Region 2 engaging its members wherever it finds them
By SHERRY HALBROOK
When PEF launched its member engagement campaign, it set reaching every member as a goal.
It’s hard enough to get to every big worksite where lots of PEF members work, but what about the smaller, out-of-the-way worksites? Don’t those members deserve just as much attention and consideration?
That’s exactly what PEF Region 2 Coordinator Andrew Puleo was thinking when he started taking a much closer look at his members and their worksites. What he discovered was an eye-opener.
Some Region 2 members actually work in other PEF regions. And their elected Executive Board representative might work at an entirely different state agency. Likewise, some PEF members who work in his region, are actually part of another neighboring region.
Typically, members are part of the PEF region where they work. But some members may hold job items that the state assigns to a central location that happens to be in one PEF region, but their work may actually be based in a satellite location that is in a different PEF region. And the rules for creating PEF Executive Board constituencies and for forming PEF divisions can sometimes produce mixtures of members working for different state agencies. So, it can get confusing.
Puleo discovered he had members in this situation.
“We have Region 2 members at Elmira Psychiatric Center who are working out of satellite clinics in other regions, and some of them have never been visited by a PEF leader,” Puleo said. “Now that I know this, we are going to get to them. It may take some time to get to them all, but we are going to do it.”
He began in June with members at the state Office of Mental Health whose job items are at Elmira PC but their job duties are in Seneca Falls or Geneva, which are outside of Syracuse in PEF Region 4.
“We have about 20 to 30 members at those sites and they had never had a visit from a PEF leader,” Puleo said. “They are members of PEF Division 223 at Elmira PC and Carolyn Cole from the state Office for People with Developmental Disabilities is their Executive Board representative. She works in PEF Region 5, Binghamton.
“We held a membership meeting June 2 just for these members at the Seneca Falls and Geneva clinics and it was well attended,” Puleo said. “The members told us about some workplace issues and we promised to bring those issues to a labor-management meeting. I am determined to hold an L-M meeting there in Seneca Falls so they will know we are working to make their work lives better. My goal is to have regular and productive membership meetings and L-M meetings scheduled there.”
Some of the issues the members raised related to maintenance on the state vehicles they must drive and conditions such as lighting in the parking lot and in their building. They mentioned the lack of a break room, as well as productivity issues and family care concerns for members who are on call on nights, weekends and holidays.
Members cope with such challenges in different ways, but Puleo said it is important for the union to know everyone’s needs and do whatever it can to work with management in improving conditions for everyone. He also thanked PEF Division 223 members Brenda Veilleux, a licensed master social worker 2, and intensive case managers Janet Winter and Lisa Galle for their help.
“We all think it’s good that PEF is coming to us,” Winter said. “Elmira is too far away for us to go to our union meetings there, and the things that are going on at our worksites here are different than the issues they have at the psychiatric center.” She added that members are more likely to get involved in PEF activities now they have seen a union presence.
After some scheduling snags over the summer, an L-M meeting in Seneca Falls was scheduled for late September. Puleo credited the support of PEF Statewide Director of Field Services Michael Farrell and field representatives Ellen Coyne and Karen Spotford in the outreach and labor-management efforts.
“The most important thing, from my perspective, is for members to know that PEF belongs to them as much as they belong it, and we will do our best to serve them,” Puleo said.
“We still have more of these pockets of members to reach, and I hope they will see what we are doing in Seneca Falls and Geneva and begin reaching out to us as well.”