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Tough bargaining gains member respect
Contract talks start to sizzle with issues voiced by members

PEF Represents: Real Professionals, Real Respect, Real Voice!

 ContractupdateheaderBy DEBORAH A. MILES

During the last few months, hundreds of PEF members spanning the state articulated their PS&T contract desires at town hall meetings.


Team members not only listened, but are bringing those items to the table. Bargaining with the state’s negotiators kicked-off at the end of January. Both sides did the perfunctory courtesies, introducing the team members and laying out ground rules.

Now the nuts and bolts of the future contract are being exchanged in the form of conceptual proposals, the foundation to build a new agreement that respects all PEF-represented titles.

PEF Contract Team Chair Darlene Williams said, “We heard your concerns and are giving them a real voice at the table. One of my members asked me, ‘Are we really going to look at performance awards (longevity pay)?’

“I told the member I can’t give away trade secrets, but it is one of the things we are absolutely fighting to improve. It is one of the first proposals we submitted to the state’s negotiators.

“We are sending the message to the state that PEF members are real professionals that deserve real respect, and that what we negotiate comes from real voices.

“You have told us about the inadequacies in the dental program, flexible work schedules, telecommuting and many other topics. This team realizes these are challenges to our members, and these are concerns and issues we will address.”

PEF Chief Negotiator Mark Richard said, “PEF members stand with their bargaining team because their team is fighting forward and leaving nothing on the floor. An educated membership is the strongest membership.

“Knowing and enforcing our contract opens up a level of activism among members that strengthens our union. And that is why this team will always be driven by the voices and input from the membership.” (See related story on Article 18).

The team held negotiations for three days at the end of March, and have meetings confirmed for April 9, 10, May 7, 8 and June 4, 5. Additional small table dates are in the process of being scheduled.

For breaking contract news, make sure to visit the official PEF Facebook and Twitter pages, and the PEF website.

New PEF membership involvement contract talks campaign “MIB – Members In Black ” for Tuesday, April 9. See below find out how you can get involved.


Mark Richard, Chief Negotiator 

“PEF’s team is prepared to take on the slippery slopes of Albany, and where other unions are positioning themselves to bargain for what they need. A lack of unity undermines our important efforts. When you build a united fight, the other side understands a union’s real strength. A united membership always leads to a better contract.”

PEF Represents:
Real Professionals Real Respect
Real Voice


Darlene Williams, Contract Team Chair

“Our members need to embrace the value and strength of working together. When I go to work, I know I have people around me that will fight the fight with me, along side me, in front of me and behind me. The union has so much to offer members. It not only gives me unity with other people, it is a type of insurance that protects its’ members from the unknown down the road.”

Christopher Buman

“Only through our collective voice do we have a chance to maintain and improve working conditions. The union is here to fight discrimination and other injustices. It’s unrealistic for one person to go against the state. As a collective bargaining group, we can take on those issues and others.”

Ricardo Cruz

“We all belong to the union and must respect it. The contract is a tool that represents us. The state must know we are union members with union rights, and the contract is our bible. I want members to understand they need to support their contract team, because your contract team represents and supports you.”

Conrad Davis

“As a unionist, I successfully advocated for improved working conditions and sought to enforce the contract and won redress for wronged members. It became clear our contracts lacked equity, fairness and justice. I believe these imbalances, especially as they pertain to our working-class economic well-being, can be overcome through the proper application of strategic thinking and planning across the range of bargaining challenges.”

Amy DeMarco

“I have a knack for policies. The political climate may shape how we make decisions during negotiations. I like to find areas where we can obtain gains. I base my discussions on the wants and needs of our long-standing and newest members. I think about their issues and concerns and bring them into play at the table. Sometimes our members are not treated well for the excellent work they do. When that happens, stand up and be heard. We need to support each other.” 

Marilynn DiCara

Negotiating a contract is a process that includes the input we receive at membership meetings. These meetings are very motivating for members as they give everyone a chance to express their concerns. The team is very committed to work on these concerns and issues, but we can only accomplish this if members continue to be involved in the process and support the team.”

Debra Greenberg

During the past months, I have been involved with PEF’s contract team training and assisting the team with negotiations. The team members are an incredible group of dedicated people who I really enjoy working with. They have worked very hard, going to town hall meetings to hear the primary concerns of the membership. They did a great job getting input and that’s what it’s all about, trying to negotiate a contract the membership wants and needs.”

Yatram Bruce Jagroop

“I encourage members to have one-to-one conversations with each other to send the message that all members need to be a part of the mobilizing group. We need mobilizers to support the contract team and their decisions. We are not always going to give everyone what they want in the contract, but we will work for what the majority of members want us to negotiate.” 

Andrew Puleo

“As a member of the contract team, I encourage every PEF member to be involved and vote when a tentative agreement is reached. It’s all about teamwork, including our professional PEF staff, and being proud to be a PEF member and part of the greater labor movement. I am grateful to those for support and guidance, so I can continue to best serve our members.”

Michele Silsby

“Our members have demonstrated by their attendance at meetings that they are involved with their union. The discussions at those meetings, along with the several union roles I have held  and the various committees on which I served has given me an insider’s point of view of what members want and expect from their union. I am passionate and committed to work with the team to obtain a successful contract for all PEF members, one that improves current disparities.”


Bobbi Stafford

“This team is dedicated to doing the hard work needed to get the best contract possible for our members, but you should know that we are only a small piece of that process and we need the entire membership behind us, supporting us.  We need you  to get the word out at your worksites, be active and engaged on social media, sign up for email updates, wear buttons or union gear and check the PEF.org website often because we may need to call upon you to come out and stand with us, when a ‘Call to arms!’ goes out.”

Gloria Thomas

I would like to encourage people to know and establish a relationship with their union representatives. When there is a work-related issue, you will have someone to advocate for you on your behalf. At the final days of completing our negotiating training, I found it valuable as I gained a deeper understanding of each contract article. Now we are at the table. We are confident, knowledgeable and armed to bargain in a professional way.”

Colleen Williams

This contract team is a force to be reckoned with. We are seasoned professionals, and we’ve seen a lot. We know first hand the struggles our members face on the job, such as being asked to do more with less, for far too long. We are determined to bring our members a dignified deal that improves their lives.”

Table of Contents – April 2019

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