The value of union membership from your peers
Reasons why YOU should be a proud card-carrying union member
By DEBORAH A. MILES
Scarlett Ahmed – State Labor Department
When I think about all the benefits from my union membership, PEF’s Joseph Scacalossi Scholarship comes to mind. Just as I work at the state Department of Labor and advocate for my members, Scacalossi did the same when PEF was in its infancy. His activism for his members was so great and appreciated, PEF named its scholarship program after him. Still going strong, the Scacalossi Scholarship has helped ease the financial stress of college tuition for hundreds of PEF families. And being a union member also entitles PEF members to apply for other union scholarships, such as the very generous ones offered by the Service Employees International Union. That benefit alone is worth the cost of your dues.
Joe Donahue – State Department of Taxation and Finance
One of the first things that occur when you get a state job is signing up to be in a union that represents you on the job. Now some people don’t like this practice. But when you really think about it, it makes sense in so many ways. I work at the Department of Taxation and Finance as a senior administrative analyst. I’m a union representative and proud of it. Through collective bargaining, union membership has paid off in countless of ways. One of the biggest is the raises we have received because of the contract PEF negotiated with the state. If New York becomes a right-to-work state, collective bargaining is thrown out the window. It will greatly impact and cripple the way the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations financially deals with its state employees. The bottom line is there will be less money in your future and your children’s future.
Stephanie McLean-Beathley – Western New York Children’s Psychiatric Center
The situation at Western New York Children’s Psychiatric Center is an example of how the union works for you. For the past few years, PEF and a strong community coalition has fought to keep WNYCPC at its current location in West Seneca, and not be consolidated with the all adult Buffalo Psychiatric Center. The “Save the WNYCPC” team got thousands of signatures, overwhelming support from the state Legislature, and yet the governor vetoed the bill. But our PEF leaders said they would continue the battle with the governor. There is power when 54,000 members got your back. Even at times when it looks like the ship is sinking, it is the crew that keeps it afloat. The union has found other avenues to address this issue and that’s why being in a union is so valuable to me.
Radhakrishna Mohan – State Insurance Fund
I’m an information technology specialist at the State Insurance Fund and recently became aware how my colleagues at state Information Technology Services took advantage of a Professional Leadership Development program. From everyone with whom I spoke, I learned that this training helps to provide opportunity for professional advancement by instilling and enhancing leadership skills in our members. It is made possible through joint funding by PEF and the state as negotiated in our PS&T Agreement. In reality, it is a benefit not only to the employee, but also to the state for helping to raise the bar of excellence for its workforce. This is one example of continuing education that is made possible through union membership.
Joan Rosegreen – SUNY Downstate Medical Center
I am a nurse at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn. A few years ago, Downstate was under attack by the state. Hundreds of dedicated PEF professionals who work here were not only fearful of losing their jobs, but leaving the people in their community without medical treatment and services. PEF joined forces with a grass-roots effort and lobbied, rallied and helped keep the momentum alive until we won. It was a struggle, but it also demonstrated what union solidarity can accomplish. Union membership is invaluable when it comes to protecting jobs and maintaining public services. Just ask any of the 4,000 people who come through the Emergency Room Clinic on an annual basis who said they would be lost or dead, if we were not here.
Ramlochand Singh – State Health Department
As a health program administrator in New York City, I am acutely aware of the role PEF has played in the area of health and safety. Members across the state have benefited from PEF’s attention to and resolving workplace issues such as improving air quality in certain offices, fighting for and winning the battle for safe patient handling equipment at various facilities, providing safety equipment for parole officers and strengthening legislation such as the mandatory overtime law in which PEF took the lead. Health benefits only available through collective bargaining and union intervention when needed are something we can’t afford to lose. We must remain strong union members.
Bobbi Stafford – SUNY Upstate Medical Center
The staff at SUNY Upstate Medical Center has been facing a myriad of problems such as short-staffing, mandatory overtime and disrespect by management. These are just a few of the things that poison morale. As a PEF steward and Executive Board member, I reached out to my union to help the PEF-represented professionals at SUNY Upstate overcome a toxic work environment. The response was an immediate “yes.” Together, with PEF leaders and PEF staff, we came up with an action plan that led us to be able to air our concerns with management. The discussions, so far, have been productive and we now have some hope the problems will be addressed and remedied. In my opinion, this is where union membership shines the brightest. It is our union leaders who have the knowledge, experience and expertise to overturn a bad working environment. We couldn’t do this on our own. This is one example of PEF working for and protecting us.
Kevin Wilson – State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities
I attended an event in September sponsored by PEF’s Membership Benefits Program and it enlightened me to the bigger picture of union membership. It was a family fun day at the Long Island Aquarium where I saw fellow PEF members wearing PEF buttons and stickers. Being the council leader at the Long Island Development Disabilities Services Office, it was refreshing to see people from other state agencies approach each other saying, “I didn’t know you were a PEF member, too!” I witnessed people bonding because of PEF membership. It was an added bonus to the tremendous discounts provided to us to attend the event. Mostly, it was an opportunity to relax and talk to other members about taking an active role against New York becoming a right-to-work state.