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Letters to the Editor

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Member’s tragedy struck painful note

To the Editor:

I did not know Charlie McCarthy, whose tragic story you featured in the November Communicator, but the picture you painted of the cruel and inhumane way he was treated by the state Education Department resonated deeply with me.

I do know a thing or two about the sadistic practices of the misanthropic “Bureau of Employee Relations” offices that are burrowed into state agencies like pus-filled cysts.  Your article recounts how this long-standing employee was unceremoniously and ignominiously locked out of his workplace, leaving him confused, distraught and bereft — an act of humiliation that, with little stretch of the imagination, led directly to his subsequent stroke and death.

All of this brought back many unpleasant memories of my own interactions with the in-house “Gestapo squads” that masquerade as labor relations, but whose real purpose, it seems, is to cow employees and instill fear, if they have crossed swords with management.

While the treatment of Mr. McCarthy was infuriating enough, it was beyond the pale of civility for the oleaginous spokesman at the Education Department to lard his cynical condolences to the family with faux expressions of sympathy and concern, knowing full well that they aided and abetted his death with their callous and inhumane treatment.

One truly doesn’t know the agency he or she works for until they’ve been on the receiving end of the Bureau of Employee Relations.    Pray it never happens to you



Needs paid family leave now

To the Editor:

I find the negotiations after the end of a contract unacceptable.  This should have been resolved and planned to be resolved by a certain date.

You have put me in a very hard position with a baby on the way and no amendment to the current contract to accept the law of the state of NY for paid family leave.  This is disheartening.

This is not the state’s fault. You have no one to blame, but yourselves. Shame on you for not addressing a state law for your union members.  I am saddened by this.  I do not feel protected by our union at this time.

The state mentioned all unions could opt-in for this law regardless of a new contract. I was initially honored to be a part of a union, but now feel it is working against me.  I can only feel disappointment at this time.


Editor’s Note:

The PEF negotiating team recognizes the importance of paid family leave and, for that reason, it was one of the first items discussed at negotiations.

The fact is, unions may not “opt in,” regardless of negotiations. Paid family leave, as proposed by the state, requires payroll deductions for PEF members and, therefore, is a term and condition of employment that must be ratified by the membership.

Wants to vote on contract now

To the Editor:

So we shouldn’t count on getting a contract in 2019? Why not let the members decide like a vote? I was counting on a raise this year.


Clifton Park

Editor’s Note:

Members absolutely will decide. Any tentative agreement reached by the negotiating team must be ratified by the membership in a vote.

While a member’s primary focus may be on getting a pay raise, the current PS&T contract includes 50 articles covering every aspect of your rights and benefits on the job, from health and safety to education and training to vacation leave and job security. The current contract is 247 pages long. No tentative agreement can be sent to members for ratification until it is a complete package.

The many valuable provisions in the current PS&T contract have been achieved over more than 40 years of tough bargaining by PEF on behalf of you, its members. The employer does not simply hand over these rights and benefits. In fact, your employer would like to diminish them. Your union must demand them, fight hard to get them, protect them and enforce them.


Shocked by member’s death after lock out

To the Editor:

It was quite the shocker to read about Charlie McCarthy’s administrative leave and death just some days later.

What could have justified suddenly locking out an employee with 50 years of service?

Sanitation? Was he peeing and pooping at his desk? Was he wearing adult diapers?

He had been bringing in freshly baked bread for other employees for years, but no one ate it at his desk, so there were no crumbs. Was he slopping food all over his work area? His desk was no more cluttered or dusty than anyone else’s when I retired from the state Education Department at the end of 2017. I replaced his computer during his office’s last wave of computer upgrades.

I remember one other older employee who was the only one in his title as a history curriculum specialist who was easily removed due to age. The action was protected from an agediscrimination challenge because it was a title elimination. This was back during the Pataki reduction in force. It was such an irony. He was at PEF headquarters one night making calls for those losing their jobs, only to be served with a pink slip himself the next day. He had the right to bump someone in NYC. I told him he should do it just to get in SED’s face, but he chose retirement.

One of the long time managers for the college licensure office, which is located on the balcony above Charlie’s desk in what is known as Room 5 North in the state Education Department building, overstayed her welcome as an employee before I retired. She aged to the point that she was literally carried out on a stretcher one day due to an urgent health issue that struck without warning.

It’s amazing that the disruption (being locked out) of Charlie’s decades long daily routine killed him. It was quite the warning for many other aging staff who stay on because they cannot afford to retire or because their jobs provide so much meaning to their lives that their days are numbered.

The state does not intend employment to be cradle to grave. At best, you can have a good long run. Then you need to prepare your life for departure, whether that is a simple resignation or a retirement.



Thanks, contract team, for fighting for me

To the Editor:

I would just like to thank the PEF Contract Team for their ongoing fight to get a fair contract for PEF members.

I have been an hourly labor services representative (a provisional appointment) with the state Department of Labor for 7 1/2 years. It has brought me hope in the most recent contract negotiations that PEF is working hard on the issue of hourly employees for permanent status.

No employee should remain an hourly employee for years on end. I receive significantly less pay than my fellow permanent coworkers. I do not receive time off before permanent staff that have been hired long after myself, and I am not eligible for any promotions.

As new permanent staff members are hired, those employees from day one have seniority over me, even though I have been with the Department of Labor for over seven years.

I should not have to take an exam, then wait for a permanent position to open in my office and hope that I am reachable on the eligible list for an interview for a job that I am already doing and excelling in.

This is just wrong and I am grateful that PEF realizes that this is a huge issue that affects so many employees throughout NYS. So thank you for your ongoing fight.



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