This Communicator update comes just days after the first PEF Executive Board meeting of 2022. Board members heard from three candidates running for New York governor, including the current chief executive, Kathy Hochul. It is a sign of PEF’s growing political clout that the sitting governor took time out of budget negotiations to address our members, while two of the candidates hoping to succeed her stopped by as well. After brief introductory speeches, each was asked the same six questions about PEF priorities, from telecommuting to workplace bullying to contracting out. The Statewide Political Action Committee will now deliberate about whether to make an endorsement and if they recommend a candidate earn PEF’s endorsement, the full EBoard will vote on that at their June meeting.
This is likely to be the final week of New York State budget negotiations. As I said when the executive budget was first released, this year’s budget contains more positive signs for public employees than any previous proposal since I’ve been president of PEF. Thanks to your activism and the tireless work of our political action committees statewide and at the regional level, we are being heard. This month, we held our annual Nurse Lobby Day to spotlight our concerns with the healthcare proposals in the budget and I’m told by participants that PEF’s input was very well received. If you haven’t yet added your voice to the union’s various budget priorities, please visit this page and send a letter to your lawmakers about the issues that matter to you.
During the budget cycle, we’ve also created videos each week highlighting PEF members who are impacted by the lack of resources, staff and funding that have severely impacted the services many state agencies provide to New Yorkers. If you haven’t found time to watch them yet, we have gathered them all here and will continue to add videos each week. For those of you who prefer to read and not watch, we are transcribing the videos as featured “Q&As” here in The Communicator.
Also in this issue, I’d like to draw your attention to an alarming story from Brooklyn, where a team of PEF parole officers has earned the nickname “Gun Snatchers” for the number of weapons they have taken off the streets this year. We’ve said for months that the so-called “Less is More” parole law, which went into full effect on March 1 — is likely to lead to an increase in crime by parolees who now have fewer consequences tied to their behavior. We hope stories like this help lawmakers see that the danger to community safety is real, and we need additional parole officers to handle the caseloads along with enhanced services for parolees who need help with things like housing, job training and addiction services in order to become productive members of society.
Finally, we have the first of many committee profiles in this issue. The New York City Women’s Committee has reactivated and joined our Statewide Women’s Committee to sponsor a series of events during Women’s History Month. I draw your attention in particular to the March 31 deadline for nominating “PEF Heroines.” I’ve met hundreds of them as president of PEF, so please nominate your co-workers today so we can recognize them in a future issue.
As winter slowly gives way to spring around the state, I hope this finds you healthy and ready for whatever the new season brings. I assure you your union will continue to stand strong and fight for your rights and protections at work.