This Communicator update comes just days after Gov. Kathy Hochul’s first State of the State address. The PEF legislative team is hard at work analyzing the 237-page policy book she published along with the speech. After she unveils her executive budget later this month, we will release our PEF Legislative Priorities. We will then create fightback campaigns to support those priorities and will be in touch about how you can help make PEF’s voice heard at the capitol and around the state.
The governor delivered her address before just a few dozen guests in the Assembly chamber because of the omicron surge impacting New York State. That surge is the primary focus of your union. There is no reason for any state worker to be in the office if you can still fulfill the responsibilities of your job from home. We have begun letter-writing campaigns focused on telecommuting and hazard pay and I urge you to participate. (Just click those links to get started.) We also know that COVID-19 safety protocols across state agencies are inconsistent at best and non-existent at worst. Please talk to your stewards and council leaders about problems at your worksite so they can address the issues at labor-management and health and safety committee meetings. You may also always reach out to PEF Health & Safety for the latest guidance on COVID-19 at HealthAndSafety@pef.org.
In this issue, we have a few union victories worth pointing out. First, PEF negotiated carryovers for those of you who participate in the Health Care Savings Account or the Dependent Care Advantage Account. Read the full details here, but essentially you may now use some of the money you set aside last year for any additional expenses occurred in the first part of 2022. PEF also completed negotiations with SUNY Downstate to authorize geographic pay raises for nurses. Downstate was the last of the three SUNY hospitals to agree to the raises. Upstate did so in June 2021 and Stony Brook in September. It is one small way we can reward the healthcare heroes who have sacrificed so much during the pandemic. Additional nurse compensation and retention policies will be one of PEF’s priorities the rest of this year. In addition, PEF negotiated an extension of the 2.5x overtime rate for certain titles at SUNY, OMH, OPWDD, OCFS and DOH. Read the story for specific effective dates.
We’ll be back with a full Communicator issue in February. Until then, please stay safe, stay in touch with your field representatives, and stay PEF strong.