fbpx Skip to content

PEF calls on New York state to fix workplace bullying 

In September, members of the New York State Public Employees Federation (PEF) held a rally to bring attention to alleged bullying in the workplace. The union claims that “many of its members face bullying, harassment and discrimination due to their union membership within their workplaces.” 
“We are sending a message that this behavior is unacceptable,” said PEF President Wayne Spence in a statement. “We as a union are going to start calling out ineffective managers who engage in this type of behavior. No one should have to go to work and feel unsafe or be harassed.” 
The union pushed for legislation last year “to address workplace bullying and abusive conduct through education and training,” and the union plans to continue the legislative push next session. 
“These bullying managers aren’t heeding Gov. Kathy Hochul’s directive to make New York ‘the most worker-friendly state!’ We need change now. Actions, not words. Enough is enough!” Spence said
Yet some former PEF members believe the union has a bullying problem of its own. 
“PEF is very hypocritical,” said an AFFT member and former PEF member who chose to remain anonymous. “They’re rallying against bullying in the workplace, when the union is one of the biggest bullies out there. PEF goes after nonmembers and even members that disagree with their vision.” 
Employees represented by PEF have even created a Facebook page to share their concerns about the union. Titled “PEF Confidential,” the page has over 800 followers. 
A post from November 2021 alleges abuse from the union’s president: “Another female forced to leave PEF due to the abusive and sexist action directed at them from Wayne Spence.” 
The question is this: will PEF leaders practice what they preach and stand up against bullying within their own ranks?  

Isabel Blank

Isabel Blank is Communications Director at Americans for Fair Treatment, a community of current and former public-sector employees offering resources and support to exercise their First Amendment rights. Prior to joining Americans for Fair Treatment in 2021, Isabel worked in media relations at Travelers Insurance and held government affairs and communications roles with Yankee Institute. She has a master’s degree in public administration and a bachelor’s degree in political science and Spanish, both from the University of Connecticut (Go Huskies!). Isabel loves Crossfit and supporting her local Connecticut breweries.