Don Morgenstern, Council Leader and Executive Board Member
Patrick Byrnes, Assistant Council Leader
Sherron Hunte, Treasurer
Joy Fletcher, Secretary
Merle Davis Cynthia Clarke Gloria Kaufman
Corina Florece-Ruiz Dolly Romeo Pearl Jones
Jemma Hanson, Regional Coordinator, Steward
State PEF Website: WWW.PEF.ORG
On May 22 over 40 Downstate PEF Nurses joined me and hundreds of other Nurses from around the State at Lobby Day in Albany. After our bus ride from Brooklyn we attended a rally sponsored by 5 Unions calling for the passage of Legislation to end mandatory overtime. We then proceeded to the Convention Center where we had lunch and listened to a panel discussion on Nursing Issues. We then broke up into small groups for scheduled appointments with State Legislators before boarding our bus for the ride home.
Again this year more Downstate Nurses attended the rally then from any other State facility including SUNY Stony Brook and Upstate Medical Center, even though together they have 4 times as many Nurses as we have. This clearly shows that at Downstate we have Nurses who care about Nursing, who care about giving the best patient care they can, and who are trying to make it better for all Nurses. To those who attended, and to those of you who wanted to come but couldn’t because of scheduling, my sincerest THANKS.
At the present time two of our PEF Nurses are in need of your help. Both are pregnant, but have had complications requiring them to stay out of work and in bed. Both are running out of accruals and may soon be forced off the payroll with unpaid leaves. They will either lose their health insurance or have to pay both their normal payment and also the State’s payment in order to maintain coverage – this at a time when they are no longer getting their own paycheck.
There is a way, however, where we can help. The Leave Donation Program allows other workers to donate their vacation accruals which can then be used as sick time by the affected Nurses. You can donate as little as 1 day of your time. If you are able to donate please call me at ext. 1362 and I’ll give you all the required information and bring the form to you.
The threat to Privatize SUNY Upstate Medical Center is very real and if Upstate “goes” it won’t be long before we are also privatized. In conjunction with the other State Unions we are in the middle of a television blitz aimed at the Legislators in Albany and the public in Syracuse, trying to generate public opinion to get the proposed Privatization overturned. We need the Legislature to act before they adjourn at the end of June to pass the bill that would stop the merger of Upstate and Crouse Hospital or to have the merged facility come under the SUNY umbrella.
We also need your help in putting pressure on the Legislators. Go to our Division’s website and click on the antiprivatization link. This will take you to a Statewide PEF website where you can have a fax automatically sent in your name to your local Representatives. We need to let them know that we care about what happens to the SUNY Hospitals.
This is really the most serious threat to the SUNY Hospitals in years and we must act to get it stopped. We need every PEF member to get involved and have a fax sent in their name. It takes only a minute or two.
We are trying to plan a local PEF sponsored social gathering for this summer. Some of the suggestions have been a dinner cruise, a picnic, a day at the beach, or an Atlantic City bus trip. Because of our tight budget the Division would only be able to give a small supplement to any planned activity and participants would have to pay most of the cost. If you are interested in any of these or have another possible activity please let me or any of the Stewards know about it
The following are the delegates who will represent Downstate at PEF’s Annual Convention which will be held here in NYC from Sept. 16 – 19, 2007:
Don Morgenstern Council Leader
Jemma Hanson Regional Coordinator
Sherron Hunte ER Dolly Romeo Amb Chemo
Merle Davis Med Care Rev Cynthia Clarke NS74
Pearl Jones L&D Gale Baptiste-Graham ER
Gloria Kaufman OPD Doris Hercules Amb Surg
Sheila Harris OPD Sharon Williams ER
Michele Fisher mICU Corina Florece-Ruiz IV team
Joy Fletcher Ed
When you are out sick for 3 or more days the State can require you to provide medical documentation of your illness (or that of your children if you are out because of their sickness.) The note does not go to your Supervisor; you should only give it to Employee Health Services. You have a right to privacy; you have a right not to have your medical conditions made known to other than health professionals. If your Supervisor demands that you provide them with a doctor’s note: refuse and call me immediately at ext. 1362. You have a right to the confidentiality of your medical records. If you are out less then 3 days, and you are not on Time and Attendance watch, then you are not required to provide any medical documentation after a sick call.
For the most part I am the only person who answers the PEF office phone (ext. 1362) or returns calls when messages are left on the answering machine. If you call – I will call you back – assuming I can figure out who called and what the number is. In particular, when I am away from Downstate, messages left on the machine are often not clear and I can’t figure them out. Please speak slowly and clearly when you leave a message especially when giving your phone number. If you don’t hear back from me within a few hours, call a second time, call a third time. Also, I do check for messages at night and on weekends. If its 2AM, I can’t guarantee I’ll call back right away – but there’s always the chance I may be awake and hear your message.
PEF and the State have been meeting 3 times a week trying to hammer out a new contract. I’ve been told that the talks are still in the preliminary stages, and although they are going well, we are still not close to a contract. Among PEF’s major proposals are for a larger Downstate adjustment to better compensate those of us who work in high cost areas of the State, for an acceptable across the board increase, and to minimize any “givebacks.”
The State seems focused on the increased costs in their share of health insurance premiums. Under our old contract the State pays 90% of the cost for individual coverage and 75% of the cost for a family plan. The State negotiators presented detailed data showing how their costs for health insurance have skyrocketed and it appears that they will try to demand that State workers pay more. Check out our website for the latest contract news.
Our local PEF Division 198 website is now up and running. I’ll try to keep it updated on a regular basis with useful information about both Downstate and Statewide PEF issues. You can find the site at:
Please let me know of anything you might like to find on the site - any pictures of our members, any news of retirements, births, accomplishments, etc. There are links to the latest contract news, to health benefits information, and to a number of other important and useful sites.
In my last Newsletter I commented on the fact that in just the first 2 months of 2007 there were already more disciplinary cases than in the previous 2 years combined. I’m happy to report that there have been few new cases and most of the outstanding cases have been settled.
In short, a meeting was scheduled between PEF and Leonzo Cuiman, Director of Labor Relations, and his staff. We closed the door to the room, we yelled, we screamed, we tried to see each others point of view, and in the end, we settled virtually all of the outstanding cases. I wasn’t happy with all the settlements, I’m sure Management was unhappy with some, but we worked them out. We also agreed on some new procedures to reduce the number of Notices of Disciplines issued and to increase the lines of communication between PEF and Labor Relations. Hopefully, this new-found spirit of cooperation will continue in the future.