*** Please note *** This letter to the editor was provided to The Post Standard a week prior to the election, and The Post Standard did not publish it.
County Employees Support Bill Kinne for County Executive
The CSEA members that make up the county workforce are charged with delivering essential services to our community. From making sure our roads are safe to travel; helping families keep food on their tables; protecting the most vulnerable in our communities; ensuring our community has clean water; or being the calming voice on the other end of an emergency 911 call. To put it simply, Onondaga County could not operate without these hardworking union members delivering these kinds of vital services every day.
It might surprise readers to know that CSEA, the union representing Onondaga County Employees, is supporting Bill Kinne for County Executive. In 2019, we supported the current county executive in hopes that we could create a work environment for our members that everyone could be proud of.
We desperately needed someone (and still do) that could help bridge the gap between our communities that rely on these public services and the county employees that deliver them. Unfortunately, while we have increasingly relied on these public services throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, county employees have been left feeling forgotten.
We understand that the role of a county administration is not just to provide services, but to also help grow our community. The problem becomes when the sole focus is growth without any appreciation for the new challenges faced to the services a growing community relies upon. We often hear the phrase from this administration that they can “walk and chew gum at the same time,” but frankly we haven’t seen it. Just because services continue to be delivered doesn’t mean there isn’t a burned-out county employee on the other end drowning in overtime or caseloads.
I’d like to pull the curtain back just a little on how our county operates. Our CSEA members, the county workers that keep our communities running, are consistently burdened by workloads that are often outside of New York State regulations. Rather than coming up with creative solutions to attract employees to the county workforce, the county will punish employees for working outside of their hours. They discipline those dedicated public employees that work on their lunch break or outside of their hours to ensure the job gets done and done right.
How do you tell a child protective caseworker that they need to stop looking out for the most vulnerable? The answer is you can’t (trust me I know). But instead of focusing on hiring additional caseworkers to get caseloads down, the county punishes those that go above and beyond. They discipline those that work on their lunchbreaks or outside of their hours. Our members are consistently set up to fail, this is not how county government should work.
We need county government to work for everyone and that doesn’t mean ignoring opportunities for growth. But the services that exist in the shadows of hot political items, like the aquarium project, are things that help improve the lives of county residents every single day.
This can all be boiled down to the current county executive’s response when asked by Syracuse.com reporter Michelle Breidenbach about rumors the county executive may take a job with Micron. His response was that he was “more valuable to Micron where I am.” How hard is it to say you are more valuable to the community where you are? What we need is a county executive that is valuable to everyone. That’s why we are supporting Bill Kinne for County Executive.
CSEA Onondaga County Local 834 President