Reject Toxic Leadership
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Contact: Communications Director Rob Merrill,

ALBANY, N.Y. – The Public Employees Federation (PEF) held a rally Sept. 21 at the New York State Capitol in Albany to shed light on the toxic environments many state workers face, from bullying, to harassment, to discrimination against union members.

Marching from the Albany Hilton to Empire State Plaza, 150 members and leaders of PEF carried signs emblazoned with messages like “No More Fear! Standing Strong Against Workplace Bullying!” and “End Bullying, Embrace Respect: Change Starts at the Top!” Members shared stories of abuses they’ve faced on the job when working for a bully, such as repeated and unreasonable actions intended to intimidate, humiliate, undermine, or degrade them.

“We are sending a message that this behavior is unacceptable,” said PEF President Wayne Spence. “We as a union are going to start calling out ineffective managers who engage in this type of behavior. No one should have to go to work and feel unsafe or be harassed.

“The 50,000 members of PEF are dedicated professionals who provide vital public services for the people of New York,” Spence said. “Unfortunately, ‘professional’ doesn’t apply to everyone employed by the state. Many state workers walk into toxic workplaces created by their managers every day.”

The union successfully drafted legislation last session that was passed by the Assembly Majority to address workplace bullying and abusive conduct through education and training. PEF will continue to push the legislation in 2024 and call on the state to create uniform standards to define bullying and abusive conduct in the workplace.

“It’s unconscionable that our state government allows this type of behavior to exist,” Spence said. “These bullying managers aren’t heeding Gov. Kathy Hochul’s directive to make New York ‘the most worker-friendly state!’ We need change now. Actions, not words. Enough is enough!”

PEF members work in more than 3,000 different titles in every state agency, including nurses, social workers, doctors, engineers, counselors, parole officers, lawyers, IT specialists, teachers, habilitation specialists, therapists, and many more.

An open letter from PEF President Wayne Spence:
It’s time for New York to clean up its toxic workplaces