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 So, in order to pursue future actions, this proceeding was withdrawn.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.

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.

Update on Retiree Health Benefits: December 2016

Members of the S.O.A.R. Retiree Health Benefit Subcommittee recently met with our legal representative regarding the following issues:

  • How many members have responded to the letter mailed out this summer to move to the next step of our legal action?
    We have received many responses. According to our legal rep, everyone that responded retired prior to the Blue Value Plans going into effect. This is a good thing because all contract language is the same for retirees that retired prior to 2006, including 2005. The contract language states that retirees of the county shall receive fully paid BC/BS protection and dental insurance which was in effect at the time of retirement.
  • The status of our legal action regarding involuntary changes to retirees’ health care plan. There was no real good news. Our legal representative is still undecided on how to pursue an action regarding changes to our healthcare plans. Our legal representative explained that until there is a decision in the CSEA and the Social Workers pending cases he cannot determine whether we should pursue a Grievance process or a Class Action litigation. Therefore, there is no way he will be able to file a suit before the end of the year.

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Deadline to Submit Your Response to S.O.A.R.’s Legal Representative

Several months ago and under the guidance of our legal team, the S.O.A.R. Health Benefits Subcommittee mailed out a letter to all past and present S.O.A.R. members.  The letter requested that any individual who experienced involuntary changes to their retiree health benefits respond to the office of Trevett Cristo Attorneys with information on their particular case. 

This is a reminder that the deadline to contact our legal team to give them the details of your situation is the end of the business day on November 21, 2016.  

Changes in Health Insurance Coverage

Over the last month, S.O.A.R. Board members have received several telephone calls from retirees advising us that a representative from the Monroe County Human Resources Department informed them that their child (or children, all of whom are under 25 years of age) had been removed from their health care coverage. As the Affordable Care Act guarantees coverage for dependent children up to age 26, we pursued the matter on their behalf.

We have been in touch with a staff member in the local office of Congresswomen Louise Slaughter, who has informed us that, based upon our knowledge of each incident, the children of these retirees are indeed still covered. That being said, this staff member advises any individual who believes that their child has been improperly removed from coverage needs to write a letter to her office so that she can initiate an official inquiry and determine the truth. In addition, ALL individuals that have had their health insurance coverage affected in any way by the actions of Monroe County employees are also urged to write a letter describing their experience to the following individual:

US House of Representatives
Congresswomen Louise Slaughter’s Office
ATTN: Ms. Patricia Larke
3120 Federal Building
100 State Street
Rochester, New York 14614

No phone calls please; a written inquiry must be submitted for the Congresswoman’s office to initiate an investigation.

Status Update: S.O.A.R. Retiree Health Benefits Subcommittee

Before last year’s local elections, members of the S.O.A.R. Retiree Health Benefit subcommittee scheduled a meeting with then-candidate for Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo. The meeting was held at a local restaurant and lasted over an hour. The purpose of the meeting was to share with Mrs. Dinolfo information on the involuntarily changes that have been made to retirees’ health insurance as well as to answer any of her questions on the matter.

During the meeting, several subcommittee members explained the history of this issue. They described how long S.O.A.R. has been attempting to meet with representatives of the county government to reach a resolution, how those attempts have been rebuffed, how the changes arbitrarily affected some retirees and not others, and finally how some of our older retirees were experiencing hardships due to their increased health costs. Both Ms. Dinolfo and her assistant took many notes.

The meeting was concluded with remarks from Ms. Dinolfo that as a candidate she could not make any decisions at that time, but that if she won the election, S.O.A.R. should contact her after the she took office to meet again and discuss this matter further.

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