Unity, unionism prevail at PEF’s convention
PEF’s 40th Annual Convention was inspiring in so many ways. As I sat on the dais and watched the nearly 800 delegates listen to the guest speakers and take part in debates, I realized how our union has grown during the last four years, when I first took office.
The delegates were enthusiastic to set a course of action for the upcoming years. They displayed a renewed sense and spirit for the labor movement, and I hope they will extend their enthusiasm and knowledge to all their PEF co-workers.
I applaud these delegates for what they accomplished as a group. Winning The Future Together was our theme, and we made it a reality. And now, we have to keep the momentum alive, so we can keep PEF strong and in power.
Together, delegates completed the work of the union by addressing nine resolutions, amending the constitution, completing an agenda for state and federal legislative action, and placing thousands of calls to PEF members reminding them to vote pro-union candidates on November 6.
Our convention speakers were well-received. The recurring message from many of them was to remain vigilant during a post-Janus time when attacks will intensify on the labor movement, and how emails and door-to-door tactics will be used to try to persuade dues-paying members to leave, what I consider, to be the working man’s safety net.
Our speakers deserve a mention, for all the union passion and insights they shared. They were Peter Marchese, Union Built PC; Terrence Melvin, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists; Jim Carr, president of PEF Retirees; Neal Bisno, executive vice president of the Service Employees International Union; Donald Cohen, founder of In The Public Interest; and, a video presentation from Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers.
At the Sunday evening welcome reception, we had the honor of hearing elected officials praise the work all our members accomplish on a daily basis. State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli reminded the delegates how valuable their professional contributions allow New York to be a leader among states. That sentiment was echoed by state Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon, Assemblywoman Addie Jenne, Molly Ryan, chief of staff for state Assemblyman D. Billy Jones, and state Sen. Elect Robert Jackson. Click here for PEF 40th Convention: Politicians Video Greetings to delegates.
After the plenary session, I was impressed to see so many of the delegates attending one of eight workshops that were tailored to the various needs and concerns of our members. Delegates had the opportunity to learn more about the PS&T contract process, division finances, fight-back strategies against privatization, member engagement and communication skills, just to name a few.
The key to this convention’s success, and the many successes PEF accomplished since the 2017 convention, is “together.” Last year, one of our major goals was to defeat the passage of the state holding a constitutional convention. And we did it in a big way, together.
This coming year, our challenges will grow, but I am confident our strength will also grow if we remain united. So far, PEF members have recommitted to stay with their union, for all the value PEF brings to their lives, not only at worksites, but for the many benefits that greatly enhance their family lives.
This convention, that celebrated 40 years of rich PEF history, was a testament to the professionalism of our members, their sense of responsibility to the state and their communities. The delegates fully embraced the concept of we can do anything, especially to keep a powerful labor movement in New York, as long as we do it together.
Membership cards are ALWAYS available online at https://apps.pef.org/join-pef.html, or you can request one through your steward, council leader or regional coordinator.