News

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Recent OMCE Media Coverage (Updated 4/8/14 - Click Here)►►►►

4/11/14 - Want to be better informed about what's going on in Albany? Wondering when the Governor may be coming to your town? We have been receiving an increasing number of requests lately, principally from members living outside the Capital District, for information about the Governor's schedule and Albany politics!  "Can I find out ahead of time when the Governor's coming to our area? I saw on the news he made another public appearance here yesterday - had I known, I would have asked him when we're going to be paid what we're owed! I'd like to get a better handle on what's going on in Albany, especially with the things that affect me as an M/C?  While we're always available to respond to your questions, we thought it might be helpful for everyone who may be interested to post links here to some of the tools we have found useful:

 

The Governor's website:

Governor Cuomo’s public schedule is accessible each day on a calendar that is published on the Governor's website:

https://www.governor.ny.gov/calendar 

The State of Politics Blog:

This blog is a running statewide conversation about New York State politics. Get the morning headlines and breaking news alerts in your inbox, as well as scheduling information.

http://www.nystateofpolitics.com

Capitol Confidential:

A feature of the Albany Times-Union, Capitol Confidential offers extensive, up-to-the-minute coverage of New York State politics, as well as scheduling information.

http://blog.timesunion.com/capitol

City and State First Read:

This news aggregator provides access to news and scheduling information via subscription.

http://media.cityandstateny.com/subscribe

4/8/14 - OMCE to Civil Service Commission: "Classify Empire State Fellows positions in the Competitive Class!" Testifying before the Civil Service Commission at its monthly meeting earlier today (April 8), OMCE Executive Director Joseph B. Sano called on the Commission to reject a proposal, submitted by the Office of General Services (OGS) on behalf of the Administration, that, if approved, will result in classification of 230 Empire State Fellows positions in the Non-Competitive Class. In his prepared remarks, Mr. Sano said doing so may be expedient for the Governor, but nothing of what OGS has presented in support of the proposal argues for the impracticability of filling these positions through “merit and fitness to be ascertained, as far as practicable, by examination which, as far as practicable, shall be competitive.” (Article V, Section 6 of the State Constitution)  He noted that this has been done before, in the late 1990’s, by then-HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo, who recruited nearly 800 so-called Community Builders, including hundreds of high-paid “fellows,” with disastrous and deleterious effects on HUD programs and career staff morale, as evidenced in a scathing investigative audit report by the federal Inspector General.

CLICK HERE to read Mr. Sano's Testimony          CLICK HERE to view video replay of April 8, 2014 Civil Service Commission meeting (Mr. Sano's remarks begin 10 minutes into the video - use slider to advance to 10:10)

3/24/14 - Update: The Comptroller’s Office issued instructions today for timely payment of the April 2014 PEF and CSEA Performance Advances. No mention was made about the 2% general salary increase. We would note that, by contrast, M/C employees only now are receiving the Performance Advances they should have been paid a year ago, in April 2013. The Division of the Budget has yet to announce when M/Cs can expect payment of their April 2014 Performance Advances, Longevity Payments and the 2% general salary increase. Meanwhile, we are continuing to call on legislators daily during this final week of negotiations on the budget.

3/20/14 - Nominations to OMCE Board: Here’s an opportunity to use your talents while broadening your professional experience. Consider running for a seat on the OMCE Board of Directors!

The Board is responsible for setting policy and providing guidance and direction to the organization. The Board is a diverse body that fights to improve the working conditions of M/C employees, while protecting their rights and benefits.

Board members attend four meetings per year and serve on one or more committees. It is an unpaid position, but travel expenses are reimbursed at the state rate. The fifteen member board serves staggered three year terms. Five seats will be up for election or re-election this year.

All that is necessary to run for a seat on the Board is to submit your resume and a cover statement outlining the qualities you would be bringing to the Board and what issues and priorities you would like to focus on. This statement will be sent with the ballot for consideration by the voting membership. Submissions may be mailed, e-mailed or faxed and must be received at the OMCE office no later than June 12. The Nominating Committee will review all submissions and present a slate of nominees to the Board.
The election by mail ballot, if there are more than five candidates, will take place during July/August. Results will be announced at our Annual Meeting in September.

If you’re thinking of taking advantage of this opportunity, but would like more information, contact OMCE at 800-828-6623.

2/27/14 - Payroll Bulletins Issued/M/C Performance Advances and Longevities: The Office of State Comptroller has issued payroll bulletins (#1301 Performance Advances and #1302 Longevities) providing for the payment of the fiscal year 2012-13 M/C Performance Advances and Longevities, as authorized by the Division of the Budget (Budget Bulletin D-1128). Performance Advances (steps) will be paid, using the following payment effective dates and check dates:

• Institution Payroll Employees, effective 4/4/13, check dated 3/20/14

• Administration Payroll Employees, effective 3/28/13, check dated 3/26/14

For Longevities, payment will be made as a one-time, lump sum payment (in the amount of $1,250 or $2,500, depending on eligibility - minimum of 5 or 10 years at the job rate), effective 4/1/13, and processed in a separate check dated 3/20/14 (Institution) or 3/26/14 (Administration). There is no direct deposit for the longevity payment.

Questions concerning payments and eligibility should be addressed to your agency/facility payroll office.

2/20/14 - ID Theft Protection Benefit Improvement: We are pleased to advise OMCE members who have activated their FREE Identity Theft Protection member benefit that OPEIU has obtained a more comprehensive identity theft protection solution through InfoArmor’s PrivacyArmor – and still, at no cost to you! There will be no disruption to your coverage during this transition to InfoArmor, but it will be necessary for you to re-register as soon as possible. To register, Login here to the Members Only page, scroll down to Improved ID Theft Protection, and follow the registration instructions.

 

2/18/14 - Downtown Albany Parking Spots and Allocation: As a follow-up to announcement last year that 1,000 additional employee parking spots will be made available, we are pleased to advise that the allocation of these spots will now be made by State service seniority date, irrespective of bargaining unit or M/C designation. All current permit holders have been “grandfathered” into their current parking spots. As new or existing parking spots become available in a lot, the spots will be offered to employees who have signed-up for that lot at the OGS parking website, by State service seniority date. That is, these assignments will be made, in order of State service seniority and regardless of bargaining unit or M/C designation, to those who have signed up for such parking spots in selected locations. This new allocation system is part of the OGS re-design of parking services and will be subject to ongoing review before final adoption.

 

1/23/14 - OMCE/OPEIU Scholarships: Applications are being accepted for the OPEIU Howard Coughlin Memorial and John Kelly Labor Studies scholarships until March 5, 2014 and for the “Summer Camp” scholarships until April 30, 2014. Instructions and application forms are available for viewing and printing from the Members Only page. Login Here and scroll down to "Scholarships" at the bottom of the Members Only page. Or, call OMCE at 800-828-6623 (456-5241, if calling from within area code 518).

• Coughlin Scholarship - Open to OMCE members in good standing and children of members in good standing for full-time (FT) or part-time (PT) attendance at a College, University or recognized Technical or Vocational post-secondary school. Each FT scholarship is $3,250 for the first year, and $3,250 for the second year – total maximum value of $6,500; each PT scholarship is $1,325 for the first year and $1,325 for the second year – total maximum value of $2,650. Official OPEIU application and High School transcript required to be submitted to OMCE for endorsement and processing – must be received by March 5, 2014. Winners will be notified in May.
 

• Kelly Labor Scholarship - Open to OMCE members in good standing and must be an undergraduate or graduate in one of the following areas of study: Labor Studies; Industrial Relations; Union Leadership and Administration; programs sponsored by the National Labor College. Each scholarship has a total maximum value of $3,250. Official OPEIU application and college transcript (if currently enrolled) are required, along with an essay on the applicant’s union activism and occupational goals, to be submitted to OMCE for endorsement and processing - must be received by March 5, 2014. Winners will be notified in May.
 

• Romeo Corbeil/Gillies Beauregard Scholarship Fund Summer Camp - Open to children (between ages 13 and 16) of member or associate member in good standing. Eligible children include the son, daughter, stepchild, legally adopted child, grandchild or any other child that the member is responsible for caring for, including children of domestic partners, and must be between ages 13 and 16 only. The 2014 Summer Camp dates are July 20 through July 25 and will be held at University Forest, 153 University Forest Drive, Wappapello, MO 63966. Each scholarship has a total maximum value of $2,000. Applications must be received by April 30, 2014. Winners will be notified in May.

Reminder: Beginning January 1, 2014, CVS Caremark will administer The Empire Plan Prescription Drug Program. The Empire Plan Medicare Rx prescription drug plan for Medicare-primary enrollees and dependents will be administered by SilverScript insurance Company, an affiliate of CVS Caremark. For the convenience of OMCE members enrolled in the Empire Plan Prescription Drug Program, here are links you can use to preview your prescription drug coverage information, view the 2014 Empire Plan Flexible Formulary and use an online Pharmacy Locator:

CVS Caremark - if the Empire Plan is your primary medical coverage

 

Silver Scripts - if you are Medicare-primary with Empire Plan coverage

1/7/13 - Lavina Michl Wright Scholarships: Online applications are now being taken for the Lavina Michl Wright Scholarships Program. Deadline to apply is February 17, 2014. The scholarships are for fulltime undergraduate study at an accredited public or private, two-year or four-year college or university, or four-year technical or vocational school. High school seniors and undergraduate college students may apply who are dependents of a member in good standing of OPEIU Local 153, AFL-CIO and its affiliates (OMCE). Applicants must have at least a 2.5 GPA and demonstrate traits of high personal character and leadership. Scholarships will be awarded based on respective ability, educational goals, financial need and career ambitions. For more information and to apply (online only), go to: https://www.csascholars.org/wright/indexcss.php

 

12/31/13 - Empire Plan Mental Health and Substance Abuse Program (MHSA): The Department of Civil Service advises that, due to protest of the contract award for the Empire Plan Mental Health and Substance Abuse Program, an interim contract has been executed with ValueOptions, Inc., to administer the program effective January 1, 2014. Please note that the change in program administrator does not affect the benefits available under the program. A letter of explanation is being mailed to all Empire Plan enrollees. Meanwhile, if you need services or have any questions about the change, call The Empire Plan toll-free at 1.877.769.7447, press 3 for the MHSA Program and select the option for 2014 benefits.

 

12/12/13 - Deferred Compensation Plan 2014 Contribution Limits - Same as 2013: The maximum contribution limit for employees enrolled in the Deferred Compensation Plan will remain at $17,500 in 2014. Under the “Age 50+ Catch-Up” provision, employees age 50 and over can defer an additional $5,500, resulting in a combined total contribution limit in 2014 of $23,000. The “Retirement Catch-Up” provision, which is available to employees who have contributed less than the maximum in previous years, will also remain at $17,500, for a combined maximum total allowable contribution in 2014 of $35,000. Note, however, that you cannot have both the “Retirement Catch-Up” and the “50 and Over Catch-Up” additional amounts deferred in the same year. For information, go to the NYS Deferred Compensation Program website (www.nysdcp.com) and scroll down to “2014 IRS Contribution Limits.”

 

12/6/13 - Choose your Health Insurance Option for 2014: The Department of Civil Service has published the 2014 NYSHIP rates and option transfer information, as well as opt-out information, for the December 1, 2013 - December 31, 2013 Option Transfer Period. 2014 Plan Choices and Rate comparison booklets are available from your agency Health Benefits Administrator and can be viewed online (www.cs.ny.gov/ebd/). Opt-out information can be found on page 15 of the Choices booklet.

If you wish to change your health insurance plan, ask your agency Health Benefits Administrator for Health Insurance Transaction Form PS-404. If you are enrolling in a NYSHIP HMO, or changing to another NYSHIP HMO, also ask for an HMO enrollment form. Return the completed form(s) to your agency Health Benefits Administrator on or before December 31, 2013.

If eligible, and you wish to opt out of NYSHIP in exchange for an incentive payment, complete and submit Health Insurance Transaction Form PS-404 and Opt-out Attestation Form PS-409. Return the completed form(s) to your agency Health Benefits Administrator on or before December 31, 2013.

No action is required if you wish to keep your current health insurance plan. Retirees may change health insurance options at any time, but not more than once during a 12-month period.
 

12/6/13 - 2014 Union Plus® Scholarships / Applications Available: Eligible OMCE members, their spouses and dependent children may apply for these scholarships. Numerous cash awards ranging from $500 to $4,000 will be given for post-high school, undergraduate study beginning in the Fall 2014.

 

Applications will be accepted online only. The application deadline is 12:00 Noon, Friday, January 31, 2014. For information and to apply, Login Here and scroll down to Union Plus Scholarships located near the bottom of the Members Only page.

 

Coming Soon! As information becomes available, we will post application instructions here for the annual OPEIU John Kelly Labor Studies and Howard Coughlin Memorial scholarships. Applications are usually available by mid-January each year and must be received by early March.
 

11/25/13 - Attention: NYS-Ride Participating Commuters: The monthly pre-tax limit on transit purchases is set to decrease for 2014. Legislation that set the 2013 pre-tax limit at $245 will expire on December 31. Senator Shumer is introducing legislation to extend the current tax break another two years, but unless Congress acts, the amount of the maximum monthly tax break on transit purchases will drop to $130, effective the January benefit month. This means that payroll deductions in excess of $130 monthly will be post-tax. NYS-Ride payroll deductions for the January benefit month are just now beginning (11/20 Administration payroll check; 11/27 Institution payroll check). We will keep watch on the progress of Senator Shumer’s bill and update you here, as soon as information is available. For your convenience and further information, you can link HERE to the NYS Ride website.

11/15/13 - Business Service Center Update: The next phase of staffing the Business Service Center (BSC), which was discussed with the unions and OMCE in July, has begun.* Wave 2 of the centralization of “back office” fiscal and human resources processing activities is focusing on finance staff and will include Albany based and geographically dispersed employees. The agencies included in Wave 2 are the Office of Mental Health, Parks and Recreation, Office for People with Developmental Disabilities and the Office of Substance Abuse Services. Geographically dispersed finance staff will be affected initially. Employees will be offered positions in their locality to the extent possible, but within 2 years, will have to transfer to Albany or accept transfer to another agency (if available), or face termination. On a related matter, OGS in August requested approval from Civil Service for the establishment of Business Service Center Administrator positions at the M4 and M6 levels in the non-competitive class. These positions by another name exist in the agencies and have always been in the competitive class. The functions performed by the Business Service Center and the positions assigned there are in the Civil Service Law § 52.6 category (Administrative) and should remain competitive. OMCE has written to Civil Service Commission President Boone and testified at a meeting of the Commission held this very morning, urging denial of this request, which was recently amended by OGS to 3 positions of Assistant Deputy Director in the exempt class. The Commission approved the amended request.
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OMCE members can LOG IN here and link to this information via the link we have posted for you on the Members Only page. See: Staffing Plan for Employees Working in Distributed Agencies - Discussion with Union Leadership - July 22, 2013. If you experience difficulties accessing the Members Only page, call us at 800.828.6623 (456-5241 in area code 518) for membership verification and user ID/password assistance.

11/1/13 - A Special Thank You: On the first anniversary of the destruction wrought by Hurricane Sandy, we recall and recognize the commitment and professionalism shown by the State’s career M/C employees who, along with emergency workers, first responders and cleanup crews, worked tirelessly to ensure the well-being of New Yorkers affected by the storm and its aftermath. Whether it was directing an evacuation or temporary relocation, or coordinating emergency staffing, or anything else that was required, you provided an exemplary and professional emergency response.

Last year in a letter to Governor Cuomo, we called on the Administration to publicly acknowledge the exemplary manner in which the State’s career M/C workforce answered the call. We recognize that you are the backbone of state service; nothing gets done without your involvement and direction. And we know you continue to give your all to meet the demands placed on you, carrying out your regular responsibilities, as well as added special demands. Too many New York State residents are still dealing with the effects of Hurricane Sandy, as well as of Irene and Lee the year before – we have not forgotten what you do to help New Yorkers.

As we give thanks for all our blessings this coming Thanksgiving, we will remember you and your families, and the excellent work you do daily, especially during our toughest days. Thank you for your service and dedication – on behalf of OMCE and all of its members, we are proud to represent you!

Barbara Zaron, President                                                         Joseph B. Sano, Executive Director

11/1/13 - Reminder / Enrollment Deadlines:

● 2014 Flex Spending Account – Enroll by November 8, 2013
Save money by paying for certain expenses with pre-tax dollars. Under this program, you can choose two benefits: Health Care Spending Account, under which you set aside up to $2,500 ($100 minimum) in pre-tax salary to pay for non-reimbursed health-related expenses; and Dependent Care Advantage Account, which allows you to set aside up to $5,000 in pre-tax salary for eligible child care, elder care or disabled dependent expenses. The employer contribution will continue in 2014 and ranges from $300 to $800, depending upon your salary. You may enroll online at www.flexspend.ny.gov or by calling Fringe Benefits Customer Service at 1-800-358-7202 (select Option 1). Representatives are available from 7:00 AM to 10:00 PM daily, until midnight on November 8. Make sure you have your most recent pay stub available - you will need your NYS Employee ID Number (NYS EMPL ID) Department ID and Negotiating Unit code to apply. If you are currently enrolled, you must re-enroll to continue your participation in 2013.

● Productivity Enhancement Program (PEP) – Enroll by November 29, 2013
Eligible full and part-time employees may exchange previously accrued vacation credits and/or personal leave in return for a credit to be applied toward the employee share of the New York State Health Insurance Program premium. In calendar year 2014, 3 or 6 days can be forfeited in exchange for a premium credit of $500 or $1,000. If you are currently enrolled, you must re-enroll to continue your benefit in 2014. Ask your agency/facility personnel office for details and an application.

● Pre-Tax Contribution Program (PTCP) – Enroll by November 30, 2013
Your share of the health insurance premium may be deducted from your wages before taxes are withheld, which may lower your taxes. You were automatically enrolled in PTCP when you became eligible for health insurance, unless you declined. (Your paycheck shows whether you are enrolled in PTCP.) No action is required to keep your current pre-tax status. If you wish to change your pre-tax selection for 2014, see your agency/facility Health Benefits Administrator for assistance in determining if you have had a qualifying event, as defined by the IRS, and to complete a health insurance transaction form by the November 29 deadline.

• Health Coverage Opt-out Program – Deadline to be announced
The Opt-out Program allows eligible employees who have other employer-sponsored group health insurance to opt out of their NYSHIP coverage in exchange for an annual incentive payment. The annual incentive payment is $1,000, to opt out of individual coverage; or $3,000, to opt out of family coverage. If you currently participate in the Opt-out Program, you must re-enroll to continue to receive incentive payments in 2014. The deadline is the same as the Option Transfer Period deadline for changing health plans.

• Health Coverage Option Transfer – Deadline to be announced*
The annual 30-day Option Transfer Period for changing health plans will be announced when the 2014 premium rates are approved. You will have 30 days from the date your agency receives the rates to change your health plan. Consider your choice carefully. You may not change your health plan after the deadline, except in special circumstances. No action is required, if you do not wish to change your health plan. For information on the annual Option Transfer Period, including the 2014 premium rates when available, visit the state Department of Civil Service website at www.cs.ny.gov, select “Benefit Programs,” then “NYSHIP Online.” Next, select your group, if prompted, and then select “Health Benefits & Option Transfer.”
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*Retirees may exercise option transfer at any time, but not more than once in any 12-month period.

10/4/13 - Reminder: ID Theft Protection: With the spate of hackings and thefts of personal and credit card data in the news recently, we thought it timely to remind you of our identity theft protection benefit, which is provided to OMCE members and their families at no additional cost. Identity theft affects one in 20 U.S. households and costs billions of dollars every year. Last year alone, more than 9 million adult Americans were victims of identity theft.

If you are an OMCE member and you have not yet activated your ID Theft Protection benefit, register now by logging onto the Members Only page or by calling OMCE for your registration code (800.828.6623).

Not yet an OMCE Member? You must be an OMCE member to register for this valuable benefit. Enrollment is easy. Go to the Enrollment page and complete the enrollment form. That’s all there is to it! As soon as your membership becomes effective (i.e. with your first dues payment), call OMCE (800.828.6623) to activate ID Theft Protection for you and your family.

9/26/13 - Upcoming NYSHIP Changes:

Empire Plan

Effective January 1, 2014, CVS/Caremark will become the Empire Plan’s new prescription drug program vendor.  (If you are a HMO enrollee, this change will not affect you.) To ease the transition, temporary ID cards will be mailed to enrollees starting in November. At the same time, you may receive a notification from NYSHIP that:

  • your current pharmacy does not participate with CVS/Caremark;

  • if you have any controlled substance or compounded prescriptions filled by mail order, you will need to obtain a new prescription, since controlled substance/compounded prescriptions cannot legally be transferred to the new vendor;

  • your current prescription(s) may not be on the CVS/Caremark prescription drug formulary, or it is in a different Tier category, or it may now be filled with a generic, if allowed.

Starting in mid-November, CVS/Caremark will be available to answer your questions and/or concerns. Access will be available through the regular Empire Plan toll-free telephone number. Call 1.877.7.NYSHIP (1.877.769.7447) and select the "CVS/Caremark" option.

Finally, also effective January 1, 2014, Empire Plan mental health services will be administered through Value Options.

Federal Revenue Ruling 2013-17

Same-sex, legally married couples now qualify for federal tax purposes in the same manner as heterosexual, married couples. The 2013 pre-tax premium savings for same-sex, legally married NYSHIP enrollees is currently being computed and will be credited in upcoming paychecks (date to be determined). Meanwhile, the Employee Benefits Division (NYSHIP), Comptroller’s Office, Division of the Budget and the IRS are consulting on a plan, which has not yet been developed, for handling past years’ pre-tax savings adjustments. We will provide more information here, as it becomes available.

9/26/13 - NYS Health Insurance Exchange/Coverage Options: New York State’s Health Insurance Marketplace (sometimes referred to as the Exchange) will become operational on October 1, 2013. Employers are required, under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), to notify their employees of the health coverage options that will be available to them through the Exchange. Accordingly, NYS agencies are distributing the following notice to employees directly:
 

     New Health Insurance Marketplace Coverage Options and Your Health Coverage

Information about the Exchange is available at: www.nystateofhealth.ny.gov. There’s also a customer service call center, which can be reached toll free, at 855.355.5777. Note that the Exchange is intended to help New Yorkers obtain health insurance who are not eligible for Medicare. If you are enrolled in the New York State Health Insurance Program (NYSHIP), do not do anything to change your coverage without proper research and consultation.
 

7/11/13 - NYS Office of Mental Health (OMH) releases Regional Centers of Excellence Plan: Yesterday, the Office of Mental Health (OMH) announced a comprehensive overhaul of the State’s delivery of mental health services. Billed as a “new era in New York’s behavioral health system,” the 3-year plan envisions establishment of 15 Regional Centers of Excellence, each functioning as a hub for the State’s provision of both inpatient and community-based mental health services in the 15 geographically dispersed regions. Implementation of the plan will require closure of some psychiatric centers and accompanying reductions and reassignments of staff.

We received an advance OMH briefing, at which we were advised that no layoffs are contemplated and that any staff reductions and reassignments necessitated by these changes will be addressed through attrition and voluntary redeployments. We were also assured that staff retraining will be provided, as necessary, to address expected changes in job roles and focus.

While we welcome these assurances, nevertheless we have our concerns – for one thing, the plan is very short on details. So, we expect we will be monitoring its implementation, scheduled for July 2014, very closely. For now, we will be reviewing the plan document, which was released yesterday (CLICK HERE to view). To assist us in our review, we invite the participation of our OMH members. Call or write us with your questions, concerns and insights or with any information you believe would be helpful. We can be reached at 800-828-6623 or via email at nysomce@gmail.com.

7/2/13 - Flood Emergency Information and Assistance: United Way of the Greater Capital Region has asked us to advice that the 2-1-1 Call center has engaged with disaster management personnel in each of the counties that have been experiencing flooding and issues from all of the rain we have been receiving. Members needing information about the services that are available or about road closures, etc, or with requests for assistance, are encouraged to call 2-1-1. The 2-1-1 service is available in times of emergency to assist counties, local service providers, and the general public with the dissemination of emergency information.

6/21/13 - M/C PAY COMMISSION ACT PASSED BY LEGISLATURE: Just before 7:00 PM Thursday June 20, 2013 the NYS Assembly took a historic step and passed the M/C Pay Commission Act (A.00246). It was then sent to the Senate which quickly moved it to their Senate “Active” Calendar. In the early Friday morning hours the Senate substituted the identical Assembly version of the bill, passed it and returned the approved bill to the Assembly. The Assembly will ultimately send the bill to the Governor for approval and signing into law.

Thanks to all: who supported-who wrote-who called-who emailed-this OMCE drafted, proposed and pushed legislation. Thanks to our entire team of legislative counsels from the Hinman Straub law firm and OPEIU Local #153 and the AFL-CIO for their support and assistance. And a special thanks to the legislators.

A special thanks to Senator John DeFrancisco, Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, and Assembly Member and Chair of the Assembly Ways and Means Committee, Assemblyman Herman Farrell, both of whom embraced the need for justice and led the way in pushing this legislation forward. Thanks to all the legislators who saw the need to fix this salary mess and added their names to our legislation. They are: Assembly Members: Pretlow, Steck, Jaffee, Duprey, Skoufis, Montesano, Russell, Cusick, Fahy, McDonald, Skartados, Stirpe; and Senators: Little, Maziarz, Ritchie. If they are your representative, please call or write them and say thanks for their positive support of the NY State M/Cs.

Again, Thanks for your support! Thanks for believing in yourselves! This is a major victory ! This issue can no longer be ignored. CONGRATULATIONS!

6/14/13 - Conversion of The Empire Plan to self-insured: Effective January 1, 2013, the Empire Plan Medical/Surgical Program became self-insured by the NYS Department of Civil Service (DCS), with certain claim processing and other administrative services provided by UnitedHealthcare under an administrative services contract arrangement between DCS and UnitedHealthcare. This arrangement eliminates the Plan's exposure to certain taxes and fees charged under the Affordable Care Act in 2014, as well as the State’s premium tax liabilities in 2013. Savings achieved by this funding arrangement are expected to result in a premium “surplus” at the end of 2013 that will be used to offset increases in employee premium contributions in future years.

The potential savings usually associated with self-insuring can best be understood by explaining the difference between the current fully-insured Medical/Surgical Program and the self-insured alternative. Built into the rates of the fully-insured Medical/Surgical Program are New York State premium taxes, risk charges designed to protect the insurer from unanticipated expenses, and the insurer’s net profit. Employers who self-insure their medical benefits do not pay risk charges or insurance company profits and they avoid most state premium taxes. They do, however, assume the costs of paying enrollees’ covered claims, as well as the costs for claims processing and other administrative services performed by the insurer or third-party administrator.

Self-insuring the Empire Plan offers a great opportunity to reduce costs without sacrificing coverage. UnitedHealthcare will continue to provide the same services under the self-insured Medical/Surgical Program as before. Under the state law that allows DCS to self-insure any or all components of The Empire Plan, DCS is obligated to continue to provide enrollees with all of the benefits, services, rights, privileges and guarantees that they would be entitled to under a fully-insured health plan. This includes mandated benefits and internal/external appeal rights. 

Beginning January 1, 2014, the Empire Plan Prescription Drug and Mental Health and Substance Abuse Programs will also convert from the current fully-insured contracts to self-insurance by DCS, with an administrative services contract arrangement. Conversion of these two programs to self-insured will generate additional savings.

6/10/13 - Last Call for OMCE Board Nominations: A reminder that the deadline for submitting nominations to the OMCE Board of Directors is this Friday, June 14th. For information (in case you missed it), scroll down to the 5/2/13 news item entry: Nominations to OMCE Board - We Need You.

5/7/13 - Payroll Bulletins Issued: Payment of 2012-13 M/C Performance Advances and Longevities: The Office of State Comptroller has issued payroll bulletins (#1249 Longevities and #1250 Performance Advances) providing for the payment of the 2012-13 M/C Performance Advances and Longevities. Performance Advances (steps) will be paid, as reported in our 4/22/13 posting (below), using the following effective dates and check dates: Administration Payroll Employees, effective 3/29/12, check dated 5/22/13; Institution Payroll Employees, effective 4/5/13, check dated 5/30/13. For Longevities, payment will be made as a one-time, lump sum payment (in the amount of $1,250 or $2,500, depending on eligibility - minimum of 5 or 10 years at the job rate), effective 04/1/12, and processed in a separate check dated 5/22/13 (Administration) or 5/30/13 (Institution). There is no direct deposit for the longevity payment. Questions concerning payments and eligibility should be addressed to your agency/facility payroll office. Also, as we indicated in our related posting below (4/25/13 - Important Reminder), timely payment of the current year’s (2013-14) Performance Advances, Longevities and $775 Retention bonus and retroactive payment of the 7.12% (compounded) withheld salaries remain pending action.

5/2/13 - Nominations to OMCE Board - We Need You: We are beginning our OMCE Board Member nominations process. There will be five seats open, each for a three year term. Our process is fairly easy. OMCE members may nominate themselves, or another member (after first obtaining that person's approval). Just contact OMCE to let us know that you plan to submit a nomination - follow up by sending a resume and statement that we can use for the ballot to Nominations Committee, OMCE, 5 Pine West Plaza, Suite 513, Albany, NY 12205. Nominations will be due June 14, 2013. The election by mail ballot, if there are more than five candidates, will take place during July/August. Results will be announced at our Annual Meeting in September.

Board Members are expected to attend four Board Meetings per year (March, June, September/October and December - usually the second Friday of the month) and to serve on at least one committee. Committee Meetings are usually by conference call. Board Members are not paid to serve on the Board, but travel expenses are reimbursed at state rates. The OMCE Board of Directors is charged with providing guidance and direction and setting policy for the organization. Board Members are advocates of many and diverse interests and come with different experiences which inform our discussions on issues and policy.

The Nomination Committee is seeking active state M/C employees who are willing to commit their time, energy and talent to address the issues of concern to M/C employees, such as M/C compensation and benefits, protection of pension and health insurance benefits, workforce and succession management, conditions of employment, etc. Want more information? Call OMCE (800-828-6623)!

4/25/13 - Important Reminder: While the announcement this week of payment of last year’s (2012-13) M/C Performance Advances and Longevities is welcome, we nevertheless remain concerned that the practice begun in 2011-12 of delaying the payment of M/C Performance Advances and Longevities not continue. Although the payments are retroactive to April 1 of the year they are due, many employees who would have received payment had they been paid timely effective April 1, are being denied payment because of a policy introduced in 2011 they must still be on the payroll at the time the payment is finally made. 

Application of this new “still on the payroll” policy has resulted in denial of payment to M/C employees meeting the service requirements for a Performance Advance or Longevity who, subsequent to April 1, have either retired or otherwise separated from the M/C payroll. This is grossly unfair, particularly to M/C retirees whose retirement allowances already have been reduced by loss in their final average salary computation of the 3% and 4% salary raises that union employees received in 2009-10 and 2010-11. Had timely authorization for payment been given in the first place, in all likelihood there would have been no such policy denying payment to employees who meet the heretofore-sole eligibility requirements for receipt of a performance advance or longevity payment. 

As we did in 2011 when the “still on the payroll” policy was introduced, we will continue to press the Administration and Division of the Budget on this. Also, as we have indicated in our recent announcements posted on the Action Line and News pages, timely payment of the current year’s (2013-14) Performance Advances, Longevities and $775 Retention bonus and retroactive payment of the 7.12% (compounded) withheld salaries remain pending action.

Keep calling, writing and emailing the Governor and your legislators – Support our M/C Salary Commission (A.246 and S.2953) and Pension Benefits (A.6943 and S.4590) bills. Don’t Stop! We need to end the practice of withholding of M/C $$!

4/23/13 - Assembly Pushes "M/C Pay Commission Act" Forward: Today, the Assembly Government Employees Committee reported our M/C Pay Commission Act out to the Assembly Ways and Means Committee. Any bill requiring an expenditure of state funds must go to the Assembly Ways and Means Committee (chaired by Herman Farrell, who co-sponsored our bill) and the Senate Finance Committee. As we reported previously, our M/C Pay Commission bill (S.2953/A.0246) already has been reported out of the Senate Finance Committee to the Senate Leadership’s Rules Committee. The bill is now in the hands of the leadership in both the Senate and Assembly. Call, write or email your representatives in the Senate and Assembly – urge them to not only support out M/C Pay Commission Act (S.2953/A.0246), but add themselves as co-sponsors.

4/22/13 - Payment of 2012-13 M/C Performance Advances and Longevities Authorized: Your calls, letters and emails are working!  The Division of the Budget has issued Budget Bulletin D-1127, dated 4/22/13, providing for payment of the 2012-13 M/C Performance Advances and Longevities. (Click on link to view: http://www.budget.ny.gov/guide/bprm/bulletins/d-1127.html) As provided for in the bulletin, Fiscal Year 2012-13 Performance Advances and Longevity Payments shall be paid to all eligible M/C employees, so long as the eligible employee is on the payroll as of May 8, 2013 (for employees on the Administration Payroll) and May 15, 2013 (for employees on the Institution Payroll); or on a leave of absence without pay as of May 8, 2013 (for employees on the Administration Payroll) and May 15, 2013 (for employees on the Institution Payroll) and subsequently returns to the payroll. All Performance Advance and Longevity Payments will be made retroactive to April 1, 2012. Preliminary Pay dates are reported to be May 22 (Administration Payroll) and May 30 (Institution Payroll). We will notify you and post a link here when the Comptroller’s Office issues a bulletin with payroll instructions.

Important! 2013-14 Performance Advances and Longevities, payment of the 2013 $775 Retention Bonus and the 7.12% (compounded) withheld salary issue remain pending action. Keep calling, writing and emailing the Governor and your legislators – Support A.0246 and S.2953 (M/C Salary Commission) Don’t Stop! We need to end the practice of withholding of M/C $$!

4/1/13 - Movement of M/C Positions to PS&T Bargaining Unit: We have just received notice (albeit late) of a PERB (Public Employment Relations Board) decision wherein a number of M/C positions have been moved into the PS&T (Professional, Scientific and Technical Services) bargaining unit represented by PEF. These positions were included in the unit challenge petition PEF filed with PERB in August, 2010 during the open challenge period preceding the current State/PEF contract agreement. Under the law, neither OMCE nor individual employees enjoy any rights to representation in the process or to appeal these PERB determinations. A list of the positions is attached, ranked alphabetically by agency/facility and, within each agency/facility, by title and item number. Some additional titles that were part of the PEF petition remain pending before PERB and will be scheduled for hearings. 

Employees affected by these changes will become eligible for Performance Advances (steps) or Longevities, as appropriate, according to the provisions of the current State/PEF contract agreement - you should contact PEF if you have any salary questions or issues. Benefits you enjoyed as an M/C employee and/or OMCE member will cease and will need to be re-established with PEF. PEF’s Member Benefits Department is aware of this and is prepared to assist you in re-establishing your term-life or personal lines (auto/home) insurances - PEF Headquarters can be reached by calling 518-785-1900. You should address other issues, such as IPP conversion and pay calculations, to your personnel/payroll office - and, if they are not resolved satisfactorily, to PEF.

3/8/13 - OMCE Discusses M/C Salary Issues with Cuomo Administration: On March 6, OMCE President Barbara Zaron, OMCE Executive Director Joe Sano and OPEIU Vice-President Richard Lanigan met with a Cuomo Administration team headed by Executive Deputy Director of State Operations Fran Reiter and Budget Director Robert Megna. OMCE detailed the complete failure of the current M/C salary system and its effect on the entire M/C workforce, their families and the economy. The loss of 7.12% in across-the-board wage increases, plus two performance advances and longevity and merit pay opportunities, has caused mounting personal financial hardships, as well as the institutional inability to attract and keep M/Cs. The additional impact of these non-payments on pensions and benefits also was clearly delineated. The Administration officials acknowledged that this is a problem and that they have had internal discussions toward resolving these issues. Although there have not yet been any final decisions on payments, we were told that closure on some of the issues OMCE raised would be addressed shortly. Communications will continue, with our goal being attainment of a fiscal plan that restores the M/C salary system and resulting benefits to parity.

3/8/13 - OMCE Testifies at Legislative Budget Hearing: OMCE President Barbara Zaron and OMCE Executive Director Joe Sano presented testimony on Wednesday, February 27th at a joint Legislative Budget Committee hearing on workforce issues held in conjunction with Governor Cuomo’s proposed 2013-14 Executive Budget. In this their 3rd annual appearance before the committee, they again detailed the plight of the State’s M/C employees and restated OMCE’s continuing commitment to resolving the issue of M/C pay inequity. They noted that, as in the past, the Governor’s Executive Budget does not address this issue and that April 1st will mark the fifth year M/Cs have received 0% raises. They urged the Legislature, in its budget negotiations with the Executive and in its support of OMCE’s M/C Salary Commission bill, to insist that the M/C salary inequity be fixed. They also enumerated a variety of proposals that will affect the workforce negatively and suggested the Legislature reject them. To read the written testimony, as well as view a video of the February 27th hearing that includes OMCE’s oral presentation before the committee, click on the links below:

►►http://nysomce.org/pdf/OMCE Budget Testimony 2-27-13.pdf

          ►►http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=yWb6GBguEC8

3/1/13 - Longevity Payments: The Comptroller’s Office, Bureau of Payroll Services, has issued payroll bulletins with instructions for the processing of longevity payments to bargaining unit employees for fiscal year 2013-14. For M/C employees, longevity payments and performance advances (steps) first require authorization by the Division of the Budget before payroll instructions can be issued by the Comptroller. As our members are all too well aware, M/C employees are not only awaiting payment of their 2013-14 longevities and performance advances (steps), but their 2012-13 longevities and performance advances, as well. These were due to be paid April 1, 2012. OMCE continues to press the Administration and the Division of the Budget on this, as well as the need for them to address the entire M/C pay inequity crisis. We are scheduled to meet with them next week.

2/15/13 - OMCE/OPEIU Scholarships: Applications are being accepted for the OPEIU Howard Coughlin Memorial and John Kelly Labor Studies scholarships until March 13, 2013 and for the “Summer Camp” scholarships until May 1, 2013. Instructions and application forms are available for viewing and printing from the Members Only page. Login Here and scroll down to "Scholarships" at the bottom of the Members Only page or call OMCE at 800-828-6623 (456-5241, if calling from within area code 518).

• Coughlin Scholarship - Open to OMCE members in good standing and children of members in good standing for full-time (FT) or part-time (PT) attendance at a College, University or recognized Technical or Vocational post-secondary school. Each FT scholarship is $3,250 for the first year, and $3,250 for the second year – total maximum value of $6,500; each PT scholarship is $1,325 for the first year and $1,325 for the second year – total maximum value of $2,650. Official OPEIU application and High School transcript required to be submitted to OMCE for endorsement and processing – must be received by March 13, 2013. Winners will be notified in May.

• Kelly Labor Scholarship - Open to OMCE members only in good standing and must be an undergraduate or graduate in one of the following areas of study: Labor Studies; Industrial Relations; Union Leadership and Administration; programs sponsored by the National Labor College. Each scholarship has a total maximum value of $3,250. Official OPEIU application and college transcript (if currently enrolled) are required, along with an essay on the applicant’s union activism and occupational goals, to be submitted to OMCE for endorsement and processing - must be received by March 13, 2013. Winners will be notified in May.

• Romeo Corbeil/Gillies Beauregard Scholarship Fund Summer Camp - Open to children (between ages 13 and 16) of member or associate member in good standing. Eligible children include the son, daughter, stepchild, legally adopted child, grandchild or any other child that the member is responsible for caring for, including children of domestic partners, and must be between ages 13 and 16 only. The 2011 Summer Camp dates are July 20 through July 27 and will be held at University Forest, 153 University Forest Drive, Wappapello, MO 63966. Each scholarship has a total maximum value of $2,000. Applications must be received by May 1, 2013. Winners will be notified in May.

2/15/13 - SAGE Commission Final Report: The SAGE (Spending and Government Efficiency) Commission has issued its final report, in which it describes “success stories” and discusses proposals for continuing work at reducing the size of State government and reducing expenditures. We suggest members read the report—or at least the first chapter and Chapter 8—and let us know of any concerns or suggestions you might have about any of the proposals discussed in the report. The full SAGE report is available by clicking HERE.

2/12/13 - Attention: NYS-Ride Participating Commuters: The American Taxpayer Relief Act (ATRA) restored parity to the monthly transit limit, increasing it for the 2012 taxable year. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has issued guidance in response to retroactively increasing the combined transit pass and commuter highway vehicle (transit) monthly limit from $125 to $240 for the 2012 tax year.

Also, as a result of ATRA, the IRS has released additional annual inflation adjustments for the monthly limit for transit passes and transportation in a commuter vehicle. Effective January 1, 2013, the transit limit has been increased to $245 for the 2013 tax year.

For the 2012 tax year, the Office of the State Comptroller will:

  • Issue a corrected Form W-2 to reflect the: (1) retroactive increase in the transit limit from $125 to $240, and (2) increase in the 2013 transit limit (to $245) for the months of November and December 2012.

  • File for, on your behalf, a refund of Social Security and Medicare taxes withheld on the total amount of the pre tax adjustment that is reflected on the corrected Form W-2 you will soon receive.

In connection with the request for a refund of Social Security and Medicare taxes, the IRS requires that you sign a form consenting to the State’s filing of a claim for refund of these taxes on your behalf. A copy of the form has being mailed to you. If you do not receive the form, please contact your personnel/payroll office.

1/31/13 - OCA Pays its M/Cs their Withheld $$: With the Comptroller’s recent issuance of a payroll bulletin (Payroll Bulletin UCS-191), the Office of Court Administration is fulfilling a commitment it made to its Management/Confidential (M/C)  staff – paying them their deferred salary increases. OMCE has always advocated for M/C employees to be treated with justice, fairness, equity and respect. As we continue our efforts with the Administration to ensure the same type of treatment for Executive branch M/Cs, we recognize and applaud the Court’s action in following through on its commitment and actually treating its M/C employees with the fairness, equity and respect they deserve.

1/31/13 - Enhanced Empire Plan Flu Vaccination Benefit: In response to the severe influenza epidemic, the Governor has declared a Public Health Emergency in New York State. The Empire Plan has also amended its medical coverage to make it easier for enrollees who have not yet been vaccinated to do so. Beginning February 1, 2013 and ending May 31, 2013, vaccinations will be available without a copayment when received at a pharmacy within United Healthcare's national vaccination program network. The pharmacies included in this network are listed in the materials referenced in the link below.

This enhanced benefit will also be available to enrollees who receive flu vaccinations at other pharmacies or from non-network medical providers. Enrollees with Empire Plan Medicare Rx drug coverage will be able to use either ID card at these pharmacies to receive the paid-in-full benefit.

Click on the link below for information:

Enhanced Empire Plan Flu Vaccination Benefit - February 1, 2013 through May 31, 2013

1/29/13 - More on the 2013-14 Executive Budget: We have been reviewing the Governor’s 2013-14 Executive Budget and have identified the proposals (below) outlined in the budget documents that clearly have implications for the workforce. At this stage, these are “proposals” (the Governor’s) and subject to change as they go through the legislative budget approval process. Not unexpectedly, the budget does not address the issue of M/C pay inequity, the resolution of which remains at the forefront of our efforts (See below: “Meetings with Legislators”).

2013-14 Executive Budget Proposals affecting the workforce:

--Merger of the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations with the Department of Civil Service to create a single State Employee Workforce Development Center.

--Facility Closures and Realignments in the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) and Office of Mental Health (OMH) affecting 1,172 jobs, of which 704 would be eliminated through attrition. Additionally, closure of two Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DCCS) facilities will affect 273 positions, all of which can be absorbed in the current system.

--Pilot Job Placement Program administered by the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations for employees affected by Facility Closures and Realignments who are not otherwise offered an employment opportunity, via agency reduction transfer lists or any means authorized under Civil Service Law, in a comparable position within 100 miles of their current work location. $5 million will be made available to retrain eligible employees for new job opportunities in State service.

--Vest the Commissioner of the Office of Mental Health with statewide appointing authority in the agency.

--Amend the Public Officers Law to allow a former state officer or employee who, before separating from state service, performed direct care, clinical care, case management, service coordination or other related support duties to individuals, to render these services in the future to individuals who were receiving the services from such state officer or employee prior to separation from service.

--Streamlining State Medicaid Administration activities within (e.g. rate setting, negotiation of managed-care contracts, claims processing) the Health Department.

--Transition the operations of the Commission on Quality of Care and Advocacy of Persons with Disabilities to the recently created Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs.

--Merge the Office of the Welfare Inspector General with the Office of the Inspector General.

--Transfer the Homeless Housing Assistance program from the Office of Temporary Disability Assistance to the Division of Homes and Community Renewal.

--Coordinate and consolidate statewide lab functions.

--Coordinate health insurance purchasing between the Department of Health and the Department of Civil Service.

--Merge several agency print shops into four “anchor” agencies.

--Consolidate State warehouse functions beginning with new policies to ensure a sound and reliable inventory system.

We will be monitoring the progress of these proposals: Specifically, by working to ensure that the Civil Service principles of merit and fitness and the independent functioning of the Civil Service Commission are not compromised by merger of the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations with the Department of Civil Service; that workforce reductions due to the proposed facility closures and realignments in OCFS, OMH and DOCCS and job retraining and placements are accomplished in accordance with established law, rules and policies and with little or no adverse impact upon M/C employees; and that the $5 million in funds allocated for job retraining and placements are used for their intended purpose. Again, these are proposals and may change as they go through the legislative approval process.

Meetings with Legislators: We believe it is important that the leaders and members of the Legislature, whose responsibility it will be to vote on the budget, know of our issues and concerns. Resolving the issue of M/C pay inequity continues at the forefront of our efforts. To that end, we have already begun meeting with individual legislators and their staff, asking their support of our legislation, reintroduced this session (A.246 Farrell/S.2953 DeFrancisco), establishing an M/C Salary Commission. Last week, we met with Senate and Assembly members and their staff, ten of them on Wednesday, January 23. We were again encouraged by their positive response to our M/C Salary Commission legislation. We will continue to meet with legislators.

Call to Action: We encourage our members to add their voices, too. Call your representatives in the Legislature and ask to meet with them. You may be able to set up meetings in their district office when they are not in session in Albany. Tell them how you and your family continue to be affected by the failure so far of both the Governor and the Legislature to stand up for M/C employees. If you are unable to meet with them in person, use the resources of our ACTION LINE to email them your concerns, using a letter we have prepared that you can edit and personalize. As we did last year, we will be presenting testimony on February 27 at the Joint Legislative Budget Committee hearings on the Governor’s 2013-14 Executive Budget workforce proposals. 

1/22/13 - Executive Budget: Governor Cuomo presented his recommended 2013-14 Executive Budget today. We will be reviewing the budget’s workforce implications in the coming days. Meanwhile, for the convenience of members, we have set up links (below) to the Executive Budget. Click on the links to view selected budget documents, as presented on the Division of the Budget website:

2013-14 Executive Budget

http://publications.budget.ny.gov/eBudget1314/ExecutiveBudget.html

Executive Budget Briefing Book

http://publications.budget.ny.gov/eBudget1314/fy1314littlebook/BriefingBook.pdf

Legislation Required for Budget

http://publications.budget.ny.gov/eBudget1314/fy1314littlebook/LegislationRequired.pdf

For workforce implications, see Reimagining Government (pp. 11-14) and State Workforce (pp. 69-71). State agency presentations are grouped by subject (Education and Arts, Environment and Energy, Health Care, etc) under Program Overview (pp. 25-77).

1/10/13 - State of the State AddressIn his 3rd annual State of the State address delivered yesterday, Governor Cuomo outlined his agenda for 2013 which includes, in part, to “build on the progress of the past two years to attract good jobs and economic growth, create a world-class education system that prepares the next generation for the future, maintain fiscal integrity and discipline, and continue to restore New York as the progressive capital of the nation.” We are going over the text of the Governor’s speech for clues, but missing in his presentation was any reference to the future of the state workforce in 2013. Presumably, we will have to wait until January 22nd when the Governor will deliver his 2013-14 Executive Budget recommendations to the Legislature.

You can link to a summary of the Governor’s State of the State address, as well as the full text and a video of yesterday’s presentation, by clicking here: http://www.governor.ny.gov/NY/2013-State-of-the-State

1/10/13 - 2013 Union Plus® ScholarshipsEligible OMCE members, their spouses and dependent children may apply for these scholarships. Numerous cash awards ranging from $500 to $4,000 will be given for post-high school, undergraduate study beginning in the Fall 2013. Applications will be accepted online only. The application deadline is no later than Thursday, January 31, 2012.

For information and to apply, Login Here and scroll down to Union Plus Scholarships located near the bottom of the Members Only page.

Coming Soon!  As information becomes available, we will post application instructions here for the annual OPEIU John Kelly Labor Studies and Howard Coughlin Memorial scholarships. Applications are usually available by mid-January each year and must be received by early March.

12/31/12 - Expanded Empire Plan Preventive Care Coverage: Changes required by the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act mandate provision of certain immunization and other preventive health care services and elimination of co-pays when administered by a participating provider. As a result, The New York State Employee Health Insurance Plan (NYSHIP) Empire Plan now includes expanded coverage of many preventive services (screenings, tests and counseling) for both children and adults. The preventive services that are now covered with no copayment when received from an Empire Plan participating provider* are summarized in a two-page flyer published by the Civil Service Department's Employee Benefits Division and reproduced here for your convenience ►►(Click Here to View/Print). As noted in the flyer, the listed preventive health care services are not recommended for everyone. Vaccine recommendations change. Doses, recommended ages and recommended populations vary. You and your health care provider should decide what care is most appropriate. For specific benefit coverage details and limitations, refer to your plan documents or call the Empire Plan toll free at 877.769.7447.

_____

*If a preventive service is not billed separately from an office visit and the primary purpose of the office visit is the preventive service, then a co-pay may not be charged for the office visit. If the primary purpose of the office visit is non-preventive health care (e.g. you see a doctor for recurring abdominal pain and during the visit the doctor also screens for high blood pressure), then a co-pay may be charged for the office visit.

12/21/12 - OMCE M/C Salary Commission Bill Filed: Assembly member and Ways and Means Chair Herman Farrell has pre-filed our M/C Salary Commission bill for the new 2013 legislative session. The bill’s number is A-246. We expect our bill will be filed soon in the Senate, as well. The bill, which is unchanged from the 2012 legislative session, establishes a special commission on compensation for state employees designated managerial or confidential and provides for the powers and duties of the commission. The text of the bill can be viewed here.

12/19/12 - Hurricane Sandy Leave Donation Program: The Governor’s Office of Employee Relations (GOER) has announced expansion of the current leave donation program to assist state employees, including Management/Confidential employees, who suffered a Hurricane Sandy related loss of their primary residence, or significant damage to their primary residence, that requires them to be absent from work. The program provides for donation of vacation credits to affected employees for qualifying absences of up to two weeks total duration. In order to donate vacation credits, an employee must have a minimum vacation balance of at least 10 days left after making the donation. In order to receive vacation credits, an employee must have exhausted all personal and vacation leave accruals. The program is effective November 5, 2012 through February 5, 2013. Click on the links below to view the GOER memorandum announcing the program and the guidelines for administering the program--eligibility, use of donated credits, restrictions on donations, requesting and processing donations, verification of employee absences, etc.

GOER DHR Memo No. 2012-25, Hurricane Sandy Leave Donation, December 18, 2012

Guidelines for Administration of the Expanded Leave Donation Program Due to Hurricane Sandy

12/14/12 - Update: Empire Plan Medicare Rx: Effective January 1, 2013, NYSHIP will replace the current Empire Plan Prescription Drug Program coverage for Medicare-primary enrollees, most of whom are retirees, and Medicare-primary dependents with Empire Plan Medicare Rx (PDP), a Medicare Part D prescription drug program with expanded coverage designed especially for NYSHIP. In connection with the upcoming changeover, Empire Plan Medicare-primary enrollees and dependents have been receiving a number of mailings from both the Civil Service Department’s Employee Benefits Division and United Healthcare. Most recently, mailings have begun of your new Empire Plan Medicare Rx ID card. You should use the new ID card beginning January 1. In addition to the various mailings, the Civil Service Department has posted a page on its website that provides helpful explanations and clarification concerning the information contained in the materials. It also includes a comprehensive list of (FAQs) frequently asked questions - of a general nature and, specifically, on benefits, costs, enrollment and ID cards. To access the page, click on the link below ▼

http://www.cs.ny.gov/empireplanmedicarerx/index.cfm

12/10/12 - Updated Information on Charge to Accruals for Hurricane Sandy-related Absences: On November 19, we wrote to Howard Glaser, Director of State Operations and asked that his office review a number of Hurricane Sandy-related issues that had been brought to our attention, among them inconsistencies in agencies’ administration of the State Attendance Rules. The Governor’s Office of Employee Relations has issued the following statement to agencies, which we have confirmed with the Department of Civil Service’s Attendance and Leave Unit:

“All State offices in New York City and Long Island were closed and non-essential personnel were not required to report to work and not required to charge leave credits. All staff who did not or could not report to work from beginning-of-business on October 29, 2012 to close-of-business on November 2, 2012 (other than those on existing pre-approved leave) are not required to charge credits. All staff who left work early on October 29, 2012 are not required to charge leave credits for the period after the 1:00 PM directed early departure.”

12/10/12 - Deferred Compensation Plan Contribution Limits for 2013: The maximum contribution limits for employees enrolled in the Deferred Compensation Plan will increase for calendar year 2013. The regular yearly contribution amount will go up from $17,000 to $17,500. Under the “Age 50+ Catch-Up” provision, employees age 50 and over can defer an additional $5,500, resulting in a combined total contribution limit of $23,000 in 2013. The “Retirement Catch-Up” provision, which is available to employees who have contributed less than the maximum in previous years, will also increase to $17,500, for a combined maximum total allowable contribution of $35,000 in 2013. Note, however, that you cannot have both the “Retirement Catch-Up” and the “50 and Over Catch-Up” additional amounts deferred in the same year. For information, go to the NYS Deferred Compensation Program website (https://www.nysdcp.com/iApp/tcm/nysdcp/index.jsp) and scroll down to 2013 IRS Contribution Limits.

12/6/12 - State Office of Victim Services (formerly Crime Victims Compensation Board) is moving its Albany offices to the Alfred E. Smith State Office Building, 2nd floor, 80 South Swan Street, Albany, NY 12210, effective Friday, December 14. All other contact information will remain the same, including the agency's web address (www.ovs.ny.gov) and toll-free number (800-247-8035). 

12/1/12 - Choose your health insurance option for 2013: The Department of Civil Service has published the 2013 NYSHIP rates and option transfer information for the December 1, 2012 – December 31, 2012 Option Transfer Period. 2013 Plan Choices and Rate comparison booklets are available from your agency Health Benefits Administrator or can be viewed online (www.cs.ny.gov/ebd/). If you wish to change your health insurance plan, ask your agency Health Benefits Administrator for Health Insurance Transaction Form PS-404. If you are enrolling in a NYSHIP HMO, or changing to another NYSHIP HMO, also ask for an HMO enrollment form. Return the completed form(s) to your agency Health Benefits Administrator on or before December 31, 2012. No action is required if you wish to keep your current health insurance plan. Retirees may change health insurance options at any time, but not more than once during a 12-month period.

11/26/12 - Important Reminders re Deficit Reduction Leave and Vacation Accruals:

Deficit Reduction Leave (DRL) – NO CARRY OVER, MUST BE USED BY MARCH 31, 2013

You must use all of your DRL before the end of the current fiscal year; that is, on or before March 31, 2013. DRL credits may not be carried over beyond March 31, 2013. Since you must obtain advance supervisory approval before using DRL and agencies may take operational need into account when approving such requests, be sure to provide sufficient advance notice when requesting DRL.

Vacation Accruals – JANUARY 1, 2013 LIMIT INCREASED ONE-TIME ONLY TO 45 DAYS

On January 1st of each calendar year, an employee's accrued vacation may not exceed 40 days. An employee who accumulates more than 40 days of vacation credits in a calendar year must use the amount over 40 days or lose it on the last day of the calendar year.

Exception: For calendar year 2013, the 40 days limit has been increased to 45 days. This means that, for this one time only, you may carry over a vacation credit balance of up to 45 days on January 1, 2013. On January 1, 2014, the “not-to-exceed” limit on vacation accruals will return to 40 days.

11/15/12 - Hurricane Sandy Assistance: Governor Cuomo announced yesterday that four more counties (Orange, Putnam, Sullivan and Ulster) have been approved for additional federal disaster assistance funding under FEMA’s Public Assistance Program. This brings to 13 the counties in New York State that are now eligible for individual and public assistance: Bronx, Kings, Nassau, New York, Orange, Putnam, Richmond, Rockland, Queens, Suffolk, Sullivan, Ulster, and Westchester. The counties are eligible for federal reimbursement for emergency actions taken during and immediately after a disaster to protect life and property, debris removal, restoration of disaster damaged infrastructure, road systems, water control facilities, public buildings and equipment, public utilities, and parks and recreation.

The Governor also announced that FEMA will issue Emergency Assistance for New Yorkers whose homes were affected by Hurricane Sandy. At the Governor’s request, FEMA will bring in contractors in order to perform basic repairs so that residents can return to their homes while more long term repairs are in progress. Only residents in the aforementioned 13 counties are eligible to participate in this program. Homeowners in these localities who want to apply for assistance should contact their county or local officials to receive contractor support. Homeowners must be registered with FEMA, which they can do by calling 800-621-FEMA (3362).

Last week, Attorney General Schneiderman announced that his office has begun an investigation of post-Hurricane Sandy price gouging, after receiving hundreds of complaints from consumers in New York City, the Hudson Valley and Long Island. Under New York State’s price gouging law, sellers of essential consumer goods or services are prohibited from charging unconscionably excessive prices during an “abnormal disruption of the market.” Gasoline, for example, which is vital to the health, safety and welfare of consumers, is an essential “consumer good” under the statute. Therefore, retailers may not charge unconscionably excessive prices for gasoline during an abnormal disruption of the market. Consumers with complaints are urged to call the Attorney General’s Office at 800-771-7755 or file a complaint on its website.

Finally, the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance has postponed until November 26 certain tax filing and payment deadlines that fall in the period beginning October 26 and ending November 26 for taxpayers who were directly affected by Hurricane Sandy. These include: any taxpayer whose records necessary to meet tax filing, payment or other deadlines are not available because of the storm; taxpayers who have difficulty in meeting tax filing, payment, or other deadlines because of disruptions in the transportation and delivery of documents by mail or private delivery services, or due to disruptions in communications services (for example, telephone, facsimile, or electronic mail), resulting from the storm; taxpayers whose tax practitioners were unable to complete work to meet tax filing, payment, and other deadlines on behalf of their clients due to the storm; and all workers assisting in the relief activities. Information, forms and instructions are available by calling 518-457-5431 or visiting the Department’s website (www.tax.ny.gov).

Buyer's Edge announces Superstorm Sandy Resource Center for Members - LOGIN HERE to Members Only page and scroll down to Buyer's Edge logo for information!

For more information on Hurricane Sandy Assistance, scroll down to our 10/31/12 posting on Hurricane Sandy 2-1-1 Info and Assistance.

11/7/12 - Flex Spending Account Deadline Extended! - Due to Hurricane Sandy, the Governor's Office of Employee Relations is extending the 2013 open enrollment application deadline for the Flex Spending Account (FSA). The enrollment period will be extended through 10:00 p.m. on November 30, 2012. To enroll, go to www.flexspend.ny.gov * or call 1-800-358-7202. Note: If you are currently enrolled, you must re-enroll to continue your participation in 2013.

_____

*The online open enrollment application system at www.flexspend.ny.gov will be temporarily suspended at midnight Friday, November 9, but will become available again on Friday, November 16.

11/5/12 - OMCE has written a letter to Governor Cuomo commending the commitment and professionalism of the State’s Management/Confidential (M/C) employees in their response to the many crises posed by Hurricane Sandy. Whether directing an evacuation or temporary relocation, or providing emergency staffing, these unsung heroes once again provided a professional emergency response to the needs of a vulnerable citizenry. We have said it all along: The M/C workforce is the backbone of State government! As we enter the upcoming season and give thanks for all our blessings, we will remember you—the State’s M/C workforce—and the excellent work you do daily, especially during our toughest days. We are proud to represent you!

11/5/12 - NYSHIP: Planning for Option Transfer: This week, the publication Planning for Option Transfer is being mailed to the homes of NYSHIP enrollees who are active employees. The publication includes valuable information for enrollees to keep in mind as the annual 30-day December Option Transfer Period approaches. The publication also contains information, deadlines and instructions for the 2013 Opt-Out, Pre-Tax Contribution (PTCP) and Productivity Enhancement (PEP) programs.

During the Option Transfer Period, you may change your health insurance option for the 2013 plan year.*

For your convenience, we have made available HERE a pdf copy of the Planning for Option Transfer publication that is applicable to M/C employees and their enrolled dependents, COBRA enrollees and Young Adult Option enrollees. Materials allowing you to compare your health coverage options and rates are pending publication and are expected to be available in time for the 30-day Option Transfer Period. Once they are, we will let you know.

Note that no action is required if you wish to keep your current health insurance option. Questions should be directed to your agency/facility health benefits administrator. _____

*Retirees may exercise option transfer at any time, but not more than once in any 12-month period.

November 1, 2012 - Information Technology Employee Transfer Process Begins: On October 2, we posted a notice (below) advising of the status of transfer of IT staff and functions to the new Office of Information and Technology Services. At the same time, we posted in greater detail on the Members Only page the information that was shared with OMCE and the unions at a State briefing on the IT Transformation that we attended in late September. 

In accordance with the timetable and processes described at that briefing and posted on the Members Only page, the process of agencies notifying their employees who have been identified for transfer with an offer of transfer is now beginning. If you are among those who receive an offer of transfer, you should read the information below very carefully:

If you have any questions, you should direct them to your agency/facility human resources office. For general information and background, you can link here to State Personnel Management Manual Policy Bulletin 12-01. Reissued by the Department of Civil Service on August 17, 2012, the bulletin provides guidelines, policies and procedures for the transfer of employees pursuant to Civil Service Law Section 70.2, Transfer of Function between Departments or Agencies of the State.

Affected OMCE members who have questions are invited to call us at 800-828-6623 (456-5241, if calling from within area code 518).

10/31/12 - Hurricane Sandy 2-1-1 Information and Assistance: Over the weekend the New York State Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES) requested that 2-1-1 assist DHSES, local governments and communities affected by Hurricane Sandy. With 2-1-1, information and assistance is no more than a three digit phone call away. The attached list of regional 2-1-1 call centers identifies the counties served by each 2-1-1 call center and provides the web address for those who prefer a web search to a phone call.

We are advised that, in just two days, regional call centers in the Hudson Valley and Susquehanna regions responded to close to 1500 disaster-related calls for information and assistance. That number is expected to increase dramatically in the days ahead and as New York City reports in. 2-1-1 can provide information on available emergency shelters, local assistance center locations, mental health resources, food banks and many other services. Please share the attached contact information with family, friends and neighbors who may have been affected by Hurricane Sandy or its aftermath. We hope that all of our members and their families are safe.

Click Here List of Regional 2-1-1 Call Centers

10/31/12 - Veterans’ Day Observance: Under the State’s General Construction Law, holidays that fall on a Sunday are observed by the State on the next Monday. Veterans’ Day, November 11, falls on a Sunday this year and, therefore, will be observed by the State on Monday, November 12.

Veterans, please note: Section 63 of the Public Officers Law provides that eligible veterans (as defined in Section 63) are entitled to leave with pay on November 11 or, if required to work that day, to a day off in lieu thereof. Eligible veterans, for whom Monday, November 12, is a regularly scheduled workday and who are not required to work on November 11, are not affected by Section 63, since they will have a day off on November 11. Where an eligible veteran is required to work on one or the other or both of these days, various holiday leave, holiday pay and overtime provisions apply. Questions concerning application of these various provisions, if you are an eligible veteran and required to work on one or both of these days, should be directed to your agency/facility human resources or payroll office.

10/9/12 - Attention Retirees! More Information on Empire Plan Medicare Rx: Beginning in mid-October, UnitedHealthcare will mail an Empire Plan Medicare Rx PDP (Prescription Drug Plan) benefit information package to Empire Plan enrollees and dependents who are Medicare-primary, or will be, by January 1, 2013 (this includes enrollees and dependents who will turn 65 on or before February 1, 2013). The PDP benefit information package you receive in the mail will include the following materials, which you can link to and view from here if you wish:

Introductory Cover letter

Your Plan Explained (On page 4, learn how to use your new Empire Plan Medicare Rx card and ID number at the pharmacy, beginning January 1).

Statement of Understanding

2013 Summary of Benefits

For questions or additional information, you can call the Empire Plan at 1-877-7-NYSHIP (1-877-769-7447) (TTY: 1-800-759-1089) - press 4 on the main menu and, then, select Empire Plan Medicare Rx. Also, soon the Department of Civil Service expects to post Empire Plan Rx Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on its website. Once the information is available, we will provide a link to it here on our News page.

 

Reminder: Empire Plan Medicare Rx is a Medicare Part D plan with expanded coverage designed especially for NYSHIP. Beginning January 1, 2013, Empire Plan Medicare Rx will replace the current Empire Plan Prescription Drug Program for Medicare-primary enrollees and dependents. If you are an Empire Plan Medicare-Primary enrollee or dependent, no action is required by you. You will be enrolled automatically in Empire Plan Medicare RX, effective January 1, 2013.

 

Important: If you want to keep your overall Empire Plan coverage, Do NOT submit a cancellation form! You will be automatically enrolled in Empire Plan Medicare Rx, effective January 1, 2013, and your Empire Plan hospital, medical/surgical, mental health and substance abuse benefits will remain intact. For more information, scroll down to our earlier posting on the importance of keeping your Empire Plan Medicare Rx coverage (See 8/27/12 - Attention Retirees! Empire Plan Medicare Rx).  

10/9/12 - Important Enrollment Dates to Keep in Mind:

● Flex Spending Account October 9 - November 9, 2012 Due to Hurricane Sandy, the deadline has been extended through November 30, 2012.

Save money by paying for certain expenses with pre-tax dollars. Under this program, you can choose two benefits: Health Care Spending Account, under which you set aside up to $2,500 ($100 minimum) in pre-tax salary to pay for non-reimbursed health-related expenses; and Dependent Care Advantage Account, which allows you to set aside up to $5,000 in pre-tax salary for eligible child care, elder care or disabled dependent expenses. The employer contribution will continue in 2013 and ranges from $300 to $800, depending upon your salary. To enroll, go to www.flexspend.ny.gov or call 1-800-358-7202. If you are currently enrolled, you must re-enroll to continue your participation in 2013.

● Productivity Improvement Program (PEP) October 22 - November 30, 2012

Eligible full and part-time employees may exchange previously accrued vacation credits and/or personal leave in return for a credit to be applied toward the employee share of the New York State Health Insurance Program premium. In calendar year 2012, 3 or 6 days could be forfeited in exchange for a premium credit of $500 or $1,000 - guidelines for 2013 will be issued shortly. If you are currently enrolled, you must re-enroll to continue your benefit in 2013. Ask your agency/facility personnel office for details and an application.

● Pre-Tax Contribution Program (PTCP) November 1 - November 30, 2012

Your share of the health insurance premium may be deducted from your wages before taxes are withheld, which may lower your taxes. You were automatically enrolled in PTCP when you became eligible for health insurance, unless you declined. (Your paycheck shows whether you are enrolled in PTCP.) No action is required to keep your current pre-tax status. If you wish to change your pre-tax selection for 2013, see your agency/facility Health Benefits Administrator for assistance in determining if you have had a qualifying event, as defined by the IRS, and to complete a health insurance transaction form by the November 30 deadline.

10/2/12 - Status Update: Information Technology (IT) Transformation: This past Wednesday, September 26th, OMCE President Barbara Zaron and Executive Director Joe Sano participated in an informational meeting, arranged by the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations (GOER) with Budget, Civil Service, Office of General Services (OGS), Office of Information Technology Services, Business Services Center and GOER staff, to brief OMCE’s and the unions’ leadership on the status of the transition of IT staff and functions to the new Office of Information Technology Services. The IT transformation is the next in a series of inter-agency transfers of staff and functions taking place that, when completed, will result in consolidation of IT services into a new Office of Information Technology Services and centralization of many so-called “back office” fiscal and human resources processing activities in a Business Services Center, a new standalone business unit within the State Office of General Services. In order to ensure that OMCE members who may be affected by these transitions are properly informed about both the process itself and their rights and responsibilities during these transitions, we have provided links on our Members Only page to various sources of information—Civil Service law, rule and policy on transfer of functions (CSL §70.2) and briefing materials that have been provided to us. OMCE members can LOG IN here and link to this information via the links we have posted for you on the Members Only page.  If you experience difficulties accessing the Members Only page, call us at 800.828.6623 (456-5241 in area code 518) for membership verification and user ID/password assistance.

8/27/12 - Attention Retirees! Empire Plan Medicare Rx: Beginning January 1, 2013, Empire Plan Medicare RX, a Medicare Part D plan with expanded coverage designed especially for NYSHIP, will replace the current Empire Plan Prescription Drug Program for Medicare-primary enrollees and dependents. If you are an Empire Plan Medicare-Primary enrollee or dependent, no action is required by you. You will be enrolled automatically in Empire Plan Medicare RX, effective January 1, 2013.

stop_sign.jpg If you want to keep your overall Empire Plan coverage, Do NOT submit a cancellation form! You will be automatically enrolled in Empire Plan Medicare RX, effective January 1, 2013, and your Empire Plan hospital, medical/surgical, mental health and substance abuse benefits will remain intact. 

Important! 

Under Medicare rules, you must be allowed to decline to participate in plans like Empire Plan Medicare RX. For that reason, a cancellation form for your use is included among informational materials you will receive in the mail from the Department of Civil Service. 

WARNING! 

If you submit a cancellation form, you will no longer have any Empire Plan coverage at all beginning January 1, 2013. This is because you need to be enrolled in Empire Plan Medicare RX in order to keep your overall coverage in the Empire Plan. If you cancel, not only will you lose your Empire Plan coverage for prescription drugs, but your hospital, medical/surgical, mental health and substance abuse benefits will end, as well.

stop_sign.jpg If you want to keep your overall Empire Plan coverage, Do NOT submit a cancellation form! You will be automatically enrolled in Empire Plan Medicare RX, effective January 1, 2013, and your Empire Plan hospital, medical/surgical, mental health and substance abuse benefits will remain intact.
  OMCE Members: If you are inclined to submit a cancellation form nevertheless, please call us to discuss at 1-800-828-6623 (or 456-5241, if calling from within area code 518). 

  

*           *           *           *           * 

In addition to the materials you will receive in the mail, the Department of Civil Service has scheduled meetings for New York State retirees at various locations in the State and across the country—the latter in locations where large populations of Empire Plan enrollees live. Empire Plan enrollees and dependents who are Medicare-primary, or who will be in 2013, will receive a postcard invitation in the mail about 2 to 3 weeks before the closest meeting in their area. The meetings are optional and will focus solely on the prescription drug benefits provided to Medicare-primary enrollees and dependents in The Empire Plan. No general information will be covered and questions will be limited to Empire Plan Medicare Rx content.  

For the convenience of our members and ease of access, we have posted the meeting schedule here on our website. Click Here (or on the Calendar link in the left-hand column) and scroll down to Empire Plan Medicare RX Retiree Meetings Schedule. 

On or after September 6, you will be able to obtain more information on Empire Plan Medicare Rx, by visiting www.cs.ny.gov/empireplanmedicarerx/index.cfm. After October 1, a Centers for Medicare Services (CMS)-approved call center prompt will be added to 1-877-7-NYSHIP (1-877-769-7447) (TTY: 1-800-759-1089). You will be able to reach the call center with your questions about the new Rx plan. Press 4 for prescription drug benefits; next, choose the option for Empire Plan Medicare Rx. 

The Affordable Care Act provides financial incentives for employer sponsored health plans to have a Medicare Part D Prescription Drug program. The federal subsidies can help control increases in Empire Plan premiums. With Empire Plan Medicare RX, drug co-payments will not change—Empire Plan Medicare RX closes the “donut hole,” the Medicare coverage gap under which Medicare-primary enrollees otherwise pay most of the cost for their prescription drugs—and the same drugs will be covered as on the Empire Plan Flexible Formulary.

- Posted 8/27/12 

8/15/12 - Empire Plan 2012 Participating Provider Directories: The Civil Service Department's Employee Benefits Division advises that it has begun mailing postcards to active Empire Plan enrollees and retirees for ordering 2012 Participating Provider Directories. Enrollees must return the postcard, with a stamp, indicating the region-specific directory they would like to receive. Only enrollees who return a stamped, completed postcard will receive a Participating Provider Directory book. The Empire Plan Participating Provider Directory is also available on the Civil Service web site (www.cs.ny.gov), where it is updated weekly. NYSHIP HMO enrollees should contact their HMO for participating provider information. Click Here for a list of HMO telephone numbers and website addresses.

8/7/12 - 30 Day State Civil Service Exam Application Filing Period: The Civil Service Department has notified us that, beginning in the Fall 2012, the application filing period for all State civil service promotion, transition and open-competitive examinations will be 30 days. The notice states that this change to a standardized application filing period, along with on-line posting of examination announcements and automatic email notifications of newly-issued examination announcements, is intended to enable the Civil Service Department to maintain a timely, high quality application review and improve the efficiency of its test production schedule – while ensuring that candidates have sufficient and reasonable time to file for an examination. Notice of the change will be posted on the Department’s website (www.cs.ny.gov) and provided in email notifications of announced examinations. Agencies will receive official notification via a General Information Bulletin to agency human resources, personnel and affirmative action officers. 

7/30/12 - A Special Update for OMCE Members: OMCE members can LOG IN here and link to an important member update we have posted for you on the Members Only page.  If you experience difficulties accessing the Members Only page, call us at 800.828.6623 (456-5241 in area code 518) for membership verification and user ID/password assistance. 

7/19/12 - Security Services, Security Supervisors Unit Pay Bills Signed: The Governor has signed legislation implementing the collective bargaining agreements the State has reached with NYSCOPBA (representing the Security Services negotiating unit) and Council 82 (representing the Security Supervisors negotiating unit). The agreements are generally similar to those the State reached with the other unions and provide for salary increases (3% and 4%) and other benefits retroactive to April 2009, the start date of the new agreements.

For those wishing to review the pay bills’ provisions, we have provided links (below) to the bill memos and to the pay bills themselves. Tip: The bill memos provide rather detailed summaries and are easier to read.

Once again, these retroactive contract settlements with the unions point to the glaring pay disparity that continues to exist between M/C and bargaining unit employees. There is something you can do – and you can do it now, and from the convenience of our website. Click on the ACTION LINE and let the Governor and your representatives in the Legislature know that enough is enough!  It’s time to restore M/Cs to pay equity.

NYSCOPBA - Security Services

http://www.governor.ny.gov/assets/documents/GPB46NYSCOPBAPAYBILLMEMO.pdf

http://www.governor.ny.gov/assets/documents/GPB46NYSCOPBAPAYBILLBILL.pdf

Council 82 – Security Supervisors

http://www.governor.ny.gov/assets/documents/GPB38-SECURITY-SERVICES-PAY-BILL-MEMO.pdf

http://www.governor.ny.gov/assets/documents/GPB38-SECURITY-SERVICES-PAY-BILL-BILL.pdf

6/22/12 - Legislature Adjourns/Post-Election Return Probable: While the full Legislature did not act on our M/C Salary Commission bill (A.9776/S.6568) before adjourning, the Senate did, officially moving it to the Rules Committee, where next it may be amended or reported out to the full Senate for consideration. Nevertheless the bill remains alive and the buzz to do something is growing.

The media have picked up on the buzz. The governor has not shut the pay raise door; in fact, he has opened it a little further. Press releases and continuing comments on the difficulties his administration is having attracting “talent” to be commissioners and high-level appointees helps our cause. Your letters, calls and meetings with your legislators have helped, but we can not just sit back and hope that something will happen. Please write, call or meet with your legislators again! Remind them that any post-Election Day legislative session must deal with the entire M/C salary issue.

If the Legislature is poised to act on its own pay increases, we must (and will) remain vigilant on resolving the M/C pay issue. If a rising tide lifts all ships, as the saying goes, let’s make sure that “all M/Cs” in state service are “on board.” Call, write, meet with your legislators and the governor – tell them NOT TO FORGET to include the career M/C workforce in any final plan affecting M/C compensation. The entire M/C pay issue is “in play.” We can not allow anyone to forget or discount your needs.

Click here ►►ACTION LINE for fact sheets, a model letter and the governor’s and your legislators’ contact information.

6/14/12 - NYSHIP Rates Effective July 1, 2012: The enacted 2012-2013 Executive Budget changes the way the cost of reimbursing the Medicare Part B premium is shared among NYSHIP participants. This will result in a minor premium rate change effective July 1, 2012. Therefore, you may see a change in the amount deducted from your paycheck or retirement check for NYSHIP coverage. For employees on the Administration lag payroll, the change will begin with the July 3, 2012 paycheck; for Institution lag payroll employees, the change will begin with the June 28, 2012 paycheck. For retirees, the June pension check will be the first pension check affected by the new deduction amount. If you are billed directly for NYSHIP coverage by the Employee Benefits Division, your July bill will reflect the change. The new rates are available at NYSHIP online: http://www.cs.ny.gov/ebd/welcome/login.cfm. Follow the login instructions, click on Rates and Health Plan Choices and look for the publication NYSHIP Rates (Effective July 1, 2012).

NOTE: This modification will not result in a Special Option Transfer period. During the Annual Option Transfer Period, usually held at the end of the calendar year, active employees have the opportunity to review their health insurance plan options and rates for 2013. You may change to another NYSHIP option, if you wish, at that time. Retirees may change their option at any time, but not more than once in any 12-month period.

6/14/12 - Understanding the Merit System/Guidance for Managers: We are pleased to make available the Civil Service Department publication, Merit System Guide for Managers (◄◄Click on title to view, copy or print). As noted in the guide’s Introduction, New York State public sector em­ployment is built upon a merit system that is based upon the State Constitution and a foundation of Civil Service Law, Rules and Regulations. As a manager, your responsibilities likely include the selection and pro­motion of agency staff. But, how do you know where to start and what options are available to you? Using a question and answer format, this guide can help you carry out your workforce management responsibilities consistent with proper merit system principles. Please keep in mind this is a general guide and not intended to be inclusive of all of the details and nuances of a system that is quite complex. Therefore, in addition to reading the guide, it is recommended that you meet with your agency human resources (HR) staff to obtain a more comprehensive understanding of the material covered. OMCE members with questions are also invited to call us (800.828.6623, or 456.5241, if calling from area code 518). 

5/31/12 - June 2nd Albany Area Test Administration Advisory: The Civil Service Department has posted the following advisory on its website: 

“Candidates scheduled to take a civil service examination at any test center located in the City of Albany on Saturday, June 2, 2012 should allow additional travel time to reach the test center and locate parking. The Freihofer's Run for Women is scheduled to begin at 10:00 AM on Madison Avenue near the Empire State Plaza. The Albany Police Department has announced parking restrictions and road closures along the course of this event. Candidates are encouraged to plan their route carefully and leave plenty of travel time to reach the test center. Test center staff have been advised of this potential travel situation.” 

Details of the parking restrictions and road closures are available for viewing on a number of Albany area radio, TV and newspaper outlet websites.

5/3/12 - Management/Confidential Training Programs: Applications are now being accepted for reimbursement for coursework and certification and licensure exams begun during the period from January 1, 2012 through March 31, 2012. Reimbursement for tuition remains at 75% of the tuition cost, not to exceed $2,000 per fiscal year. Reimbursement for examinations remains at a maximum of $600. Also, M/C employees can now register, without restrictions, for professional development and training classes offered through the Public Service Workshops Program.

For information, applications and guidelines, click on the following links:

M/C Tuition Reimbursement Program ►►►

M/C Certification and Licensure Exam Fee Reimbursement Program ►►►

Public Service Workshops Program (PSWP) ►►►

For questions, email: response@goer.ny.gov

4/24/12 - OMCE Vision Care Plan Unchanged: We would like to clarify the information we provided here and in the March 2012 OMCE News Network announcing change in administration of the State’s Vision Care Plan:

·         Active Employees: Effective January 5, 2012, Davis Vision replaced EyeMed as provider of the NYS Vision Care Program. Note that this change only affects active employees and COBRA enrollees.

·         Retirees: The OMCE Vision Care Plan, designed for OMCE retiree members and using EyeMed’s provider network, remains unchanged. EyeMed is still the provider and optical retailers, such as LensCrafters, Target Optical, Sears Optical, JCPenny Optical and Pearl Vision, continue to be participating providers.

Members with questions are invited to call us (800-828-6623, or 456-5241, if calling from area code 518). 

4/9/12 - M/C Tuition Reimbursement: Several weeks ago, the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations (GOER) told us that M/C Tuition Reimbursement funds were being encumbered from the now-expired 2011-2012 budget and would be made available (albeit late) for reimbursement of Spring 2012 semester courses. In anticipation that the funds would be available by now, we alerted OMCE members to their pending availability in our March 2012 OMCE News Network. As of this date, the funds have not been made available and we have been receiving calls and emails asking where they are. GOER has assured us that the funds are indeed being made available, and when they are, an announcement will be posted on the GOER website (www.goer.ny.gov) and tuition reimbursement requests and payments will be handled expeditiously and on a retroactive basis. Once we receive word, we will post an announcement here on the OMCE website.

4/6/12 - More on the Deficit Reduction Program: Biweekly deficit reduction rates for fiscal year 2012-13 are, as follows: 1.538% for CSEA represented employees; 1.847% for PEF represented employees; and 2.008% for M/C employees. The differences in reduction rates among the three groups are attributable to the differing start dates for the biweekly pay reductions. For CSEA represented employees, reductions began in Institution payroll period 10 (check dated 9/8/11) and Administration payroll period 11 (check dated 9/14/11); for PEF represented employees, reductions began much later, in Institution payroll period 15 (check dated 11/17/11) and Administration payroll period 16 (check dated 11/23/11); and for M/C employees, reductions began in Institution payroll period 16 (check dated 12/1/11) and Administration payroll period 17 (check dated 12/7/11). All three have the same ending dates, with the final biweekly reduction being taken in Institution payroll period 24 (check dated 3/21/13) and Administration payroll period 25 (check dated 3/27/13). Biweekly repayment of the deficit reduction monies will start in the payroll period that includes April 1, 2015. M/C and PEF represented employees will be repaid for the entire nine days; CSEA represented employees will receive payment for four days. Additional information on the M/C Deficit Reduction Program is available by clicking on the links below:

Division of the Budget Bulletin B-1197       Civil Service Attendance and Leave Policy Bulletin 2011-08

3/22/12 - Reminder: Deficit Reduction Leave: Based upon questions we have received, there apparently has been some confusion about how much time you have left to use your Deficit Reduction Leave (DRL). To clarify: All nine days of your DRL must be used on or before March 31, 2013. This means that you have another full year from now to use your DRL. Also, on January 1, 2013, the annual limitation on the carry over of your vacation credits into the next calendar year will be increased, this one time only, from 40 to 45 days. 

In the current fiscal year (2011-12), your pay has been reduced for the nine pay periods remaining in the year (just over 4% per paycheck), beginning in pay checks dated December 1, 2011 (for employees on the Institution payroll) and December 7, 2011 (for employees on the Administration payroll). In fiscal 2012-13, your deficit salary reductions will be about 2% per paycheck, beginning in pay checks dated April 5, 2012 (Institution payroll) and April 11, 2012 (Administration payroll). Reductions will continue through pay checks dated March 21, 2013 (Institution) and March 27, 2013 (Administration).

The cash value of your DRP reductions will be repaid to you in equal bi-weekly installments over 39 consecutive payroll periods, beginning in paychecks that include April 1, 2015. If you retire or otherwise separate from service before receiving full repayment of your DRP reduction, you will be paid the balance of the money owed you at the time of your separation. Also, for retiring employees, there will be no impact on the calculation of your final average salary (FAS), because the salary reductions are temporary and will be repaid.

Members with any further questions concerning use of your DRL are invited to call or email us at 800.828.6623 or nysomce@gmail.com.

3/15/12 - Bills Passed: In an all night March 14 session, the Senate and Assembly passed the following bills:

• Tier VI (A.9558/S.6735)

• Redistricting of Senate and Assembly lines (A.9525/S.6696)

• Constitutional Amendments (need to be passed again next year) on

Redistricting (A.9526/S.6698) and Casino Gambling (A.9556/S.6734)

• Expansion of the State’s DNA Database (A.9555/S.6733)

• Evaluation System for School Teachers and Principals (A.9554/S.6732)

We are reviewing the text of the Tier VI retirement bill, but in brief, the new tier, which applies to future hires and is effective April 1, includes: new contribution rates of 3% to 6%, depending upon salary; increase in the retirement age from 62 (Tier V) to 63, early retirement penalty of 6.5% per year; final average salary calculation goes from 3 to 5 years, 10 years to vest; number of sick leave days used for retirement service credit reduced from 200 to 100 days; eliminates lump sum payments of unused sick and vacation time from the calculation of final average salary; optional defined contribution plan available for new non-union employees earning $75,000 or more.

You can read the text and voting records on these bills by clicking on the Search NY Bills & Laws link in the left-hand column here on the OMCE website, and then entering the bill number in the Search box.

3/9/12 - Meetings with the Administration Resume: We are pleased to report that our meetings with the Cuomo Administration resumed last month. In what we consider a productive exchange with the Administration, OMCE President Barbara Zaron and Executive Director Joe Sano were joined by OPEIU President Mike Goodwin and Richard Lanigan, Secretary/Treasurer OPEIU Local 153, when they met with Howard Glaser, Director of State Operations. At the February 8 meeting, the M/C pay equity issue and the need to resolve this and other issues affecting M/C employees were discussed. While there were no commitments made at the meeting, everyone agreed that getting together again was an important milestone. In a follow up call with the Division of the Budget, we learned that Budget is reviewing the materials and options for payment that we provided at the meeting.

Introduction of M/C Salary Commission Bill: In a related development, OMCE’s M/C Salary Commission Bill was introduced in the Senate by Senator John De Francisco, Chair of the Senate Finance Committee. This bill (S.06568) was discussed and shared with Director of State Operations Glaser at our meeting. Our efforts to confirm an Assembly sponsor are continuing.

3/6/12 - Nominations/OMCE Board of Directors - We Need You! This year we will be electing six (6) members to the OMCE Board, five (5) for three-year terms, and one (1) for a one-year term due to a resignation. OMCE members may nominate themselves, or another member (after obtaining approval from that person). The process is easy - contact OMCE to indicate that you plan to submit a nomination - follow-up with a resume and statement that we can use for the ballot. Nominations will be due June 12, 2012. The election, by mail ballot if there are more than six candidates, will take place in July or August. Submit material to the Nominating Committee, OMCE, by June 12, 2012.

Board Members are expected to attend four Board Meetings per year (March, June, September/October and December) and to serve on at least one committee. Board Members are not paid to serve on the Board, but travel expenses are reimbursed at State rates.

OMCE is an organization of, by and for M/C employees who voluntarily choose to join, since designation as an M/C does not mean automatic enrollment as an OMCE member. OMCE officers and committee members are all volunteers for these positions.

For additional information, contact OMCE at nysomce@gmail.com, 518-456-5241 or, from outside area code 518, at 1-800-828-6623.

2/21/12 - United Healthcare Settlement/Distribution of Funds: As an employee representative participant in the successful litigation against United Healthcare (UHC) that produced a $350 million settlement, we are happy to announce that the court has given the go-ahead for payments to be distributed from the Settlement Fund. The fund administrator expects to begin making disbursements shortly. OMCE members who received out-of-network medical services between March 15, 1994 and November 18, 2009 and who submitted properly documented and timely claims to the claims administrator during the 2010 filing period should be receiving checks within the next several weeks. The $350 million settlement agreement, which was announced in January 2009, resolves the class action litigation filed on behalf of the American Medical Association, health plan members, health care providers and employee representatives (OMCE, CSEA, NYSUT and NYSPIA) regarding issues that were raised concerning UHC’s reimbursement of out-of-network services.

2/9/12 Update: Meetings with Legislators: We've had 9 meetings with legislators/legislative staff so far; 5 are scheduled for next week. Discussions focused on the need to achieve pay parity for M/Cs and the M/C Salary Commission legislation. Legislators will not be in Albany February 20-27. This is a good time to see them in the local district office. Contact OMCE (800.828.6623) for the briefing materials that we are using. (More . . . read below: 2/2/12 - Meetings with Legislators.)

2/7/11 - Reminder: Disciplinary Interrogations/Interviews: OMCE members who are notified that they will be interviewed or interrogated in the course of a Section 75 disciplinary investigation, or an investigation conducted by the State Inspector General (SIG), should immediately inform their agency or SIG contact that they will be represented by OMCE and immediately call OMCE. Members should not participate in a Section 75 disciplinary interview or interrogation, or SIG formal interrogation or SIG informal "off-the-record" interview, without an OMCE representative. Your OMCE representative will provide you with guidance and represent your interests before and during the interrogation/interview process.

2/2/12 - Meetings with Legislators: We began this week meeting with legislators individually as a follow-up to our testimony last Wednesday at the joint Legislative Budget Committee hearing on workforce issues held in conjunction with Governor Cuomo’s proposed 2012-13 Executive Budget. We believe it is important that the leaders and members of the Legislature, whose responsibility it will be to vote on the budget, know of our concerns and questions regarding its full ramifications. As we indicated in our testimony last week (Read below: 1/27/12 – OMCE Testifies at Legislative Budget Hearing) and repeated in our meetings this week with individual legislators and their staff, resolving the issue of M/C pay inequity remains at the forefront of our efforts. We met this week with two assembly members. We asked for their support of legislation this session establishing our proposed M/C Salary Commission and we were encouraged by their positive response. We have seven (7) additional meetings scheduled so far and more pending. We encourage our members to add their voices, too. Call your representatives in the Legislature and ask to meet with them. You may be able to set up meetings in the district office during the week of February 20-24, as there is no session in Albany. Tell them how you and your family have been affected by the failure so far of both the Governor and the Legislature to stand up for M/C employees. Call us for a fact sheet and other relevant materials.

1/31/12 - OMCE Home Loan Program: Continental Home Loans, New York State’s #1 independently held mortgage bank, offers a full service home loan program for OMCE members, both active and retired, and their families. Whether you are purchasing a new home or remodeling, Continental’s OMCE Home Loan Program offers you the best mortgage tools available - easy, convenient, online shopping for the best loans and rates and an experienced loan officer to assist you in choosing the exact loan to meet your specific needs. No application fee or loan commitment fee - no processing or document preparation fees - no underwriting fees - no junk fees - lower attorney fee. Contact Aric Lemon (NMLS# 242144) or Anthony Prest (NMLS# 172546) at 855.746.8497 or chlalb@cccmtg.com.

 

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1/27/12 - OMCE Testifies at Legislative Budget Hearing: OMCE President Barbara Zaron and OMCE Executive Director Joe Sano presented testimony (Click on links below to read) on Wednesday, January 25th at a joint Legislative Budget Committee hearing on workforce issues held in conjunction with Governor Cuomo’s proposed 2012-13 Executive Budget. Detailing the plight of the State’s M/C employees and restating OMCE’s continuing commitment to resolving the issue of M/C pay inequity, they announced that OMCE will propose legislation this session establishing an M/C Salary Commission, modeled after the successful Judicial Salary Commission and charged with responsibility for ensuring a fair and just M/C compensation and benefits system. And noting that many of the Governor’s proposals could have serious negative consequences on both the workforce and the provision of services to the public, they urged the Legislature to reject any provisions that don’t include legislative oversight of major governmental changes. OMCE plans to meet with legislators individually to discuss these issues.

OMCE Testimony -1/25/12.pdf
Attachment A - Effects of MC Pay Withholding 2011-2012.pdf
Attachment B - Proposed Draft Legislation - MC Salary Commission.pdf
Attachment C - Who is an M-C Employee.pdf
Attachment D - Civil Service Changes.pdf

1/17/12 - Executive Budget: Governor Cuomo presented his recommended 2012-13 Executive Budget today which, among other things, has many implications for the State workforce. We will be reviewing the details of the budget in the coming days. Meanwhile, for the convenience of members, we have set up links to the Executive Budget. Click on the links below to view selected budget documents, as presented on the Division of the Budget website: 

2012-2013 Executive Budget

http://publications.budget.ny.gov/eBudget1213/ExecutiveBudget.html

Executive Budget Briefing Book

http://publications.budget.ny.gov/eBudget1213/fy1213littlebook/index.html

For workforce implications, see Reimagining Government (pp. 11-16) and State Workforce (pp. 67-71). State agency presentations are grouped by subject (Education and Arts, Environment and Energy, Health Care, etc) under Program Overview (pp. 23-78).

1/10/12 - Coughlin/Kelly Scholarships: Applications are being accepted until March 2, 2012 for the OPEIU Howard Coughlin Memorial and John Kelly Labor Studies scholarships. Instructions and application forms are available for viewing and printing from the Members Only page. Login Here and scroll down to "Scholarships" at the bottom of the Members Only page or call OMCE at 800-828-6623 (456-5241, if calling from within area code 518).

• Coughlin Scholarship – Open to OMCE members in good standing and children of members in good standing for full-time (FT) or part-time (PT) attendance at a College, University or recognized Technical or Vocational post-secondary school. Each FT scholarship is $3,250 for the first year, and $3,250 for the second year – total maximum value of $6,500; each PT scholarship is $1,325 for the first year and $1,325 for the second year – total maximum value of $2,650. Official OPEIU application and High School transcript required to be submitted to OMCE for endorsement and processing – must be received by March 2, 2012.

• Kelly Labor Scholarship – Open to OMCE members in good standing and must be an undergraduate or graduate in one of the following areas of study: Labor Studies; Industrial Relations; Union Leadership and Administration; non-degree programs sponsored by the National Labor College at the George Meany Center or a similar institution. Each scholarship has a total maximum value of $3,250. Official OPEIU application and college transcript (if currently enrolled) are required, along with an essay on the applicant’s union activism and occupational goals, to be submitted to OMCE for endorsement and processing - must be received by March 2, 2012.

1/9/12 - NYS Vision Plan changes hands: As of January 5, 2012, EyeMed ceased administration of the NYS Vision Plan and optical retailers such as LensCrafters, Target Optical, Sears Optical, JCPenny Optical and Pearl Vision will no longer be participating providers. The NYS Vision Plan is now being administered by Davis Vision, whose network offers you access to over 2,300 other providers in New York State, and thousands more nationwide.

All current enrollees in the NYS Vision Plan (with EyeMed) have been auto-enrolled in the Davis Vision plan, effective 1/5/12. Davis Vision is mailing Welcome Kits to enrollees' homes which include:

● two (2) ID cards;

● information on how to access the Davis Vision web site from the Employee Benefits section of the Civil Service Department's web site (www.cs.ny.gov/ebd). The site allows you to view benefit information, locate a provider, order replacement ID cards and more.

● a sample listing of network providers, based on your zip code. You can find providers by calling the Davis Vision Customer Service Center at 1-888-588-4823.

As a reminder, all NY state employees who are eligible to enroll for coverage in the New York State Health Insurance Program (NYSHIP) and for whom coverage under the New York State Vision Plan has been negotiated or administratively extended (e.g. M/C employees) are eligible. Also, you may enroll in the New York State Vision Plan even if you are not enrolled in NYSHIP. Covered dependents include a spouse or domestic partner, unmarried children under age 19, unmarried dependent children ages 19 through 24 who are full-time students, and unmarried disabled children.

Important: It should be noted that your benefits will not reset on January 5, 2012. If you have used your benefit prior to the effective date of the Davis Vision plan, you will be eligible for future services according to the frequency of your benefit plan: once every two years for adults and once a year for dependent children under age 19. Davis Vision will receive benefit history for each enrollee.  

1/5/12 - State of the State Address: In his 2nd annual State of the State address delivered yesterday, Governor Cuomo laid out his agenda for 2012 which includes, in part, a call for a “reimagined government” and what he characterized as a “New York vision of a progressive future.” Under the latter heading, he announced a Student Intern Program to provide hands on experience for interns to interact with government leaders and policymakers and an Empire State Fellows Program, a “fulltime leadership training program to prepare the next generation of talented professionals who are members of underrepresented groups for careers as New York State policymakers.” In reimagining government, the Governor said we “have to fundamentally ‘reimagine’ how government operates” in order to get a government that he says “performs better and costs less.” In doing so, he called for closing the state’s remaining $2 billion budget deficit with no new taxes or fees and enacting mandate relief, including a new Tier VI in the pension system. He said he will ask the new joint Legislative and Executive Mandate Relief Council to hold public hearings when it begins its work later this month, and said the council will issue its recommendations for consideration by the Legislature before the end of the 2012 legislative session. Details on these and other proposals will be in the Executive Budget to be delivered to the Legislature on January 17, 2012.

• 2012 State of the State Address: The full text of the Governor’s address can be viewed HERE.

• SAGE Commission Recommendations: You may also wish to review the SAGE Commission’s December 15, 2011 report/presentation recommendations on agency consolidations, mergers and efficiencies, which can be viewed HERE.

1/3/12 - New Laws for New Yorkers in 2012: Here's a list of some of the new laws in New York State that took effect on January 1, 2012:

• Revised state tax code, which includes a modest tax decrease for middle-income earners and a higher rate for families making more than $2 million.

• Cap on property taxes, limiting the annual levy increase to the lower of 2 percent or the rate of inflation.

• Requirement that health insurers cover orally administered chemotherapy, at a cost similar to injections.

• Expansion of the state's "move over" law to include tow trucks and maintenance vehicles.

• Added ability for the DEC to ban products that contain mercury.

• Reduction in the number of commercial fishing licenses issued by the state.

• Requirement that dentists' offices have a defibrillator on hand.

• Ban on the sale of hookahs and water pipes to minors.

• Ban on the sale or possession of bear gallbladder and bile.

• Law authorizing the removal of fire commissioners for unexcused absences from required meetings.

• Ban on household dish detergents that contain phosphorus.

 

12/29/11 - Federal Lawsuit Filed Seeking Rollback of Health Insurance Hikes for State’s Retirees: Late yesterday, the Public Employees Federation, the Civil Service Employees Association, United University Professions and other unions representing law enforcement and correction officers filed similar suits in federal court in Albany, claiming health care for retirees is guaranteed by the contract under which the employees retired and that the state cannot constitutionally, unilaterally change that contract. M/C retirees, while not subject to a collective bargaining agreement and thus not covered by such a “contract impairment” argument, may be included if a final court decision negates the sections of the law authorizing such increases as unconstitutional. OMCE is awaiting a complete legal review of these suits and our legal memorandum from our attorneys  outlining whatever action may be necessary to protect our M/C retirees’ rights.

12/27/11 - 2012 Union Plus® Scholarships: Eligible OMCE members, their spouses and dependent children may apply for these scholarships. Numerous cash awards are given for post-high school, undergraduate study in the Fall and vary from $500 to $4,000. Beginning this year, applications will be accepted online only. The application deadline is no later than January 31, 2012.

OMCE Members: For information and to apply, Login Here and scroll down to Union Plus Scholarships located near the bottom of the Members Only page.

12/9/11 – OMCE Members Take Note: If you and your spouse or domestic partner are dual enrollees in NYSHIP, and one of you is an Executive Branch employee represented by CSEA, the following may apply to you:

A dispute has arisen between CSEA and the State of New York regarding the health insurance opt-out provision in regard to NYS Executive Branch Employees represented by CSEA that have a spouse or domestic partner who is also enrolled in a State health insurance plan. The State believes these employees are not entitled to opt-out at all; CSEA believes that there were no such exceptions to the opt-out provision. This has no effect on the opt-out provisions for other enrollees - just those who are dual state enrollees.

In order to allow some form of opt-out for these particular enrollees, the State and CSEA have agreed, for 2012 only, to allow such employees, represented by CSEA, to elect to opt-out and receive $1,000 for calendar year 2012, whether the coverage opted out was individual or family. Both employees had to be enrolled in a State plan by April 1, 2011 to elect the 2012 opt-out.

The State and CSEA will continue to discuss an overall resolution for the length of the State/CSEA contract and CSEA still reserves the right to file a contract grievance, if the parties are unable to resolve the dispute by May 31, 2012. The Civil Service Department has included information about this one-time opt out provision in the 2012 Option Transfer Period enrollment publications for CSEA-represented employees, which are currently available online (www.cs.ny.gov) and in agency personnel offices. For further information, please contact your agency employee benefits administrator.

11/22/11 - Deficit Reduction Plan/Additional Information: We have provided the following information in response to individual members’ questions and are posting it here for the benefit of members generally. Members with further questions concerning implementation of the Deficit Reduction Plan are invited to call or email us at 800.828.6623 or nysomce@gmail.com.

All nine days of Deficit Reduction Leave (DRL) must be used before the end of fiscal year 2012-13; that is, on or before March 31, 2013. DRL may not be carried over beyond March 31, 2013. For calendar year 2013, the normal 40 days limitation on the carry over of vacation credits into the next fiscal year has been increased to 45 days.

Civil Service Attendance and Leave Manual Policy Bulletin 2011-08 states: “For the 2013 calendar year only, the vacation credit balance of an employee may not exceed 45 days on January 1, 2013.”

M/C employees will be repaid for the deficit salary reductions over 39 payroll periods, beginning with the pay period that includes April 1, 2015. Employees who retire or otherwise separate from service before receiving full repayment of the salary reduction will be paid the balance of the money owed them at the time of their separation. Also, for retiring employees, there will be no impact on the calculation of final average salary (FAS) involving the salary reduction, because the salary reductions are temporary and will be repaid, either beginning with the pay period that includes April 1, 2015 or upon separation from service.

The Comptroller’s Office has stated: For each M/C employee, “. . . the total compensation, less overtime earnings, will be reduced . . . during the remainder of fiscal year 2011-12 and . . . during fiscal year 2012-13 and each such employee will be allowed to take nine days off without charge to existing accruals before March 31, 2013. The cash impact of the reductions will be completed by the end of each of the fiscal years. These employees will be repaid for these reductions, however, over 39 payroll periods beginning with the pay period that includes April 1, 2015. Employees who separate from service prior to the full payment of the reduction will be paid the balance of the money owed at the time of their separation.”

 

“The salary reductions for 2011-12 and 2012-13 are temporary because they will be repaid to the employee beginning with the pay period that includes April 1, 2015 or upon separation in service. In this context, the days off are paid leave because, in effect, there ultimately will have been no reduction in base pay. There will be no reduction in days reported to the Retirement System. The earnings reported to the system during 2011-12 and 2012-13 will be reduced, but if reduction or repayment periods fall within the final average salary (FAS) calculation period for a retiree, the system will attribute the repaid salary to the appropriate reduction period as if there had been no reduction. As a result, there will be no impact on the calculation of FAS involving the temporary salary reduction.”

11/15/11 - M/C Performance Advances, Longevity Payments, Deficit Reduction Plan: The Division of the Budget has issued authorization and guidelines (Budget Bulletin B-1197, dated November 14, 2011) for the payment of performance advances and longevity payments to Managerial and Confidential (M/C) employees, retroactive to April 1, 2011. Payment of performance advances to graded and NS-equated to grade employees, and payment of longevity payments to eligible Grade 17 and below employees, is scheduled to occur on December 15, 2011 (for employees on the Institution payroll) and December 21, 2011 (for employees on the Administration payroll). Longevities will be paid in the amounts of $1,250 for 5 or more years of service at or above the job rate and $2,500 for 10 or more years. Cash merit awards are also authorized, payable at agency discretion and subject to agency spending allotments.

M/C employees will also be subject to the Deficit Reduction Plan (DRP) in fiscal years 2011-12 and 2012-13. Affected M/C employees will be provided with the equivalent of nine (9) days of DRP (prorated for less than fulltime employees), to be used before March 31, 2013. In the current fiscal year (2011-12), affected employees will have reduced compensation for nine consecutive pay periods, beginning in the pay check dated December 1, 2011 (for employees on the Institution payroll) and the pay check dated December 7, 2011 (for employees on the Administration payroll). In fiscal 2012-13, affected employees will have reduced compensation, beginning in the pay check dated April 5, 2012 (Institution payroll employees) and the pay check dated April 11, 2012 (Administration payroll employees). The cash value of each affected employee’s DRP reductions will be repaid to the employee in equal bi-weekly installments over 39 consecutive payroll periods, beginning in the paycheck that includes April 1, 2015.

We are pleased to see that the Administration has implemented the payment process for 2011-12 M/C performance advances, merit awards and longevity payments. As further information becomes available, we will provide it here. Meanwhile, we are continuing our efforts to achieve M/C pay equity with bargaining unit employees.

11/8/11 - PEF Deficit Reduction Plan (Furloughs): The Division of the Budget and Office of the State Comptroller issued bulletins today (Budget Bulletin D-1196 and Payroll Bulletin 1101) announcing implementation of the Deficit Reduction Plan (DRP) for PS&T employees. Affected full-time employees will be provided with 9 nine days of Deficit Reduction Leave (DRL) to be used before the end of fiscal year 2012-13. Part-time employees will receive a pro-rated amount. The PEF DRP provides for reduced employee compensation for 36 consecutive pay periods, beginning in payroll period 15 for employees on the Institution payroll (check dated November 17, 2011) and payroll period 16 for Administration payroll employees (check dated November 23, 2011). The full cash value of each employee’s reduced compensation will be repaid in equal bi-weekly installments over 39 consecutive payroll periods beginning with the paycheck that includes April 1, 2015. There is still no word on a DRP for M/C employees.

11/4/11 - State encourages VRWS participation: The Division of the Budget has issued a budget bulletin reestablishing a minimum target for agencies concerning employee participation in the Voluntary Reduction in Work Schedule Program (VRWS). Bulletin D-1124 states, in part, that agencies should aggressively promote the program, approve requests expeditiously and approve all employee requests, if employee participation in the program is currently less than 7% of the agency’s workforce. Agencies are to ensure that such plans demonstrate real payroll savings through the 2011-12 and 2012-13 fiscal years. 

VRWS permits employees to reduce their work schedules to reflect personal needs and interests and provides agencies with a flexible mechanism for allocating staff resources. With supervisory approval, participants may reduce their salary by up to 30%, in exchange for credits that can be used for time off, either according to a fixed schedule (e.g. every Friday, every Wednesday afternoon, shorter workdays, an entire month off, etc) or for intermittent time off. 

Below are links to the Budget Bulletin and the VRWS Program Description, which includes an application form:

http://www.budget.ny.gov/guide/bprm/bulletins/d-1124.html

http://www.goer.state.ny.us/Employee_Resources/VRWS.cfm

11/1/11 - Productivity Enhancement Program (PEP): The Productivity Enhancement Program (PEP) allows eligible CSEA-represented employees and Managerial/Confidential employees in the Executive branch to exchange previously accrued annual leave (vacation) and/or personal leave in return for a credit to be applied toward the employee share of their NYSHIP premiums on a biweekly basis. The program description and an enrollment form for the calendar year 2012 program are now available. Starting and ending dates for the PEP program in 2012 are detailed in the program description. The enrollment period for 2012 is Monday, October 31 through Monday, December 5, 2011. The full text of the Civil Service Policy Bulletin announcing the program, as well as an enrollment form, are available at http://www.cs.ny.gov/attendance_leave/PolBull11-07.cfm.

10/28/11 - M/C Pay Restoration/Next Steps: After independent reviews by three labor law firms of the federal court decision dismissing our lawsuit, we have concluded that there is little hope of success at the federal circuit court of appeals. The court has decided apparently that the State of New York can continue its disparate treatment of M/C employees. We disagree vehemently. Despite this setback, we are undaunted. We have been advocating for 35 years on behalf of the State’s M/C employees; we are not about to give up now. Our membership is stronger than ever. We are currently working on a new initiative that will make use of existing legal and administrative remedies and require the active involvement of our members. We hope to make an announcement soon.

10/28/11 - Retiree Health Insurance Premiums: The State has given notice, through its filing of an emergency rule, that the retiree share of the health insurance premium for employees who retire on or after January 1, 2012 will be determined by the grade level of the position from which they retire, as follows:  

For employees retiring on or after January 1, 2012 from a position allocated or equated to Grade 9 or below, the retiree share of the health insurance premium will be 12% of the total cost of the premium for individual coverage and 27% of the total cost of the premium for dependent coverage. For employees retiring on or after January 1, 2012 from a position allocated or equated to Grade 10 or above, the retiree share of the health insurance premium will be 16% of the total cost of the premium for individual coverage and 31% of the total cost of the premium for dependent coverage.

In comparison, the retiree share of the health insurance premium for employees who retire before January 1, 2012 is the same as the Grade 9 or below rate: 12% of the total cost of the premium for individual coverage and 27% of the total cost of the premium for dependent coverage. Grade 10 and above employees who are currently weighing retirement may wish to take this into account in their retirement planning. 

OMCE members with questions are invited to call us at 800-828-6623 (456-5241 in the 518 area).

10/25/11 - Judicial Candidate Voter Guide: With Election Day, November 8, just around the corner, the Office of Court Administration has published its 2011 New York State Judicial Candidate Voter Guide. The guide, which is published annually, lists candidates for all state court races. For candidates who provided such information, there are links to their biographical, educational and professional histories. Candidates were also permitted to provide brief personal statements about themselves. The voter guide is available at the Unified Court System’s website (http://www.nycourts.gov/vote). Need a voter registration form? Want to change your party enrollment? Want to find out if you are registered and where to vote? The answers to these and other questions, as well as links to the New York City and County Boards of Elections and other governmental entities, are available at the New York State Board of Elections website (http://www.elections.state.ny.us). Election Day 2011 is a floating holiday. Exercise your right to vote on November 8.

10/24/11 - Expanded Empire Plan Preventive Care Coverage: Changes required by the Federal Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act mandate provision of certain immunization and other preventive health care services and elimination of co-pays when administered by a participating provider. As a result, The New York State Employee Health Insurance Plan (NYSHIP) Empire Plan now includes expanded coverage of many preventive services (screenings, tests and counseling) for both children and adults. The preventive services that are now covered with no copayment* when received from an Empire Plan participating provider are summarized in a two-page flyer published by the Civil Service Department's Employee Benefits Division and reproduced here for your convenience ►►(Click Here to View/Print). As noted in the flyer, the listed preventive health care services are not recommended for everyone. Vaccine recommendations change. Doses, recommended ages and recommended populations vary. You and your health care provider should decide what care is most appropriate. For specific benefit coverage details and limitations, refer to your plan documents or call the Empire Plan toll free at 877.769.7447.

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*If a preventive service is not billed separately from an office visit and the primary purpose of the office visit is the preventive service, then a co-pay may not be charged for the office visit. If the primary purpose of the office visit is non-preventive health care (e.g. you see a doctor for recurring abdominal pain and during the visit the doctor also screens for high blood pressure), then a co-pay may be charged for the office visit.

10/20/11 - Election Day Floating Holiday: The Civil Service Department advises that a floating holiday has been designated in lieu of a fixed holiday for the upcoming Election Day, November 8. State offices will be open on Election Day and M/C and other eligible employees will receive credit on that date for a holiday to be used on a date of their choice. Guidelines and eligibility criteria for this floating holiday are the same as those that governed the 2010 Election Day floating holiday and are contained in Civil Service Attendance and Leave Advisory Memorandum No. 2011-03, issued October 20, 2011 and available for viewing HERE.

10/3/11 - Decision in OMCE Pay Raise Lawsuit: The court has issued a decision and order in our M/C pay withholding lawsuit, dismissing the claims without prejudice and directing that the case be closed. OMCE has continually sought to protect the rights of M/C employees. Over the last ten years or so, the State’s long-time practice of treating its M/C employees and union represented employees differently has grown worse. OMCE has challenged this increasingly disparate treatment of M/C employees in the New York courts and, most recently, in federal court where our claims were reviewed and responded to in great detail. A federal court judge has determined that New York State can treat its M/C employees differently than unionized employees after all. We are currently reviewing the judge’s decision with our lawyers and discussing our options. We will provide further information here as soon as we have completed our review. Meanwhile, we will continue to pursue restoration of the withheld M/C raises with the Cuomo Administration.

OMCE Members: To read the court decision, LOGIN here to the Members Only page (Contact OMCE 800.828.6623 / nysomce@gmail.com, if you need login guidance).

9/28/11 - Revolving Door Exemption OK’d: The Governor has signed legislation continuing an exemption for state employees who are laid off and who otherwise would be subject to the so-called two year “revolving door” prohibition in the Public Officers Law, which bars employees from appearing or practicing before their former agency or receiving compensation for rendering services on a matter before their former agency for two years following separation from state service. First enacted in 1995 and extended several times since, the exemption has allowed laid off employees to avoid the two year post employment ban. Under the bill drafted by OMCE, such employees whose employment terminates on or after April 1, 2011 and before April 1, 2012 are now eligible for the exemption. The exemption isn’t automatic, but requires application to the Commission on Public Integrity.* To view and print the bill (S.5109 McDonald/A.8111 Abbate), click the Search NY Bills and Laws link in the left-hand column and enter one of the bill numbers in the space provided.
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*The Joint Commission on Public Ethics will replace the Commission on Public Integrity and is expected to be fully operational on or before December 12th, which, as provided for in the 2011 Public Integrity Reform Act, is the 120th day following the Governor's signing of the Act.

9/16/11 - OMCE Advocacy Campaign: Take action (use our ACTION LINE service) and urge the Governor to restore M/C employees to pay parity with union-represented employees. Every day, M/Cs continue to earn less than PEF and CSEA-represented state employees. Onondaga County addressed the wage disparity between its M/C employees and other county workers in February 2011 by reinstating their withheld raises and earlier, in 2009, Mayor Bloomberg restored the pay raises that had been withheld from New York City’s M/C employees. Contact your legislators too, using our ACTION LINE service, and urge them to reverse this outrageous assault on M/C employees.

9/16/11 - Household Appliance Grant Program for Storm Recovery: The State has launched an $8 million appliance grant program to help New Yorkers who sustained property damage as a result of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. Grants will be available for critical energy efficient equipment and appliances, such as refrigerators, boilers, washing machines and furnaces, damaged by the recent flooding. The program will be administered by the NYS Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) with funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Grants will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis for completed applications, which will be available beginning Monday, September 19 at www.nysappliancerebates.com or by calling 1-877-NY-SMART (1-877-697-6278).

9/16/11 - Attorney General offers On-Site Storm-related Assistance: The Attorney General’s Office will begin holding on-site office hours in areas ravaged by the recent storms and flooding to address concerns related to price gouging, insurance policies and delayed debt payments, among others. Having received a number of storm-related complaints and questions, including those involving price gouging, the Attorney General’s Office last week published a guide with tips on how to avoid scams and price gouging, available here: http://www.ag.ny.gov/media_center/2011/sep/sep9b_11.html. Now, to make it easier for storm victims living in areas where the Attorney General’s Office does not maintain offices, staff will be holding on-site “walk-in” meetings in various affected communities. Information on the time and location of these meetings is available here: http://www.ag.ny.gov/media_center/2011/sep/sep15a_11.html.

9/12/11 - Hurricane Irene Recovery Update: Additional relief and resources for New Yorkers affected by Hurricane Irene and subsequent flooding have been announced: The State Tax Department has extended the September 12th tax filing deadline to October 31st for taxpayers in counties declared disaster areas; the Attorney General has issued a guide for victims with tips on how to avoid scams; and the State Bar Association has begun providing free legal advice to callers harmed by the hurricane and subsequent rainstorms.

Extension of Tax Filing Deadline: Certain New York State tax filing and payment deadlines for affected taxpayers, tax preparers and relief workers in counties* declared disaster areas by the President have been extended to October 31, 2011. Additional time for payments and filing beyond the extension date will be considered on a case by case basis for affected taxpayers whose individual circumstances warrant additional consideration. Information is available here:

    http://www.tax.ny.gov/pdf/notices/n11_8.pdf

Tips to Avoiding Price Gouging: The Attorney General has issued a warning to vendors against price gouging of essential goods, and a guide with prevention tips to help residents from becoming the target of scammers, as they attempt to recover from storms that ravaged their communities and businesses. Tips include checking with your insurance company, asking for references, getting estimates in writing, never paying the full cost upfront, etc. Information is available here:

    ►http://www.ag.ny.gov/media_center/2011/sep/sep9b_11.html

Free Legal Advice: The State Bar Association, through its Lawyer Referral and Information Service (800-342-3661), is giving free legal advice to callers affected by Hurricane Irene and subsequent flooding. State Bar Association President Vincent E. Doyle III said that callers to the service will be given the name and number of a volunteer attorney. The volunteers will offer a 30-minute consultation, either in-person or by phone, and refer callers to other groups if they need more assistance. The free advice is being offered in counties* declared disaster areas by the President. Information is available here:

    ►http://www.nysba.org/Content/NavigationMenu/PublicResources/NeedaLawyer/Hire_an_Attorney.htm

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*Albany, Clinton, Delaware, Dutchess, Essex, Greene, Montgomery, Nassau, Orange, Otsego, Rensselaer, Rockland, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Suffolk, Sullivan, Ulster, Warren and Washington.

9/9/11 - Hurricane Irene Recovery Fund: We know that members and many state employees are among those hard hit by Hurricane Irene and subsequent flooding. Last week, we told you about 211, the number to call for non-emergency assistance related to Hurricane Irene and subsequent flooding. This week, we want to advise you of the establishment of the Hurricane Irene Recovery Fund, which is being administered by UWNYS (United Way of New York State) at the Governor’s request. UWNYS is working with local United Ways and other voluntary sector partner agencies to provide for coordination of efforts and to ensure that funds are directed to the agencies where help is most needed. If you want to donate, the Hurricane Irene Recovery Fund can be accessed online at www.uwnys.org.

9/8/11 - Retirement Planning: Old and New Actuarial Tables: In an earlier posting below (8/25/11- New Actuarial Tables Effective October 1, 2011), we announced that the Department of Civil Service has issued a new Life Expectancy Table for CSEA and unrepresented employees (M/Cs) retiring on or after October 1, 2011. We noted that the new table, along with accompanying information, is available in the What's New section of NYSHIP Online at www.cs.state.ny.us and that the online sick leave credit calculator would be updated to reflect the new table. For the convenience of retirement-eligible members wishing to make cost comparisons for retirement planning purposes, we have posted copies on the OMCE website - Members Only page of both the old and the new actuarial tables, together with a formula for calculating the dollar value of your lifetime retiree health insurance premium credit, both if you retire now (that is, before October 1 and using the old actuarial table) or if you retire on or after October 1. LOGIN here to the Members Only page (Contact OMCE 800.828.6623 / nysomce@gmail.com, if you need login guidance).

9/2/11 - Minimum Time to Apply for Retirement reduced to 15 days: A new law (Chapter 375 of the Laws of 2011) has reduced the minimum number of days a service retirement application must be on file with the Retirement System from 30 days to 15 days. The maximum number of days an application can be on file remains 90 days. The 15-day minimum filing period became effective in August 2011.

9/2/11 - Other NYSHIP Changes Effective January 1, 2012: In addition to the October 1, 2011 changes announced yesterday (See Below: 9/1/11 Health Insurance Program Rate and Benefit Changes) other changes, with an effective date of January 1, 2012, will include addition of independent nurse practitioners and convenient care clinics as participating providers, a health insurance opt-out option for active employees, and changes to out-of-network deductible and coinsurance amounts. Information about these changes will be provided later in the Fall in the NYSHIP Annual Option Transfer Period materials and in NYSHIP’s At a Glance publication.

9/1/11 - Health Insurance Program Rate and Benefit Changes: The terms of the 2011-2016 State/CSEA collective bargaining agreement related to the NYS Health Insurance Program (NYSHIP) have been administratively extended to Management/Confidential (M/C) employees and New York State retirees. This will result in NYSHIP benefit and rate changes effective October 1, 2011. As a result of these changes, there will be a special Option Transfer Period during the month of September. Information concerning the changes, which we have summarized below, is detailed in a current mailing to all NYSHIP enrollees, both active and retired, of an August 2011 Empire Plan Special Report. 

The following changes are effective October 1, 2011. For details, consult the August 2011 Empire Plan Special Report mailing; also available online at the Civil Service Department’s website (www.cs.state.ny.us)

Changes Affecting M/C Employees 

1. The employee share of biweekly premium contribution rates for individual coverage (currently 10%) will increase to 12% of the total cost of the premium for Grade 9 and below employees and 16% of the total cost of the premium for Grade 10 and above employees. The employee share of biweekly premium contribution rates for dependent coverage (currently 25%) will increase to 27% of the total cost of the premium for Grade 9 and below employees and 31% of the total cost of the premium for Grade 10 and above employees.

2. The Actuarial Table of Life Expectancy used to calculate the lifetime monthly sick leave credit that retiring employees may apply toward their premium payments in retirement will be updated to reflect the fact that people are living longer. Since the months of life expectancy at retirement have increased, the amount of the lifetime monthly sick leave credit will be lower. 

3. Changes required by the Federal Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act mandate provision of certain immunization and other preventive care services and elimination of co-pays when administered by a participating provider. 

4. Prescription drug co-pays will increase. Also, a generic drug may be either excluded from prescription drug coverage or placed on Level 3 and subject to the applicable copayment. 

Changes Affecting All Retirees

1. The retiree share of biweekly premium contribution rates for individual coverage (currently 10%) will increase to 12% of the total cost of the premium for retirees whose retirement date is on or after January 1, 1983 and before January 1, 2012. The retiree share of biweekly premium contribution rates for dependent coverage (currently 25%) will increase to 27% of the total cost of the premium for retirees whose retirement date is on or after January 1, 1983 and before January 1, 2012. Premium contribution rates for retirees whose retirement date is prior to January 1, 1983 will remain 0% for individual coverage and 25% for dependent coverage.

2. Changes required by the Federal Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act mandate provision of certain immunization and other preventive care services and elimination of co-pays when administered by a participating provider.

3. Prescription drug co-pays will increase. Also, a generic drug may be either excluded from prescription drug coverage or placed on Level 3 and subject to the applicable copayment.

Special Option Transfer Period in September 

As a result of these changes, there will be a special option transfer period during the month of September. NYSHIP enrollees and dependents will have the opportunity to change their health coverage option for October 2011. Cost information is currently available on the Civil Service Department’s website and a rate flyer will be mailed to enrollees’ homes. A change during this special option transfer period will not be counted as an option change for the purpose of the once in a 12-month period limit for retirees. For active employees, the annual option transfer will be held, as usual, at the end of the calendar year, with changes effective for the plan year beginning January 1, 2011. 

OMCE members with questions are invited to call us at 800-828-6623 (456-5241 in the 518 area).

8/30/2011 - 211 Emergency Relief Assistance: We have been asked by the United Way of New York State to remind our members, in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, about 2-1-1, an easily remembered number where you can obtain information and referrals to government and voluntary agency services. 2-1-1 is already helping residents in hard hit areas with emergency relief assistance and will be available for the long-term recovery issues that are expected to continue for some time. One of 2-1-1’s strengths is access to language translation services, so that help is available for everyone that needs it.

Click here to view a list of counties where 2-1-1 service is available (as well as not available - just less than 80% of the state’s population is covered). 2-1-1 web site resources are also listed for people to utilize. As an example of the kind of comprehensive assistance that is available to deal with the effects of the storm, 2-1-1 in the Hudson Valley has handled over 5000 calls and experienced 25,000 web hits since Friday. We hope this information is helpful.

8/25/11 - New Actuarial Tables Effective October 1, 2011: The Department of Civil Service has issued the Life Expectancy Table for CSEA and certain unrepresented employees, effective October 1, 2011. This actuarial table will apply to CSEA-represented and unrepresented (that's M/Cs) employees who retire on or after October 1, 2011. The information and the new table, which will give the life expectancy in number of months, are available in the What's New section of NYSHIP Online at www.cs.state.ny.us. The online sick leave credit calculator will be updated to reflect the new table as soon as possible.

8/16/11 - CSEA members OK Contract: CSEA and the Governor’s Office announced late last night that the CSEA membership has ratified the five-year State/CSEA contract agreement. Meanwhile, PEF’s Executive Board has voted to send its tentative contract agreement with the State to its members for a ratification vote. Ballots will be mailed on September 2. Votes will be due for return by September 26 for counting on September 27. We are pursuing another OMCE meeting with Administration representatives. After our last meeting on July 19, it was agreed that our discussions with the Administration would continue as the unions move toward ratification of their contract agreements. We will provide additional information here as it becomes available.

8/9/11 - Traveling with Empire Plan Coverage: The Department of Civil Service has announced that a new version of its publication On the Road with the Empire Plan is now available. It includes valuable information about traveling with Empire Plan coverage. If you expect to be traveling soon, and are enrolled in the Empire Plan, ask your agency’s Health Benefits Administrator for a copy of this publication. The publication will not be mailed to enrollee homes, but an online copy is available at the Civil Service Department’s website. For the convenience of our members, a copy of the publication is also available by clicking HERE.

8/3/11 - Retiree Health Benefits Meetings: The Department of Civil Service has scheduled its NYSHIP Retiree Health Benefits Meetings for the remainder of calendar year 2011. The schedule is posted on the Department's website and is included in the retiree Empire Plan Reports that will be mailed soon to current retirees. Current retirees will receive a postcard invitation about two to three weeks before the closest meeting in their area. To view the retiree meetings schedule, simply click here or follow these instructions: Go to www.cs.ny.gov, click on Retirees and, then, Health Benefits. To find the schedule, scroll down and select the Calendar tab. Then, under Type of Event, scroll to Retiree Meetings.

Please note that these meetings are for New York State retirees, vestees and dependent survivors enrolled in the New York State Health Insurance Program (NYSHIP). The meetings are not for current employees. Each meeting will include general information about NYSHIP benefits and a discussion of Medicare. Meeting times will vary by location and an agenda of timely meeting topics will be available on the Civil Service Department's website. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis and is not guaranteed. Sites are handicapped accessible and photo ID may be required. No advance reservation is required.

8/2/11 - Pay Your Membership Dues Online: In addition to payroll deduction, another dues payment option is now available. OMCE has teamed up with PayPal, an online payment service, to provide you with a convenient and secure method to pay your OMCE membership dues by credit or debit card online.* Over 20 million people and businesses worldwide use PayPal. Click on the credit or debit card link on the Membership page and you will be taken to a secure PayPal website, where you will be prompted to supply your payment information and complete the transaction. Once you have done so, you will receive an email confirmation from PayPal. Your credit card or debit card account will be billed automatically on a recurring basis (e.g. yearly or monthly), depending upon the payment option you select.

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*If you prefer not to pay your dues online, you may continue to provide us with your credit or debit card information by telephone (800-828-6623; or 456-5241, if calling from within area code 518). And you may also pay by check.

7/19/11 - Update: Meeting with Administration: We had a productive meeting today with Administration representatives, but no decisions have been reached concerning M/Cs. The primary issues discussed were salaries, furloughs, layoffs and health insurance. We will continue our discussions with the Administration as the unions move toward ratification of their contract agreements.

7/18/11 - State/PEF Reach Agreement: The State and PEF announced over the weekend that they have reached tentative agreement on a five-year contract. The settlement, which appears to track the tentative State/CSEA agreement, is subject to ratification by the PEF membership. A press release from the Governor’s Office, announcing the deal and describing the terms of the tentative settlement, can be viewed by clicking on this link:

   http://www.governor.ny.gov/press/07162011FiveYearLaborAgreement

Meanwhile, we will be meeting with representatives of the Governor tomorrow, Tuesday, July 19th for resumption of our discussions to reach a settlement for M/Cs. We will post additional updates here as soon as information becomes available.

7/12/11 - Layoffs: We received calls from a few OMCE members last week who received a notice of layoff to be effective close-of-business July 27, 2011. Most will be able to bump lower level bargaining unit employees or retreat to a previously held position, but some face the grim prospect of being without a job. This is totally unnecessary and we are hopeful that these layoffs can be avoided altogether. We expect to meet with Administration representatives shortly; a date is currently being scheduled. Also, there is increasing likelihood that the State and PEF will be able to come to agreement soon, thereby averting the large-scale layoffs the Governor has said will otherwise be necessary in order to balance the budget. As soon as additional information is available, we will post it here. Meanwhile, if you are an OMCE member who has received a layoff notice, but you have not called us yet, please do so (800.828.6623). We plan to discuss layoffs at our meeting with the Administration.

6/24/11 Update: For the information and convenience of our members, here are links to the CSEA and M/C pay bill (Governor’s Program Bill #22) and, for reference, the tentative State/CSEA contract agreement:

    A8513 Abbate/S5846 Robach - Part B, M/C pay bill, begins on page 15

    2011-2016 State/CSEA Tentative Contract Agreement

The State/CSEA contract is subject to ratification by the CSEA membership. The ratification schedule calls for ballots to be mailed on July 22, returned by August 12 and counted by August 15, 2011.

On layoffs, the first notices of which were scheduled to go out today, the Albany Times Union reported yesterday: “While layoff notices for potentially thousands of state employees were scheduled to go out Friday, the state Division of Budget is now saying that, due to the tentative contract agreement with CSEA, those notices are being held back for members of state employee unions, as well.” A Division of Budget spokesman is quoted as saying: ““The announcement (Wednesday) changed the dynamic a little bit, and it makes us want to encourage other unions to come to a similar agreement. We’re holding on to those notices for the time being.”  The paper goes on to say: “The Governor’s Office is stressing that, while the notices are on hold, they aren’t being called off and that the hold is actually a delay due to the fact that they now have to reconfigure the complicated bumping, retreat and other procedures that would come into play during layoffs. They will be taking CSEA members off the layoff list, but the domino effect of that will mean that the three-week notices for the first wave of possible layoffs won’t be in people’s hands on Friday (today).”

Cuomo Administration representatives and OMCE are scheduling a resumption of our discussions to reach a settlement for M/Cs. We will keep you posted as new information becomes available.

6/23/11 - CSEA and M/C Pay Bills Rushed through the Legislature: For months we have had discussions with this Administration where we have focused on restoration of the M/C salaries withheld. We have always acknowledged the financial condition of the state and nation and have never sought this restoration without additional proposed sacrifice. In the closing moments of this legislative session, the CSEA pay bill, with an accompanying M/C pay bill, was submitted to the Legislature for immediate passage. This unprecedented move, prior to any union ratification vote, has resulted in a pay bill for M/Cs that does not address our outstanding issues.  While this Administration was not responsible for the withholdings, it has not to date addressed the continuing disparity and inequity faced by M/Cs that we have been trying so hard to resolve. Additional issues that require clarification include the no layoff pledge, payment of M/C step increases and longevities, applicability of furlough provisions to M/Cs and implementation of the heath insurance changes for M/Cs. Our members’ federal lawsuit on the withheld pay issue continues. We will continue to engage the Administration on these and all of our issues. We will keep you posted as new information is available.

6/22/11 - State/CSEA Reach Agreement: The State and CSEA announced today that they have reached tentative agreement on a five-year contract. The details of the settlement, which is subject to ratification by the CSEA membership, as well as the full text of today’s announcement by CSEA, are posted on the Albany Times Union’s Capitol Confidential page and can be viewed by clicking on the link below:

    http://blog.timesunion.com/capitol/archives/72023/csea-announces-tentative-agreement-on-5-year-contract/

The press release from the Governor’s Office, announcing the deal and describing the terms of the tentative settlement, can be viewed by clicking on this link:

    http://www.governor.ny.gov/press/062211cseaagreement

We are reviewing the details of the agreement and will provide updated information as it becomes available. Meanwhile, we immediately contacted the Governor’s Office and requested a resumption of our discussions to reach a settlement for M/Cs.

6/17/11 - OMCE News Network: Members can now view the current OMCE News Network, our very popular newsletter, online. Archived copies are available too. Just Login to the Members Only page and click to read. The newsletter is available in .pdf format which requires you to have Adobe Acrobat Reader installed on your computer. If you do not have it, you can download it here Get Acrobat Reader   

6/9/11 - Workforce Reduction: Despite OMCE and the unions putting forth savings proposals that address the $450 million personal service shortfall the Governor and the Legislature included in the 2010-11 budget, the Administration has officially begun the Reduction in Force (RIF) process. In mid-May, agencies were advised to begin planning for workforce reductions, including layoffs, to meet the aforementioned $450 million personal service savings. Yesterday, in a June 8 Budget memorandum (View Here), agencies were instructed to provide the Division of the Budget with a list of the titles that will be affected by a RIF and to get ready to notify employees eligible for transfer under the Agency Reduction Transfer List (ARTL) program. Intended to help permanent employees stay employed and avoid layoff, the ARTL program offers employees who might be affected by a RIF the opportunity to transfer to positions in other agencies before layoff. We will be posting further information here, as soon as it becomes available. Meanwhile, we have requested and will shortly have copies of the seniority rosters being used by the agencies. OMCE members with questions concerning the RIF process are invited to call us to discuss at 800.828.6623.

6/3/11 - Nominations: Last Call: Nominations for the OMCE Board of Directors are due by Monday, June 20. There are five seats to be filled this year, each for a three year term. The nominations process is simple, since a member can nominate him/herself. Just submit your resume, a letter stating your interest in running for a Board seat and a statement, that can be used on the ballot, describing your background and the issues and priorities you would want to focus on as a Board member.

Board members are expected to attend four Board Meetings per year (March, June, September/October and December) and to serve on at least one committee. Board members are not paid to serve on the Board, but travel expenses are reimbursed at State rates. OMCE is an organization of, by and for M/C employees who voluntarily choose to join, since designation as an M/C does not mean automatic enrollment as an OMCE member. OMCE officers and committee members are all volunteers for these positions. 

We need active working State M/C employees who are interested in being leaders in the fight to improve the working conditions of M/C employees and to ensure that their rights and benefits are protected. For additional information, contact OMCE at nysomce@gmail.com, 518-456-5241 or, from outside area code 518, at 1-800-828-6623.

5/24/11 - Simply Certificates will no longer be available for purchase through OMCE. We had purchased the certificates for resale from Simply Certificates-Albany Region as a convenience to members. The firm is shutting down its Albany, Rochester and Connecticut operations and will no longer honor its certificates, effective immediately. Refunds will be provided to certificate holders. For instructions on how to obtain a refund, certificate holders can contact Simply Certificates-Albany Region by telephone or email, as follows:

Email: customerservice@simplycertificates.com

Phone: 518-218-7680   Fax: 518-218-7682

The NYS Attorney General’s Office advises that, before you put your certificates in the mail, photocopy them first, making sure you have the serial number that's displayed. Then, when you mail them, send them with a return receipt requested. Simply Certificates asks that you enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope. The mailing address is: Simply Certificates, 705 Sachem Circle, Slingerlands, NY 12159. If you don't receive a prompt refund, you can file a complaint with the Attorney General's Office (Helpline 800.771.7755).

5/17/11 - Update: M/C Pay and Benefits: Yesterday, we met with representatives of the Cuomo Administration and Division of the Budget and presented our proposals for resolving the issue of M/C pay disparity. We also discussed our ideas concerning a pay and benefits package for M/Cs in 2011-12 and beyond. We were reminded that the Administration’s focus currently is on negotiations with the unions and that no decisions will be forthcoming with respect to M/C pay and benefits until after agreements are concluded with PEF and CSEA on pay and benefits for bargaining unit employees. We responded that OMCE’s focus, and indeed the focus of the entire M/C workforce, is on fixing the classification and compensation system to eliminate M/C pay disparity. We will continue to engage the Administration and the Legislature on this issue. Look for further updates here as soon as information is available.

4/21/11 - Nominations for OMCE Board of Directors: Each year at this time, we begin looking for members interested in serving on the OMCE Board of Directors. There are five seats to be filled this year, each for a three year term. The nominations process is simple, since a member can nominate him/herself. Just submit your resume, a letter stating your interest to run for a Board seat and a statement that can be used with the ballot, describing your background, the issues and priorities you would want to focus on as a Board Member and why you would be a good Board Member. The material is reviewed by the Nominations Committee members who will present a slate of nominees to the OMCE Board and, if needed, arrange for the mail ballot election. Nominations, via email or regular mail, must be received in the OMCE office no later than June 20, 2011.

Board Members are expected to attend four Board Meetings per year (March, June, September/October and December) and to serve on at least one committee. Board Members are not paid to serve on the Board, but travel expenses are reimbursed at State rates.

OMCE is an organization of, by and for M/C employees who voluntarily choose to join, since designation as an M/C does not mean automatic enrollment as an OMCE member. OMCE officers and committee members are all volunteers for these positions.

We need active working State M/C employees who are interested in being leaders in the fight to improve the working conditions of M/C employees and to ensure that their rights and benefits are protected. For additional information, contact OMCE at nysomce@gmail.com, 518-456-5241 or, from outside area code 518, at 1-800-828-6623.

4/19/11 - Update: M/C Pay and Benefits: We were encouraged to see the retroactive pay settlement the Administration reached last week with Council 82 on behalf of its SUNY, DEC and Parks law enforcement members. We are hopeful this will be the pattern for a similar retroactive pay settlement—such as we have been calling for in our discussions with the Administration—that would grant M/C employees retroactive restoration of their salaries to where they would have been, had it not been for the 2009 and 2010 M/C pay withholding actions imposed by the Paterson Administration. This leveling of the playing field will place M/C employees on the same salary footing as their bargaining unit counterparts going into 2011-12.

Looking ahead, we have not yet entered formal discussions with the Administration on a pay and benefits package for M/Cs in 2011-12 and beyond. Historically, when the State is in contract negotiations, as it is now with PEF and CSEA, no decisions are made with respect to M/C pay and benefits until after agreements have been concluded with the unions on pay and benefits for bargaining unit employees. Although the Administration’s focus currently is on its negotiations with PEF and CSEA, we nevertheless remain focused on the M/C pay disparity issue and will continue to engage this Administration on that issue. We will post updates here as soon as additional information is available.

4/18/11 - Leap Year Salary Calculation: In any fiscal year in which February 29 falls, your biweekly salary payment will be adjusted to reflect a calculation based upon 366 days in the year, instead of 365. Since the current fiscal year includes an extra day in February 2012, your biweekly salary payment will change to reflect the new calculation. The change, which will result in a slightly lower biweekly payment, is effective March 31, 2011 for employees on the Administration payroll and April 7, 2011 for Institution payroll employees and will show up in paychecks beginning April 13, 2011 (Administration) and April 21, 2011 (Institution).

3/31/11 - M/C Performance Advances and Longevity Payments: We have calls in to Budget, the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations and the Executive Chamber concerning payment of the 2011-12 M/C Performance Advances and Longevity Payments. We will post an update here on the status of the payments, as soon as information becomes available to us.

3/29/11 - New OMCE Member Benefit: As part of our affiliation with OPEIU Local 153, AFL-CIO, OMCE members have been enrolled at no charge in the WellCard Health Discount Program. WellCard allows you and your family to access health care providers, prescriptions and vision, dental, lab and imaging services at a discount. By now you should have received your WellCard Discount Card in the mail, enclosed with a flyer describing how the program works. This is not an insurance program, discounts are provided by participating healthcare providers. A list of participating providers is available online at www.wellcardhealth.com or by calling 800-562-9625. If you have questions about the program, call OMCE at 800-828-6623 (456-5241, if calling from within area code 518).

3/28/11 - Budget Agreement: Yesterday, the Governor and legislative leaders announced agreement on a budget for fiscal year 2011-12. The agreement is tentative - there are some unresolved issues that need to be addressed and passage of the budget itself is subject to a vote in the Senate and Assembly, which is expected to come later this week. Areas with implications for the workforce include:

Authorizing the SAGE Commission: The budget authorizes Governor Cuomo's Spending and Government Efficiency (SAGE) Commission to reduce the number of agencies, authorities, and commissions by 20%. The budget agreement also includes consolidating the Division of Parole and the Department of Correctional Services; merging NYSTAR into the Department of Economic Development; and merging the Consumer Protection Board into the Department of State.


Creating the Department of Financial Services: The budget merges the state's Banking and Insurance Departments into a new Department of Financial Services.

Prison closures: The administration will eliminate 3,700 prison beds throughout the state, in consultation with the Legislature.

Juvenile Justice Reform: The budget includes significant reforms of the state's juvenile justice system by encouraging greater use of community-based alternatives, downsizing state juvenile facilities system, and investing resources into enhanced services for juveniles that remain in OCFS.

As part of the budget, the Executive Reorganization Act of 2011 was passed, which authorizes the Governor to submit an agency reorganization plan once each year to the Legislature. The Legislature is required to vote “yes” or “no” on the plan, as submitted by the Governor and without amendment, within 30 days of its submission. The Act gives the Governor broad authority, but also specifies what is to be included in a reorganization plan and what may not be included.

The budget also includes $1.4 billion in across-the-board agency cuts (10%) and negotiated labor savings, and $70 million in additional cuts on the court system. 

We will post additional information on the budget here as soon as it becomes available.

We have made inquiries concerning the status of the 2011-12 performance advances and longevity payments that M/C employees are due to receive beginning April 1 and will post an update here as soon as information is available. Although they are usually issued by this time, a budget bulletin authorizing M/C advance and longevity payments and payroll bulletins for M/C, PEF and CSEA advances and longevities have not yet been issued. Meanwhile, we have been continuing our meetings with administration and legislative officials on our OMCE proposals for budget savings, restoration of the M/C pay raises and rationalization of the M/C salary schedule.  

3/10/11 - OMCE Pay Raise Litigation Update: We have been receiving inquiries on the status of our lawsuit. All of the filings necessary for the court to conduct its review of the arguments presented in our case were completed on January 10. The next step is up to the court. We are reluctant to speculate on when that will be, since it can be sooner as well as later. We will post updates here as developments occur, of course. Meanwhile, we are continuing our meetings with key players in the Administration and members of the Legislature, in hopes of securing agreement on steps toward restoration of M/C salaries.   

3/7/11 - Parking Fees Increase: The Office of General Services, Bureau of Parking Management, has announced increases in monthly employee parking lot fees, to be effective April 1, 2011. For employees on payroll deduction, the changes will begin in the April 27 paycheck (for employees paid on the Administration Payroll) or April 20 paycheck (for Institution Payroll employees). Monthly rates and biweekly payroll deduction rates are detailed in a March 7 Bureau of Parking Management memorandum to all parking permit holders. A copy of the memorandum can be viewed online by clicking here

3/3/11 - OMCE testifies at Budget Hearings on the State Workforce: OMCE Executive Director Joseph B. Sano delivered testimony on issues affecting the State’s M/C workforce yesterday in an appearance before the Legislative Joint Budget Hearings on the State Workforce. In his testimony, Mr. Sano discussed OMCE’s concerns with Governor Cuomo’s Executive Budget proposals as they relate to the State workforce generally and to the M/C workforce specifically. Pointing out that M/C employees have already given up two years of pay raises, he called upon the Legislature to exempt them from the Governor’s proposed 2010-11 pay freeze and restore their compensation to the levels legislated in the 2008 M/C paybill. He outlined a number of OMCE proposals for generating savings and increasing revenue, as well as legislation OMCE is pursuing this session to right the wrongs that M/C employees have suffered. The full text of Mr. Sano’s testimony is available here.

2/17/11 - Update: Meetings with the Cuomo Administration: Last week we met with Paul Francis, Governor Cuomo’s appointee to the newly created position of Director Agency Redesign and Efficiency, to discuss our ideas for achieving workforce savings and developing a fair and equitable compensation package for M/C employees. We had met with Mr. Francis during his time as Budget Director and Director of State Operations in the Spitzer Administration and both he and we were pleased at the opportunity to renew the good working relationship that had developed between OMCE and the Spitzer Administration. We shared our thinking on agency restructuring and consolidations, civil service and workforce issues, and succession planning. Mr. Francis said he looked forward to working with OMCE on matters affecting the M/C workforce and suggested we meet regularly – which we will do. Earlier this month we met with Alfonso David, Deputy Secretary to the Governor for Civil Rights and Labor Relations, and discussed with him our concerns about the need for fair and equitable treatment, including just compensation, for M/Cs. Next week, we are scheduled to meet with Jim Malatras, Deputy Secretary to the Governor for Policy Management, and a meeting with the Division of the Budget is pending.     

2/17/11 - Calculation of Retiree Sick Leave Premium Credit: We have confirmed with the Civil Service Department that the actuarial tables used in calculating a new retiree’s monthly sick leave health insurance premium credit will be replaced by more recent tables provided by the State Comptroller’s Office. The tables used currently were last updated decades ago. Since life expectancy has increased significantly since then, use of the more recent actuarial tables will result in a reduction of the dollar value of the monthly sick leave credit used to offset a new retiree’s health insurance contributions - we understand as much as 20 percent in some cases.  A decision on an implementation date is pending.  As soon as additional information is available, we will post it here.

2/7/11 - OMCE Scholarships - Members Only - Apply Now: Applications are being accepted for the Howard Coughlin Memorial and John Kelly Labor Studies scholarships until March 3, 2011 and for the "Summer Camp" scholarships until May 20, 2011. Instructions and application forms are available for viewing and printing from the Members Only page (Login Here) or by calling OMCE at 800-828-6623 (456-5241, if calling from within area code 518).

Coughlin Scholarship – Open to member, associate member in good standing and child of member in good standing for attendance at College, University or recognized Technical or Vocational post-secondary school, Full-time (FT) or Part-time (PT). Each FT scholarship is $3,250 for the first year, and $3,250 for the second year – total maximum value of $6,500; each PT scholarship is $1,325 for the first year and $1,325 for the second year – total maximum value of $2,650. Official OPEIU application and High School transcript required to be submitted to OMCE for endorsement and processing – must be received by March 3, 2010. Announcements of winners will be made in June.

Kelly Labor Studies Scholarship – Open to member or associate member in good standing, and undergraduate or graduate in one of the following areas of study: Labor Studies, Industrial Relations, Union Leadership and Administration, non-degree programs sponsored by the National Labor College at the George Meany Center or a similar institution. Official OPEIU application and college transcript (if currently enrolled) are required, along with an essay on applicant’s union activism and occupational goals, to be submitted to OMCE for endorsement and processing - must be received by March 3, 2010. Each scholarship has a total maximum value of $3,250. Announcements of winners will be made in June.

Romeo Corbeil/Gillies Beauregard Scholarship Fund Summer Camp - Open to children (between ages 13 and 16) of member or associate member in good standing. Eligible children include the son, daughter, stepchild, legally adopted child, grandchild or any other child that the member is responsible for caring for, including children of domestic partners, and must be between ages 13 and 16 only. The 2011 Summer Camp dates are July 23 to July 30 and will be held at University Forest, 153 University Forest Drive, Wappapello, MO 63966. Each scholarship has a total maximum value of $2,000. Applications must be received by May 20, 2010. Announcements of winners will be made in June.

2/3/11 - Next Steps on the 2011-12 Executive Budget: On Tuesday evening, we participated in an executive briefing for employee organizations by the Division of the Budget on Governor Cuomo’s 2011-12 Executive Budget proposals. We are continuing our review and analysis of the budget, particularly with respect to agency consolidation and workforce rightsizing. The budget explicitly states that savings will be obtained from management, as well as unionized employees. We are fully committed to working with the Governor and being part of the dialogue. In developing our proposals, we will be looking for ways to achieve the savings the Governor seeks, while at the same time ensuring that M/C employees are fairly and equitably compensated. We invite OMCE members to do your own analysis of the budget and share your comments and suggestions with us. You can access the various budget documents by scrolling down to the links listed below in our earlier 2/1/11 posting.  Email your comments and suggestions to us at either of the following addresses: nysomce@gmail.com or savings4NY@gmail.com.  We will be pleased to consider your recommendations for inclusion in the proposals that we advance in our upcoming contacts with the Cuomo administration.

2/1/11 - OMCE Statement in Response to Governor Cuomo’s Presentation of his 2011-12 Executive Budget:

OMCE looks forward to working in partnership with Governor Cuomo and his administration to address the challenges we all face.

The budget states that the Governor will seek a partnership with State employee unions to reduce workforce costs and, along with the reductions that will occur with consolidations and mergers, work with the unions to develop a fair and affordable compensation package for the State workforce.

The budget also states that savings will be obtained from management, as well as unionized employees.  This means it is critical that OMCE be part of the discussions on achieving workforce savings and developing a fair and equitable compensation package for the State workforce. 

Given the difficulty in keeping competent and dedicated M/C employees and attracting new workers to state government, the time is right to fix the pay inequity between M/C and unionized employees.  We spent two years in discussion of these issues with the Paterson administration, to no avail.  We look forward to the opportunity to present our proposals for making State government more efficient and responsive while, at the same time, ensuring that M/C employees are fairly and equitably compensated.

We will be reviewing the details of the Governor’s budget in the coming days.

2/1/11 - Executive Budget: For the convenience of members, we have set up links to the 2011-12 Executive Budget released on February 1, 2011. Click on the ►►►► buttons next to each of the headings below to view the budget, as presented on the Division of the Budget website:

    2011-2012 Executive Budget – Link to February 1, 2011 Press Release ►►►►

    2011-2012 Executive Budget – Link to Briefing Book Table of Contents  ►►►►

    State Agency Presentations – Link to Alphabetically by Agency Name  ►►►►

    State Agency Presentations – Link to by Subject (e.g. Economic Development, Education and Arts, Environment and Energy, State Workforce, etc) ►►►►

        Download Acrobat Reader

1/20/11 - OMCE Legislative Day: Join us for our annual Legislative advocacy day in Albany on Tuesday, March 8, 2011 (Room 120, Legislative Office Building). Our major legislative priority this year will be to advocate for a rational M/C salary structure, including restoration of the withheld M/C pay raises, and to offer sensible alternatives to layoffs and other painful measures that may be up for consideration in adopting a budget for the 2011-12 fiscal year. Our non-monetary priorities include increased protection for whistleblowers and employees subject to Inspector General interrogations, as well as formal “meet and confer” requirements. Register today - Click Here to view and print the registration form. Please respond no later than February 14, 2011. If you can’t come to Albany, contact your legislator directly and make an appointment to see him/her in the local district office during that week.

1/14/11 – OMCE Members - Invitation to Participate in Government: Governor Cuomo has said repeatedly that he wants the people to participate in government. This is your opportunity, as both citizens, employees and retirees of New York State, to do just that—to tell the Governor what is important to you, how you think government should be reinvented, where savings can be obtained and how agencies and their programs can be more efficiently administered. For information on how to participate in this initiative, go to: www.NYcitizenscampaign.com. If you prefer, you can channel your recommendations through OMCE, by sending your ideas and suggestions to us at our dedicated email address: savings4NY@gmail.com.

1/14/11 – OMCE Pay Raise Litigation Update: The State has met the January 10 deadline set by the US District Court, Northern District of New York, for submission of its response to our December 20 memorandum of law submission, again asking the court to dismiss our pay raise lawsuit. This completes all of the filings necessary for the court to conduct its review of the arguments presented in the case. We will post additional updates here as developments occur.

1/7/11 – Public Employees: A Different View: Robert Reich, Secretary of Labor in the Clinton Administration and Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, offers a different view of public employees in his recent article The Shameful Attack on Public Employees. Reich says public servants are convenient scapegoats. He also says some reforms need to be made, and when times are tough, public employees should have to make the same sacrifices as everyone else. But, public servants are unfairly being made scapegoats these days for the fiscal ills that plague the federal government and states and municipalities across the nation. “It’s far more convenient,” he says, “to go after people who are doing the public's work - sanitation workers, police officers, fire fighters, teachers, social workers, federal employees - to call them "faceless bureaucrats" and portray them as hooligans who are making off with your money and crippling federal and state budgets.” We suggest Reich’s article for your reading consideration.   

1/6/11 - State of the State AddressGovernor Andrew Cuomo yesterday laid out his prescription for solving the state's woes, describing the challenges facing the state, and extending hope that by working together it will be possible to fundamentally remake New York State and its government. Here are the highlights of his State of the State message:

He announced a Spending and Government Efficiency (SAGE) Commission to “modernize and rightsize state government.” Its goal will be to reduce the number of state agencies, authorities and commissions by 20%. The Governor intends to propose the “State Government Reorganization Act.” Under this proposal, the SAGE Commission will submit to the Legislature a plan to eliminate, transfer and consolidate state agencies. Executive Order #4, which creates the SAGE Commission, directs the Commission to submit its “rightsizing” plan to the Governor by May 1, 2011. The Legislature will then have 30 days to reject the plan, or it will go into effect. Newly appointed Director of Agency Redesign and Efficiency Paul Francis (with whom OMCE has worked in the past) will serve as SAGE Commission Co-Chair, with the Governor appointing one or more additional Co-Chairs.

Citing his experience as Attorney General with the insurance and banking industry, the Governor announced that he has already decided to introduce legislation that will create a new Department of Financial Regulation, which will merge the state's Insurance Department, Banking Department and Consumer Protection Board together as one agency to regulate the financial service organizations doing business in the state. And, in the context of a call for juvenile justice reform, he said he will seek repeal of a law that requires 12 months advance notice for closing underutilized facilities.

The Governor called for a redesign of the budget process, including reinventing and redesigning state programs so that the state can afford them, and he also outlined an Emergency Financial Plan to close the state’s $10 billion deficit in the 2011-12 budget without raising taxes or borrowing. It calls for holding the line on taxes, imposing a state spending cap to limit spending growth to the rate of inflation and imposing a one-year salary freeze on state employees whose contracts are up for renegotiation as of April 1, 2011. We have already written a letter to the Governor stating that we are prepared to work with the new Administration to address the many challenges the state faces, but we noted that M/C employees have already had a two year wage freeze and foregone 7% in wage increases—pay cuts which continue today and into fiscal 2011-12.

Finally, the Governor laid out his “Clean Up Albany” agenda, which includes enacting campaign finance reform (including a system of public financing for elections), restricting lobbyist campaign contributions, creating an independent redistricting commission, creating an independent state ethics board to monitor and enforce state ethics laws; and requiring full disclosure of outside income and clients. He also proposes to outlaw “pay to play,” thereby limiting the impact of special interests, and to strip pensions from public officials convicted of a felony for abusing the public trust.

The Assembly and Senate will begin their regular legislative session on Monday, January 10 and the Governor will introduce his 2011-2012 Executive Budget recommendations in a speech before both houses of the Legislature on Tuesday, February 1.

1/3/11 - News Items of Interest from the Cuomo Administration:

● Governor Cuomo announced today that he, Lieutenant Governor Duffy and newly hired senior members of the Administration will be taking a 5% cut in salary. The Governor’s Secretary, Counsel, Director of State Operations, Counselor and Chief of Staff all will be taking 5% pay cuts from their predecessors’ salaries. The Governor has also directed that the budget for the Executive Chamber be reduced by five percent.

● The Governor has issued an Executive Order (No. 3) requiring officers and employees of the Executive Chamber and agency commissioners, counsels and ethics officers to participate in ethics training, both initially within 60 days of employment and every two years thereafter. Among existing executive orders the Governor has continued is Executive Order 42, dating from the Rockefeller Administration, which relates to procedures for the submission and settlement of grievances of Management/Confidential employees.

● On Wednesday, Governor Cuomo will deliver his State of the State address, in which he is expected to announce that he will seek a one-year salary freeze for state employees. While we are prepared to work with the Administration to address the challenges we face, we note that M/C employees have already had a 2-year wage freeze and foregone 7% in wage increases—pay cuts which continue today and into fiscal 2011-12.

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