|By Wayne Spence|
During this Labor Day period I ask you to remember that, as a union with more than 50,000 members, we have more in common than in differences. Raising wages, improving working conditions, increasing benefits for you and your families, upgrading terms and conditions of employment – sound familiar? As union members, we should try to focus on our similarities rather than our differences. And as New York State employees we are all connected through PEF.
Our collective union influence is used daily, but this power was demonstrated and amplified throughout the current COVID crisis. From telecommuting to leave accruals, PEF does it. From hard fought health and safety protections to the unfair delay of the April 1 paycheck, PEF does it. And from providing daily information updates to assisting members with a multitude of grievances, PEF does it. As you have probably experienced, state agencies are constantly seeking to shed responsibility and circumvent contractual protections. As your President, I will not sit idly by and permit any union member to return to a dangerous work atmosphere or allow management to take advantage, especially while the state-of-emergency is in effect. People’s lives are at stake.
A union’s survival depends on cooperation between all of our members. We share duties and look out for each other. With that said, there is a group of PEF members who do not receive the proper daily credit that they should. Within PEF, there is a dedicated group of volunteers with the titles of stewards, council leaders, regional coordinators and executive board members who work tirelessly on your behalf. These volunteers — almost 1,000 in number — work all across the state. They are the protective wall between you and overzealous management. Think of them as sentries on duty with their hands on their swords, ready to protect you. These stewards, council leaders, regional coordinators and executive board members spend countless hours of their own time to make sure the business of the union is accomplished and that your issues are properly addressed. From my executive team and I, we would like to say thank you to all our volunteers across the state. PEF is greater because you enforce the contract and protect members locally. We are PEF strong and this is what we do.
I know this may surprise some, but I am not one to ever tell someone how to vote. However, I would ask that you please exercise your right and vote this upcoming election. It is important for all elected officials to know that you are politically active and that you are a member of a union. Each collective voice is important, and I want yours to count. Would I like for you to consider voting for the elected officials your local union leaders recommended for a full PEF endorsement? Of course, but I am realistic and understand that we all have personal ideologies. The only thing I ask is that you look at the legislators who have allowed or enabled attacks on unions and decide whether they stand with you and your family or with the corporations and interests that hold down working people.
How do PEF endorsements work?
Prior to receiving a PEF endorsement, each potential candidate is sent a labor questionnaire from your local political action committees (PAC). Your PAC then attempts to interview each candidate in person and makes recommendations for endorsement to the PEF statewide political action committee (SWPAC). These recommendations are based on the candidates support for PEF policies and previous voting records. The SWPAC reviews all local recommendations to ensure those recommendations correspond with PEF legislative initiatives and bolster union interests. The Executive Board then votes on the SWPAC recommendation. On August 28 and 29, your executive board representatives met, conferred, and voted on those endorsements. Again, all I ask is that prior to voting you look at the elected officials who moved through the many steps to earn a coveted PEF endorsement.
Although diverse in titles, regions and state agencies, we have so much in common as a union. We all share a desire to financially provide for ourselves and our families, to work in a safe environment, to be free from overly aggressive management and to be treated with respect. As a union, we must focus on our similarities rather than our differences. We are PEF strong and this is what we do.
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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