eCOMMUNICATOR Plus Exclusive – August, 2017
Open house debuts PEF’s “Wall of Fame”
Story By DEBORAH A. MILES Photos By JANE BRIGGS, MAYRA ITHIER and MARIO BRUNI
If the proverb is true about one picture being worth a thousand words, then the murals in the PEF New York City regional office speak volumes about the history of PEF and its role in shaping the labor movement in New York state.
The hundreds of photographs are a visual memoir of PEF beginning in 1979 to 2017. Every PEF president from John J. Kraemer to Wayne Spence is featured, along with PEF members on the job, rallies, Communicator covers, legislators, and significant events such as contract talks and tributes to members who lost their lives on Sept. 11.
On July 14, more than 150 PEF leaders and members were joined by lawmakers and local dignitaries for an open house celebration at the new PEF NYC regional office, located at 100 William Street, Suite 1700. The murals which adorn the entrance to the offices and along the corridors of the conference rooms were well-received as the photos inspired the guests to reminisce about the history of their union.
PEF President Wayne Spence told the audience that the idea for the murals originated when he visited the Transportation Workers Union which had larger-than-life photos of its members working throughout New York City.
“I’ve been to the TWU office countless of times, and it never ceases to amaze me that I see something new when I look at their mural. I wanted to replicate that for the new office. PEF’s Director of Communications Jane Briggs took the lead on coordinating the mural.
“We took a chance consolidating the Region 10 and Region 11 offices. The economy has changed and PEF needed to save money. Now we will be saving more than $1 million in the course of a ten year lease.”
Spence also credited Robert Jackson, downstate director of field services, saying, “This new office wouldn’t have happened without you.”
Jackson said everyone is very pleased with the new office, and especially enjoy looking at the murals.
“Several of the guests were surprised to see their photograph on the wall. One of the things the murals illustrate is the diversity within PEF. From its inception to now, our union has embraced people of color, people with different titles and interests. The PEF leadership has also been diverse as the presidents themselves held PS&T titles such as a labor representative, nurse, research scientist, psychologist and now a parole officer,” Jackson said.
PEF Region 11 interim Coordinator Charles Roland said, “The open house was a huge success. It was an opportunity for Region 10 and 11 members to meet each other. I got the sense of the spirit of true unionism and camaraderie. The murals are breathtaking and able to provide a great history of PEF in a nutshell. But what was hammered home to me is what we can and will accomplish when we act in the true spirit of unionism.”
PEF Region 10 Coordinator Sheik Nabijohn said, “Everyone was amazed at our new offices. Members were in awe of the murals because of the history. Some made the statement, ‘I am proud to be on the PEF Wall of Fame.’”
Mario Bruni, PEF’s graphic artist in the Communications Department designed the murals.
“This was a great opportunity for me to showcase PEF’s labor history from its origins to the present. Each photograph leaves an imprint of who we are as individuals and what we can accomplish collectively,” Bruni said.
“The layout for the murals took about 3 weeks to complete. I had to sort through thousands of PEF archived photos, selected a few hundred to use for all three walls. The photos were taken by PEF staff and volunteers.
“I designed these murals so they would bring life to the history of PEF. It is something appreciated by veteran members and a learning experience for new members. The photos create interaction among visitors to this office and will have a long-lasting impact well into the future.
“I designed it on an iMac, but when I saw the actual murals, there’s one word to describe it – WOW,” Bruni said.
The guests at the event included state AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento, state Senators Roxanne Persaud, and James Sanders, Jr., Assemblymen Richard Gottfried and Felix Ortiz, NYC Council members Rosie Mendez and Alan Maisel, and a representative for NYC public advocate Letitia James.
BY POPULAR DEMAND — To view the complete wall murals, click the links below and enlarge the view using your magnifying glass software tool:
Front entrance wall
Front Conference wall (right)
Front Conference wall (left)
Back Conference wall