J. Stephen Conn / Flickr

Union workers ratified a contract with Otsego County government on Monday.

Solvejg Wastvedt / WSKG News

Part-time professors at Tompkins Cortland Community College want a union, but not just any union.

The college wants its adjuncts to join the full-time faculty union. The adjuncts say they need their own space, and they’re fighting for independence.

Last week, Robert Earle leaned back in his chair in front of his class at Tompkins Cortland Community Colllege, or TC3. Soft jazz played in the background.

Earle is an adjunct professor, and despite his easy demeanor, when he’s not teaching, he’s one of the driving forces behind the TC3 union fight.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Union groups from across central New York marched in the Labor Day parade at the New York State Fair Monday morning.

The president of the New York State United Teachers federation, Karen Magee, spoke to a large crowd about the accomplishments of the labor movement including better safety conditions, weekends and the 40-hour work week. NYSUT is made up of 600,000 members who work in education, healthcare and human services.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

The New York State Nurses Association held a rally at the state fairgrounds yesterday to launch their “Protect Quality Patient Care for Central New Yorkers” campaign. Many upstate medical centers and health department nurses are in the early stages of negotiating new contracts with hospital management.  Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez, the president of the union, came out to the event and said they are pushing for an increase in nurse staffing and community input for care.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

Onondaga County and its biggest union are close to agreeing to a contract. As WRVO’s Ellen Abbott reports, the county and CSEA leadership have agreed to the terms within a fact-finding report from the New York State Employment Relations Board.

The deal includes modest wage increases over five years, and raises health insurance contributions from employees. County Executive Joanie Mahoney says that reflects a changing trend in contracts for government employees, who traditionally were paid less than private sector counterparts, but had better benefits packages.

Solvejg Wastvedt / WSKG News

Part-time faculty at Ithaca College voted to unionize on Thursday after a four-month effort. Union “yes” votes prevailed by a margin of 119.

“I’m feeling pretty good about that,” says Ithaca College adjunct lecturer Rachel Kaufman. She helped organize the effort.

“A lot of people really want this union,” she says. “It’s something we had a strong sense of before, but it’s great to have it confirmed. I’m really looking forward to negotiations and making things better.”

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

With some successes but little political momentum, organized labor and low wage workers are continuing to call for a $15 minimum wage. 

Brittany Buffman once earned minimum wage in a job at the dining halls of Syracuse University. She says union efforts to pump pay the college allowed her and her husband to buy a house and raise a family.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Unions representing law enforcement officers in central New York are throwing their support behind former federal prosecutor John Katko in his race against Democratic incumbent Rep. Dan Maffei for the 24th Congressional District seat.

Syracuse Police Benevolent Association President Jeffrey Piedmonte says the main reason he’s speaking out is because he’s irritated about Democratic attack ads that accuse Katko of being light on crime, especially in connection with the plea agreement offered to former Oswego Mayor John Gosek for a sex crime.  

Gino Geruntino / WRVO

An injunction filed against Novelis Aluminum in Oswego to allow the United Steelworkers Union to represent the plant’s employees immediately and force the plant to bargain was denied by a federal court judge, who also ruled for the union in some respects.

In February, a vote on whether or not to unionize the plant failed by 14 votes. But the USW claimed Novelis had interfered with the vote.

Plant Manager Chris Smith says the ruling confirms what the company has been saying all along.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

It’s Labor Day, which marks both the unofficial end to summer as well as a day to celebrate the American workforce.

But there are half as many Americans in a labor union today as there were 30 years ago. It’s down to about one in 10 workers.

"We got to do everything we can to try and gain back that number and that’s important. We got to have the middle class again," said steelworker Brian Hoige. "It’s either the rich or the poor, there’s not really any middle class left to speak of anymore."

Gino Geruntino / WRVO/file photo

Novelis Inc. is in federal court in Syracuse to defend itself against charges by the National Labor Relations Board. The case stems from allegations by the United Steelworkers Union that the Oswego aluminum manufacturer interfered with a vote by its workers to unionize.

Gino Geruntino / WRVO

New York state's Financial Restructuring Board released its review and recommendations for the city of Fulton, which in recent years has faced serious fiscal issues. City leaders say they plan to take the state's advice.

Since 2011, Fulton has raised its tax rate by more than 15 percent to make up for a decline in property values. It also slashed full-time staff from more than 150 employees down to 135.

Ken Hawkins / Flickr

Syracuse police officers have reached a new labor contract with the city, more than three years after the old one expired.

It's not uncommon for police union contracts to lapse, but this one stretched on for a while, mostly over health care costs and coverage.

The new contract is for five years, but it applies retroactively to when the old one expired at the end of 2010. The 428 Syracuse police officers will have to pay about twice as much for health insurance, but will get two percent raises for 2013, 2014 and 2015.

Thomas Favre-Bulle / via Flickr

There’s a big change in the New York State United Teachers union, as members elected new leadership after months of unrest. The state’s largest teachers union has a new president, Karen Magee, the first woman to run the organization.

The shakeup comes over concerns with the state’s flawed implementation of the new Common Core learning standards. Teachers are complaining that they were not adequately prepared to teach to the new standards, and that the test results should not be used to evaluate their performance.

Novelis workers decide whether or not to unionize

Feb 21, 2014
Gino Geruntino / WRVO

UpdateAccording to published reports, the vote to unionize failed by a total of 14 votes. 

Earlier coverage:

Employees of Novelis Aluminum in Oswego are voting today to determine whether or not 600 employees at the plant will unionize.

James Ridgeway, an international union representative for the United Steelworkers Union, says workers from Novelis contacted him in mid-December to begin the unionization process, citing several changes that have occurred since Novelis purchased the plant.


Correction officers say they are still in shock after Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s prison agency announced late on a July Friday - and with very little advance warning - their decision to close four prisons within the next year. Now, they're asking the legislature to rescind the closures.

Normally, when a governor wants to close a prison or any other state run facility, he proposes the change in his state budget plan in January. The legislature either agrees or disagrees, and a final decision to close or to keep the facility open is made in the completed state spending plan.

There's a public hearing Monday night for the proposed Oswego city budget, which includes cuts to various programs to deal with a budget shortfall. One of the loudest voices against the cuts has been the Oswego Fire Department. If the budget is passed, the Fire Department could see their ambulance corps reduced, fewer firefighters assigned for each shift, and one fire station closed.

A union-funded think tank finds that New York has the greatest income disparity in the nation. The Fiscal Policy Institute says that trend continues, with the top one percent gaining more financial resources, while the middle class is falling behind and the numbers of the poor are growing.