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PEF helps geologists get 3-grade boost up their career ladder

By SHERRY HALBROOK

Aseem Kumar

If you feel like you’ve run out of rungs, or hit a broken one on your career ladder, sometimes PEF can help get you past that obstruction.

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Earlier this year, PEF Executive Board member Aseem Kumar raised a red flag signaling career-ladder issues for members in the title of engineering geologist, a salary-grade 15 position, at the state Department of Environmental Conservation where Kumar is a professional engineer 1 in Albany.

Kumar brought the issue to the attention of the PEF Executive Board, and PEF’s civil service enforcement staff followed up by writing to the state Department of Civil Service.

Kumar was delighted to report at the March meeting of the Executive Board that the affected members were notified by DCS that it had completed restructuring professional titles in the engineering geologist title series.

They were informed that effective March 21, DCS will no longer be using the engineering geologist, SG-15 title. The new title is: geologist trainee, NS, which is a traineeship equated to SG-18, leading to the title of assistant geologist, SG-20. That bump from grade 15 to 18, is worth more than $8,500/year in gross pay. Nearly 25 PEF members at DEC and also at the state Department of Transportation are affected by this change.

“I’m very happy for these members,” Kumar said.

“I thank PEF staff and I also thank two PEF Division 169 stewards, Christopher O’Neill (PEF chair of the DEC Joint Labor-Management Committee) and Antoinette Norfleet, who worked hard on this and discussed the issue in labor-management,” Kumar added. “In fact, they brought this issue to my attention.”

The progression in pay grades from the grade 18 geologist trainee to the grade 20 assistant geologist will take place when the employee has completed one year of satisfactory service as a geologist trainee and can present proof of successfully passing the National Association of State Boards of Geology Fundamentals of Geology exam.

Geologist trainees who are permanent employees will serve a minimum of 52 weeks or a maximum of 104 weeks probation in that title. If they are unable to provide proof of successfully passing the Fundamentals of Geology exam when their probation expires, they will be returned to the engineering geologist (SG-15) position.

Employees who are currently provisional in the engineering geologist title will be appointed provisionally to geologist trainee, NS. If, after two years from that appointment to geologist trainee, they are unable to provide proof of successfully passing the Fundamentals of Geology exam, they will no longer be retained as geologist trainees.

“This is a success story and we need to tell it,” Kumar said. “It isn’t pocket change and it will affect the future pensions these members will receive, as well as their paychecks now.”

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