PEF President Susan M. Kent, Secretary-Treasurer Carlos J. Garcia and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten discuss current-day challenges facing the union at a meeting with dozens of PEF-elected leaders and members in Albany. Weingarten addressed several topics such as collective bargaining, pensions, due process and education issues involving Common Core.
“We, as a union, value the work our members do individually and collectively,” Weingarten said. “To the public, we have become nameless and faceless entities. We are here to reclaim the promise of high-quality services for strong communities. The way to do that is to take what is invisible, such as the union fire fighters in Alaska who are fighting a forest fire the size of the city of Chicago, and make it visible and put a value around it.”
The discussion also focused on grass-roots organizing and how SUNY Downstate Medical Center is an example of growing community involvement and making public services visible to taxpayers and politicians.
Kent spoke about the importance for PEF to be solution-driven and the need to educate and engage all members to be a part of the labor movement. Garcia added, “It is time to sound the alarm to members who don’t realize what they may lose.”