THE PCT PLEDGE IS THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE PLAINVIEW-OLD BETHPAGE
CONGRESS OF TEACHERS
Volume XXXVII, No. 10 June 21, 2000
by PCT President Morty Rosenfeld
I am accustomed to writing "theme pieces" in the signed columns that I do for the Pledge and web page, but Im being overtaken with the urge to get the school year over and get the summer underway. There are, however, a few things that must be said at the end of this difficult year.
With the passage of the Tier Enhancement Law, we are saying goodbye to a larger than unusual number of PCT members. Here they are:
Throughout the state, the PCT is known as a unique organization, an education union with a proud history of defending the rights of education workers and improving their conditions. These colleagues built this reputation in strikes, job actions and in the very way they have always communicated that they are people of substance who demand to be treated decently and fairly. Their careers are a challenge to all who come after them to always keep our union strong and ready for any threat that comes our way. I know that, like me, you have been proud to serve with these fine people.
This has also been the year when the current central office administration collapsed. Although the reasons are many, it strikes me that no useful purpose is served at this time by undertaking such an analysis. Rather, we need to think ahead to next year when almost the entire central office will be turned over. What will it be like to deal with a totally new administration, a group of people without any shared history running an institution that to a very great extent is its history? Even with good will, this will probably be tricky. There will undoubtedly be some difficult days.
Our new administration will take office with much of the district undergoing construction of one kind or another. There will no doubt be issues to deal with of dust, dirt and noise.
Next year will surely bring its share of problems. Yet I believe we must approach it with the hope that the terrible atmosphere that has pervaded the district in recent years can be ameliorated and that we can once again expect those for whom we work to meet the same high standards they demand from those who do the important work of educating the children of this community
In closing, I must recognize the outstanding contributions of several PCT officers who are stepping down this year.
PCT Treasurer Tom Syrett has served our union in various capacities for over twenty years. Throughout that time, no job was ever too large or small. All that mattered to him is what was in the interest of our union. I have been proud to serve with him and to have him as my friend.
Jolynn Gabel has served us well as Elementary School Vice-President. She has been a militant advocate for the needs of elementary school teachers and during her tenure she has worked hard on the many elementary issues that have faced us.
While Cathy Reagan is stepping down as Clerical Unit President, Im pleased that she has agreed to stay on as an officer. Her council and leadership have been extraordinary. She has been a passionate advocate for the members of the CUPCT.
Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your efforts on behalf of our union and wish you a wonderful summer of fun.
EXECUTIVE BOARD GOES
At their final meeting of the school year on June 6, 2000, the PCT Executive Board voted to affirm the recommendation of the PAC Committee to endorse the candidacy of Hillary Clinton to be the next United States Senator from the State of New York.
The PAC Committee made its recommendation on the basis of the superior positions of Clinton on education and other issues. Her opponents positions in support of charter schools, limited reproductive rights for women and the sort of conservative economics that almost bankrupted our nation were among the important issues that impacted on the Committees recommendation.
The action of the PCT Political Action Committee and Executive Board put our local in line with theposition of our state organization, NEA-New York, which endorsed Hillary Clinton at their convention in April.
PCT Secretary and NEA-New York PAC Committee Chair Judi Alexanderson and PCT President Morty Rosenfeld, a member of the state PAC, will be attending meetings in August to coordinate the political work of our local with the state organization.
By all accounts, this was one of the most successful legislative years for the public employee unions of this state, especially in the area of retirement.
By now most PCT members are familiar with the Tier Enhancement legislation which has passed both houses of the legislature and is awaiting the Governors expected signature. Briefly, this law provides that Tier 1 & 2 members will receive an additional month of service credit for each year they have worked as members of their retirement system up to two years additional credit. Tier 3 & 4 members with 10 years of membership in a retirement system will no longer have to make the 3% of salary contribution effective October, 2000.
This enhancement of the retirement tiers is the latest step in addressing the inequities that creation of the various tiers caused. While there is still more to be done, this is a very significant step. Over 160 members of the PCT will effectively get an additional 3% pay raise next year.
The gem of this legislative session, however, has to be the passage of a permanent cost of living adjustment (COLA) law, also awaiting the Governors expected signature. For years, members of the PCT along with other public employee unionists have lobbied for an end to the system of periodic supplementation bills to make up for the erosion of our members retirement income through inflation.
While the bill that passed is not the end of the struggle for dignity for retirees, to have finally sold the concept of a permanent COLA has got to be seen as an outstanding achievement of which we can all be proud.
The permanent COLA law provides for the following benefits for those who qualify. To be eligible, a retiree must be age 62 and be retired at least 5 years. For those receiving a disability benefit, there is no age requirement, but a person must still be retired for at least 5 years.
Beginning in September 2001, the COLA will be 50% of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) applied to the first $18,000 of a retirees pension. The minimum annual adjustment will be 1%. The maximum adjustment will be 3%.
For those who retire prior to 1997, there will be an additional "catch-up" increase in September, 2000. This adjustment will be at least 50% of the CPI from an individuals date of retirement through January 1, 1997, minus any previous supplemental increases.
Also passed in this legislative session was a bill for the purchase of up to three years of military service credit at 3% of current salary for each year purchased and a bill that increases to $18,500 the amount of money retirees can make working for the State of New York or local sub-division.
KNOW YOUR REPRESENTATIVES
For those PCT members who havent paid much attention to the political action work of our union, our accomplishments during this legislative session should cause them to re-evaluate the wisdom of sitting on the sidelines as others do the important political work of our local.
Imagine the power we could have if each of our members knew who all of their elected representatives are and were prepared to be in touch with them on issues of importance to our union. While we are more involved politically than most local unions, we dont yet measure up to this ideal.
September begins the political season. The entire House of Representatives will be elected, and New York will elect a U.S. Senator. State senate and assembly seats will be contested too. The PCT must be a vital part of the electoral process. So much of the work we do is affected by our elected representatives. Each of us has an obligation to each other to take the time to learn about the people who represent us and be an influence on those who make our laws.PCT WEB PAGE HITS
For the past three years the PCT has had a web page which offers the membership and the public items of interest relating to education and labor. Updated at least once a month, our union was one of the first local education unions to see the possibilities of the web for broadcasting its message.
From a tiny readership of one hundred or so a month, the number of hits has grown to where May saw six hundred and thirty-eight visits to our page. If you havent visited lately, have a look. We think you will sign up at the bottom of the page to receive automatic reminders of when our page has been updated.
The PCT Office will be open Monday through Thursday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The office is closed on Fridays in July and August.
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