IN SOLIDARITY — PEF Region 10 Coordinator Vernetta Chesimard, PEF President
Ken Brynien and Clifvon Jones chat at the region’s conference.
Conference bolsters member support
By DEBORAH A. MILES
Dozens of PEF Region 10 members gathered in mid-June at a membership
conference held in Suffern to learn, network and discuss the challenges they
face at their worksites.
PEF Region 10 Coordinator Vernetta Chesimard said the third annual conference
was designed to focus on issues germane to today’s work force. The topics
covered included members’ rights under the PS&T contract when faced with
counseling or interrogation, the complexities of the workers compensation system
and the importance of rapid mobilization.
“The information from the workshops and discussions with other members was
invaluable,” said Clifvon Jones, an underwriter at the state Insurance Fund.
“There was a great exchange of ideas. It was interesting to meet PEF members
from different agencies. Some of them work two blocks away from my worksite. The
conference provided a meeting ground. I found they have some of the same issues
and challenges in their agencies we have at the state Insurance Fund,” Jones
It was the first PEF membership conference she has attended. Jones said it
helped her realize how strong PEF is as a union, but members must contribute and
participate to make the union even stronger.
McCauley, a Medicaid service coordinator at Metro NY Developmental Disabilities
Services Office, echoed that sentiment.
“It’s important to get involved, be informed and know your rights,” McCauley
“It’s very important for members to be a part of what is going on.
“The conference also provided a safe haven where everyone could be candid about
the serious things that go on in our job sites. The workshops and discussions
helped with problem solving and dealing with day-to-day activities and how to
handle yourself with your supervisor or with co-workers,” McCauley said.
Among the things that impressed McCauley most were the words offered by PEF
President Ken Brynien.
“President Brynien showed us he is accessible to members,” McCauley said. “He
offered to come out and stand and support the membership, no matter how small
the group. I was touched to see he is really there for us, feels our pain and
Chesimard said the conference was successful because of the member
participation, the high caliber of the workshop leaders, and the positive energy
flowing from members to bolster the union.