|By Wayne Spence|
Onward after Convention and Election 2020
This Communicator arrives just weeks after PEF wrapped up its first-ever Virtual Convention. Over the course of four days, delegates logged in and conducted the business of our union, debating and voting on eight resolutions and attending a host of workshops aimed at helping members take advantage of their valuable union benefits. According to rules adopted by the Executive Board in August and approved by a majority of the delegation, Convention was accomplished using a hybrid of broadcast and Zoom technology, with delegates calling in safely from their homes across the state. I was honored to chair the plenary sessions from a hotel ballroom in Troy, N.Y., and am extremely proud of the fact that we stayed true to our democratic process despite numerous technical challenges.
For members who were not delegates this year, this Communicator contains a thorough summary of my State of the Union address, as well as the Secretary-Treasurer’s report, State and Federal Legislative agendas, and the various workshops I already mentioned.
But even as convention closes, we know there is still hard work ahead. The number of COVID-19 cases is spiking in much of the country. Here in New York, you can track the infection rate in your county using this map. There is no doubt that this fall and winter will be as challenging as what we faced in the spring. PEF will continue to stand by you in your fight for safe working conditions. As of this writing, we are actively working with members at DOCCS on the issue of mandatory testing, at the Department of Labor regarding their return-to-work plan, and at the Department of Health concerning the extensive and unsustainable hours members have been working since the pandemic began. I’d like once again to remind you of what we’ve accomplished so far and resources available to all members:
• The Statewide Telecommuting Agreement has been extended until Jan. 1, 2021. As agencies begin to reopen, PEF members should work with their local Human Resources office to request reasonable accommodations as necessary.
• Please be sure to document any COVID-19 exposure, even if you are asymptomatic, on the PEF COVID-19 Exposure Tracking Form.
• If you have been injured on the job, via COVID exposure or an accident, and whether at a worksite or at home, please see our PEF Workers Comp and COVID-19 Factsheet
• The PEF Employee Assistance Program is available to all members who need help dealing with stresses caused by COVID-19 or any other aspect of life. It is free and 100 percent confidential.
Finally, a few words on the election. While there are legal challenges and mandatory recounts in some states underway, it appears this country will have a new president next year. PEF’s Statewide Political Action Committee endorsed Joe Biden because we believe he will be a friend to the labor movement. Everything we collectively bargain for will be on the line in the months and years ahead – wages, benefits, workplace safety and health care. No matter who you voted for, now is the time for us to come together and fight for all that we have in common. We will make sure all our newly elected officials know what we want as a union – a better future for our families, safety as we work through a pandemic, and economic and racial justice. To echo the president of one of our international parent unions, SEIUs Mary Kay Henry: “Our message is clear: Respect us, protect us, pay us.”
Thank you for all you do!
Membership cards are ALWAYS available online at http://www.pef.org/join-pef, or you can request one through your steward, council leader or regional coordinator.
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