Member spurs PEF for a QWL grant to benefit everyone
By DEBORAH A. MILES
Most people don’t think about their kitchen appliances until they stop working. That was the case at the state Department of Labor when a refrigerator saw its final day, and left almost 40 PEF members relying on the kindness of their union brothers and sisters from the Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA) to share space in their refrigerators.
Michelle Maldonado, PEF Division 245 assistant council leader who works at the DOL Brooklyn office on Schermerhorn Street, was curious as to how CSEA received money to buy their break room appliances. She learned through Council Leader Scarlett Ahmed about the Quality of Work Life (QWL) grant and took the lead role to get a similar grant for PEF members.
“I decided to look into the PS&T Contract and found that under Article 14, a QWL grant was available,” Maldonado said. “We have the QWL Committee on my floor which consists of 10 people including managers. We discussed how we could use that provision.”
Maldonado contacted PEF President Wayne Spence who said the union’s contract administration Department would look into the grant.
Renee Delgado, Contract Administration director, reviewed Article 14 and initiated a dialogue with the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations (GOER). Maldonado supplied a petition signed by the PEF members at her office, and subsequently the details were hammered out.
PEF received the QWL grant with maximum funding capped at $100,000 per calendar year, with each division across the state eligible to receive up to $1,000 for specific kitchen appliances as listed in the guidelines.
Maldonado said an application and process had to be developed and implemented that took a couple of months. Once Maldonado completed and submitted the application, it only took a few weeks for the check to arrive to buy a new refrigerator.
“The most exciting part of this is the remaining money from the grant so other PEF members at various facilities and agencies can fill out an application to replace broken kitchen appliances,” Maldonado said.
“Some people only think of the union’s value when it comes to filing a grievance or negotiating a good contract. But this is an example of how concerns, no matter how big or small, are addressed by the union to ensure all its members have good working conditions, and in this case, a working refrigerator.”
Maldonado received a letter from Spence commending her efforts.
The program guidelines and application for the grant are on the PEF website under “About.” Then click on “PEF Documents and Committees,” then “Forms/Templates.” The application can also be obtained through a PEF field representative who can assist in completing the application. All applications must be signed by the council leader and submitted to Tara Bentley, PEF’s labor-management assistant, at gro.f1527210756ep@ye1527210756ltneb1527210756t1527210756.