June 9, 2016
By Steven Wishnia
Albany, NY -Members of the New York State Public Employees Federation overwhelmingly voted to ratify a one-year retroactive contract with the state, in results announced June 7.
The deal, which will cover the 12-month period after the union’s contract expired in April 2015, will give members a 2% retroactive raise while negotiations continue for a longer-term contract. “We wanted to get our members current,” explains PEF spokesperson Jane Briggs. “We believe this gives us added strength at the negotiating table, because it shows PEF’s members are unified.”
The PEF represents more than 54,500 professional, scientific and technical workers, including nurses, scientists, parole officers, social workers, and engineers, mostly but not exclusively state employees. Almost 60% of the union’s members cast ballots, and 97% voted to ratify the agreement.
The union is seeking a multiyear contract that will give “across-the-board raises” and improve health-insurance benefits and job security, says Briggs.
“I thank all the members who voted “yes,” and for their important participation in this process,” PEF President Wayne Spence said in a statement. “This is a positive start for the union to continue negotiating for the longer-term successor agreement. I applaud the fine work accomplished by our contract team, and the fairness displayed by the members of the governor’s negotiating team. PEF is proud to have this pact ratified.”
The one-year contract covers PEF members who work at state agencies and facilities and those employed at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, the New York State School for the Deaf in Rome, and the New York State School for the Blind in Batavia. It also continues the compensation-time program for people who worked more than 40 hours in a week, which expired last July 1, through June 30, 2017, and increases funding for PEF/state joint committees by 2%.
PEF, formed in 1979, is the second-largest union representing New York State employees after the Civil Service Employees Association. It is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers and the Service Employees International Union.