Meet Your Leaders – 4th in a series
By Deborah A. MILES
“I would watch as my mother held meetings and listened as the members discussed strategies and formed strikes to fight for their rights and benefits. Little did I know at that time, I would go down the same path,” Santos said.
Her own work environment also played a role in her desire to promote unionism.
“I work for the state Department of Health as a medical assistant specialist. In my unit, 85 percent of the jobs have been given to outside contractors. Fighting against privatization is a priority for me,” Santos said.
She is also a staunch advocate for economic opportunity, equal employment practices, safe and healthy standards in the workplace, fair representation during grievance proceedings and maintaining constitutional equality for the entire membership.
Santos has worked to empower minorities, has held several positions within PEF, and remains an active member in PEF’s Political Action Committee, PEF Pride and the PEF Albany Black Caucus Council.
“My role as a union activist led me to becoming a PEF trustee. I am
wholeheartedly looking out for the members’ best interests. We need to be cognizant of how members’ dues are being used, because we don’t know what will come in the future with the anti-labor movement. We need to be prepared and have sufficient financial resources to fight back if the challenge presents itself. We must be conservative, consistent and have policies updated and enforced to strengthen our financial power.
“My message to the membership is that we should not be silenced,” Santos said. “We should continuously voice our concerns and issues. We are strong when we are a loud chorus, and that’s when our message is heard.”
PEF Region 4 Coordinator
Roberta “Bobbi” Stafford Contract Team Member
By SHERRY HALBROOK
Bobbi Stafford expects to draw on all of her 16 years of union leadership experience, ranging from steward and the division offices of secretary, treasurer and council leader and convention delegate to serving on the PEF Executive Board, in her new duties as the PEF regional coordinator in Region 4.
While it’s easy to identify Region 4 with the City of Syracuse, this central New York region actually stretches far beyond the city limits to include Seneca, Cayuga, Cortland, and Onondaga to the south and north to Oswego, and Jefferson along Lake Ontario’s eastern shores.
Stafford said her goals as coordinator include creating a more inclusive membership and developing and empowering members and new local leaders to strengthen the union.
As an Executive Board member, Stafford also served on various PEF statewide committees, including: Ethics; Nurses and Grievance Appeals, which she chaired. She also is PEF-chair of the statewide Joint PEF-SUNY Health and Safety Committee.
A teaching and research center nurse 2 at SUNY’s Upstate University Hospital, Stafford participated in PEF’s annual conference in Albany and lobby day activities for nurses’ legislation to require safe patient-staffing ratios, safe patient handling, no mandatory overtime, and protecting the shift differential for SUNY Upstate nurses when SUNY tried to revoke it.
“I had to mobilize our members and meet with local legislators to successfully protect the shift differential for our nurses,” Stafford said.
In addition to SUNY, Stafford said she has worked for the state Office of Mental Health, and the state Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services.
Not only will her broad experience at a variety of state agencies be helpful in working with the diverse membership of Region 4, it should also be an advantage in her other new role as a member of the PS&T Contract Team that will begin negotiations with the state in January.
As demanding as her state and PEF duties have been, Stafford has also made time to serve her community as a volunteer with the North Area Volunteer Ambulance Company known as NAVAC.
Stafford said she grew deep union roots at an early age as part of a union household. Her father was an active member of the Iron Workers Local 9.
“His respect for workers and the value of fair wages, benefits, and working conditions still inspire me today,” Stafford said.
PEF Region 9 Coordinator
By SHERRY HALBROOK
PEF Region 9 is a sprawling area that spans the lower Hudson River Valley, encompassing Westchester, Rockland, Putnam, Orange, Sullivan, Dutchess and Ulster Counties.
Diane Jaulus is in her first year as PEF Region 9 coordinator, taking office in August 2018, following the union’s triennial elections in June. A licensed master social worker 2 at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility in Westchester County, Jaulus said her skills and training as a social worker in such things as community organizing and grassroots activities “are a natural fit for my work as regional coordinator. That’s what I strive to do in my new role.”
Jaulus said she has been proud to represent PEF as a vice president of the Westchester, Putnam Counties Central Labor Council and it has given her experience in working with other unions, the state, counties, local governments and community groups on common concerns.
“It’s important to work together, and that includes working with both other public- and private-sector unions,” she said.
Jaulus said her many other experiences over the last 12 years of union activism have taught her a lot.
“I’ve learned PEF members want to be taken seriously, be listened to, and helped with their job issues. And I’ve tried to do that over my years as the PEF Executive Board representative for eight correctional facilities: Bedford Hills, Taconic, Sing Sing, Greenhaven, Edgecomb, Lincoln, Queensboro and Riker’s Island.
“I’ve learned you must be flexible to meet the needs of your members, because they may work on different shifts and you have to represent them at their worksites. I must be available when and where they need me and that means my day may start at 7 a.m. and it’s even gone as late as midnight.”
“As PEF Division 353 council leader and a steward, I’ve helped members with their grievances and educated them about unions, potential threats to their job security, both contract and PEF benefits and how their PEF-negotiated state contract works for them.”
As Region 9 coordinator, Jaulus said she will draw on all she has learned as an Executive Board member, council leader, steward, PEF convention delegate, and as a member of labor-management, health and safety, and the PEF Women’s committees.
Jaulus holds a master’s degree in Social Work from Fordham University. She is a member of the National Association of Social Workers and a recipient of the Merit Service Award.