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Our collective strength wins the biggest battles

By WAYNE SPENCE

Recently, I had the honor of attending a wonderful celebration in Region 1 for the Western New York Children’s Psychiatric Center. PEF was proud to be a part of the Save Our WNY Children’s Psychiatric Center Coalition and proud to support the group with lobbying, communications, rallies and petitions.

This fight to keep the WNYCPC open was a more than five-year-long fight. But we were not deterred and we did not give up. Keep in mind that no PEF members were slated to lose their jobs with the planned closing. We were in this fight for another reason. It was the right thing to do. We were fighting for the best possible services for some of our most vulnerable population — children. This overwhelming victory is a striking example of what union strength can achieve.

Member engagement is a term we use a lot nowadays, but it is more than just words. A victory such as the one at the WNYCPC, where the state did a complete turnaround in its decision to keep the award-winning facility open, is the direct result of our strength, our ability to be a partner with other unions and community groups and our political clout with state lawmakers who listened to us and then supported our cause to preserve the valuable public services Western New York’s children need and deserve.

I was gratified earlier this year when the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) voted to support a United Nations resolution I authored to prevent the criminalization of people with mental illness and to advocate for appropriate, comprehensive and community-based public mental health services. With union strength we can help ensure that everyone has equal access to quality public services such as clean water, affordable health care, quality mental health services and quality education – vital services that are threatened when union jobs are privatized, putting profits before people. Without a strong union, the doors of the WNYCPC might have been shut forever.

Always remember, PEF is stronger because of your membership. Contract benefits such as wage increases, paid sick time, paid vacation time, excellent health insurance, workplace safety, job protection and retirement security are based on the strength of our membership. As evidenced by the successful and wonderful outcome at the WNYCPC, your membership absolutely makes a difference.

We are winning the future together!

We are #UnionStrong!

Table of Contents – October 2018

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