Learned benefit of having union
To the Editor: I feel that I need to write about my positive experience with my union, PEF, and one individual in particular, PEF field representative Fred Becker.
I was working (as a licensed master social worker 2) for the state Office of Mental Health providing mental health treatment for maximum security inmates with serious mental illness at Central New York Psychiatric Center, the state entity that provides mental health services throughout the state prison system. One of the individuals on my caseload hung himself in his cell. As a result, CNYPC wanted to suspend me for six months without pay.
I was freaking out, but Fred told me to stay calm and be confident in my clinical decisions. Due to Fred’s extensive knowledge of the union contract, along with the fact that he was very familiar with the workings of CNYPC, I ended up with two weeks without pay.
Despite the fact that I felt that I should not be disciplined for an inmate’s suicide, since I felt I did everything I could have for the inmate, Fred’s counsel was invaluable to me both professionally and emotionally. I am grateful for everything that Fred did for me and the countless others he has supported throughout the years.
For years, I felt unions were in place to help the marginal employees, but since my personal experience I have a newfound respect for public service unions and PEF, in particular.
Please do not lose sight of the fact that everyone makes mistakes and uses poor judgement, so having a union to defend the rights of the worker is extremely important, especially in these trying political times.
DENNIS J. KOSTON
Insurance worry was unfounded
To the Editor: Since I sent my letter about my insurance concerns to The Communicator, which was published in the April issue, I have received additional information and I now understand that when I became eligible for Medicare I did not lose eligibility for my catastrophic major medical insurance. So, it was not the problem that I thought it was for those premiums to continue to be deducted from my pension.
I hope this allays any fears my earlier letter may have raised in the minds of readers.
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