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The Civil Service Employees Association Rallies Against Lame Duck Erie County Executive Collins’ Proposed Layoff Of More Than 200 Union-Represented Department of Social Services Workers

Union Leaders Lambaste Collins, Say Positions Are Positions Are Either Fully Or Partially-Funded By Federal Government

Published Tuesday, November 22, 2011 8:00 pm
by Tom Campbell/Editor-Publisher
The Civil Service Employees Association Rallies Against Lame Duck Erie County Executive Collins’ Proposed Layoff Of More Than 200 Union-Represented Department of Social Services Workers

WNYLaborToday.com Editor’s Note: Pictured above, Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA) Region 6 Director Roger Sherrie addresses the crowd with the aid of a bullhorn late Tuesday during a rally that was held outside the Rath Building in Downtown Buffalo to protest the proposed layoff of more than 200 Union-Represented Erie County Department of Social Services Employees who’ve been targeted in outgoing Republican Erie County Executive Chris Collins’ 2012 Budget.  Also taking part were a number of members from Occupy Buffalo, who marched from their encampment at nearby Niagara Square.  (WNYLaborToday.com Photo)

 

(BUFFALO) – Even though Republican Erie County Executive Chris Collins is on his way out the door, the Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA) is working overtime to make sure that more than 200 layoffs in the County’s Social Services Department don’t happen.

CSEA Leaders and Union Members were joined by a number of area Labor Leaders – including Western New York AFL-CIO Area Labor Federation (WNYALF) Interim President Richard Lipsitz and Buffalo AFL-CIO Central Labor Council President Michael Hoffert - and some Elected Officials, who took turns pumping up the crowd that grew to more than 100 before heading over to take part in the Erie County Legislature’s budget hearing in Old County Hall.  The rally’s numbers were increased by members of the Occupy Buffalo Movement who marched from nearby Niagara Square to take part in the rally against the Collins’ cuts that was held late Tuesday (November 22nd) outside the Rath Building on Franklin Street in Downtown Buffalo.  

Democrat and Labor-endorsed Erie County Comptroller Mark Poloncarz defeated incumbent Republican Erie County Executive Collins in the November 8th Election by a surprising 53% to 47% margin to become only the second Democrat to hold the seat of Erie County Executive.  However, in Collins’ 2012 budget that he has submitted to the County Legislature for review and approval, Collins called for the layoffs of more than 200 County Workers who are presently employed in the Department of Social Services.

“I know it’s cold and rainy out here, but we’re going to make it warm” CSEA Western Region 6 President Flo Tripi told the cheering crowd as the wind picked up, dark skies rolled in and cold rain began to fall.  “We’ve been treated like second-class citizens by this millionaire businessman Collins, who could care less.  He wants to cut the jobs of two-hundred-and-twenty-eight Workers in the Department of Social Services who provide services to people who need them most.  Thirty of these positions are fully-funded and it costs the taxpayer nothing.  Almost two hundred are partially funded.  We’re going to make sure that this does not pass in this budget.  Let’s tell (the County Legislators) what we think and tell them they now have a chance to do what’s right for Buffalo and Erie County.”

CSEA Local 815/Erie County Unit #1 President Joan Bender, whose Union represents more than 4,000 County Workers - including those targeted for elimination by Collins in the Department of Social Services, told the crowd: “We’re here because of Chris Collins, who bragged during the campaign that he eliminated five-hundred-and-thirty-nine jobs, and now, hundreds more.  He wants to eliminate as much as he can, despite the fact he’s begging employers to (hire) his staff.  Well, his staff did a nice job ‘for’ Collins while he was in office, but not for ‘our ‘community.  Most of these cuts come in Social Services, which will greatly reduce those services for people who will be left to fall through the cracks.  That’s why we’re here today.”

Tripi, Bender and Buffalo AFL-CIO President Hoffert all took the time to thank those members of the local Occupy Wall Street Movement – Occupy Buffalo – for not only “being part of the 99% who are standing up to the 1%,” but for their personal involvement in making a stand for Working People.  Said Hoffert: “The people of Erie County send a message to Chris Collins on Election Day: ‘You’re Fired!’  We’re not going to stand for these proposed cuts in Social Services.  We want them back and we demand that they be put back in!”

The crowd then broke in a spontaneous cheer of “they say cutbacks – we say fight back!”

CSEA Region 6 Director Roger Sherrie, meanwhile, rattled off a series of factoids underscoring the extremely wide gap between the wealthiest 1% in the United States and the rest of the so-called 99%.  “This isn’t right and we’re here to change it tonight,” Sherrie said.

Also attending the rally was New York State AFL-CIO Regional Community Outreach Coordinator Angela Blue, American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Region 6 Political & Legislative Organizer Deb Lauria and newly-elected New York State Assemblyman Sean Ryan of the 144th District, yet another Labor-endorsed candidate who won election to office on November 8th. 

Asked Ryan of the crowd: “What happened we when we all banned together (in the elections that saw Poloncarz and Democrat/Labor-endorsed Kathy Hochul, who was elected in a heavily-weighted Republican 26th Congressional District against a heavily-funded millionaire, Jane Corwin)?  What did we get?  Look at those standing to the left and right of you.  This is Democracy!  These cuts are not fair and they’re not right.  We’ll start changing them tonight and start turning things around in this County.”

The crowd then broke in a spontaneous cheer of “the people united can never be defeated!”

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