June 17, 2022 — During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, public servants across the country stepped up and went above and beyond to protect their communities. Some municipalities, hospitals, and businesses honored that work with hazard pay or bonuses.
In Albany County, there are workers deserving of that recognition who have not received any.
PEF members at Albany County Probation worked on the frontlines throughout the pandemic, providing vital community supervision and volunteering to provide security and logistics at Department of Health COVID testing sites and during quarantine house visits.
During the height of the pandemic, many went above and beyond for their community, dipping into their own wallets to assist quarantined residents who couldn’t get out for pet food or other supplies. Others kept serving their probation clients.
More than two years later, Albany County Probation is in contract negotiations and with inflation at near historic highs, offering 2 percent across the board wage increases – largely the same as the previous five-year contract — is a slap in the face to these essential workers.
“Albany County Probation PEF Local 502 are asking for a fair contract,” said Council Leader Tricia LaDuke. “Two percent is not fair given the soaring gas prices, inflation and cost of living. Two percent barely pays for the increase in health insurance premiums and members who have reached the maximum step within our contract are seeing their paychecks get smaller. Additionally, we are not in line with other comparable counties, yet we deal with some of the most dangerous communities. PEF Local 502 unequivocally stands in solidarity for a fair contract.”
PEF President Wayne Spence echoed the sentiments.
“Two percent does not come close to keeping pace with inflation, and it certainly won’t increase salaries enough so that probation officers can afford to pay today’s astronomical gas prices,” said PEF President Wayne Spence, a long-time New York state parole officer. “If the county doesn’t agree to pay a fair wage, these skilled and experienced officers will seek employment elsewhere, leaving all of us less safe in our community.”
“Keeping the community safe from crime is an essential service,” he said. “The employees of Albany County Probation are essential workers. They deserve to be treated with the same respect as their fellow frontline workers. Albany County should do right by them in their next contract.”