READY TO BARGAIN – PEF’s PS&T contract team prepares to meet with negotiators from the state, and during a break pose for a photo. Seated in the center are Jemma Marie-Hanson, chair of the team, and Mark Richard, chief negotiator.
Contract talks resume with new lead negotiator
The transition period between one administration and another often results in a few changes. That’s been the case with the PS&T contract team, which has been working diligently behind the scenes.
Since August 1 through December 4, the team has met to prepare for meetings with the state 18 times. In October, it resumed talks with the negotiating team for the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations. The two teams met October 7, November 23 and 24, and have meetings scheduled for December 2 and 3.
PEF Region 11 Coordinator Jemma Marie-Hanson is the chair of the team. Hanson has played a dynamic role in helping PEF achieve its legislative victories during the years, and is respected for her fairness, knowledge and attention to detail.
PEF’s former chief negotiator recently advanced to another position at United University Professions, so PEF President Wayne Spence contacted Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) for a recommendation to fill the void. Weingarten suggested long-time AFT Counsel Mark Richard, who is one of the nation’s leading labor negotiators from Washington, DC.
For more than 30 years, Richard has led negotiations involving public- and private-sector professionals, teachers, transit workers and health care workers. He has secured contracts for state and local government workers and he served as the AFT liaison to the Chicago Teachers Union during its strike victory.
Richard negotiated the contract that ended a vicious nine-month lockout of workers at Sotheby’s Auction in New York City, and was involved in the historic Eastern Airlines Strike, ending the tyranny of Frank Lorenzo, an American businessman, philanthropist and noted union buster.
“Mark Richard will serve PEF well,” Spence said. “He joins us with successful hands-on experience, stature and professionalism. He understands the delicate intricacies involved with this timely process, and is committed to staying at the table until PEF members get the contract they deserve.”
The members of the contract team represent statewide agencies, so questions and issues at the tables can be addressed by the professionals who are insiders.
The team members are: Hanson, a teaching research center nurse 3 at SUNY Downstate Medical Center; Doug Begent, a teaching research center nurse 3 at SUNY Stonybrook; Christopher Buman, a labor services representative at the Department of Labor; Amy DeMarco, a research scientist 2 at the Department of Health; Stephen Geyer, an engineer in charge at the Department of Transportation; Germaine Greco, a disability analyst at the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance; Prakash Lal, an information technology specialist 4 at the Office of Information Technology Services (OITS); Victor “Tony” Perez, a senior parole officer at the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision; Ronald Sampath, a child protective services specialist 2 at the Office of Children and Family Services; Sametta Shaw-Lipiec, a physical therapy assistant at the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities; and, Karen Spotford, an information technology specialist 2 programmer at OITS.
The team is supported by PEF staff: associate counsels Renee Delgado, Lisa Newmark, Rita Strauss and administrative assistant Karen Conte.
Spence said he is confident in this team which is charged to acquire a contract that protects the economic welfare of PEF members, provides for a safe and professional work environment, and emphasizes fair and respectful treatment of all employees.
“We will fight for a fair contract as long as it takes to achieve our goals,” Spence said. “I ask members to identify with this theme: ‘United we bargain, divided we beg.’ The success at the contract table depends on the support of all of members. This is a time to unite and stay united.”
Story by DEBORAH A. MILES