March 31, 2012

In My Opinion: Concerns voiced about union issues

At the recent Northeast Central Labor Council Legislative Breakfast, attended by Sen. Betty Little and Assemblywomen Janet Duprey and Teresa Sayward, a number of concerns were expressed.

The recent teacher-evaluation process was discussed. Teachers were already evaluated yearly. The success of a student in school is one the key components. The state evaluation does not include the capability of the student to succeed or how his/her home environment may affect success.

Graduation in four years may not be possible for all; it may take 5 years. GEDs should count toward graduation.

The 2 property-tax cap has negatively impacted local schools, as kindergarten, accelerated programs, music, art and physical education/athletics could be cut.

Disappointment was expressed on the passing in the middle of the night of state Tier 6 pension legislation. All three of our legislators did not approve of the process of how/when it was passed.

Considerable discussion occurred that we are aware of the economic reality and have given, whether it be Plattsburgh Public Library employees reducing their work week and forfeiting raises, many school employees giving up negotiated raises and some state unions not receiving a raise for a few years and having their health-insurance increase (as everyone's is) and in the recent Civil Service Employees Association contract losing five days pay.

Kathy Garrison, CSEA Capital Region president, talked about tax equity and fairness. She mentioned that while vesting stayed at 10 years, it appears that those management appointees that will be in the 401K can vest in one year.

I indicated we were "racing to the bottom." The rich are getting richer, and corporations need to give their fair share, i.e. General Electric not paying any taxes.

"Wage protection theft" legislation recently passed the Senate. There needs to be transparency and accountability. If there is a need to increase the reporting time, it should be moved from one to two years not one to six years.

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