Current Issue

April 3, 2024 | Volume 42. No. 3

PEF persistence pays off!

The first quarter of 2024 is in the books! The New York State budget will be finalized soon, and I’m confident that many of PEF’s priorities will be included. I thank each of you who took the time to send an email or a letter or called your lawmakers to voice support for PEF’s priorities. The PEF Communications and Legislative Departments report that members sent almost 4,500 emails and signed about 8,000 letters at various meetings and events across the State. Without your voices amplifying the union’s lobbying efforts, legislators would not have known about so many of the issues plaguing the State workforce.  

This month’s lead story is one I know many of you will be very glad to read. Ever since I was first elected PEF President in 2015, I’ve heard from members all over the State how terrible the EmblemHealth dental plan is. There aren’t nearly enough participating dentists and the benefits really amount to nothing but a coupon for State employees. Not anymore. Effective some time this fall, after a 180-day implementation period, Anthem Blue Cross will become the dental insurer in the NYS Health Insurance Plan. PEF was the loudest voice in the room when it came to making this happen and I’m grateful to all of you for keeping the issue front and center. It took more than a decade of advocacy, but the persistence of union members and staff paid off and now public employees across the State will benefit. Congratulations to everyone.

I’d also like to take a moment to commend the members at Kingsboro Psychiatric Center in Brooklyn, who are fed up with the treatment some of them receive from management and have gone public with a campaign to call it out. PEF activists have participated in a series of actions each week since February, recorded audio testimonials about their experiences, and are building toward a May 1 rally at the facility, to which we’ll invite the media and legislators so they can hear Kingsboro’s message: Stop Workplace Bullying!  

This issue is hitting your in-boxes just five days before a once-in-a-lifetime event – the total solar eclipse that people from all over the world will witness across a swath of western, central and northern New York on April 8. PEF members have been preparing for this since 2020. I hope everyone stays safe and has fun – especially if traveling in busy areas like Buffalo, where the traffic is expected to be intense. 

Finally, I want to recognize a special member who does all she can for PEF, for her community, and abroad. Joan Rosegreen, a nurse and PEF council leader at SUNY Downstate, recently returned to her native country (and mine!), Jamaica, to help deliver healthcare to those in need, and is already gearing up for another global adventure later this year in Singapore. I salute Joan and every PEF member fighting to make a real difference in the lives of the people we serve. 

In Unity,  

Wayne Spence
PEF President 

Wayne Spence Head Shot WAYNE SPENCE