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The President’s Message

 By Wayne Spence


Members taking a beating is NOT OK

Wayne Spence, PEF President

In the six weeks since the PEF convention, we have been faced with a grim reminder – workplace violence is at crisis levels and New York state is failing to keep us safe. Lives are at stake and we believe it’s past time for a change.

What we are seeing is that not only is workplace violence increasingly common in those workplaces where violence is expected — for example, corrections, law enforcement and mental health — but in almost every occupation that deals with the public.

In recent weeks we have seen:

• Assaults on three PEF nurses;
• Assaults on six parole officers;
• Resignations from members who were either assaulted or in fear of being assaulted;
• Multiple lockdowns at correctional facilities;
• And six months ago, a brutal attack on a member walking to her car at the end of the workday.

This month’s eCommunicator features the first story in a series of stories on this epidemic and focuses on the assaults that have occurred in recent weeks.

Though there are many factors that could contribute to workplace violence, we have identified predictors of trouble to come:

• Low staffing levels;
• Working alone;
• Working with prescription drugs;
• Working late at night or early in the morning;
• Working in a correctional facility or facility for the mentally or developmentally disabled, without proper training in violence avoidance or self-defense, to name just a few of the working conditions associated with increased workplace violence.

CoverWe believe many incidents are predictable, some are even preventable.  And like any other workplace hazard, we believe it is the responsibility of the employer to take reasonable measures to minimize the likelihood of workplace violence.

Since the state has failed to keep us safe, as we continue our contract negotiations, we will be pushing for inclusion of contract language that covers workplace violence issues.

We all want monetary gains in a new contract, but across the board raises are not ALL that a contract is about.  I ask you, what good is a contract if you don’t come home at the end of your workday or you come home permanently disabled or disfigured because you have been a victim of workplace violence?

To help us at the negotiating table we ask that you let us know if you were assaulted or threatened at work. Your story could be a vital part of the documentation needed for effective workplace violence prevention programs and contract language to ensure the safety of our members. You can remain anonymous, but please send us all the details of the incident, what could have been done to prevent it, and the type of support you received.

Please share this eCommunicator with your co-workers, family and friends on social media and elsewhere, to let the governor know: “Enough is enough.”  Workplace violence is NOT part of the job!  Injuries or worse, related to workplace violence, will not be tolerated by PEF.

Together, we are union strong!


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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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