PEF Contract Town Hall Meetings: Real Professionals, Real Respect, Real Voice
Negotiations take off with proposals being exchanged, scrutinized
By DEBORAH A. MILES
Being trained, fully prepared and ready to talk face-to-face with the negotiators from the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations (GOER), the PEF contract team has hit the bargaining table with resolve and professionalism.
PEF and GOER officially kicked off the talks at the end of January, where both sides exchanged ground rules for bargaining, which were accepted at the subsequent meeting.
Darlene Williams, PEF chair of the contract team, said negotiations took place twice in February, and that four large table talks and one small table session were scheduled for March.
Large table talks focus on issues that may affect the majority of PEF members. Small table talks may focus on a non-monetary item or items related to a specific agency, typically with the contract team members who represent that agency who intimately know what the issues are, and can offer solutions through the negotiation process.
“One of the issues our members have raised at several of PEF’s town hall meetings is longevity awards,” Williams said. “We take our members’ concerns very seriously and have placed a conceptual proposal about longevity awards on the table.
“We also listened to our members who work at SUNY Stony Brook University Hospital concerning pay differentials, and our members who are parole officers who have asked my team to help them achieve benefits other peace officers already have. These are just a few of the topics that have launched our talks.
“For PEF to obtain a contract that members will be eager to ratify, we have to be delicate yet firm in our voice at the table and be savvy with our sequencing moves. The most important leverage we have is that the state knows we have the solid support of our 54,000 members,” Williams said.
One of the state’s first moves was to present a conceptual proposal on health insurance, which received dozens of questions and much scrutiny.