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State extends contractual benefits set to sunset

By KATE MOSTACCIO

The next round of main table PS&T negotiations with the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations (GOER) are set for Nov. 12 and 13. But, in the meantime, a few contractual benefits that could have ended after the contract expired in April have been extended.

The Productivity Enhancement Program (PEP) benefit, which allows eligible PS&T unit members to cash out vacation time and/or personal leave in return for credits toward the employee share of health insurance premiums, was extended for 2020.

Credit values for the program will remain the same — full-time employees in salary grades up to SG 17 can forfeit three or six days and those in salary grades SG 18 to SG 24 can forfeit two or four days for credit of $500 or $1,000, respectively.

Approximately 5,000 PEF members participate in the PEP program currently. Open enrollment for this program is through Nov. 19. Click here for the bulletin about PEP in 2020 and click here for the PEP MOU and the Teachers’ PEP MOU.

The state also extended the Dependent Care Advantage Account program for 2020.

“The state could have allowed these benefits to sunset,” Contract Team Chair Darlene Williams said. “Instead, they extended them through the 2020 benefit year. For our members who depend on these programs, this is welcome news.”

Negotiations at the main table will continue this month, as well as dates in December, Williams said.

Recognizing that communication is crucial, the contract team strives to keep members as informed as possible, without tipping their hand. To that end, they recorded a video that touches on major issues the team is fighting for, such as improved dental benefits; increases to longevity, Mid-Hudson and Downstate adjustments; changes in on-call and overtime compensation; the grievance process; and work-life balance.

In the video, the contract team discusses the issues PEF members put forward as their top concerns and where negotiations stand on those items. More video updates will follow, Williams said.

To view the video, click here.

“We’re going to be asking members to step up and continue to show their support on social media,” Williams said. “Keep checking the PEF website, Facebook and Twitter pages because we plan to roll out the next phase of the Hashtag Fridays campaign and we encourage everyone to get involved.”

 


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