CSEA awards 24 annual $1,000 scholarships under the Irving Flaumenbaum Memorial Scholarship and Thomas H. McDonough programs. In addition, Pearl Carroll & Associates LLC and MetLife each sponsor one-time awards of $2,500 to the top 2% of academic achievers, based on high school average, class rank and SAT scores. These scholarships are available to graduating high school seniors who are children of CSEA-represented employees in New York State.
Applications are available to print out HERE. Richard Riis also has a limited supply available upon request. Filing for a Flaumenbaum scholarship automatically puts an applicant in consideration for the Pearl Carroll & Associates LLC and MetLife scholarships. One application is good for all scholarships.
The filing deadline is April 30. Winners will be announced in June.
Folk music legend and lifelong labor union activist Pete Seeger has died at age 94. We remember him with this article, first published in the May/June 2007 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.
Pete Seeger: Activist, Master Songsmith
Even if you’ve never been to a labor rally, a civil rights demonstration, or a folk music concert, chances are you’ve been touched by the music of Pete Seeger.
For more than six decades, this gifted performer has traveled the world spreading messages of unionism, social justice, and peace. Many of the songs Seeger wrote or popularized are now part of the American cultural fabric, and along the way he has inspired countless labor, anti-war, civil rights, and environmental activists, as well as a diverse range of musicians.
Born in New York City on May 3, 1919, Seeger is the son of classical music teachers whose ancestors included Mayflower descendants and abolitionists. Though educated in private schools, his family was not wealthy. To earn spending money, Seeger sold a student newspaper he produced, and sometimes shined shoes.
Folk Music Awakening
Seeger’s future as a folk musician was forged in 1936, when his father took him to an Appalachian music festival in Asheville, NC. On that trip he first heard five-string banjo playing and enjoyed performances by many artists he came to admire, including “Aunt Molly Jackson.”As Seeger recalled in a 2006 interview, “She sang, ‘I am a union woman/just as brave as I can be/I do not like the bosses/and the bosses don’t like me.’ And that was how I began to hear folk music.”
He got a scholarship to Harvard, where he studied sociology and waited on tables in one of the school’s dining halls. In 1938, the college sophomore dropped out and began to travel, mainly by rail or by hitchhiking. He immersed himself in all forms of American folk music: bluegrass, gospel, blues, ballads, sea shanties, etc.
A naturally gifted “split tenor,” he learned to play the five-string banjo, and became acquainted with folk legends Woody Guthrie (This Land Is Your Land, This Land Is My Land)and musicologist Alan Lomax. Lomax hired Seeger for the Library of Congress’s Archive of American Folk Song, where the young musician’s job involved visiting migrant camps, churches, union halls, and rural communities.
In 1940, Seeger, Guthrie, and fellow musicians Millard Lampell and Lee Hays formed the Almanac Singers, which at times included folk legends Burl Ives, Leadbelly, and blues greats Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee.
The band popularized now-classic union anthems such as Solidarity Forever, We Shall Not Be Moved, and Which Side Are You On? They also wrote and recorded The Talking Union Blues,an organizing song for the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO). Enjoying considerable commercial success, the group also performed pacifist tunes in the run-up the war.
Seeger was drafted in 1942, and tried to become an Air Force mechanic. But FBI scrutiny of the Almanac Singers’ politics — including Seeger’s association with the Communist Party — resulted in his spending much of the war picking up cigarette butts at an Army base in Mississippi. He was eventually assigned to a unit entertaining the troops stationed in the Pacific.
In 1947, Seeger and Lee Hayes formed a new group, the Weavers, with Ronnie Gilbert and Fred Hellerman. The band found great success with chart-topping hits such as Kisses Sweeter Than Wine, On Top of Old Smoky, and Wimoweh (The Lion Sleeps Tonight). The Weavers made Leadbelly’s Goodnight Irene a No. 1 hit in 1949.
Despite its mainstream success, the group was condemned by conservatives. Threats led concert promoters to cancel Weavers performances, often at the last minute. In one famous incident on Aug. 27, 1949, near Peekskill, NY, a mob wielding baseball bats — probably organized by the Ku Klux Klan — tore down the stage. Thirteen people who had planned to attend the concert were seriously injured.
The Weavers rescheduled the performance — a benefit for the Civil Rights Congress that also featured Paul Robeson (the noted African-American singer, scholar, actor and activist) — for a week later. On Sept. 4, with security provided by union volunteers, 20,000 people enjoyed the show. Following the event, however, a police roadblock enabled a mob to assault people departing in their cars. The car carrying Seeger and his family was attacked by rock throwers.
Amid what was becoming an ugly political climate during the early days of the Cold War, Seeger and Hays penned If I Had a Hammer, an optimistic paean to the power of individual activism. Written in 1949, it became a Top 10 hit in 1962 for Peter, Paul, and Mary, and it soon became a standard for civil rights marches and Catholic folk masses.
Despite their popularity, the Weavers were among the victims of Sen. Joe McCarthy (R-WI) and his anti-Communist crusade.“Blacklisted” by the government, radio stations, and major record labels, the group disbanded in 1953. Seeger supported his family with solo-act appearances on the college circuit and at folk-music gatherings.
In 1955, Seeger was forced to appear before the House Un-American Activities Committee. He confounded the panel by refusing to answer its questions based on his First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and association — not by invoking his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, as other reluctant witnesses had done.
The Weavers reunited to play a sold-out Christmas Eve concert at Carnegie Hall in 1955 and played together intermittently until 1958. Seeger, however, began to devote more time to the civil rights movement.
In 1957, while visiting the Highlander Folk School, a training center for union and civil rights leaders in rural Tennessee, Seeger performed a version of a late 19th-Century gospel tune that had been adopted by union coal miners and tobacco workers: His rendition of “We Shall Overcome” prompted Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to remark, “That song really sticks with you, doesn’t it?”
The song soon became an anthem for the American civil rights movement, and it has since been adopted by freedom struggles around the world.
Other Signature Tunes
Seeger is perhaps best known for two other songs he wrote in the 1950s. Borrowing a few lyrics from a Russian folk tune, he composed Where Have All the Flowers Gone?, which became a pop-chart success for the Kingston Trio. In Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is a Season), he adapted verses from the Bible (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8). It became a number one hit for the Byrds in 1965.
These and other Seeger songs fueled a folk-music revival in the mid-1950s that lasted through much of the 1960s. By the late 1960s, however, Seeger became uncomfortable with the cultural radicalism and the generational divisions it fostered. In the 1970s he shifted his focus to environmental issues, most notably an effort to clean up the Hudson River that features his 107-foot sloop Clearwater, a floating classroom, laboratory, and stage.
Despite the shift, Seeger has remained a familiar presence at folk-music gatherings and anti-war and labor rallies. Today, at 88, the author of more than 100 songs, countless stories, and time-honored manuals on banjo- and guitar-playing is still healthy and active. Although his voice has developed a quaver, he can still be coaxed to take the stage to tell stories or lead a sing-along.
Union families can get fit and save money by using their Union Plus discount with GlobalFit. Enjoy the lowest rates on new memberships at health clubs and gyms including 24 Hour Fitness, Curves, Anytime Fitness, Sport & Health, Bally’s Total Fitness, and more. Average savings is about $200/year with the lowest price guaranteed.
Click this link to find a participating gym near you.
We are pleased to report that our inquiries into a situation of some concern alluded to in yesterday’s post have been addressed to the satisfaction of the union.
Congratulations to Dina Muhlenbruck, daughter of member Carolyn Muhlenbruck of the Commack Branch. Dina was a big, big winner on TV’s “Wheel of Fortune,” which aired on December 27. Way to go, Dina!
Click on images to enlarge.
The new contract has been proofread by all parties and returned to CSEA and the Library’s attorney. While we wait for the Board to approve the few minor corrections, we have extracted the 2014 salary schedules from the contract to distribute before the start of the new year, as promised at the December 6 General Membership Meeting. Copies of those three pages have been emailed to all members for which we have email addresses. If you failed to receive an email, please send your address to Richard Riis and those pages will be sent to you.
We appreciate the monumental work of Jean DeLauro and the Payroll Department in compiling the new schedules, which now include a breakdown of salaries by year, bi-weekly pay period and hour.
Many thanks again to Dave Berner, Joanne Genovese and Kim Seliger for their work on behalf of all of us in poring over this 43-page legal document word by word, number by number looking for typos, errors and omissions. In this line of work, nitpickiness is definitely a virtue.
Tune your television to channel 7 at 7:30 p.m. tonight to watch member Carolyn Muhlenbruck’s daughter compete on “Wheel of Fortune.” Good luck, Dina!
The new contract has been proofread by all parties. There are some minor corrections, mostly typographical, to be made. Until those corrections are made, we cannot print and distribute the contract. However, as announced at the December General Membership Meeting on December 6, the salary schedules for 2014 will be emailed to members this week.
The Sunday work schedule for January – May 2014 will be finalized by the Sunday Schedule Committee this Friday and sent out at the earliest possible opportunity afterwards. Beginning this season, all requests for schedule changes must be made to Richard Riis (or Sheila Doherty in his absence) no later than noon on Friday. Communications after that time must be made directly to that Sunday’s PIC for the building for which you are scheduled; PICS will follow the necessary steps to fill vacancies. The schedules, which will emailed to all at the beginning of the season, will be updated as needed and viewable on the staff K Drive, as are contact phone numbers, weekly sign-in sheets and all Sunday-relevant matter.
NYSHIP Opt-Out Buyout
There is at this time a dispute between CSEA and NYSHIP over the definition of “other coverage” for employees who wish to opt out of NYSHIP coverage.
Unlike for plan years 2012 and 2013, the State of New York and CSEA have not reached agreement for 2014 to allow CSEA-represented employees to qualify for the opt-out payment if the other coverage is provided by a NYS employee. As everyone saw in the recent Library memo, there is no buyout payment for 2014.
CSEA (and other labor organizations) are contending that coverage through an employer other than NYS, such as a municipality, school district or public benefit corporation, qualifies as “other coverage”.
Members are advised to follow all instructions in the Library memo and await the outcome of the CSEA-NYSHIP dispute. Please, no inquiries of the Executive Board; we know nothing more than you do at this time. We have asked CSEA to keep us apprised and as we learn of developments we will promptly pass them on to the membership.
Thinking of sending flowers for the holidays – or any time year-round? CSEA members can save 20% when sending floral arrangements, roses, plants, wreaths or gift baskets from Teleflora with a minimum order of $34.99. Call 1-888-667-7779, 24-hours-a-day, 365 days a year, and have your CSEA membership number handy. Save an additional $4.00 when you place your order online instead of by phone.
Due to the federal Affordable Care Act, annual physicals are now required to be covered in full under our health insurance plan. As a result the Annual Physical Reimbursement Benefit that we currently have with the CSEA Employee Benefits Fund will be ending December 31, 2013.
Eligible fulltime members who have an out-of-pocket expense from an annual physical performed in 2013 can still submit a claim for payment; expenses are reimbursable up to $95. A downloadable form is available at the CSEA EBF website. The deadline for filing claims is March 31, 2014.