Tuesday, February 14, 2023
A Message from Newsletter Editor Linda Waldbaum
Happy Valentine's Day to all of our PFT members! Today, we take time out of our busy schedules to celebrate our special relationships with those we love. One of the most important relationships you might not have considered is your membership in the PFT. If we did not have this relationship, where would we be? Our union helps improve our daily working experience by negotiating our salaries and benefits, length of our day, and the expectations of what we do throughout the workday.
In addition to a relationship with the PFT, all of our members also enjoy the benefits of being part of our larger NYS union, NYSUT, which provides extensive additional benefits to being a union member. For example, prior to contract negotiations, NYSUT researchers compile data which includes salaries, benefits, and working conditions of all other teacher unions across Long Island. During negotiations at the bargaining table, this data is crucial to achieve the best possible outcome in Plainedge. We also have access to legal, health, and social services which many of our members have taken advantage of, such as creating a simple will, living will, and health care proxy. Additionally, we have all benefited from the legal advice offered through NYSUT when working conditions changed dramatically during the pandemic. NYSUT lawyers provided guidance regarding how to interpret state mandates and expectations of educators. Without them by our side, the pandemic would have resulted in longer work hours, loss of pay and jobs for our members. Not only do we get benefits through NYSUT that influence our work life, we also receive a number of benefits through NYSUT that increase the quality of our own life. Have you checked in with the membership benefits section of our NYSUT website (https://memberbenefits.nysut.org/)? As NYSUT members, we receive discounts for auto and home insurance policies, travel, and other purchases. We have access to counseling service, a peer support line (844-444-0152), debt counseling, and student debt assistance.
There is no doubt, we all benefit tremendously from our union membership. But no healthy, long-lasting relationship should ever be one sided. We get from our union membership what we give to our union membership. The dues we pay, while important, are only a small part of what we should do to keep our union relationship strong. We must be active participants in our union relationship in order to keep our union healthy and vibrant. There are many ways to stay involved and be an active participant in our union: show up to building meetings, make our union visible to the Plainedge community at large, attend all PFT functions, offer support to other members and other unions on Long Island, and always be positive in discussing union activities. The more members who are actively involved, the stronger our union will be. Remember, any relationship that is one sided will not survive.
On this Valentine's Day, let us not forget the relationship we have with our union. Let us reflect on our part and how to keep that relationship strong.