Contract overwhelmingly ratified by PEF members
By KATE MOSTACCIO
July 28, 2021 — Members turned out in force to ratify the 2019-2023 PS&T collective bargaining agreement, with 56 percent of the membership voting, or about 28,000 people. Ninety-six percent of those members voted in favor of the recently negotiated agreement.
“Despite an unprecedented pandemic and with New York on ‘pause,’ the contract team worked tirelessly to defend the rights of members and to bring to the table the best possible agreement during these trying times,” said PEF President Wayne Spence. “We gained annual salary increases, increased performance awards, improved dental and vision benefits, the return of the Productivity Enhancement Program, and provisions to revise telecommuting policies to provide a more robust program.”
The 2 percent base salary increases are in line with other public sector union contracts and are retroactive to April 2019.
“Since the spring of 2020, states have faced staggering economic hardships,” said Spence. “We are pleased New York saw the value of our membership and agreed to annual base salary increases. PEF members were on the frontlines of this pandemic and the whole state rallied behind them to flatten the curve. Heroes don’t deserve zeroes and the PEF Contract Team delivered on that.”
The new contract makes no changes to the employee share of health insurance premiums. Co-pay increases for certain healthcare services go into effect in January 2022, after three years of salary increases.
PEF members proved that telecommuting works during the pandemic and the new contract requires each agency to develop and implement a telecommuting policy within nine months of ratification. Additionally, agencies must hold an executive-level labor/management meeting at least once annually to assess existing programs and make recommendations. The agreement also requires a review process, beyond the supervisor level, to oversee telecommuting denials.
“PEF members kept New York running during the COVID-19 pandemic, providing seamless services to state residents from their living rooms, dining room tables and home offices,” said Spence. “There is no reason why the state should not work with PEF to implement robust telecommuting plans going forward.”
The state also agreed to put the dental provider contract out to bid, in addition to securing increased dental maximums, increased lifetime orthodontic benefits, and coverage of implants and upgraded materials in the agreement.
“The state has failed to put the dental plan out to bid for more than 20 years,” Spence said. “They keep awarding the contract to the same provider despite knowing we are not getting much. We are hopeful that in the future we can secure a better, comprehensive plan for our members.”
The four-year deal covers the time period from April 2, 2019, to April 1, 2023.
“The high approval of this agreement demonstrates that our members are practical, but we all agree that our members deserve more,” Spence said.