Staff Assistant Title Positions

CSEA has expressed concern that it is frequently unaware of the local level of Staff Assistant position vacancies.  The Staff Assistant title is within SUNY Professional Services (unclassified service) and within the Professional Services Negotiating Unit.  CSEA has also expressed concern that the duties and responsibilities assigned to such positions at the supervisory level, the required educational level, and required skill set, are in some cases, the same as those identified by the Civil Service Commission for specific titles in the classified service that have been certified by the Public Employment Relations Board, to be in bargaining units represented by CSEA.  In such cases, it is CSEA’s position that the use of the SUNY Professional Services (unclassified service) is inappropriate.  The University recognizes the legitimacy of these concerns, and has agreed to put in place the following procedures at each State-operated campus of SUNY:

1.  A paper copy of the vacancy shall be provided to the local President of CSEA, concurrent with a provision of such, to the local chapter of UUP.

2.  Within 10 working days of the vacancy receipt, the local President of CSEA may request and shall be granted, a meeting with the campus Director of Human Resources, or the College President’s designee, for the purpose of discussing similarities of the requirements of the vacancy that may be represented by classified CSEA titles.  Within 10 days of the meeting, the “Reviewer” shall notify the local President of CSEA, of how the Campus intends to proceed to filling the vacancy.

3.  CSEA may, at anytime, contact SUNY Office of Employee Relations, to request a review of a specific Staff Assistant vacancy announcement.  The request, the announcement and specific documentation must be in writing when submitted.  Employee Relations shall seek a review and determination from the SUNY System Administration Office of University-wide Human Resources, regarding this issue.  The Office of Employee Relations, within 10 days of the outcome, will notify CSEA in writing, of the action that will be taken.

4.  The above procedures do not prohibit any party from commencing an action before PERB.  In the event an action is commenced, the above procedures regarding a specific at-issue vacancy announcement may be terminated at the discretion of the Campus or University dependent upon the level of review at the time such action is commenced.

4.  This program shall remain in full force until the close of business on March 31, 2020 and shall terminate unless continued by mutual written agreement of the parties.

Thanks to the “State-wide Labor-Management Committee” for their diligent work.  This is the type of cooperation that can result in successful results for all CSEA Members, in the future.  LJ

Labor-Management Committee Members

Labor (Union) Representatives:                                    Management:

Duane Blakely (Co-Chair)                                               Mike Daley (Co-Chair)

Tammi Dahl                                                                       Denise Szalkowski

Larry Pelz                                                                           Kevin Cloos

Steve Gromala                                                                   Jodi Rzepka

Bobbi Peck                                                                          Mark Delcamp

Rosemary McCune

John Schmidt

Kellie Sacilowski


Regional Labor Relation Specialist: Dominic Luna

Labor-Management Committee

Historically, the interests of Labor and Management were very different.  Agreements, or labor contracts, often followed lengthy, adversarial negotiations and sometimes, brutal confrontation.  The portrayal of this early period in labor history has left an indelible image in our minds of permanently embattled, bitter relations between the two sides.  People did get hurt.  Both physically and psychologically.  Though both sides have made strides over those years, the battle is still on…utilizing technology and social media to present their issues to the mass media.  The bashing of Unions, both in the media and political circles is evident, every day…This is where Labor-Management comes to the table.  It’s eye-to-eye contact.  You can personally look the other person in the eye and discuss your point of view, on a specific issue.  Hopefully, there is give and take on both sides of the table, to arrive at a satisfactory agreement, to all parties involved.  That’s the perfect world…which does not always reflect what concludes at the end of the meeting.  Then, it falls into the legal jurisdiction of the Grievance Process, if warranted.

CSEA and NYS have taken the lead in developing and promoting cooperative approaches to resolving workplace issues.  The result has been the formation of statewide Labor-Management Committees in the majority of NYS agencies and local worksites.  These committees have been responsible for the development of significant innovative programs that enhance employee’s quality of worklife and worksite effectiveness.

In NYS, the importance of cooperative relations between the parties is evident in:

-The Taylor Law, passed in 1967, which established the right of NYS employees to organize collectively and negotiate.  The purpose of the law is “to promote harmonious and cooperative relationships between government and its employees”.

-Article 31 (DMNA Article 25) of the NYS/CSEA Agreements, which provides for Labor-Management Committees as a “forum to discuss and attempt to resolve matters of mutual concern”.

Article 31  also empowers labor and management to enter into local agreements.  This means the parties have the power to “commit any mutually resolved issues to writing in correspondence or memoranda of agreement”.  Often, the parties look upon the contract as all-inclusive…if they are desperate and at wit’s end, to find a resolution.  There are many local issues that are within the Labor-Management jurisdiction.  The contract does stipulate that local agreements are an appropriate vehicle for resolution.  NYS agencies and facilities are complex and differ from one another in their mission as well as their workforce composition and needs.  An effective resolution of an issue for one facility might be ineffective or even inappropriate for another.  A strength of Labor-Management process is that it enables both sides, at the local level, to resolve issues in ways that reflect the unique interests and resources of a particular worksite.


Definition of a Fast Food Establishment

Under the Wage Board’s current recommendation, a ” Fast Food Establishment” is defined as follows: “where patrons order or select items and pay before eating and such items may be consumed on the premises, taken out, or delivered to the customer’s location, which offers limited service, which is part of a chain (meaning a set of establishments which share a common brand), and which is one of 30 or more establishments nationally, including franchise locations”.

Fast Food Worker Wage

New York’s Wage Board on Monday finalized its recommendation endorsing a $15 minimum wage for fast-food workers in chain restaurants.

The formal step by the three-member board is necessary before Governor Cuomo’s labor commissioner can approve the increase.  The commissioner, who could also make modifications, will have 45 days to act on the recommendation once he receives it.  Cuomo, a Democrat, supports the proposal, so it’s unlikely that Acting State Labor Commissioner Mario J. Musolino will make any changes.  The wage increase would apply to fast-food workers in restaurants with 30 or more locations.

It would be phased-in over 3 years in NYC and 6 years elsewhere.  The first phase of the increase would take effect on December 31, 2015, when the minimum wage for affected workers would go from $8.75 to $10.50 in NYC and to $9.75 in other areas.  The increase won’t apply to low-wage workers in other industries.  The state’s minimum wage is now $8.75 an hour and will increase to $9.00 at year’s end.

Labor will have to see how this plays-out in the days-to-come…The proposed agenda is very short-sighted.  Changes in the labor movement have never been easy.  I wish Governor Cuomo would have utilized his resources that he has available through-out the state to come-up with a much more comprehensive plan…”For All Workers”…Knee-jerk laws & regulations only throw the state into turmoil and wastes invaluable time to stabilize NYS’s economy and unity of it’s residents…LJ

Friedrichs vs. California Teachers Association

The Supreme Court To Hear Union Dues Challenge-

In an order released June 30, 2015, the Supreme Court granted the petition filed by Rebecca Friedrichs and her co-plaintiffs asking the Court to review the constitutionality of compulsory Union dues.  This action means the case will be briefed and argued this Fall, with a decision due by June 30, 2016.

Center for Individual Rights is representing ten California teachers and the Christian Educators Association International in a landmark effort to re-establish the right of individual teachers and other public employees to decide for themselves whether to join and support a Union.  The suit claims state “agency shop” laws, which require public employees to pay Union dues as a condition of employment, violate well-settled principles of freedom of speech and association.  While many teachers support the Union, others do not and the state cannot constitutionally compel an individual to join and financially support an organization with which he or she disagrees.

Nine parties filed “friend of the court” briefs urging the Supreme Court to grant petition to review and overturn Abood vs. Detroit Board of Education, a 1977 case in which the Court allowed states to require all public employees to pay Union dues.

The briefs were submitted by those listed below:

-Former California Governor Pete Wilson

-Former California Democratic Majority Leader Gloria Romero

-Pacific Research Institute

-Bipartisan California Scholars and Educators

-Michigan & 8 other states

-Pacific Legal Foundation

-National Right to Work Foundation

-Mackinac Center

-Constitutional Law Professors

-Kaneland, Il. School District Support Staff

-Goldwater Institute

-Cato Institute

On January 24, 2015, CIR filed a petition for a writ with the Supreme Court asking it to review the case.  The speed with which the case moved through the lower courts reflected a deliberate litigation strategy.  CIR argued that the lower courts do not have the authority to overturn the existing Supreme Court Precedent from 1977.  As a result, they asked the trial court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals “to decide against our clients on the basis of the pleadings” (without trial or oral arguments) so as to send the case on to the Supreme Court as quickly as possible.

First at hand…If “they” do not pay Union dues, who will represent their “free speech” when contract time comes around?   Not the Union…there’s enough free-loaders who want everything but do not want to pay their just dues.  “They” are all “smartie-pants”.  I’m sure they’re intelligent enough to figure it out.  Secondly, when lawyers become involved, you know they will stretch the legal limits of the judicial system, to promote their agenda, for money.  We will also have to see if the State of New York drags-out offering CSEA a new contract, which is due around that time, to see if they can put the squeeze on us, depending on the status of the “Right to Work” decision.  In closing, if the Supreme Court believes that the ruling in 1977 was a mistake, then the faith in the Court, in regards to myself, will reflect upon them in a different light of Faith and Trust…LJ

Union Members- Bureau of Labor Statistics- January 2015

In 2014, the Union Membership rate was 11.1%, down 0.2% from 2013.  The number of members was 14.6 million.  1.6 million additional jobs were covered under agency fees.  That totals 16.2 million wage and salary workers that were represented by a Union.  In 1983, the first year Union data was available, membership was 20.1% and there was 17.7 million Union Workers.

Public sector workers had the highest rate of 35.7%.  Private sector workers had a rate of 6.6%.

Median weekly earnings for non-union workers ($763) were 79% of earnings for workers who were Union Members ($970).

Among states, New York continued to have the highest Union Membership rate (24.6%).   In NYS, the public sector rate was 71% of government workers belonging to Unions.   North Carolina again had the lowest rate (1.9%).

In 2014, 7.2 million employees were in public sector Unions, compared to 7.4 million in the private sector.

Controversy Over Bargaining Rights

Union Proponents state their case in favor:

-Bargaining does not undermine the government’s ability to cut costs.  Union benefits can be cut without denying bargaining rights.  Issues are not set-in-stone.

-States with and without collective bargaining are suffering budget deficits, so the absence of Unions does not guarantee balanced budgets.

-Bargaining has substantial benefits.  Worker proficiency, higher salaries, better morale, greater sense of achievement, and job security.

-Prevent workplace abuse.  Improves training,  job location, and management of a professional workforce. (Both Competitive and Non-Competitive positions).

-Guarantees both parties the right to bargain for their interests and balances power between employees and employer. (Taylor Law & the Triborough Amendment)


Union Opponents argue their case against:

-Public Employees are overpaid and increased costs are bankrupting state governments.

-Bargaining blocks reform and increase costs without improving performance, particularly in education.

-It is a privilege, not a right.

-Gives Public Unions unequal power, emphasizing their interests over the interests of state government and taxpayers.

-Bargaining between Public Unions and elected officials who receive campaign contributions from those Unions, is a conflict of interest.

-Employees do not need bargaining rights. State civil service laws protect them.

-Bargaining was designed for the private sector, not the public sector.

-Unions are relics of an outdated industrial model and bargaining must change to reflect a new social and economic reality.


Ongoing Debate-

Numerous state legislatures are considering limits on collective bargaining by Public Employees.  The National Conference on State Legislatures reports more then 760 measures were introduced in 2011, on all aspects of collective bargaining.  That number has grown considerably since then.


What are your thoughts on this matter?  Is it totally political?  Is it jealousy?  Are Unions undemocratic?  Are Unions being treated unfairly?  There’s no one answer…You must decide as a Union Member.  The lines will be drawn in the upcoming year.  What does Union Representation mean to you?  There are many questions to be answered.  Make your voice be heard now.  After-the-fact, makes the job so much harder for survival, if Right-to-Work becomes the Law of the Land.  You can either show your support today, or throw your hands up in surrender tomorrow.  Please give it a second thought.  Your livelihood in the future depends upon it.  Let me know what’s on your mind…LJ


Collective Bargaining Basics

Collective bargaining refers to negotiations between an employer and a group of employees to determine conditions of employment, such as wages, working hours, overtime, holidays, sick leave, vacation time, retirement benefits, health care, training, grievance methods, and any rights to participation.

Employee/employer negotiations result in a written agreement (also known as a collective agreement) that remains in effect for a set period of time.  Unions and other labor organizations represent employees in bargaining and are paid for their efforts through membership dues.

Collective bargaining is allowed both for employees of private companies and for public sector workers employed by federal, state, or local governments.  In 2010, 7.6 million public sector employees belonged to a Union, compared with 7.1 million Union workers in the private sector.  The Union Membership rate for public sector workers was 36.2%, while the rate for private sector workers was 6.9%.  In 2010, Union Members earned approximately $917 weekly; those not represented by Unions earned about $717 weekly.

I am using 2010 as a base starting point for the data.  I will update these statistics.  You will see the correlation of attacks on Unions and the Health of Unions, over these last 5 years.  LJ