Progress on telecommuting and L/M process; wages and other financial issues on hold
By KATE MOSTACCIO
The PEF Contract Team made headway on telecommuting and discussed improvements to the Labor Management committee process during negotiations with the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations.
“After much deliberation, we were able to make significant progress on telecommuting,” said Contract Team Chair Darlene Williams. “We also had a productive discussion about improving the Labor Management committee process. PEF and the state have a shared goal of making this vital process more effective for the benefit of all.”
Also on the bargaining table in November: out-of-title work, travel, parking, time and attendance, and Article 30.
Under Article 30, a manager can require an employee who has already provided a doctor’s statement clearing them to return to work to submit to a second exam with a state appointed doctor (EHS) before they are permitted to return.
“It can take weeks or months to get an appointment with EHS,” Williams said. “Our members are required to use up to 20 days of their own accruals while awaiting the EHS exam. These accruals are not restored if and when EHS clears them to return to work, which is what happens in a vast majority of cases.”
The Contract Team is standing firm on the issue and believes members and their families should not suffer this loss because of state-required second opinions.
“It is an unbearable hardship for those members who have little or no accruals,” Williams said. “Those employees are forced to go on leave without pay for up to 20 working days. That would mean an entire month with zero pay to care for themselves and their families.”
The state does not want to discuss financial issues.
“The state is insistent that PEF agree to 2 percent raises along with increases in healthcare copays and premiums,” Williams said. “The combination of these two proposals, along with the ever-rising cost of living, could actually result in a net loss for our members.
“Our members deserve better,” Williams continued. “We are working hard to bring back a contract that honors your service. Your concerns are being voiced at the table and, with your support, we will continue the fight.”
Strategizing and drafting contract language is ongoing for negotiations scheduled for the week of December 9. The Contract Team needs the backing of PEF’s full membership as bargaining continues.
“Stay informed, stay involved, and let your friends and neighbors know what you do for New York state,” Williams urged. “Let them know how proud you are of your contributions and that PEF deserves a fair contract. Having the support of our more than 52,000 members makes us stronger and more effective at the bargaining table.”
PEF launched its #PEFDOESIT campaign at the November Executive Board meeting. The Contract Team is also urging members to send letters to their local newspaper and get the word out on who PEF members are and what they do for the people of New York.
“Please keep up the good work of writing your legislators and posting the services you provide to New York state to Facebook and Twitter, with the hashtag #PEFDOESIT,” Williams said. “We are continuing to promote awareness of the issues and obstacles we face as New York state professionals.”
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