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This collection documents the day-to-day activities of the Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA) from 1918 to the present. There is no documentation of the organization's initial years of existence, but significant material about administration, meetings, membership, agreements, publications, and organizational history.

64.26 cubic ft.

2868 Digital Files

English .
Preferred citation:

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Identification of specific item, series, box, folder, Civil Service Employees Association, Inc. (CSEA), American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 1000 Records, 1918-2015. M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University at Albany, State University of New York (hereafter referred to as the CSEA Records).


Scope and Content:

The records of the Civil Service Employees Association span from 1918 to the present. There is no documentation of the organization's initial years of existence. The records include Meetings, Records of Resolution or Motion, Legal and Administrative Files, Subject Files, Publications, News Clippings, Press Releases, Audio Visuals, Scrapbooks, records of the CSEA 100 Project, an extensive interview project created to help celebrate the union's centennial in 2010, Photographs, and Membership. Of these, publications is the largest series and includes CSEA's official newspapers The Civil Service Leader, The Public Sector, and The Work Force. Please note that the records of the Capital City Council of the Civil Service Association, which formed in 1918, are also included in Series 1, Subseries 1: Board of Directors Meetings.

The collection contains a variety of record formats. A selection of early to mid-twentieth century meeting transcripts and publications are housed on microfilm, some filmed by CSEA and others by the M. E. Grenander Department of Special Collections & Archives. There is a substantial number of paper files including correspondence, newspapers, meeting and interview transcripts (also digitized), meeting minutes, and subject files, and both hard copy and digitized publications and photographs. In addition, there are video and audio tapes and scrapbooks. There are a small number of born digital materials.

Conspicuously absent from the collection is any documentation of the strike in 1972 by CSEA members, except for any discussions in the minutes and transcripts of meetings. While only lasting two days, it is noted in New York labor history for being the first strike by state employees under the Taylor Law of 1967, which made it illegal for New York State employees to strike and imposed harsh financial penalties for those who did.

Biographical / Historical:

The Civil Service Employees Association, Inc., or CSEA, is the largest public employees' union in New York State with over 265,000 members. CSEA began in Albany, New York in 1910 as a collective effort by a small group of state employees to secure better wages and working conditions. Originally known as the Association of State Civil Service Employees, the organization adopted its current name in November 1946. Between 1920 and 1940 the organization grew from a handful of workers to a membership of over 600. This increase in membership was largely based upon the admittance of non-competitive class civil service employees. By 1947 the organization admitted another class of state employees, local government workers, with the issuance of a charter to Westchester County employees.

Ever-increasing membership prompted CSEA's leadership to formalize the union. As part of this effort, CSEA purchased its first building in 1947. Along with the procurement of an organizational headquarters and the statewide issuance of charters, CSEA also published a constitution. As expressed in the CSEA constitution, the fundamental purpose of the organization is to "represent its workers with respect to all terms and conditions of employment, to uphold and extend the principles of merit and fitness in public employment, and to maintain and promote efficiency in public service and to advance the interests of all Civil Service employees."

CSEA's commitment to its members encouraged other state employees to join the union. CSEA's membership expanded to more than 40,000 by 1948. While other labor organizations discontinued operations in times of economic hardship, CSEA's membership remained active. By the 1960s the organization had become so large in number and effective that its endorsement became much sought after in the New York State political arena.

In 1967 the Taylor Law went into effect, changing the face of labor relations in New York. The Taylor Law established "good faith" collective bargaining practices for both management and labor. Furthermore, it declared all strikes by state employees illegal and prescribed a "two for one" penalty for those labor organizations whose members participated in a strike. In spite of the Taylor Law and its prohibitions against strikes by state employees, at midnight on March 31, 1972, New York State employees engaged in their first strike. The striking workers, members of CSEA, walked off their jobs to protest meager wage increases presented during contract negotiations. The strike lasted two days and resulted in contracts which included salary increases and productivity bonuses.

In 1974 CSEA "regionalized" creating six geographic subdivisions in New York. The regions are: 1) Long Island, serving Nassau and Suffolk Counties; 2) Metropolitan, serving New York City; 3) Southern, serving the seven counties of the mid-Hudson area; 4) Capital, serving the 14 counties surrounding Albany; 5) Central, serving 20 counties with Syracuse at the hub; and 6) Western, serving 14 counties extending to Buffalo and the westernmost part of the state.

In 1978 CSEA undertook a trial affiliation with the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) as Local 1000. CSEA became a permanent member of AFSCME in 1981. Currently, CSEA is the largest affiliate of AFSCME, which in turn is the largest member of the AFL-CIO.

CSEA publishes an official monthly newspaper for its members. Originally entitled The Civil Service Leader, CSEA changed the publication's name in 1978 to The Public Sector, and to The Work Force in 1998. The newspaper serves to keep members informed of the union's activities locally and statewide.

During its 100 year history, CSEA has achieved significant accomplishments. In 1920 CSEA had its first victory with the establishment of the New York State Retirement System. Throughout the 1930s, CSEA became more influential in state politics. In 1931 CSEA introduced a legislative measure that led to the 1936 abolition of the 72-hour work week for employees of state institutions. Another accomplishment of the 1930s was the passage of the Feld-Hamilton law on June 3, 1937. The new law set in place a salary plan that provided state employees with minimum salaries and equal pay for equal work. As the decade of the 1940s approached, CSEA took on a new direction. 1946 set the stage for enormous growth with the official change of the organization's name to CSEA and the constitutional change that opened up membership to all New York public employees. Throughout the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, CSEA was a very influential labor union. CSEA backed the 1967 Public Employees Fair Employment Act, also known as the Taylor Law. CSEA also had a large role in the passage of the Public Employment Safety and Health Act. The new law created safer workplaces for all public employees by creating minimum safety standards. In the late 1970s, CSEA made its most dramatic move as a labor organization when it joined AFSCME. A major success of the 1980s was CSEA's constitutional change to allow the organization of private sector employees. As CSEA approached and entered the new millennium, it realized that it would be faced with new challenges as it advocated for workers' rights, including a growing pool of retirees. After several years of fighting for a permanent cost of living adjustment (COLA) to the pension system, CSEA utilized the union's influential power to obtain the benefit in 2000. Today CSEA continues to serve as an advocate for workers, bargaining for just contracts and campaigning for quality and affordable health care, education, safe workplaces, and guaranteed Social Security benefits.

Following is a list of CSEA Presidents from the organization's founding through today:

William M. Thomas, 1910-1918

Wellington D. Ives, 1920-1921

Major Philip G. Rosa, 1921-1922

Dr. James I Wyer Jr., 1922-1923

Dr. Horatio M. Pollack, 1923-1925

Danial Chase, 1925-1926

James A. Cromie, 1926-1927

Robert B. Haner, 1927-1928

William C. Smith, 1928-1929

William F. McDonough, 1929-1934

Beulah Bailey Thull, 1934-1935

Dr. Charles A. Brind Jr. 1935-1941

Harold J. Fisher, 1941-1944

Clifford C. Shoro, 1944-1945

Dr. Frank L. Tolman, 1945-1950

Jesse B. McFarland, 1950-1953

John F. Powers, 1953-1959

Joseph F. Feilly, 1959-1967

Dr. Theodore Wenzl, 1967-1977

William C. McGowan, 1977-1988

Joe McDermott, 1988-1994

Danny Donohue, 1994-2019 Mary Sullivan, 2019-present

Acquisition information:
All microfilm items in this manuscript group (with the exception of the Meeting Transcripts which were microfilmed by CSEA) were lent to the University Libraries, M.E. Grenander Department Special Collections and Archives, by the Civil Service Employees Association, Inc. (CSEA), AFSCME Local 1000, and subsequently microfilmed as a part of the Harry Van Arsdale, Jr., Labor History Project. The originals were returned to CSEA. All other records are donated to the University Libraries on aregular basis.
Processing information:

Processed by La Nina M. Clayton in 1990; revised by Sarah Cross in 2005; revised by Devin Lander in 2008; Melissa McMullen arranged new accessions within collection and updated finding aid in 2010; and Sheri Sarnoff arranged new accessions within collection, updated finding aid, and converted finding aid to EAD in 2016-2017.


The collection is organized into the following series: Series 1: Meetings; Subseries 1.1: Board of Directors Meetings, 1918-2015; Subseries 1.2: Annual Delegate Meetings, 1947-2014; Subseries 1.3: State Executive Committee Meetings, 1971-1983; Subseries 1.4: County Executive Committee Meetings, 1948-1983; Subseries 1.5: Meetings of State Chapter Presidents, 1971-1982; Subseries1.6: Meetings of County Delegates, 1976; Series 2: Records of Resolution or Motion, 1961-1966; Series 3: Legal and Administrative Files, 1977-2014, Undated; Series 4: Subject Files, 1964-2011, Undated; Series 5: CSEA Publications, 1932-2014; Series 6: News Clippings, 1980-2013, Undated; Series 7: CSEA Communications, 1971-2017, Undated; Series 8: Audio Visual, 1960-2013, Undated; Series 9: CSEA 100 Project, 1998-2009; Series 10: Images, 1970-2010, Undated; Series 11: Scrapbooks, 1958-1971; Series 12: Membership, 1939-2015, Undated. Series 1-7 and 11 are arranged chronologically. Series 9-10 and 12 are alphabetical. Series 8 is arranged alphabetically by format and then chronologically within the format.

  1. Series 1 - Meetings, 1976
  2. Subseries 1.1: Board of Directors Meetings
  3. Subseries 1.2: Annual Delegate Meetings
  4. Subseries 1.3: State Executive Committee Meetings
  5. Subseries 1.4: County Executive Committee Meetings
  6. Subseries 1.5: Meetings of State Chapter Presidents
  7. Subseries 1.6: Meetings of County Delegates
  8. Series 2 - Records of Resolution or Motion, 1961-1966
  9. Series 3 - Legal and Administrative Files, 1977-2014
  10. Series 4 - Subject Files, 1964-2011
  11. Series 5 - CSEA Publications, 1932-2014
  12. Series 6 - News Clippings, 1980-2013
  13. Series 7 - CSEA Communications, 1971-2015
  14. Series 8 - Audio Visual, 1960-2013
  15. Series 9 - CSEA 100 Project, 1998-2009
  16. Series 10 - Images, 1970-2010
  17. Series 11 - Scrapbooks, 1958-1971
  18. Series 12 - Membership, 1939-2015
Physical location:
The materials are located onsite in the department.



Using These Materials

The archives are open to the public and anyone is welcome to visit and view the collections.

Access to this record group is unrestricted.


The copyright interests in these materials have not been transferred to the University Libraries. Copyright resides with the Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA).

The researcher assumes full responsibility for conforming with the laws of copyright. Whenever possible, the M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives will provide information about copyright owners and other restrictions, but the legal determination ultimately rests with the researcher. Requests for permission to publish material from this collection should be discussed with the Head of Special Collections and Archives.


Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Identification of specific item, series, box, folder, Civil Service Employees Association, Inc. (CSEA), American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 1000 Records, 1918-2015. M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University at Albany, State University of New York (hereafter referred to as the CSEA Records).

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