Tentative agreement heading to membership for ratification
By KATE MOSTACCIO
The PEF Executive Board approved the Tentative 2019-2023 PS&T Agreement at an emergency meeting June 8, 2021, voting to send the contract out to more than 50,000 PEF members in the bargaining unit for review and ratification.
“I am proud of the PEF Contract Team for putting in the work that delivered this fair and just contract for members,” said PEF President Wayne Spence. “They have been at it for almost three years, with a long COVID pause, but I am happy to say that the agreement includes the top priorities as told to us by members in the contract survey we conducted last month.”
The tentative agreement provides for retroactive 2 percent base salary increases for 2019, 2020 and 2021, and a 2 percent base salary increase for 2022.
PEF successfully negotiated for five- and 10-year performance awards increases, from $1,250 to $1,500, retroactive to April 2019 and a 15-year performance award of $1,500 was added, retroactive to April 2020. Additionally, the tentative agreement eliminates the sunset for employees who became eligible after expiration of the previous contract.
There are no increases to the employee premium share for the Empire Plan health insurance plan, however, there are increases in out-of-pocket copays and coinsurance, which will take effect January 2022. These changes are equivalent to changes other major state unions agreed to, which took effect January 2019, and reflect industry norms where out-of-pocket increases help contain annual premium increases.
Improvements to the dental plan include increases in annual maximum and lifetime orthodontic maximums, coverage of implants, and coverage of upgraded materials for crowns, fillings and other procedures. These would go into effect January 1, 2022. The tentative agreement also includes a side letter where the state agrees to work with PEF to issue a Request for Proposals for dental benefits, aimed at securing a wider range of participating dental providers
Under the tentative agreement, the state agreed to restore the Productivity Enhancement Program, which the state refused to extend into 2021 after the expiration of an extension through 2020. PEP would be restored for 2021 on a pro-rated basis, effective July 1, 2021, and in full for 2022 and 2023. The tentative agreement also increases the credit from $500/$1,000 to $600/$1,200.
After PEF members successfully proved the efficiency of telecommuting over the last year, the tentative agreement eliminates the four-day-per-pay-period limitation for telecommuting under normal circumstances and requires all agencies to develop and implement a policy within nine months of ratification.
Other gains include a one-time uniform maintenance allowance of $500 for employees in nursing titles; improvements to vision benefits; a 2 percent increase in funding for PEF Contract Committees; adding Juneteeth as a holiday; sick leave credits for death or illness in the immediate family increased from 15 to 25 days and improvements to numerous other articles and appendices.
“PEF members demanded, and the Contract Team delivered,” said Contract Team Chair Darlene Williams. “You’re never completely satisfied at the end of a long negotiation, but we feel this agreement includes many more gains than trade offs and we’re pleased to put it forward for ratification.”
Ballots will be mailed to PEF members by the American Arbitration Association (AAA) on July 2, 2021. Only state or Roswell Park employees in the PS&T Unit who are dues-paying PEF members as of June 22, 2021, are eligible to vote.
A double-envelope system will be used for balloting as required by AAA to ensure secrecy. PEF will follow all procedures required or recommended by AAA for balloting.
Ballots must be received by AAA on or before 5 p.m. on July 26, 2021. Received means in hand, not just mailed or postmarked by July 26, 2021. Any PEF member in the PS&T unit who has not received a ballot by July 9, 2021, should call the AAA hotline at (800) 529-5218 to request a ballot or replacement ballot.
AAA will count ballots on July 27, 2021.
Check out the following links for more details and a full, marked up PDF for the tentative agreement.