By WAYNE SPENCE
By now you should all have received your paychecks with the salary increases that were included in our recently ratified contract.
It was our excellent negotiating team that hammered out the agreement, but congratulations go to all of you, too, because it was your support of the one-year retro contract that gave us the added strength at the bargaining table to negotiate a good contract for our membership that we can all be proud of. This is a real example of what it means to say that PEF is YOUR union.
Last month I was involved in what we’re fondly calling the “Blizzard Blitz of 2017,” a first-of-its-kind membership engagement initiative for PEF. You can see photos and links to video in the full story on pages 4 and 5 of this edition of The Communicator, but I want to share with you some of the things I learned during our blitz week.
My belief in the PEF membership and in unionism, in general, was reaffirmed during the blitz. We had amazing PEF volunteers who spent hours training with their colleagues from AFT (American Federation of Teachers) and then taking what they learned and bringing it to PEF members during one-on-one conversations at worksites and at members’ homes.
I had the opportunity to do both worksite visits and home visits. I was so impressed and inspired by the lively conversations, thoughtful questions and welcoming attitude of our members. I, personally, was invited into members’ homes and had meaningful conversations about PEF and the current state of the labor movement nationwide. This experience was nothing short of motivational and the results showed us all that PEF members DO want to be involved with their union and they want to have a stake in the future.
So, how can you help build PEF power?
- Find out what’s going on. Talk to your local leadership, read The Communicator, check out the PEF website and social media to connect with your union and see what’s happening in PEF regions statewide.
- Get involved. We have launched a Go Public/anti-privatization campaign. (See page 13 of this Communicator to find out how you can be involved in the campaign.) Go to meetings, look for PEF events, committees and groups that interest you and join the movement.
- Be politically active. Participate in PEF lobby days, contact your legislators about issues important to PEF, and support political candidates that support our goals.
- Know your contract. Knowledge is power!
See the blitz video links here:
Jeff Hutchinson – PEF – https://vimeo.com/211700807
Christine Judd – AFT – https://vimeo.com/211700652
Lynette Lewis – AFT – https://vimeo.com/211700941
Bill Garrity – AFT – https://vimeo.com/211700567
While I am heartened by what we saw and experienced during blitz week, I know we are facing some very serious challenges. We are fighting civil service erosion and contracting out of our services, which threaten our members’ jobs. We are joining with other unions in an effort to block a constitutional convention, which could result in gutting many of the union rights we now have under the New York State Constitution. (See page 7 for more information.)
We have a lot of work to do, but there is no question that by standing together we are stronger. This is YOUR union and the strength we have as a union comes from you, our members. #TogetherWeWin