CSEA Legal Meeting Minutes

CSEA Briefing on status of the legal action taken against monroe county…..
Monday, July 24, 2017 2PM
IBEW Local 86 Union Hall
2300 East River Rd.

Introductions of speakers:

MS. Flo Tripi, CSEA President, monroe county CSEA Labor Relations Specialist Mr. Rob Ellis
CSEA Attorney, Albany, Jennifer Zegarelli…several other members of the CSEA Rochester team also assisted with answering the many questions that came up during the briefing.

Ms. Tripi opened the meeting by reviewing the reason for the meeting; she explained that monroe county has changed some of the health benefits and not in favor of our retirees.

These changes have resulted in higher co-pays, increased prescription costs/co-pays, seeing a specialist resulting in higher co-pays and DOES NOT cover some of the medical needs of our retirees. At this time, Ms. Tripi introduced the CSEA Attorney, Ms. Jennifer Zegarelli. Ms. Zegarelli is based in Albany, New York and travels the state regarding labor relations issues.

Ms. Zegarelli (518-257-1443) shared information on the process that CSEA has gone through over the past 10 years representing their membership. Once advised by several members and advised of the changes that started affecting these individuals CSEA began work on these issues. Ms. Zegarelli has taken over this work from now retired Mr. Paul Bamburger. Ms. Zegarelli reviewed the legal actions taken over the years:

Legal action was filed in February 2009 on behalf of CSEA member, Ms. Maggie Bryon. This action was filed against monroe county on her behalf to STOP the municipality from changing already contractually agreed upon retiree health benefits. After meetings in chambers with the county representative present, it was decided to withdraw this action. The Judge felt that this action was too large and language used was ambiguous. So, in order to pursue future actions, this proceeding was withdrawn.

Legal action was filed in July 2015 on behalf of CSEA member, Ms. Roberta Ames. In November, 2016 case was dismissed by monroe county supreme court Justice Debbie Martin. The Court decision was based on reviewing “past practices” stating that Medicare has been around for such a long period that this case had no merit.

This legal action HAS NOT been filed yet. CSEA attorneys have rewritten said legal action and plan is to file it with the 4th Appellate NYS Court. The CSEA action has been broken down into three (3) classes, those that have retired before 2005, 2005 to 2013 and those who retired after 2013. All will be represented within this action.

There has been another case filed on behalf of the CSEA Unit representing the monroe county sheriff’s command staff. This filing was dismissed as the names of those individuals stated in this action will be involved with #3 of this writing.

Grievances have been filed against monroe county regarding retiree’s dependents (children), still pending, and no decisions from hearing officer.

Many questions were asked at the end of this portion of the presentation. I wish more S.O.A.R. members could have attended to hear the information that was shared from these questions. Such as if spouses would be covered in any legal CSEA action? Yes!
Have other Unions/Groups started to push back to other municipalities? Yes!
Can CSEA produce talking points to use when calling family, friends and elected officials? Yes!

One attendee spoke of moving to Orleans County, NY and having his retiree medical insurance benefits dropped. Answer, information from the county explains that a retiree can only reside in an area covered by Excellus.

With any gathering, we will work our best to bring to you the information that is being distributed, but that does not release you, the individual, from making your own inquiries and investigation on any issue, then make your educated decision.

Do your research, check with your union officials, check with CSEA and other retirees web sites for more information, Stay connected! Check in with the New Yorkers against Corruptions web site.

*MS. TRIPI SPOKE OF THE NEED FOR ALL IN ATTENDANCE TO START WORKING ON THESE ISSUES BY SPEAKING WITH FAMILY & FRIENDS, AND BY CONTACTNG THEIR ELECTED OFFICIALS. We need to mobilize. We need everyone to contact family, friends and our local officials to share information and express our displeasure with these changes. Do you know that some of our fellow retirees have had to choose between food and medicine? That’s how important it is to place pressure on our elected officials… Stay quiet, stay uninformed and lose your benefits you have worked so hard for.

Ms. Tripi spent the remainder of the meeting sharing information on the possible upcoming NYS Constitutional Convention. The vote to hold the event in 2018 is scheduled for this fall’s elections, November 7, 2017.The vote to hold this event MUST be defeated. The preposition #1 is located on the reverse side of this ballot. LOOK FOR IT. If you do not vote it will be counted as a Yes Vote!

You may ask the question, “Why should this convention not occur”? The need for this convention may be broadcast as a way of working on political reform, don’t believe it. The real reason is to open state pensions for use as the governor determines. First and foremost, any/all work that could possibly be worked on during this type of event can be worked on during our regularly scheduled legislation sessions, yes, our legislators could deal with any/all issues when they are at work for us during regular legislative sessions!
If there is a convention, who will attend Each of the 62 NYS districts can send 2 representatives. They will be paid $80,000, unlimited office space and staff. First order of business for these delegates is to establish a time line for work, their work could drag on for an unlimited amount of time! Most importantly, the delegates are chosen by the governor! Whom do you think he will appoint to this work? The issues that it has been reported that they could work on is; public pensions, collective bargaining rights, strengthening the NYS SAFE ACT, and any other part of our NYS Constitution they wish to rewrite.
November 7, 2017, Election Day…..remember what we can do to assist with the control of our state.

A Note for Those Attending the S.O.A.R. Sponsored Red Wing Game

If you are attending the S.O.A.R. co sponsored Red Wing game this Sunday, we wanted to express our sincere appreciation to Beikirch’s Hunters Supply and The Firing Pin for their support for this event.

If you have a S.O.A.R. hat or shirt, please wear it as we want to take a group photo during the pre game picnic.

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County Health Benefits Outside Monroe County

At a recent question CSEA Legal Briefing meeting, an individual asked why his county retiree health benefits were canceled after he moved into Orleans County.

S.O.A.R. retiree health benefit subcommittee researched this question and found the following:

According to Excellus benefit book 2017, Section 2.3: Medicare Blue Choice (HMO-POS) is available to residents of the following NYS counties; Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Seneca, Yates and Wayne Counties.

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Law Enforcement Appreciation Day at Frontier Field

To be held at Frontier Field on August 13, 2017.

S.O.A.R. has worked with the Red Wing organization and offers this event for your enjoyment. For $15.00 you get access to the “Nest” for a picnic as well as a game ticket. If you wish to purchase a game ticket only, the cost is just $7.00.

Contact S.O.A.R. President Marv Hankinson (585-303-8519) by August 4th for tickets.

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Support for Constitutional Convention Drops

A Siena college poll released on Tuesday indicates that while two-thirds of New Yorkers have not heard anything about the November 7th ballot question, support for holding a convention has dropped from 62 percent in May to just 47 percent in July. This is certainly encouraging.

RPEA and other organizations continue to stress that convening a convention is an expensive and inefficient way to amend the state constitution. Plus, certain protections and rights already in the constitution could be at risk.

In a related question which will also be on the November ballot, voters overwhelmingly support the constitutional amendment which could reduce the pensions of public officers convicted of felonies in relation to their official duties.

Source: Retired Public Employees Association

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Alternative Sources for Prescription Medicine

I recently investigated sources that an individual could use to obtain their medications from locations within Canada. As many of you may already know, medications purchased in Canada are less expensive than those obtained in the U.S. Thus this report!

It was very interesting to learn the following:

A visitor in Canada can purchase certain medications for personal use/certain amounts and transport the item(s) over the United States and Canadian border. An individual must declare the possession of the medications when you stop at the border.

The other more accessible method is to contact certain Canadian businesses and request medications by using email and have item(s) delivered using the US mail.

Visits were made to several pharmacies in Kingston and Gananoque, Ontario and we were informed that they would NOT accept a written prescription from an American Doctor. They would only accept a scrip written by a Canadian Doctor.

If an individual wants to obtain their medications from a location within Canada using the email method, always look for the sites that are approved by the CSIP, the Canadian Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies, which works much like our FDA, US Food & Drug Administration. The CSIP examines the sources they authorize to insure that the site is a legitimate business using drugs of the highest quality. Beware, there are those questionable businesses that can supply medications but are NOT of the best quality. An individual may go to some of the following sites and begin a relationship with that particular business, as I have been informed, an individual can contact one of these businesses and submit a valid/legal doctor prescribed medication (written prescription) and after the business is satisfied, you may request the medication and receive same thru the US Mail.

Remember, some medications are prohibited for visitors to purchase in person or obtain thru the mail but there are many that are available. An individual can go to the following sites and review the US regulations and lists of medications that are available to transport over the border or thru the mail:

  • US Department of Justice, DEA
    www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov
    Title 21 Part 1301
  • Federal Drug Administration
    www.fda.gov
    Tips for Traveling to the US with Medications. Look for the Personal Importation Policy (PIP)
  • Customs & Border Protection
    www.cbp.gov
    Click on travel, this area handles inquiries about goods to take over the border.

Sources that can be used to order medications by making the request thru email and have the item(s) mailed back to the requester. Go to:

EYEGLASSES

Several web sites have been brought to our attention where an individual can purchase lenses and frames at greatly reduced prices. Go to:

Another source that may help you is Blue Cross Blue Shield Blue 365; this web site offers many choices and deals for Fitness Programs, Healthy Eating, Personal Care (eyeglass coverage) Financial Care and Wellness along with Lifestyle which offers reduced costs for traveling expenses.

An individual does need to investigate a source and make the determination to use any of these sites. Our research should be a beginning for you, after further investigation, use these sites to reduce your medical supply costs. Do your own research and make your decision.

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Monroe County Retiree Recertification Letter

It is that time of year again: time to complete the County of Monroe Retiree Questionnaire.

If not already, you should be receiving this document soon. I cannot express strongly enough that you should:

  • Review this document carefully before signing; examine the information on the lower part of the form just below your signature. The information contained here indicates the retiree health plan you are enrolled in and who is covered. If this information is correct, sign the document; if not, contact the Monroe County Department of Human Resources to determine why it is not correct.
  • Complete the document ASAP
  • I would highly recommend that you do not place completed document in the US Mail without first determining the best method of guaranteeing its delivery. The US Mail has several options you can use to insure its delivery. You can also the FAX telephone number listed on the Registered Mail works well for this purpose.

Protect your benefits, process your paper work carefully.

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CSEA Legal Action Status Meeting

As you may know, Monroe County retirees have been under significant hardship regarding their negotiated health benefits. Benefits have been significantly reduced over the years by your employer and do not meet the insurance provisions set forth upon the bargaining agreement when you retired. On behalf of you and your family, CSEA has filed lawsuits representing three groups of retirees to hold you harmless:

• Retirees from MCC
• Retirees from the Sheriffs Command and Support Staff
• Retirees from Monroe County

Many of you who are familiar with this action are signatories to these legal proceedings. It is time to have another meeting to provide a status update on recent developments.

The meeting is scheduled for:
Monday, July 24th, 2017
2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
IBEW Local #86 Union Hall
2300 East River Road
Rochester, New York 14623

CSEA encourages all CSEA represented MONROE COUNTY EMPLOYEES to attend this informational meeting. CSEA Western Region President Florence Tripi, CSEA Attorney Jennifer Zegarelli and Labor Relations Specialist Robbie Ellis will be on hand to present the latest information and also answer any questions you might have.