views respected.

We've been deeply disturbed during the course of this election-and on the floor of this convention-to see how frequently violations of fundamental democratic rights have occurred.

Every one of us has a stake in ensuring that our union holds itself to the highest standards of fairness and integrity. 

We have no interest in promoting or prolonging division within our union.  But we, like every AFSCME member, do have a strong interest in promoting democracy, fairness, and integrity-- and we are determined to continue to do so.

While we may have conceded this election, we are not conceding our fight for a better union.

The enemies of working families are unrelenting in their determination to weaken union rights, to decimate the public services on which so many citizens depend, and to drive down our standard of living.

We can only combat them if we build our power from the grassroots up, if we strengthen councils and locals to make the critical fights at the local level, and if we firmly uphold democracy and integrity at every level of our union.  You have our promise to do everything possible to advance those goals.

In solidarity,
 Danny Donohue Signature                         Alice Goff Signature
Danny Donohue                                               Alice Goff


Thursday, June 21, 2012

An interview with Danny Donohue

Originally posted in Blogging Blue in Wisconsin (We in NY know Danny) This is written by an AFSCME member in Wisconsin:

No doubt you’re probably wondering, “Who the heck is Danny Donohue?” Donohue (pictured, left) isn’t an elected official, nor is he a candidate for elected office, but he is a candidate for AFSCME International President.
As many of you know, I’m a proud member of AFSCME (Council 24, to be exact), and I’ve taken a great interest in this week’s elections in Los Angeles to choose the next President of AFSCME International. Donohue is running against Lee Saunders, who currently serves as Secretary-Treasurer of AFSCME, and the race to become the next President of AFSCME International has really become a race of the establishment (Saunders) vs. the change candidate (Donohue).
Last week Friday I had an opportunity to chat with Donohue about his decision to run for President of AFSCME International, as well as his thoughts on how he’d move AFSCME forward and grow the union, which has seen its membership decline, especially here in Wisconsin in the aftermath of Gov. Scott Walker’s assault on public employee collective bargaining rights. “We have to do things a different way,” Donohue responded when asked he decided to run, adding that AFSCME has traditionally been a strong organization because of its grassroots operation. Donohue noted he wants to focus on rebuilding AFSCME from the bottom up, saying, “We’ve become a top-down operation. We have to do things a different way,” Donohue added, saying that while the country has changed dramatically over the past five years, AFSCME has not adapted as well.
When prompted to talk about how he’d move AFSCME forward if elected, Donohue started by mentioning that he’d review the resources the union currently has and how it spends its money, in order to ensure resources are being allocated efficiently. Donohue cited the union’s decision to spend $1 million on ads attacking Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in Florida as an example of the union allocating its resources unwisely, and he noted that AFSCME members in Florida have questioned why their union leadership only visits their state in election years. “We need to be invested in our members’ lives every day,” Donohue said, adding that the members of AFSCME are neighbors, friends, and people who live down the block from the general public, a fact that needs to be reinforced. Donohue also made a point to mention that he feels union leadership needs to listen more to its members, instead of telling members what to do.
Asked what he brings to the table that his opponent, Lee Saunders, doesn’t, Donohue was quick to point to his experience as a rank and file member of AFSCME, having come up through the ranks of AFSCME in New York state. “I know what it’s like to be one paycheck from being laid off,” Donohue said, adding that he’d bring a rank and file member’s mentality to his position as President, specifically when it comes to how the union’s money is being spent. “I want more transparency from International,” Donohue said to emphasize his point.
When asked how he would respond to criticisms that he did not come to Wisconsin to stand with our public employees in the aftermath of Act 10, Donohue said that he made a point to ask what was needed here in Wisconsin – and he was told we needed money and people. “They didn’t want another person to give a speech,” Donohue said, adding that in response to requests he wrote a check and sent about twenty of his members and staff to carry their banner and help the effort. Donohue added that he didn’t want to come to Wisconsin just for the photo op, saying he responded to what he was told was needed – nothing more and nothing less.
Here’s more about Danny Donohue, from his One AFSCME website.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


At the 40th International Convention in Los Angeles, Vice Pres. Joe Biden thanked AFSCME members for speaking up for all working families. If you would like to know more about Biden's speech at the AFSCME convention: CLICK HERE.

AFSCME delegates who support Danny Donohue 
for AFSCME President gather this morning outside the convention center.
Picture by Flo Tripi

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Economic Inequality Linked to Deunionization


What happens when workers’ ability to collectively bargain is weakened?
Ever-rising economic inequality, the study says, corresponds to the declining power of unions. As Harold Meyerson points out in The Washington Post, “When unions are powerful, they boost the incomes of not only their members but also of nonunion workers … the declining share of pretax income going to wages is the main reason American managers now routinely seek to thwart their workers’ attempts to unionize through legally questionable but economically rewarding tactics (rewarding, that is, for the managers.)”

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Triborough Amendment

NYS AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento Response Letter to NY Post

Contrary to your assertion, the Triborough Amendment levels the playing field in public- sector collective bargaining. Unlike their private-sector counterparts, nurses, teachers, police officers, firefighters, bus drivers and sanitation workers do not have the right to strike — a last resort for unions in labor relations.
The strike prohibition is meant to protect public services, but a side effect is a severe impairment of union leverage in negotiations.
Without Triborough, which maintains conditions of employment until a new agreement is reached, employers would be incentivized to delay past contract expiration and make unilateral reductions.
The state, as well as school districts and local governments, have recently negotiated contracts that call for wage freezes, higher health contributions and other benefit reductions using the current rules, which include Triborough.
The inability of some to negotiate contracts speaks to their management and should not be used as an excuse to stack the deck for employers.
Mario Cilento
President New York State AFL-CIO

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Why We Need Unions

BY: Hamilton Nolan - GAWKER

Wisconsin governor Scott Walker made his name with a coldblooded campaign to destroy public sector unions. Pro-union Wisconsinites tried to recall Walker; they failed. This has led to some gloating and speculation from the usual suspects (Rich Lowry, nice blazer, hair boy) that the death knell has formally sounded for unions in America.
Let's hope not.

Unions are much more than a political mechanism by which teachers and policemen and firemen can be scapegoated. They are not limited to industries under the direct control of a governor's diktat. There is a simple reason why all those huge employers of retail and service workers—TargetWal-MartStarbucksWhole Foods, and countless others—are so emphatically anti-union: fear. These companies know that unions represent a sort of power for their workers that their workers will otherwise never have. That power translates to better working conditions and higher wages. That, in turn, eats into a company's profits, as all expenses do. For some companies, this is merely a nuisance, a potential hit to the stock price. For others—like Wal-Mart, which has built the world's largest retail chain by squeezing every last cent out of its costs—it is a potential existential threat.
This is only the end of the argument if you believe that Wal-Mart's is the most desirable business model for all the world. It is a particularly cutthroat evolution of capitalism, in which all human interests are secondary to the cause of cost-cutting and price-dropping. It is the belief that saving fifteen cents on a package of Pringles is more important than your neighbors being able to pay for health care.
Our government, in its present form, is controlled by moneyed interests, because we've set up a system in which political power can more or less be directly purchased. In such a system, no reasonable person can expect the the government to use its powers of regulation to serve the interests of workers—and when we say "workers," it is useful to think of your mother, or your brother, or your grandmother, paying for her medication by greeting customers at Wal-Mart. If the workers cannot turn to the government to protect them from the unrestrained predations of corporate capitalism, then the workers must find a way to protect themselves. Unless they plan to plunder the stores where they work for guns and start the revolution, then their best tool is a union. A strong union of workers, standing together, is in a position to bargain with a company, because a company needs employees in order to make money. Employees, alone, are in no position to bargain with a company, because employees need to eat.
Timothy Noah, the best extant writer on the issue of income inequality in America, makes a very simple point in his new book: as unions have died out in America over the past half-century, so have the earnings of the masses of people who once benefited from union membership. As quoted in Joe Nocera's column, Noah writes, "Draw one line on a graph charting the decline in union membership, then superimpose a second line charting the decline in middle-class income share, and you will find that the two lines are nearly identical."
If you've ever asked for a raise at work, you should understand the concept of leverage: to the extent that your employer needs you, you have it, and you're able to get something (increased wages) for it; to the extent that your employer considers you replaceable, you lack it, and therefore have no way to improve your own position. In the retail and service industries, employees lack leverage almost by definition. Anyone who makes trouble can simply be tossed out and replaced. Unions give those employees leverage. That leverage is a means to a fair wage. Not an outrageous, outsized wage; a fair wage. Any union that bankrupts the parent company is a failure, because all the union members end up unemployed. It is in the interest of unions to achieve the best possible conditions for workers that still allow the company to flourish. A union does not throw off the balance of power in the workplace—lack of a union does.
Large corporations are machines designed to make money for shareholders. They do it well. To expect them to do anything but minimize wages and maximize profit is to misunderstand their nature. The most basic sense of decency and respect for human rights dictates that there must be some mechanism by which the workers—the humans—can assert their interests. Otherwise they will be crushed by the machine. It's all very plain to see.
To despise unions is to despise workers. To despise workers is to despise people. That's not very nice at all.

Pictures by Robert L. Leonard, CSEA/LRS

Friday, June 1, 2012

There is un-finished business in Monroe County: Let’s get moving!!

From left to right: Unit President Cris Zaffuto, 
Labor Relations Specialist Robert L. Leonard, 
CSEA Attorney Paul Bamberger, and the Stenographer.

The Public Employment Relations Board held a hearing on Monroe County’s bogus IP charge last Thursday. This picture shows the Union side of the table. Your Union’s only goals in these negotiations are to protect your benefits and get a fair agreement. The County needs to stop stalling and work with us to get the process moving.