April 3, 2024 — At the first Executive Board meeting of 2024, PEF leaders approved the union’s Fiscal Year 2024-2025 budget, sent a tentative contract for ratification to members at Allegany County; and heard from U.S Senator Kristen Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and State Senators Samra Brouk and Neil Breslin.  

Executive Board Logo2024-25 budget highlights 

PEF Secretary-Treasurer Joe Donahue proposed a balanced budget for the 2024-25 fiscal year. The budget reflects increased revenues from membership dues, grants, and other funds and projects spending for committees, departments, divisions and more.   

“We tried to fund committees, departments, and all of these things to their pre-pandemic levels and this budget reflects that,” said Donahue.  

The budget shows a projected increase of $3.2 million from membership dues, and an annual revenue increase of $1 million.   

The largest expenditures, as they are every year, come from union leave, taxes, staff salaries and benefits. Those items account for more than 47% of the budget. The two other highest projected expenses are about 23% for per capita and affiliation fees (money PEF pays to its international parent unions, the American Federation of Teachers and Service Employees International Union) and about 11% for operating expenses.  

PEF is also ramping up advertising expenditures by $117,500 as it advocates on several fronts, including initiatives to stop proposed prison closures, the fight to reform Tier 6, the Stop Workplace Bullying campaign, and the effort to save and modernize SUNY Downstate Medical Center.  

The executive board voted to approve the budget, which funds the union from April 1, 2024, through March 31, 2025. 

Allegany County Contract 

Members of PEF who work for Allegany County in New York’s Southern Tier (PEF Region 2) will soon vote on a proposed contract, after the Executive Board approved the bargaining unit’s tentative agreement (TA) with the State.  

If approved by members, the contract would provide a retroactive raise of 3.5% as of Jan. 1, 2024. Another 3.5% raise would be paid out in 2025. A 30-year longevity payment of $3,000 is also included, to be paid on the employment anniversary date of eligible members who have reached that service milestone.   

The TA also makes Juneteenth (June 19) an annual holiday for Allegany County workers. In addition, the county has the option of adding Christmas Eve as a paid holiday in years when both Christmas Eve and Christmas fall during normal workweeks. 

Lastly, the TA gives the county the power to determine when “snowplow season” begins and ends, which affects the seasonal duration of four-day, 10-hour work weeks. 

The proposed deal runs through Dec. 31, 2025.  

Senators support PEF 

Sen. Samra Brouk, who represents portions of Monroe County and the Greater Rochester Area, praised PEF members and the Executive Board for their constant work. Despite the problems they may face at work, Brouk said public service workers continue to show up and care about the work they do. 

“The pride that you have for that work motivates me to show up even harder for you,” Brouk said. 

Brouk pledged that the legislature is behind PEF as the union pushes to reform Tier 6 of the State pension plan. The State Senate’s “one-house” budget reduces the final average salary calculation for pensions from five to three years and excludes overtime from contribution calculations until March 31, 2026 – two proposals that PEF supports. 

PEF also invited longtime PEF ally Sen. Neil Breslin, the longest-tenured New York State Senator, to address the board. He is not seeking reelection in November. He fondly recalled working with PEF to advance organized labor throughout his decades of service. 

“PEF has been totally on my side. I don’t think we have ever disagreed,” said Breslin. “I don’t recall any bill where I said ’Nah, I don’t think so,’ and so my job was to work for you.” 

PEF President Wayne Spence and Vice President Randi DiAntonio, who chairs the union’s Statewide Political Action Committee (SWPAC), presented Breslin with a plaque, thanking him for his 28 years of partnership and service. 

U.S. Senator Kristen Gillibrand appeared via Zoom as well. Gillibrand pioneered legislation and programs to help employees ease the burden of their student loans. 

“This is an important moment for labor,” said Gillibrand. 

Under reforms supported by Gillibrand and implemented by the Biden Administration, more than 800,000 public service employees have seen some form of loan forgiveness, including many PEF members. 

“I’m grateful to hear that so many of your members have been able to get their loans forgiven because of their public service,” said Gillibrand. 

The board voted to accept the SWPAC’s endorsement of Sen. Gillibrand as she runs for another six-year term in the U.S. Senate this November.  

Endorsements for New York’s elections 

The board also accepted the SWPAC’s recommendation to endorse State Senator Tim Kennedy, who is running in a special election on April 30, 2024, for Congressional District 26 in Western New York. The seat was vacated by U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins in February, after he served for 19 years.  

Assembly District 147, also in Western New York, will see candidates running for the seat later this year. The primary takes place on June 25, 2024. All regions voted unanimously to endorse Mitch Martin in the Republican primary, and the board accepted their recommendation. 

The next PEF Executive Board meeting will be held May 30 and 31 in Albany.