Social Workers Day of Action - Lobby DayFebruary 20, 2024 — Low pay, high stress, unsafe conditions, and increasing workloads all make the job of a New York State social worker difficult. Despite those obstacles, social workers continue to perform critical work – helping New Yorkers access critical services and receive the help they need. 

That was the message nearly two dozen PEF social workers delivered to State senators and members of the Assembly on Feb. 13 at a Capitol Action Day organized by the New York State Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW). 

Together with NASW members, PEF members told legislators there are several things that must be addressed in order for social workers to thrive in New York. It starts with putting pressure on the Department of Civil Service and the Division of Budget to act on a salary reallocation proposal submitted to them last fall by the Office of Mental Health, with significant input from PEF.  

“There are a lot of us in this room who have been doing this work for a long time and have not seen our salaries be equal to our work,” PEF Vice President Randi DiAntonio said during a meeting with Sen. Robert Jackson. “There have been a lot of studies that have corroborated this, and as you know this is a female-dominated profession.”  

As of now, there are more than 200 vacant social worker positions across the State. In addition to prompt consideration of the salary reallocation package, PEF pushed for fixes to Tier 6 of the State pension plan – which currently forces members to contribute more as they earn more for far lower benefits 

“You know I support that, and I am going to do everything I can to make sure it gets done,” said Senator Robert Jackson, who chairs the Senate Civil Service and Pensions Committee. 

As part of their lobbying efforts, PEF social workers also called on legislators to support two bills currently working their way through the Senate and Assembly: S.3065/A.8934 and S.8218/A.8375. 

The first bill, introduced by Senator Jessica Ramos and Assemblymember Harry Bronson, aims to reduce abusive conduct and bullying in the workplace through training, reporting and remediation. This measure would regulate other harmful workplace conduct in the same manner that sexual harassment is regulated.  

The second bill, introduced by Senator Rachel May and Assemblymember Aileen Gunther, expands and improves the provision of loan forgiveness to eligible social workers in New York. PEF believes that this will help close the staffing gap and provide the thousands of New Yorkers living with mental illness the quality care they need. 

“I think we can support that,” Senator John Liu told the lobbying social workers during his meeting. “It makes sense to me to support that.” 

PEF members also joined NASW members for a lunchtime rally on the steps of the Million Dollar Staircase in the State Capitol. The group delivered a unified message to legislators: The people of New York need Social Workers, and they need them now! 

PEF social workers join National Association of Social Workers for lobby day in Albany