I’m writing to you today to let you know that PEF has secured a new lead negotiator in our contract talks with the State. As soon as I learned that Elizabeth Hough, PEF’s lead negotiator up until now, would be assuming a new position with UUP, I reached out to AFT President Randi Weingarten for her recommendation on who would be the right person to assume this role. Today, I am very pleased to be able to tell you that we have secured one of the nation’s leading labor negotiators, long-time AFT Counsel Mark Richard; and he will be at the table with our team when negotiations resume later this month.
Let me tell you a little bit about Mark’s impressive record. He’s been involved in public and private sector organizing, bargaining and coalition building for over 30 years. He has led negotiations involving public and private sector professionals, teachers, transit workers, and health care workers and has secured contracts for state and local government workers. Mark was involved in the historic Eastern Airlines strike, ending the tyranny of Frank Lorenzo, served as the AFT liaison to the Chicago Teachers Union during their strike victory and negotiated the contract that ended the nine month vicious lockout of workers at Sotheby’s Auction in New York City. A unionist at heart, Mark became involved in the labor movement in 1975 when he took his first union position as the South Florida Boycott Organizing Director for Cesar Chavez’s United Farm Workers Union and he’s been a proud AFT member for over 38 years.
The PEF contract team, with Jemma Marie-Hanson as the new chair, is committed to securing a good and fair contract for the PEF membership and is committed to staying at the negotiating table for as long as that takes. Negotiating a good contract is not about time – it’s about negotiating! Now, with Mark Richards, PEF has a lead negotiator with experience, stature and professionalism – all of which will serve us well.