Member credits contract benefits for help speeding his career advancement
By SHERRY HALBROOK
Michael Stoughton is the council leader of PEF Division 289 at Albion Correctional Facility in western New York, where he is a vocational instructor 4. That’s a grade 17 position, but just three years ago he was starting his state service as a grade 12, vocational instructor 1.
That five-pay-grade jump and his time on the job are adding more than $16,000 to his annual pay.
Stoughton credits two things for his steep and swift career climb:
1. Hard work; and
2. Financial help from the PS&T contract that PEF negotiated with the state.
After spending 28 years working in the private sector, Stoughton was 49 years old with just a high school diploma, some college credits from 1985 and living in rural upstate New York when he got his first job with the state November 12, 2015.
He wasted no time discovering the advantages of having a union contract that includes education and training benefits to help members polish their professional skills and advance their careers.
“I’m sure plenty of members throughout PEF could and should take advantage of it,” Stoughton said. “I’m helping my fellow employees at DOCCS (state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision) with classes and reimbursement to help get them their bumps (up the pay scale and career ladder) as soon as they can.”
His climb and all of the support he received under the contract have made a strong and clear imprint on Stoughton.
“Within three years and nine days from the day I started with the state, I earned my professional teaching certification, made vocational instructor 4, paygrade 17 and completed 21 college credits, six of which were graduate level, for approximately $2,700,” Stoughton said. “My PEF contract benefits reimbursed two graduate-level courses, two undergraduate-level courses, and some exam fees, workshops and more.
“It was not a bad run. It wasn’t free or easy at all. I had to work hard, but with PEF’s help I made a great leap forward.”
Stoughton’s on a roll and he’s not done reaching for higher rungs on that career ladder yet.
“I’m taking the supervisor exam in June. Without becoming a vocational instructor 4 so soon, I wouldn’t have qualified to take the exam for supervisor. They probably won’t offer it again until 2024.”
“Michael used the College Tuition Reimbursement and the CLEFR (Certification, Licensure, Exam Fee Reimbursement) benefits provided under PS&T Contract Article 15 for professional development. PEF fights hard at the bargaining table for those benefits,” said PEF training specialist Tamara Carney.
If you want to learn more about these benefits, Carney said you can go to the PEF website and select Member Resources. On that menu, select Education and Training and then scroll down to Professional Development. You will find information there about many benefits funded through the contract and how you can take advantage of them.