We are officially in the “dog days” of August! (Fun fact: They don’t call them the dog days just because it’s too hot to walk the dog.) I hope every PEF member is finding time to get away from work at least for a little while to enjoy time with friends and family.
I took a short break following this month’s Statewide Officers Tour in PEF Regions 1, 2 and 3. It was so great seeing the more than 800 PEF members who showed up. We visited 14 different worksites to answer questions, hand out Fund Our Future T-Shirts, and just say “thank you” with a meal and a handshake for the hardworking members of this union. Every time I get the opportunity to talk to you, I come away inspired and motivated to improve your work lives in any way we can.
Our focus now turns to contract negotiations in the fall, so we’re putting the tour on hold while we ramp up for that. I’ve named the PEF Contract Team and they are already training in the art of negotiation. The current PEF contract expires on April 1, 2023, and we have requested a first meeting this November with negotiators from the Office of Employee Relations (formerly GOER, but they’ve dropped the G). We’ll be organizing Town Halls and surveying members about what’s important to them in the next contract. But before then, I encourage every member to send an email to the Contract Team at Contract2022Suggestions@pef.org with specifics about what you feel the union’s priorities should be in our next collective bargaining agreement.
Speaking of union priorities, check out the story about the Western New York Children’s Psychiatric Center in this issue. I’m sure many of you recall just how hard PEF had to fight to prevent that facility from closing in the last decade. Now, just years later, the State is investing tens of millions of dollars to improve the facility and the services it provides western New Yorkers. This is a perfect example of the long-term positive impact our organizing and fight-back efforts can have. Congratulations to everyone involved.
This is our final Communicator before Labor Day, so I hope you all either participate in a parade (PEF will be well-represented in parades across the Empire State) or take time to reflect on just how powerful American workers can be when we organize and advocate for change. I always feel a surge of pride leading this great union this time of year and that’s because of the vital work you all do. Thank you, and please continue to stay safe and healthy.