PEF NEWS continued


PEF Sponsors Sue Peters Talk Aug 12 - "Origins of Money and the Current Debt Crisis" - Presentation, Bibliography and Contact Info now posted.



Union Seeks End To Secret Meetings; Will Be Watching July 23rd

(Albany, NY - 07.11.13) PEF Labor-Mgmt Co-Chair Mike Tracy-Ireland met with SED Ex. Deputy Beth Berlin on June 25th and reiterated union's commitment to monitor how the Board of Regents implemented it's annual retreat. Based upon a prior meeting with Chancellor Tisch, Tracy-Ireland expects to be present wherever and whenever they meet for their annual retreat to ensure that Committee on Open Government recommendations for complying with the NYS Open Meetings Law are followed. "It's simply a matter of following well-established rules for convening an open meeting and then adjourning into an executive session," he said. "PEF's interest is ensuring transparency and compliance with applicable state laws," added the PEF leader. PEF remains vigilent because past actions by the Regents, including strategic planning that involved major changes to the agency, were conducted behind closed doors at private retreats not open to the public. "We think it's important that the Regents conduct business in public and be held accountable for their actions, similar to what they're expecting of teachers and district employees."


Labor-Mgmt Update: Meeting in July?

Discussion expected on new L/M Agreement; Joint training for both teams

(Albany, NY - 07.11.13) Although no pre-meeting has been set to date, PEF remains committed to meeting in late July to continue Statewide Labor-Management committee meetings. "We may have to move it to the last week in July," said Co-Chair Mike Tracy-Ireland, "but we want to keep the process going and get it reinstated at the program level," he added. This is important because program-level L/M discussions have been blocked by management pending approval of a new agreement at the statewide level. And these local meetings are key to addressing many of the issues staff say are impacting their morale. "We've got some things to iron out, but I'm still hopeful we can come to agreement on some important joint ventures, such as joint labor and management L/M process training conducted by both PEF and GOER," said Tracy-Ireland. Stay tuned!


PEF Leaders Meet With Chancellor Tisch

Union Seeks End To Secret Regents Retreats; More Communication With Management

(Albany, NY - 05.20.13) Following up on their December meeting with the Chancellor, Vice Chancellor Tisch and Chancellor Emeritus Bennett, PEF Council Leader Kevin Kroencke and Statewide Labor-Mgmt Co-Chair Mike Tracy-Ireland met with Chancellor Tisch and Regent Bennett again on April 22nd after a long day of Regents meetings. Among a number of issues, they discussed the continuing low morale of NYSED PEF members and all the contributing factors - few opportunities for promotions, lack of staff development opportunities, outsourcing work that should be done by state employees, lack of quality supervision leading to harassment of members and an SED management that had to be forced to the Labor-Mgmt table via an arbitrator's consent award issued in March. While she and Bennett expressed concern for the low morale the Chancellor wanted to pin the blame for this "anger" on Governor Cuomo. Suggestions by PEF that the Regents leadership could assist by encouraging the Commissioner to endorse more training, including joint Labor-Mgmt training for PEF AND SED Management, somehow got translated into the Commissioner convening more regular meetings between SED Mgmt and PEF and all SED employees; perhaps more All-staff meetings. While PEF would certainly welcome these opportunities for improved dialogue, it is certainly not a panacea or a substitute for active, ongoing efforts by the Regents to more closely monitor the Commissioner's performance, like we now expect of principals and superintendants who are held accountable for their district and school's performance.

Speaking of evaluations and accountability, Tracy-Ireland followed this discussion with a request that the Chancellor review the Regents' protocol for convening their Annual Retreats in July, which are convened privately for the purpose of conducting performance appraisals of the Commissioner and his deputies. Explaining that PEF's FOIL appeal and further potential legal action hinged on Regents compliance with the NYS Open Meetings Law (OML), Tracy-Ireland emphasized the importance of informing the public of the Regents agenda for the retreat. He had had several conversations with Committee on Open Government executive director, Robert Freeman, and solicited specific suggestions for how the Regents could convene their annual retreats but still comply with the OML, and shared these with the Chancellor. Regent Tisch suggested that Regent Bennett would oversee this as he was generally responsible for planning the annual retreats.

While PEF leaders were disappointed that they could not get firm commitments from the Regents leadership on OML compliance and improving management of the agency, Council Leader Kroencke will be following up with Regent Bennett on these issues and both Regents agreed to meet with PEF again in October in the interest of maintaining a dialogue. PEF leader Tracy-Ireland hopes to be able to provide the Regents with more concrete, and less anecdotal evidence, about specific staff morale issues and possible solutions by the time they meet again with Regents leaders. If any PEF members have specific events or incidents they would like incorporated in a summary of morale issues, please email them to Tracy-Ireland at All submissions will be kept confidential.



Year-long Labor-Mgmt Impasse Appears Over

(Albany, NY - 05.20.13) After more than a year, both sides of the Labor-Management equation sat down for their first, formal Statewide Committee meeting on Friday, April 19, 2013. PEF Statewide L/M Chairperson Mike Tracy-Ireland described the meeting as business-like but cordial. "We covered a good portion of the agenda, but there's still more work to be done before we're caught up on outstanding issues that have not been resolved from the last time the Committee met in March, 2012," he said. These run the gamut from concerns about overtime expenditures to recruitment and selection processes to lack of promotional opportunities and outsourcing jobs to the Regents Research Fund.

While happy to finally sit down at the L/M table, union leaders are cautious about forecasting the future of the relationship. "We're working with management to conclude a new L/M Memorandum of Agreement, but until its final and adopted, they're not willing to sit down with local, program or facility Labor-Management committees to deal with issues at that level," said Tracy-Ireland. PEF has approached management about participating in joint L/M training sponsored by PEF and GOER, but have not yet received a response to their overtures. This was also a topic in PEF's discussions with Chancellor Tisch.

"We're trying to establish a new relationship with SED leadership based upon mutual respect," added L/M PEF Co-chair Mike Kinley, Supervising Investigator in the Office of the Professions. But that will require a healthy dose of good will and trust, something in short supply given the union's need to file grievances and secure an arbitrator-driven consent award just to get management to comply with existing provisions in the PS&T collective bargaining agreement.

"The only way we're going to achieve full-partnership with the State is if we have an active, informed and agressive membership supporting all eight of PEF's Divisions within SED," said Tracy-Ireland. "To get there, every PEF member will have to be engaged and supportive of their union," He added.


Update: 05.08.13


SED Commissioner Denies PEF FOIL Request
for Regents Retreat Records

Union Explores Litigation Option

(Albany, NY - 11.20.12) Ever wonder what the Board of Regents (BOR) does at those private, secretive annual retreats they've taken in July these past few years? Your union does too and requested information about them from BOR Secretary Tony Lofrumento for the past two years only to be referred to SED OHRM with no response. Confronted once again by an SED Administration unwilling to share information, Div 194 Council Leader Kevin T. Kroencke filed a formal FOIL request on September 11, 2012 for any records, such as agendas, minutes, notes or email correspondence, that would shed light on the activities and content of meeting discussions undertaken by the Regents at these retreats. Not surprisingly, after receiving an email acknowledging that we would receive our requested information or an explanation for denying our request on October 12, 2012...  Read more...



Update: 03.27.13 Member Meeting

   PEF MEMBER MEETING MARCH 27 - Watch for Updates!   

   Updated 4/13 - Followup Items:

    Link to No-cost Member Benefits (insurance, credit counseling etc) - from presentation

    Status of PEF Overtime lawsuit for SS Sandy

    Implementing Labor-Mgmt Consent Award [PDF] - Confirmed next meeting date is Friday, April 19

    State Budget update - See the following: NYS Budget Summary memo | SED | Spreadsheet | Guide [pdfs]

    Overtime Followup - System is capable of logging all hours in LATS; MTI to confirm policy in Labor-Mgmt...        Protocol and guidance will be forthcoming!

    Email Mike Tracy-Ireland with any L/M issues or suggestions

    Interested in attending PEF Convention as a delegate? Petition period now closed. Will post final list of
      delegates as soon as available

   NEW! (not on agenda) - Federal Sequestration Info [pdf] - How Federal cuts will affect New York

   Watch this page - answers will be posted.


Sad State of NYSED Labor-Management Relations


Labor-Managment Impasse:
Still The Never-ending Story - Updated

Union Leaders Meet With New CFO, Art. 24 Grievances Move to Triage Arbitrator

Update: 02.26.13

Latest news -

  • PEF SW Labor-Mgmt Committee has developed a new draft Memorandum of Agreement for negotiating with management

  • Kevin Kroencke and Mike Tracy-Ireland met with Don Juron, new Chief Financial Officer (CFO) to discuss renewing the L/M meetings and negotiating a new MOA; mgmt maintaining position of no SW L/M meetings without a new MOA in place first

  • GOER now has both Article 24 Grievances and is set to schedule Triage Arbitration session in the next few weeks

Now, once again, it's management's move... They can either wait for the Triage Arbitration or agree to convene SW and local L/M meetings while simultaneously working with PEF to negotiate a new L/M MOA. If they wait for the arbitration and the arbitrator renders an opinion favorable to the union, it likely means PEF will win a formal arbitration hearing and mgmt will ultimately be compelled back to the L/M table regardless of the status of the current, in force MOA. If the arbitrator renders an opinion in favor of the agency, PEF may be required to postpone L/M meetings until a new MOA is negotiated. Now, it's wait and see if we hear from mgmt or the arbitrator first!

Update: 01.19.13
Happy New Year! Not much to report. Some back-channel talk but nothing definitive. GOER still has first L/M Grievance and late last year a second grievance for the same issue but addressing the missed December L/M meeting was filed with NYSED with a deadline of yesterday for their response. None was forthcoming so this grievance too will have to go to GOER once PEF Counsel has reviewed it. We're at nearly a year since our last Statewide L/M meeting! Stay tuned...

Update: 12.23.12
Lots happening! Council Leader Kevin Kroencke and Labor-Mgmt Co-chair Mike Tracy-Ireland met with Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch, Vice Chancellor Anthony Bottar and Chancellor Emeritus Robert Bennett on Tuesday, December 11. Describing the meeting as "productive," Tracy-Ireland reported that he believed the Regents now have a better understanding of the impact of management's refusal to meet with union leaders on SED employee morale. "The Chancellor and her colleagues get it." said Tracy-Ireland. "They agree that management must meet with labor at the LM table," he added. Other topics discussed included the need for mutual labor-management training and the union's desire for a seat at the table when new executive managers are hired. Both parties didn't agree on everything, but there was a recognition of the need for partnership built upon mutual respect."They also want to meet with us again and continue the dialogue." said Kroencke. Now, it's management's move...

Meanwhile, PEF Field Representative Ed Bradley transmitted the Article 24 Grievance to the Governor's Office of Emplyee Relations (GOER) on Wednesday, December 19. Stay tuned!  Read more...

Update: 12.12.12
Here we go again! OHRM Director Annette Franchini once again unilaterally cancels Statewide Labor-Management meeting previously scheduled for today; this time because PEF has not provided any "feedback" to management's latest proposed Memorandum of Agreement! Never mind that we have convened our Statewide Committee twice and are working on developing our own counter-proposal. Stay tuned for more updates as the drama unfolds...


Original story:
(Albany, NY - 11.20.12) The presidential election may be over but there appears to be another contest brewing. It's a stand-off between your union and SED Management. As the countup clock above indicates, SED Management has refused to meet with your PEF representatives since our last scheduled Labor-Mgmt meeting on March 14 of this year. Since that time, Management has unilaterally cancelled two previously agreed-upon meeting dates (in May and September); the first because they say PEF was a day or two late in submitting the meeting agenda and the second based upon the pretext that the current PS&T contract invalidates our current Labor-Mgmt Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) which mgmt claims must be radically revised to be acceptable to them and approved by both sides before they will even sit down with us!   Read more...

In spite of repeated efforts by newly-elected PEF Labor-Mgmt Co-Chairperson Mike Tracy-Ireland to secure meetings with Annette Franchini, SED's new OHRM Director, mgmt has continued to resist any attempts by PEF to sit down and discuss outstanding issues that should be addressed in LM sessions. "It's really tough to negotiate with someone when they won't even sit down with you or embrace generally accepted professional courtesies to meet when parties who have never met will be expected to forge an effective working relationship," said Tracy-Ireland. "It's very frustrating, " he added. "I accepted the appointment to this position because I expected to be able to work with management to resolve some long-standing issues that continually crop up and block our progress toward making NYSED a world-class workplace." According to Tracy-Ireland, he even reached out and offered to meet with NYSED Commissioner John King in an email sent to him the day after returning from the PEF Annual Convention in Syracuse after being elected to the Labor-Mgmt Chairperson position. Nearly one month later, he has received no response from the Commissioner.

Confronted with this non-responsive mgmt posture, Tracy-Ireland worked closely with Div 194 Council Leader Kevin T. Kroencke, local Program Labor-Mgmt chairs from 194 and Labor-Management Chairs from 7 other PEF Divisions representing PEF members working in SED statewide, along with PEF Field Representative Ed Bradley to craft a formal Art. 24 Grievance which was submitted to SED in late September. While a response to the grievance was due from the agency by Oct. 22, to date SED Labor-Relations attorney David Green has not convened a meeting with PEF or filed a formal response to the grievance so PEF is in the process of advancing the grievance to Step 3 which will require the Governor's Office of Employee Relations (GOER) to submit the matter to independent binding arbitration.

"We're absolutely confident that an arbitrator will find in our favor and order SED Mgmt to sit down with us as LM meetings are not optional," said Tracy-Ireland. "They're required in our contract," he added. According to PEF officials at PEF's HQ in Latham, this is not the first time that mgmt has attempted to stymie the LM process here in SED. Under previous OHR Director Gayle Bowden the same tactic was tried and failed at that time when GOER notified SED leadership that they must sit down with PEF in LM meetings. (PEF may request a similar triage once the grievance advances to GOER.) The difference was that PEF did not have to deal with new SED mgmt. The other difference, which PEF leaders are quick to acknowledge, is that new PEF President Susan Kent and Treasurer Carlos Garcia were in the house.

"I don't like to speculate about management's motives for refusing to work with us," said Tracy-Ireland. "But it's hard not to come to the conclusion that they're trying to exploit the fact that long-time labor activists Susan and Carlos are no longer with us and they think they can take advantage of the new PEF leadership," he added. "We will not allow that to happen. We're committed to an equal partnership with management and will do everything in our power to ensure that's exactly what our members get," he concluded.

Stay tuned for updates.

Read the Art. 24 grievance, the current Labor-Management Memorandum of Agreement, LM Minutes from March, 2012 and the list of LM Outstanding Action Items Mike's tried to meet with management to address. Finally, here are the draft LM minutes from October and December 2011 which PEF has approved but SED management has not yet approved for official posting.


Union Files FOIL Request, May Litigate Denial

Not surprisingly, after receiving an email acknowledging that we would receive our requested information or an explanation for denying our request on October 12, 2012, the deadline came with no response from the SED Records Access Officer. Consequently, PEF contacted the Officer on the due date and, after saying he would check into the status of the request, never received a reply. Ten days later, Kroencke filed a formal appeal of this denial of our FOIL request directly to SED Commissioner John King. By law, the Commissioner's decision was required by November 6, 2012. The deadline passed with no reply. Immediately following this missed deadline, a request was submitted to PEF HQ for assistance filing an Article 78 proceeding against NYSED in State Supreme Court, the next legal step to compel NYSED to disclose the requested information. Div. 194 leaders are now waiting for a response from PEF Counsel to our request for assistance.

Why all the hullaballo over a once a year private meeting you might ask? Isn't the Board of Regents entitled to conduct annual retreats? The answer is a little complicated.

Some may recall back in 2009 that PEF was forced to sue the Department to secure public records illegally retained by SED management that contained the results of Gates Foundation-funded employee surveys administered by private consultants. At the time, the McKinsey Group was hired by the BOR to undertake an organizational analysis to support a major Departmental reorganization. As a result, dozens of staff were relocated, VESID became ACESS and programs were swapped between P12 and ACESS. What we discovered when the documentation was handed over was that surveys revealed SED employee morale was at a low point without much faith in SED leadership - not the kind of information you want the public to see (even though they had a right to it) when you're trying to overhaul the organization AND recruit a new commissioner!

Given this history of witholding public information from the public, PEF leaders are concerned that the BOR may be conducting public business - discussing and making important public policy decisions that affect PEF members and all New Yorkers - in violation of the State Open Meetings Law, which requires public bodies such as the BOR to conduct their business in public. According to officials at the NYS Committee on Open Government, whom PEF consulted with prior to filing the initial FOIL request, while public bodies such as the BOR ARE entitled to convene retreats, these convenings must confine themselves to such organizational activities as team-building and internal roles and responsibilities clarification. These retreats cannot include discussing or making decisions about any matter which could be construed as public business. Unfortunately, the only way PEF or any other individual or organization can determine whether or not the public body is conducting public business illegally, is to secure public records documenting what activities or discussions were undertaken at the private retreats. And that is exactly what we are doing.

Once again... Stay tuned for updates.

Read the FOIL Request and FOIL Appeal.

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