PEF Region 10 conference earns 5
By DEBORAH A. MILES
Approximately 85 PEF Region 10 members took advantage of a leadership conference on Father’s Day weekend at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Tarrytown.
The members who attended the event work at a variety of state agencies and organizations throughout the New York City area, but most agreed the workshops were all deserving of a five-star rating.
“I have attended this conference for a few years, and this is the first time I stayed. I enjoyed all of it,” said Muriel Hardy, a social worker assistant 3 and the Willowbrook Liaison for the Bronx.
Hardy said the information she learned at the workshop about the Constitutional Convention was most valuable.
“A “no” vote could safeguard my pension,” she said. “Now that I am aware of that, I am going to spread the word. The Housing and Employment Discrimination Workshop was also very informative. I have a two-family home, and I wasn’t aware of all the regulations.”
Robin Matthews, a child abuse prevention specialist at the state Office of Children and Family Services and a PEF Executive Board member, said, “I also enjoyed the housing seminar because people need to know and be updated about the rent stabilization laws.
“The workshop on the Constitutional Convention was also excellent. The way the politicians are promoting it, they make it sound as if it would be good for New York. But now the cat is out of the bag. We know why to vote “no” on the back of the ballot,” Matthews said.
State Sen. J. Gustavo Rivera was the guest speaker. He also focused on the financial impact on taxpayers if a Constitutional Convention were held, and the possibility of New Yorkers losing pensions, public schools and environmental safeguards.
Brian Purnell, a state Insurance Fund hearing representative and PEF steward, presented a workshop on political action and the reasons to contribute to the Committee on Political Education (COPE).
“This conference was very successful because our members understood how important it is to mobilize and lobby elected officials. They were informed about PEF’s victories in this budget session, which showed them the value of union participation,” Purnell said.
Rhonda Mona, a public health nutritionist at the state Department of Health, attended this annual conference for the first time and described it as “impressive.”
“The tone of the conference was set right from the beginning. Sheik Nabijohn, the PEF Region 10 coordinator, asked us to greet each other with a hug and tell our union brothers and sisters, ‘We stand united and not undivided.’ That brought harmony and a good way to enter the workshops,” Mona added.
“The training on labor-management was very detailed. We worked in groups and I became familiar with Article 24 of the PS&T Agreement which is on the L-M process. I learned about organizing meetings, the requirements and how we record those meetings.
“As a new steward, all the conference workshops gave me additional skills to help members,” Mona said.
Some of the other workshops focused on the grievance procedure, a framework for taxation information, and workplace violence prevention, and member engagement.
Nabijohn said, “Member engagement was discussed at length. It is more than a topic. The survival of the union depends on member engagement and participation. We made strides at this conference by having members recommit to the union and giving us their contact preferences.
“The most important reason for this conference was to educate members. We provided a vast amount of information and education to guide them politically and to deal more effectively with the issues they experience at work and in their communities.”
“I want to thank the members in Region 10 who took the time to attend this conference,” said PEF President Wayne Spence. “The labor movement continues to be threatened, and PEF along with its brother and sister unions, must remain strong. Education is power, so I hope everyone passes on what they learned here to other members. Let’s make this leadership conference a ‘together we win’ action.”