September 9, 2021 — If you ever visited PEF headquarters in Albany County before the pandemic, you will be struck by the improvements when you visit it again for a statewide committee or board meeting.

You will notice a new paved patio on the building’s west side and new signage at the entrance, but the really noticeable changes greet you on the interior.

Photographic murals and collages celebrating PEF history and unity adorn the first-floor walls and staircase to the second floor. Beginning with PEF’s first president, John Kraemer, and his administration that began in 1979, each three-year term of office is marked by a brief summary listing the statewide officers and highlighting a few of the major challenges that faced the union in that time period.

Many of you may find the murals are “a walk down memory lane” as you spot familiar faces in the photo collages and are reminded of the legislative, contract and budget battles that have characterized the union’s work throughout its history.

The conference room capacity has been expanded to allow the entire PEF Executive Board to meet at headquarters for the first time.  If you come for a committee meeting, you may find yourself in a smaller new conference room set up to host Zoom meetings and welcome virtual as well as in-person participants.

PEF held a ribbon-cutting ceremony June 24 to celebrate the newly renovated headquarters building, and then PEF Secretary-Treasurer Kay Alison Wilkie was joined by PEF President Wayne Spence to cut the ribbon. Executive Director Todd Kerner and various department directors and PEF staff were also on hand for the brief ceremony.

In her remarks, Wilkie noted that the renovations go far beyond those that are easily spotted by casual observers and include infrastructure and data-security upgrades, such as new HVAC systems, new electrical and plumbing systems, and scan-card building access.

PEF used unionized workers and firms whenever possible for both the information technology upgrades and the construction that went on through 2020 while staff worked from home or at a nearby alternate site.

Union Strong. Those two words embody what it means to organize and advocate for workers’ rights. From the inception of the New York State Public Employees Federation in 1979 until today, “Union Strong” signifies our commitment to securing the best possible working conditions for the professional, scientific and technical employees we represent. The words also convey the fighting spirit we see in our membership every day, year after year, as the collectively work to provide the best possible public services for New Yorkers.