June 14, 2023 — The PEF Executive Board voted to send two tentative agreements to their respective memberships for ratification – the main Professional, Scientific, and Technical (PS&T) unit contract and the Canal Corporation contract.
PS&T tentative agreement
The contract team reached a tentative agreement with New York State that, if ratified by the membership, would increase wages 9% through the end of the contract’s term in 2026.
“We started six months early for two reasons,” said President Wayne Spence. “I did not want to go into a contract negotiation and talk about retros. I think everybody would agree that your dollar today would not be worth the same a year or more from now. I did not want to drag it out.”
Spence said members in the Comptroller’s Office warned of rumblings the state could be facing fiscal troubles and the markets were heading south.
“All of those things could have a direct impact on the state’s ability to pay us,” he said. “I didn’t want to gamble going in to 2024.”
Vice President Darlene Williams, who chaired PEF’s contract team, said the men and women who represented PEF at the bargaining table did an extraordinary job.
“I don’t think we could have gotten to the place we’re at now without this team,” she said. “I have worked for the state of New York for over 40 years. This is the best contract in the shortest period of time that I’ve ever seen.”
Williams acknowledged the concerns of members about the “pattern of threes.”
“CSEA started the pattern,” she said. “UUP settled this morning, and they have the same. We wanted something different. Under this agreement, we would receive a higher education bonus of $600 for the second year and $600 for the third year. That effectively brings your signing bonus to $4,200.”
In addition to the ratification bonus and higher education differential, the contract includes increases to location pay for downstate regions and longevity would now be tied to years of state service, not just years served at top of grade in PEF titles.
“Previously, if you went from CSEA to PEF, CSEA years wouldn’t count,” Williams said. “Now, it’s years of state service. We wanted it to be state service and that’s what we got.”
Dental ranked high on members’ wants for this contract. PEF learned during recent rounds of negotiations that the state sat on the Request for Proposals (RFP) for a new dental provider until May 2023 and the team was determined to see change.
“We really fought for dental,” Williams said. “Our dental stinks. This agreement would give an additional $400 dental stipend starting this year, and every year until such time as the state enters into a new dental service contract.” This is, in essence, a penalty of over 20 million a year to the state as an incentive to move more expeditiously on its RFP for a new dental services contract.
To support growing families, PEF’s contract team also negotiated Paid Parental Leave – at no cost, and retroactive to leave taken on or after April 2, 2023, as long as leave was within seven months of the qualifying event.
“The state wanted us to take Paid Family Leave which was very divisive because of the cost to members,” Williams said. “We advocated for fully paid parental leave at no cost to our members. It was a hard fight, but we got 12 weeks of full paid parental leave available to eligible members without charge to accruals. Have those babies, adopt those babies!”
There is also no change in health care premium contributions and no increase in copays under the agreement.
“Being at that contract table is not easy,” Williams said. “OER (Office of Employee Relations) does not want to give you anything. There were not many tradeoffs and so many more gains in this contract.”
The team put forth a proposal for telecommuting, but the state countered with plans that would lead to tracking and timekeeping, something the team wasn’t willing to accept. Agency-level plans remain status quo, Williams said.
PEF’s chief negotiator Mark Richard has worked on more than 500 contracts and reminded the board that contracts are stepping stones.
“This contract is worth north of $5 billion or more,” he said, when factoring in the annual raises, signing bonuses and other reimbursements provided in the deal. “That contract book represents decades of every contract building on each other. Every contract is a stair step from the one before it. It’s called a union movement. That’s what we do. You never address every issue. Did you have goals, and did you meet them, and did you fight to protect that contract, and did you build upon that previous contract? Yes, your team did that.”
Ballots will be mailed to PEF members by the American Arbitration Association (AAA) on July 5, 2023. Only state or Roswell Park employees in the PS&T unit who are dues-paying members as of June 21, 2023, are eligible to vote. Ballots must be received by AAA on or before 5 p.m. July 27, 2023. Received means in hand, not just mailed or postmarked. Any member who has not received a ballot by July 14, 2023, should call AAA at 800-529-5218. Ballots will be counted by AAA on July 28, 2023.
There will be meetings around the state to discuss and answer questions about the tentative agreement. The Statewide Officers Tour will also resume mid-July in Regions 4, 6, and 7.
Canal Corp tentative agreement
The Executive Board also voted to send Division 504 members within the New York State Canal Corporation their tentative agreement for ratification.
Among other things, the tentative agreement includes 3% increases in each year of a five-year contract and a one-time lump sum bonus of $1,000 for each member upon ratification.
“Our team was focused on the issues raised by our members in the contract survey, such as wages, parental leave, and dental insurance,” said Field Representative and Chief Negotiator Caitlin Janiszewski. “This deal makes tangible progress in those areas.”
It also includes a significant improvement to the promotional payments system, an increase to navigation season stipend, and the introduction of a water management stipend.
To address the need for better dental coverage, the agreement includes a change from GHI/Emblem dental coverage to Delta Dental, with no premium share. The deal also includes four weeks of Paid Parental Leave and the ability to convert two extra weeks of sick leave into family leave.
The agreement does include increases over time to the healthcare premium contributions resulting in 16% for individual and 31% for family contribution rate by 2026.
The Canal Corporation contract ran from July 1, 2012, to June 30, 2022, and the new one, if ratified, would run through June 30, 2027.
Information about balloting will be communicated to members in the unit when it becomes available.
A Special Communicator Edition containing the documents below is being mailed to all members no later than June 30.
Until then, you may access the documents directly via these links: