Convention spirit propelling PEF forward
By WAYNE SPENCE
We are back from PEF’s 39th Annual Convention invigorated and ready to follow through on the important policy delegates laid out as a roadmap for our work in the coming year.
The nearly 800 PEF delegates were attentive and engaged and that resulted in a very productive convention. You can read about and see photos of the convention in this edition of the eCommunicator, on the PEF website and on PEF’s social media pages, but I’d like to recap some of the highlights here:
- Together, delegates completed important union business: 20 resolutions were dealt with, three constitutional amendments were approved and state and federal legislative agendas were approved;
- Delegates heard from many state legislators and Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, both in person and in video messages, about how much they value the work PEF members do for their citizens of New York State;
- Delegates met and honored our PEF nurses who answered the call for help in Puerto Rico;
- Delegates attended informative workshops at a record level – standing room only at some;
- Delegates heard from many informative speakers about the importance of remaining united including: Mark Richard, special counsel to the president of the American Federation of Teachers and PEF contract team lead negotiator; Service Employees International Union President Mary Kay Henry; Lisa Graves, director of the Center for Media and Democracy; NYS AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento; and NYS United Teachers President Andy Pallotta.
We also heard and talked at length about impending challenges, not the least of which is the upcoming Supreme Court case, Janus v AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees) which threatens the very existence of unions nationwide. A negative ruling in the Janus case would mean a change in the law that has long given unionized workers the right to opt out of paying dues that support political candidates, but which still allows unions to charge them a “fair-share” fee for the costs of negotiating contracts and advocating for workers in disputes with management. A negative ruling in Janus would likely result in a large loss of dues revenue for most unions.
This year, our convention theme was “We Are Stronger Together!” We proved that to be true last year with our historic contract ratification vote, legislative victories, and another productive and successful convention. If we live by these words this year, I am more confident than ever that we will be on the right track to beat back threats to not only PEF, but to the labor movement as a whole.