New York State Public Employees Federation, AFL-CIO, Environmental Conservation Division 169 (PEF/ENCON) Records, 1975-2000
- New York State Public Employees Federation, AFL-CIO. Environmental Conservation Division.
- The Public Employees Federation (PEF) was founded in 1979 to represent members of the Professional, Scientific, and Technical (PS&T) bargaining unit of New York State. PS&T employees had formerly been represented by CSEA, the state’s largest public employee union. PEF founders believed that the concerns of the PS&T unit were not adequately represented by CSEA, the majority of whose members were non-professional state employees. PEF’s stated mission is to “provide the leadership necessary for PEF members to achieve employment security, higher wages, better working conditions, and improved retirement benefits.” Materials in this collection document PEF activities at both the state and division level. There is extensive coverage of executive board activities from 1978 through mid-2000, annual conventions, committee meetings, and contract negotiations. Also included are files for PEF Division 169, PEF’s Environmental Conservation Division. These include correspondence, agendas and minutes for labor/management meetings, material on committees, and administrative files. This collection also documents the activities of reform groups and political parties within PEF (most notably, the Statewide Coalition for a Democratic Union) and PEF’s relationships with its national affiliates, the Service Employees International Union and the American Federation of Teachers. Particularly strong is the collection of bulletin board postings, which includes almost everything posted on Division 169 PEF bulletin boards from 1979 through 2000. There are also official PEF publications, including a near-complete run of PEF’s official monthly newsletter to members, The Communicator.
- 23.17 cubic ft.
- English and English
- Preferred citation:
- Preferred citation for this material is as follows: and Identification of specific item, series, box, folder, New York State Public Employees Federation, AFL-CIO, Environmental Conservation Division 169 (PEF/ENCON) Records, 1975-2000. M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University at Albany, State University of New York (hereafter referred to as [shortened name]).
Access and Use
- Conditions Governing Access:
Access to this record group is unrestricted.
The researcher assumes full responsibility for conforming with the laws of copyright. Whenever possible, the M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives will provide information about copyright owners and other restrictions, but the legal determination ultimately rests with the researcher. Requests for permission to publish material from this collection should be discussed with the Head of Special Collections and Archives.
- Scope and Content:
Materials in this collection document PEF activities at both the state and division level. Contract negotiations were a central activity of the union and are well-documented. Other statewide activities include PEF's annual convention, held throughout New York in locations that included Niagara Falls, Syracuse, and Buffalo. There is extensive coverage of executive board meetings from the board's inception in 1978 through mid-2000; meeting kits for each meeting contain agendas, minutes, memos and correspondence, news clippings on issues relevant to board discussions, and a wealth of other materials. The executive board held regular meetings on a quarterly basis; special meetings were held at PEF's annual convention or when extenuating circumstances warranted additional meetings, such as when the Executive Board needed to vote on whether to send a proposed contract to PEF members for final approval. There is also documentation of statewide lobbying and campaigning activity through the Political Action Committee, as well as documentation of other state and local committee activities. There is some documentation of both state and local Women's Program meetings and events.
This collection also documents PEF's relationship with its affiliate unions, the American Federation of Teachers, New York State United Teachers, and the Service Employees International Union. In 1983, PEF president Elizabeth Hoke took legal action to sever PEF's affiliate relationships, arguing that the affiliation agreements were exploitative. The New York State Supreme Court ruled against PEF, and the affiliate relationships were maintained. The collection contains extensive coverage of the affiliation dispute case. There are also files on conventions held by PEF's affiliates.
Also included are many files for PEF Division 169, PEF's Environmental Conservation Division (frequently referred to as PEF/ENCON). These include correspondence between the Division and PEF headquarters, agendas and minutes for labor/management meetings, committee files, and administrative files. Particularly strong is the collection of bulletin board postings, which includes almost everything posted from 1979 to 2000 on Division 169 PEF bulletin boards. New York State was contractually required to provide these bulletin boards to PEF for communication with members.
This collection also documents the activities of reform groups and political parties within PEF - most notably, the Statewide Coalition for a Democratic Union (SCDU), which was active in the presidential campaigns of both Elizabeth Hoke (1982) and Rand Condell (1985, 1988).
The collection is particularly strong in official PEF publications. Included is a near-complete run of PEF's official monthly newsletter to members, The Communicator, dating from 1979-1990 and 1994-1999. Other publications include Steward News, Shop Talk, contract update newsletters, retirees' newsletters, and several regional and divisional newsletters.
This collection does not provide much documentation of division activities outside of Division 169, nor of regional activities beyond region 8, which encompasses the Capital District. The collection also lacks material related to rank-and-file members and the effect of the union on their lives. It contains no membership rosters for either the state or division level.
- Biographical / Historical:
The Public Employees Federation (PEF) was certified in 1979 as the collective bargaining agent for the members of the Professional, Scientific, and Technical (PS&T) unit of New York State. This unit includes scientists, doctors, nurses, engineers, teachers, social workers, counselors, and a wide variety of other professionals employed throughout New York. ["This Is PEF", Series 6, Box 1, Folder 17]. PS&T employees had formerly been represented by CSEA, the state's largest public employee union. PEF founders believed that the concerns of the PS&T unit were not adequately represented by CSEA, the majority of whose members were non-professional state employees. After these employees voted in April 1978 to be represented by PEF rather than CSEA, CSEA launched a legal attack against PEF to stop the loss of some 45,000 members to the new union. The legal battle continued through early 1979; CSEA charged PEF organizers with forging thousands of signatures on ballots in the PS&T vote on PEF representation. These charges were eventually deemed to be unfounded by the New York State Court of Appeals in March 1979, and PEF was legally certified as the collective bargaining agent for PS&T employees. [ "PEF - 1978 to 1988", The Communicator, Convention Supplement, October 1988, Series 6, Oversize Box 2, Folder 4].
PEF began negotiating its first contract with the state on April 23, 1979. The contract was accepted by members in December 1979, against the recommendation of the Executive Board. ["PEF - 1978 to 1988", The Communicator, Convention Supplement, October 1988, Series 6, Oversize Box 2, Folder 4]. Contracts were originally negotiated for a three-year period; in 1991, a four-year contract was negotiated for the first time. [1991-1995 Professional, Scientific, and Technical Unit Contract, Series 1, Box 2, Folder 25]. In many cases, negotiations with the state on a given contract were so prolonged that the previous contract expired before a new one took effect. This usually led to controversy regarding "sunset" benefits, provisions of the expired contract which the State refused to honor when a new contract had not been agreed upon.
One contract issue of primary concern to PEF in the years documented by this collection was the state retirement system. In the 1970s New York State implemented a tiered retirement system, in which workers' retirement benefits varied considerably based on their original date of hire. PEF has long lobbied for the abolishment of the tier system, but has not been successful. Other issues of long-term concern for PEF include maintaining a high level of health care coverage for its members, preventing the outsourcing of state jobs to private contractors, preventing layoffs in the face of state budget cuts, insuring timely and fair performance evaluations, and guaranteeing parking privileges for members working in downtown Albany.
Political controversy within the union was common in its early years. PEF's first president, John Kraemer, was investigated on charges of being a "no-show" employee at his previous position with the New York State Department of Labor. [Personnel Abuses at the Department of Labor", State of New York Commission of Investigation, July 1979, Series 1, Box 4, Folder 49]. After being voted out of office in 1982, Kraemer was convicted of embezzling funds from the union. ["Unionist's Career a Stormy One", Albany Times Union, 6 March 1987, Series 1, Box 4, Folder 49]. Kraemer's successor, Elizabeth Hoke, caused controversy by revoking the union leave of PEF's three statewide vice presidents. ["Unions Open Query Into PEF Dispute", Albany Times Union, 24 May 1984, Series 4, Box 3, Folder 38]. Later, she was charged with using her PEF credit card for personal expenses. ["Hoke 'Censors' Union Article on Credit Card Use", Albany Times Union,11 September 1984, Series 4, Box 3, Folder 38]. The Statewide Coalition for a Democratic Union (SCDU), a group dedicated to reforming PEF, had originally backed Hoke's election bid; by 1985, they had renounced their support of her and actively supported opponent Rand Condell's presidential campaign.
As of 1999, PEF represented approximately 55,000 workers throughout New York State. Five full-time officers are elected by union members: a president, three vice-presidents, and a secretary-treasurer. Three elected trustees serve as independent monitors of PEF's finances. Members also elect 1000 delegates to an annual convention where major policy decisions are made. A 120-member executive board handles policy decisions between conventions. At the local level, members elect officers and shop stewards in about 230 local divisions, each of which represents PEF workers in a specific building or facility. PEF is also divided into 12 geographical regions, each with a regional office and member-elected coordinator. ["This Is PEF", Series 6, Box 1, Folder 17].
PEF divisions are the equivalent of what most other unions call locals. Divisions, usually based around a given state agency or workplace, began to form in May 1981. ["PEF - 1978 to 1988", The Communicator, Convention Supplement, October 1988, Series 6, Oversize Box 2, Folder 4]. Division 169 consists of PEF members employed by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) throughout New York State, excluding Long Island. Division 169 is also referred to as PEF/ENCON.
PEF's stated mission is to "provide the leadership necessary for PEF members to achieve employment security, higher wages, better working conditions, and improved retirement benefits". ["Mission", http://www.pef.org/, 25 June 2004]. PEF is affiliated with New York State United Teachers, the American Federation of Teachers and the Service Employees International Union. ["This Is PEF", Series 6, Box 1, Folder 17].
During the years covered by this collection, PEF presidents were John Kraemer (1979-1982), Elizabeth Hoke (1982-1985), Rand Condell (1985-1991), Howard Schafer (1991-1994), James Sheedy (1994-1997), and Roger Benson (1997- ).
- Acquisition information:
Records in this collection were kept by Stanley Byer, who was involved in PEF at the state and division level since its inception. From 1978 through 2001, Byer served in a variety of roles in the union, including executive board member, trustee, shop steward, and division secretary. Byer also participated in numerous PEF committees and events, including statewide election campaigns and annual conventions.
All items in this manuscript group were donated to the University Libraries, M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, by Stanley Byer of New York State Public Employees Federation, AFL-CIO, Environmental Conservation Division 169 in April 2001 and April 2003. Additional material was transferred by Susan J. DuBois in October 2006.
- Processing information:
Processed in 2004 by Aimee L. Morgan, June 2004.
Processing Begun by Heather Harrington, 2003
Albany, New York
Civil service--New York (State)
Government employee unions--New York (State)
Labor laws and legislation--New York (State)
Labor unions--New York (State)
- Benson, Roger
New York State Public Employees Federation, AFL-CIO--Environmental Conservation Division
American Federation of Teachers
Civil Service Employees Association (N.Y.)
Service Employees International Union
Statewide Coalition for a Democratic Union