July 13, 2021 — This summer double issue of The Communicator arrives in the middle of your contract ratification vote. Ballots are out and must be received by our election administrator, the American Arbitration Association (AAA), by July 26 at 5 p.m. If you have not received your orange ballot, please contact AAA immediately at (800) 529-5218 to request a new one.
And if you have not had your questions answered about the 2019-2023 Tentative Agreement, there are a variety of resources available to help inform your vote. In this issue, we summarize the two all-member telephone town halls that we held this month focused on the contract. The PEF website also contains a wealth of information, including the full, marked-up agreement between PEF and the State, a chart showing the gains and trade-offs included in the agreement, a summary of the agreement’s highlights, and answers to frequently asked questions about the deal.
I would like to reiterate that your PEF Contract Team, led by Chair Darlene Williams, listened to PEF members during the entire process. You told us what you wanted in a survey this spring when talks at the table were heating up, and they negotiated a contract that really delivers on your demands: Retroactive annual raises starting in April 2019 of 2 percent, increases in the 5-, 10- and 15-year longevity bonuses, zero increase in healthcare premiums, an end to the four-day-per-pay-period telecommuting limit, an increase in the maximum number of vacation days that can be carried over from 40 to 50 days from April 2022 to 2023, and improved dental benefits.
But all of that hard work by the Contract Team will only be realized if members ratify the contract. Now is the time for PEF to speak with one voice and demonstrate the strength of our union. A YES vote tells Governor Cuomo and all the managers who work for him that PEF is a force to be fairly bargained with. An overwhelming show of support for this contract will put us in a very strong position when negotiations begin for a successor deal.
Other stories I’d like to highlight in this issue: A joint meeting of the statewide labor-management and health and safety committees focused on telecommuting and returning to work was held on June 25 and a Telecommuting Toolkit was developed as a result. We expect telecommuting to be a key subject at agency-level meetings moving forward and PEF stands by to support its leaders across the state as they fight for robust plans that balance the needs of the state and its workforce.
PEF’s Executive Board met on June 30 and July 1 for the final time as a virtual body. The next meeting will be held in person on Aug. 26 and 27 at PEF headquarters in Albany. You can read a full summary of the meeting here, but I’d like to highlight two things. First, the 2021 PEF Convention will be held Oct. 24-27 in Niagara Falls. Delegates have already been seated and we will have many more details to share in the weeks ahead. I look forward to seeing PEF’s dedicated delegates face-to-face for the first time in more than a year! Second, Secretary-Treasurer Kay Wilkie attended her final E-Board and I would like to once again publicly thank her for her years of service. She leaves the union in great fiscal shape and I will miss her steadfast partnership and valuable advice. New leadership will be sworn-in on Aug. 2 and we will introduce them to members in future issues of The Communicator.
Until then, I wish you all a pleasant rest of the summer. I hope you find some time to get away from the stress of your work lives and celebrate all you have to be thankful for – including this strong and active union committed to improving working conditions for all of us.