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New York State Extends Telecommute Agreement For CSEA & PEF-Represented Workers

Published Sunday, October 4, 2020
by Labor News Services
New York State Extends Telecommute Agreement For CSEA & PEF-Represented Workers

(ALBANY, NEW YORK) - New York’s largest Public Employee Unions struck an agreement late last week to extend telecommuting provisions until 2021.

The Civil Service Employees Union (CSEA) and the Public Employees Federation (PEF) agreed with the Governor’s Office for Employee Relations to extend the temporary, emergency agreement a third time to allow State Employees to request work-from-home arrangements through January 1st.

“We are pleased the state recognized the concerns and took into consideration the needs of our Members,” PEF President Wayne Spence said. “Extending this agreement will afford Members the flexibility they need to deal with child care issues stemming from virtual learning and daycare closures, reduce density on public transportation and in office buildings and help contain the spread of COVID-19.”

The agreement allows State Employees to work from home up to five days per week at the approval of an Employee’s supervisors and human resources department.

It also was extended for Employees represented by American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees (AFSCME) District Council 37 and United University Professions (UUP), as well as Employees not represented by a Union or working in management-confidential positions.

Spence said PEF secured protections for its Members by negotiating a built-in appeal process for mandatory and voluntary portions of the agreement: “We must proceed with a guarded mind to protect the integrity of the PEF contract and make sure our Membership is shielded from interpretive managers.”

The extension mirrors plans that other state agencies - led by separately elected individuals - have made.

For example, in the Comptroller's Office - which includes some Unionized Employees - only about 200 of the 2,800 Employees come to into the office, and even then, Staff rotates when they report to the office.

"The health and wellness of our Employees and their families remains a top priority for the Office of the State Comptroller during these difficult times," the Comptroller Office’s Director of Communications, Jennifer Freeman, said. "The vast majority of our Staff are telecommuting and very effectively getting their work done.  Essential Staff are reporting to our facilities.  Most Staff will continue to work remotely until at least January 2021."

The State Budget Office reports the majority of the 120,000 State Employees under executive control, which includes the Transportation, Health and Labor Departments, among others, are reporting to offices full-time.

Another 18,000 Employees split their time with remote and on-site work and the rest remain working from home, Budget Spokesman Freeman Klopott said.

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