Monday, August 29, 2011

Why I Voted "No"

The following statement was provided to PEF members by an elected member of the PEF Executive Board, an explanation to his constituents. The author encourages people to share this document (pdf link here and at the bottom).

Why I Voted "No"

On Thursday, August 11, 2011, the PEF Executive Board decided by a vote of 85 to 38 to send the tentative contract to the membership for ratification. I voted “no” because I think that acceptance of this agreement is not in our best interest for the following reasons:

• While the current threatened layoffs may be cancelled if the contract is ratified, there is no guarantee against future layoffs.

• We are locked into a five year contract with no protection against future inflation.

• The five unpaid furlough days by the end of March 2012 would result in an approximately 4% pay cut spread over the remainder of the current fiscal year. For a Grade 18, there could be a decrease in pay of up to $1,300 by March 31, 2012.

• The change in the employee share of the cost of health insurance would increase your premium for family Empire Plan coverage by just under $1,000 per year, almost $5,000 over the term of the contract. For individual coverage, your premium would increase by around $425 per year, almost $2,000 over the contract.

• The Empire Plan out of network provider annual deductible would increase to $1,000 per person from the current $388. The maximum out of pocket would go from $1,069 to $3,000.

• Empire Plan prescription co-pays for a 90 day supply of a brand name drug would go from $30 to $50 and $70 to $90.

• Updated life expectancy tables would be used to determine the monthly value of unused sick leave for employees who retire on or after October 1, 2011. While the affect would vary based on your age, salary and amount of unused sick leave, for me it would increase my retiree health insurance cost by almost $40 per month or more than $8,000 over my life expectancy.

• According to a press release issued by the Governor’s Office, the proposed contract will result in almost $400 million in savings over the contract term. Based on 54,000 PEF members, this means that we are giving up over $7,000 a member.

While the majority of the Executive Board voted to send the contract to the membership, several Board members who voted “yes” have told me that they wanted to give their members a chance to vote but will campaign against it.

Ron Goldstein

The author represents members at the Department of Labor on the PEF Executive Board.

printable version available here

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Calling all PEF members!

If you're looking for an alternative to the tentative agreement - or even if you simply want to pause to evaluate the serious predicament we face - it is time to unite and work together.  Consider this:

The Public Employees Federation was founded to represent the professional, scientific and technical workers of New York State.  Our employment contract with the state ought to represent our interests. 
Soon you will receive a ballot asking for you to vote yes or no on a contract based upon the CSEA contract.

Please vote NO!  This contract is not in the best interest of PEF members!

"No layoffs" must mean NO LAYOFFS
(Proposed contract language in fact protects the governor's power to lay off PEF members.)

5 years is TOO LONG for this contract
(Economic and political circumstances will change.)

Dramatic increases in our health care costs amount to A PAY CUT, A GIVEBACK 
(All benefits amount to foregone wages.)

(To justify a proposed cut in retiree health benefits, we stand accused of living too long!)

The "furlough days" in fiscal year 2011-2012 are simply a GIVEBACK
(Biweekly compensation will be cut by nearly 4% for 13 pay periods to pay for the “furlough.”)

The givebacks in the contract have been presented as a trade-off, a way to prevent layoffs. But even if we ratify this contract, we will face the prospect of layoffs. Layoffs of PEF members are happening right now!

The Governor has given PEF and the other unions a false choice: givebacks or layoffs. To accept this false choice is to embrace concession bargaining at its worst.  If we accept this false choice, we negotiate against ourselves, against our own interests.  It is time to go back to the bargaining table.

In reality there is no reason to lay off New York's public servants in 2011 or 2012 or in the years to come. Decades of successive tax cuts for New York's millionaires and billionaires have trashed a once-progressive tax system and under-funded public service.  And as the tax burden has been shifted to the middle class and the working poor, essential services have been contracted out to private profiteers, to the further detriment of public welfare. We, the professional, scientific and technical workers of the State understand better than anyone the harm this has done the health and education, safety and environment of New York.  It is time for us to stand up and defend public service.

Join PEF Professionals Reclaiming Our Union Decisions: PEF PROUD.  We need to stand together to FIGHT EVERY LAYOFF while we demand a FAIR CONTRACT.

Email us:  Print and share: Link to PDF version here.