Bronx members give PEF warm welcome
By SHERRY HALBROOK
Saturday, May 19, was a miserably cold, rainy day in New York City, but the reception of excitement and surprise felt warm and welcoming to two PEF teams that knocked on members’ doors in the sprawling complex of high-rise apartment buildings in the Bronx called Co-op City.
“People were excited and very warm and welcoming to us,” said PEF Division 407 Council Leader Muriel Hardy. “They just couldn’t believe that PEF, and especially the union president, was knocking on their door and wanted to talk to them. I thought people wouldn’t open their doors, but many of them did and they were so happy to see us.”
The group of about nine PEF leaders, volunteers and staff, as well as Richard O’Brien who is on loan to PEF from the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), split into two teams to try to reach as many of the 65-70 PEF members who live in the complex as they could that Saturday.
The teams each knocked on 10-12 doors, but found only about half of the members were at home or available to talk with them.
“It was pouring rain and hard to find parking, but it was well worth the effort,” said PEF President Wayne Spence. “We met wonderful people who really appreciated that we came directly to them because they are important to PEF and that we wanted to inform them about what is happening and tell them our union needs their energy and ideas and participation.”
“We need to do more things downstate,” Hardy said. “It’s easy for our members here to get the idea their only role in the union is to pay dues and that all of the important things happen in Albany.”
PEF Region 11 Coordinator Bernadette O’Connor said her team also found that “members were so happy and surprised to see us at their door. They wanted to know about the Janus court case and they were very grateful the union leaders were there to tell them about it.
“This door-knocking is a great thing for us to do,” O’Connor said. “We need to engage and educate members so they will have a better understanding of what the union is and what it means to be a union member. Some of the members we talked to said they want to get more involved in PEF, and that is what we need for them to do.
“We must go back and do more,” O’Connor said. “This one-on-one member engagement has to be continuous.” SEE MORE PHOTOS HERE.