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Married Couple Pens ‘Thank You’ To Their Union

Published Wednesday, April 3, 2019 10:00 am
by Mark Kotzin/CSEA News
Married Couple Pens ‘Thank You’ To Their Union

CSEA News Editor’s Note: Denise and Tom Petersen (pictured above), a married couple who are both Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA) Members working at Binghamton University, took their time to write a thank you note to our union for the benefits they value.  (CSEA Photo)


(VESTAL, NEW YORK) - After nearly 25 years of marriage, and almost that long as Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA) Members, Denise and Tom Petersen are as committed to their Union as they are to each other.

Realizing the value of how much they get back in return, they feel paying dues isn’t an obligation, but the right thing to doIn fact, they felt so strongly about it that the couple, who both work at Binghamton University, recently penned a note of gratitude to State University at New York (SUNY) at Binghamton CSEA Local President David Lee.

“We are very fortunate to have members like Tom and Denise, who care very much about others and are willing to volunteer when our Union needs help,” Lee said. “They ‘don’t just believe in our Union - they appreciate and support our work.’”

The Petersens wrote the note after having returned from an optometrist visit with four pairs of prescription glasses and from a dentist visit at which Denise Petersen underwent a dental procedure.  Their combined out-of-pocket costs were less than $50.  They know that’s a bargain, because they’ve got friends working in private industry, and sometimes they compare benefits.

“We ‘definitely would have to pay quite a bit more if we didn’t have the benefits we have,’” said Denise Petersen, who works as a Secretary in the University Union Building. “People ‘without a Union have to pay a lot more.’”

So, what can they do with that savings?

“We ‘can save more money, contribute to our retirement and maybe go on an extra trip somewhere,’” Denise Petersen said.

Recognizing that, Tom Petersen, a Payroll Examiner at the University’s Human Resources Department, took the time to send the note memorializing their feelings.

“As CSEA Members, we cannot see ourselves opting out of paying dues,” they wrote. “To us, that just doesn’t seem like the ‘right’ thing to do.”

Yet, even the concept of “dues” doesn’t seem quite right, he later explained.

“We feel that ‘Union Dues’ is a misnomer,” Tom Petersen said. “We choose to call it ‘Union Support’ because of all the benefits, not only monetary, but job-related benefits.”

“For us, the value of the Union goes way beyond the monetary,” he said. “It’s knowing we have people who are looking out for our best interests, to help us live a better life.  When there’s men and women who do contract negotiations on our behalf or helping us try and advance our careers by offering classes and booklets at no charge, we feel it’s in our best interests to support our Union in any way we can, which for us includes paying Union Dues.”

Denise Petersen said they also appreciate the opportunities CSEA offers for socializing with their Co-Workers and their families.  “I feel there’s social benefits and family-friendly events that the Union offers,” she said. “Trips, clambakes, our holiday party - it’s a nice way to get Union Members and their families together and that’s a nice benefit as well.”

The Petersens enjoy going to Union Membership Meetings to keep informed.  “We’re there most of the time and we feel that they’re very well-run and very well-prepared,” Denise Petersen said. “We get a lot of information and our president puts a lot of effort into getting the meetings together.”

Perhaps most importantly, they appreciate the sense of security their Union Membership provides.  “We have a sense of having job security being part of a large group of CSEA Members, hard-working men and women statewide, where our friends in private industry don’t have that,” Tom Petersen said. “We can go to sleep every night knowing that we have a job tomorrow and it makes it a lot easier for us to plan our future.”

And when they wake up, side by side, they can just be glad they continue to have each other and the CSEA.

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