PERB backs PEF in parole decision
By DEBORAH A. MILES
The New York State Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) sided with PEF in a
recent decision that ordered the state Division of Parole (DOP) not to
distribute anonymous letters critical of the union or its policies and
leadership to PEF-represented parole officers.
An anonymous letter belittling PEF Division 236 Council Leader Manuelita
Clemente was distributed to other parole officers and the press in August and
September 2005. The letters were circulated at a time when tension was running
high between parole officers and the division’s executive director, Anthony
Ellis, who is no longer at DOP.
Prior to the anonymous letters, Clemente spoke at a July 8, 2005, rally about
expanded paperwork the Ellis administration had imposed on officers, the lack of
time to attend to parolees, and a mandated quota on parole warrants.
At the time of the rally, Ellis was celebrating the DOP’s 75th anniversary with
a number of dignitaries and officials in a nearby conference room.
“Whoever distributed that letter wanted to discredit me and the work I do for
the union,” Clemente said. “My priority has always been and continues to be the
fair treatment of parole officers, the men and women who put their lives on the
line every day.”
Clemente was pleased with PERB’s decision.
“The decision shows that justice has been served,” Clemente said. “It is
unfortunate that having free speech and being a union activist makes you a
target. The thing to do now is move ahead.”
PEF President Ken Brynien said the union will continue to support its members
and leaders through legal representation when necessary, and remain vigilant for
those whose purpose is to foment dissention and disloyality among parole
officers or any other PS&T unit.
PERB announced its decision in October 2008.