PEF blocks civil service erosion at DFS
By DEBORAH A. MILES
In 2011, New York state merged the New York Insurance and Banking Departments into the state Department of Financial Services (DFS).
Things began to change in 2017 after the governor appointed Maria T. Vullo as DFS superintendent, who was granted expansive new rulemaking authority. Some of the changes included merging titles. PEF was invited to a meeting in February 2017, and was told titles would be merged in a new initiative called Title Modernization.
Last year in April on a Friday, DFS staff received an email that stated the new titles went into effect the day before. People who were bank examiners were downgraded from a 20 to a grade 18. They were grandfathered in so they did not lose benefits or pay, but new hires would start at the grade 18 salary.
“We had hoped they would have brought more people to the table and that there was a more open conversation and transparency. It took more than a year for DFS management to work this out with the state Department of Civil Service,” said one PEF member who requested anonymity.
PEF President Wayne Spence said the union kept the pressure on and worked with the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations and Civil Service, which resulted in positive outcomes.
“On May 21, we were able to stop the hiring for non-competitive and exempt positions included in the DFS Title Modernization Initiative,” Spence said. “DFS has also agreed to establish a workgroup consisting of DFS management and PEF leadership to evaluate the administration of exams and opportunities for continuing education. There will be more communication with DFS employees about the Title Modernization Initiative.”
Spence credited the unity of PEF members at DFS and said, “Your solidarity and support is what made this tremendous step possible. Thank you for proving, once again, that ‘We Are Stronger Together.’ PEF will continue its fight against the erosion of the civil service system and do everything we can to ensure that all members are afforded a career path that is rewarding.”
PEF Division 260 Council Leader Ade Oluwo echoed those sentiments.
“The importance of solidarity at DFS cannot be over emphasized. We will stay together and fight against management’s injustices,” Oluwo said.
“Employees are the most important asset and the backbone of every successful organization. We don’t want to compromise our integrity by hiring non-competitive and exempt employees which may in turn ruin the regulatory system agency and the financial responsibility and solvency for the state.”
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