|By Wayne Spence|
Proud of key role PEF members play during COVID-19 crisis
I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you for the work you do everyday. Our collective role keeping New Yorkers safe and informed has never been more clear than right now, as Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency in New York to accelerate testing and help contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Whether you are a nurse or doctor working in a state facility, a scientist at a state lab, or dealing with the public in so many diverse capacities, we know you are on the job. This is especially true in times of crisis, when the governor and residents of New York know PEF members will not let them down! (See related story here.)
Currently, PEF members are performing the initial swab test, transporting the collected specimen and testing the specimen at our state labs. We expect that as more test kits become available, the numbers of confirmed cases will rise and PEF members at many state agencies will play an integral part during this emergency.
At the same time, as the president of PEF, I am doing all I can to ensure our members and their families are safe. Please check the PEF website and social media pages for updated information. At this moment, I could not be more proud to represent the professional, scientific and technical members of this family we call PEF.
We are now down to the final weeks of advocacy on the state budget before it is enacted by April 1.
Since its release by the Governor in January, the PEF Legislative Department with its new Director, Patrick Lyons, analyzed the spending plan for its impact on PEF and its members. In fact, Patrick testified in February at a joint Senate/Assembly Workforce Development hearing – where he laid out the budget priorities identified by the Statewide Political Action Committee (SWPAC) and legislative staff.
In addition, several PEF members testified at legislative hearings about the impact the budget would have if enacted as is. PEF social worker Jennifer Voelker testified at the Public Protection hearing and several of our members from the Office of Information Technology Services submitted written testimony.
And, DFS Council Leader Ade Oluwo testified at the Senate Civil Service & Higher Education Committee Hearing on Establishing A Public Sector Pipeline, explaining to lawmakers why it is critically important to maintain the Civil Service System to ensure the most qualified people are hired to do the work.
We have several concerns with the budget as proposed. Not the least of which is the proposed loss of over 1,000 state jobs which means we are being asked to do even more with less. Once again, we are fighting the expanded use of design-build for state projects. Our other budget priorities include opposing these proposals:
• Fast track closure of state facilities;
• Continued underutilization of state engineers;
• Continued funding cuts for SUNY’s public hospitals and Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center;
• Moving mentally ill and sex offenders into more “cost-effective” settings that do not provide appropriate level of care;
• Harmful proposals that affect retirees; and
• Giving away state jobs.
As president of this union, I will do what I’ve always done and that is advocating for our members at every opportunity. What can you do to help us in our budget fight? It’s simple. Please take a moment to send a letter to your legislator about one or more of our budget priorities. We know legislators pay attention to the letters we send and it makes a real difference.
This brings me to another topic that is of utmost importance to us all – the status of contract negotiations.
The PEF Contract Team is working hard to negotiate a contract they can be proud to present to you, our members, for ratification. We all believe the governor and his negotiating team should recognize the value of the work done by you, the professional workers represented by PEF and we will continue to push for a fair contract that reflects both the monetary gains and respect we all deserve.
But, the Contract Team needs all of our support. Here are some things you can do to support our team and show the Governor we are union strong:
• Go to pefstrong.org and Demand a Fair Contract
• Send your story to Region 10 Coordinator and Contract Chair Darlene Williams: gro.1601367042fep@s1601367042maill1601367042iwd1601367042• Download and then display a PEF DOES IT sign in your workspace
• Check the PEF website and PEF social media pages often to make sure you are informed about upcoming meetings, events and issues facing PEF
• Submit a letter to the editor to your local newspaper;
• Re-commit to PEF
PEF members remember: Working together and speaking with one voice can only lead us to success. We Are Union Strong!
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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