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Letters to the Editor

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September 7, 2019

Thanks for work to get fair contract

To the Editor:

I am really confused. The fact you have to fight for a fair contract stumps me.

I thought Governor Cuomo was pro union! He said that on TV in a speech he was making.

Thank you for doing all the hard work you guys are doing!


Appreciates The Communicator

To the Editor:

Thanks for this (July-August) very newsy and lengthy edition (of The Communicator) and the much improved online access.

Thanks for all the hard work putting this together!

Carlsbad, CA

Disheartened by contract wait

To the Editor:

I find it extremely disheartening that it has become the “norm, acceptable or expected” that a (union) contract (with the state) will expire, and negotiations will take place, and continue to volley back and forth between the two parties involved long after the end date of the previous contract. And that contract may have been ratified possibly two years after the one that expired before it.

So we, the members, wait for long periods of time for wage increases. Yes, we get retroactive pay, which is then taxed resulting in a large portion of it lost to us. It doesn’t make up for the time we did without those increases.

It’s frustrating that it seems we’re just “used to” this endless cycle, in effect we wind up with a two-year contract, and two years without.

I hope to retire in two years, I may not still be working by the time this contract is settled and ratified. What happens then? Would I receive the benefit of a new contract? It doesn’t appear that way.


Editor’s Note:

If the union simply accepted whatever the state offered, such as give backs and possibly pay cuts, “negotiations” would be over very quickly. Getting what members want takes much longer.

In the past, PEF members who left state service between contracts have received retroactive pay, but this is determined by the specific terms of each successor agreement (contract), so there is no guarantee.


Eager for new PS&T contract

To the Editor:

When will we start getting updates on the contract?

Our old contract ended April 1, 2019. I check the PEF website at least twice a week and don’t see any fresh information regarding the contract.

I am contemplating retirement in the next year or two and can’t do all my planning without knowing what is going to be in the contract when I retire.

If we are going to have to hold a rally for the contract maybe we should do it before the ice and snow come.


Editor’s Note:

Information about contract negotiations is provided in several stories in this issue of The Communicator, such as the report on the PEF Executive Board meeting in August. While numerous bargaining sessions are being held and many articles in the contract are being discussed and negotiated, agreement on a new contract cannot be reached until both the union and the state agree on every article.

PEF’s bargaining position is greatly strengthened by the enthusiastic solidarity and support shown by members on social media and in events such as the September labor parades held throughout the state.


Wants 2-person insurance rate

To the Editor:

It is a real shame and patently absurd that state retirees over age 65 are required to pay family premiums for two or more people when they typically are a retired married couple.

It would really help present and future PEF retirees if the union would secure two-person health premiums for retirees over age 65 with no other dependents. This (paying for family coverage) is a real hardship for seniors on limited incomes.


Editor’s Note:

Under state law, PEF may not negotiate on behalf of retirees; their benefits are administered and controlled by the state Department of Civil Service.

Although the premiums for family coverage may be a burden to married retirees, the creation of a two-person premium would likely shift costs.  While it might reduce premiums for the enrollees who have only one dependent, it could have a significantly negative effect on the cost for family (3+) plans.  Roughly 40 percent of the state’s PS&T Unit employees – the group represented by PEF — enrolled in the NYS Health Insurance Program are currently enrolled in family coverage and have two or more dependents.


Your vote matters, so pay attention

To the Editor:

As the US presidential election (November 3, 2020) gets closer, union members need to remember who has our backs and who doesn’t.

In (the US Supreme Court case) Janus v. AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees), the Trump administration sent Solicitor General Noel Francisco to argue against AFSCME and side with Janus.

Mark Janus, as you may recall, objected to paying agency fees (to his AFSCME local in California) even though he benefited from its collective-bargaining efforts. Janus argued that it was a freedom-of-speech issue, but anyone paying attention knows his lawsuit was funded by those who are determined to weaken public-employee unions.

The president, who campaigned vigorously to convince the working class that he would be its salvation, has done just the opposite in his nomination (August 27, 2019) of Eugene Scalia to be US secretary of labor.

Eugene Scalia has had a long career working to weaken worker protections. He has also worked against Obama-era rules requiring that financial advisors act as fiduciaries when managing retirement accounts.


CLICK HERE to view all stories featured in the September 2019 Communicator!