Home » President's Message » Labor on the Move : Important S.O.S. Message from PEF President Susan M. Kent

Labor on the Move : Important S.O.S. Message from PEF President Susan M. Kent

Governor Cuomo announced today some changes in OMH’s Regional Centers for Excellence Plan involving the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center, Binghamton Health Center and Elmira Psychiatric Center, all of which were slated to be closed under the original plan.  The Governor said today in fiscal year 2014-15, one adult ward will be closing at each of the three facilities.  The remaining adult wards will remain open while appropriate community resources are developed. The Children’s units at the three facilities will remain open.  Eight beds from each facility will be transferred to crisis and respite care.  Under this revised plan, both Binghamton and St. Lawrence will be designated state-of-the-art Children’s Behavioral Health Centers of Excellence.While we don’t know what this means for the rest of the Regional Centers for Excellence Plan, and continue to be concerned about the way this Governor rolls out public policy, we are cautiously optimistic that this signals a more logical and appropriate way to transform mental health services in New York State.  Consistent with our SOS advocacy, the Governor now says he agrees that patients should not have to travel far to receive the treatment they need and that it should not be a hardship for families to be involved in their loved ones’ treatment.  We will continue to push the Governor to allow  ample time for unions, the public and elected officials to have an opportunity to weigh in on public policy decisions of this magnitude.  We will share more information as we get it.Attached you will find a letter that I recently sent to Laurie Kelley, Acting Commissioner at NYS OPWDD, Governor Cuomo and Courtney Burke.  The letter was written in response to the abrupt announcement by management to implement an involuntary reassignment of 41 PEF members working at the Wassaic campus in the Taconic DDSO.  This action represents a sharp reversal of assurances that members were given on a number of occasions by management  that there would be local jobs available within the Taconic DDSO community service area.  Additionally, our members were assured that no layoffs would occur.  But in fact, since many of these reassignments will involve significant geographic hardship, the result will be a de facto layoff.This action, this breech of cooperative agreement, has created gut wrenching personal hardships for PEF-represented workers at Wassaic.

I share this with you as a caution  to remain  vigilant in dealings with management.  Agencies often seem either unable or unwilling to honor agreements. That is why I urge all of you to use the full force of PEF resources to advise you in the development of any “agreement” with your agency, particularly in regard to possible work reassignments and closures.

The office of the PEF President, your field representative  and the PEF Civil Service, Contract and Legal Departments  are committed to assisting members during these challenging times.  As union leaders, we must work together to ensure this does not happen again.

OPWDD Letter (pdf)