We have worked tirelessly to enhance the employment rights and protections that each of you rightfully deserves. From negotiating contracts for both County and College employees with increased benefits and raises, to ensuring the safety and protection of our members during this unprecedented health crisis, we have been by your side through all the major challenges we faced over the last three years. As part of our mission to strengthen our union's political influence, the Executive Board has worked alongside elected officials in local and state government to pass meaningful legislation that empowers and uplifts the dedicated public servants in our county and our state. In doing so, we have also elevated AME's standing and respect among many union officials, community leaders, and elected officials throughout the state of New York.
In the last contract, we equalized the pay scale across the entire union, creating parity where all members are paid equally at their top step regardless of their date of hire. Thanks to our efforts we also were successful in reducing healthcare costs from 15% of plan costs to just 2% of your base salary. Had we not successfully negotiated this portion of your new contract agreement, the minimum yearly costs would have been over $3,700 instead of the finalized 2% with a $1500 minimum.
In addition to helping our members secure PPE and reasonable accommodations when COVID-19 hit, we immediately began negotiating critical protections for AME members like the presumption of workplace infection stipulation. This agreement protects workers from having to jump through hoops to get the time off they need in the event of infection, making it easier for those enduring the effects of the virus to heal without the additional burden of having to prove you contracted the virus at work. It is also worth noting that despite the financial uncertainty that we faced this year, Longevity Payments and all scheduled raises were given to AME members, and for the first time in eight years, qualified recipients received an increase in their Longevity Pay. AME leadership also fought to ensure that all extra hours worked during the Coronavirus pandemic for skilled workers grades 24 and higher would not expire and can be used in all years moving forward.
In this pivotal time in history, we believe it is crucial to have experienced, tested, and dedicated leadership to help navigate our union through the turbulent times ahead. We are committed to continue to fight for you and your families.
The Levler-Moran Team will build on our past successes to achieve new goals, such as regaining control of our healthcare. And as always, we will continue to fight for fair salaries, better benefits, and proper staffing levels across every department in our county.
Join us in our fight to keep moving AME forward!
Successful leadership takes planning, courage of convictions, and the ability to share the vision of a better day with everyone. We have built a foundation on which we can all succeed above what we have already achieved together. That foundation requires the strong relationships we have been building and the partnerships we have forged within the labor community, the public, and government.
When we, as government employees, a public workforce, stand together, we can and have achieved great things. From clawing back our Benefit Fund away from management, to establishing for you a Variable Supplement Fund unlike any in Suffolk County, to preventing layoffs during a fiscal crisis five times the size of the 2012 financial fiscal crisis, these achievements were successful because of your continued support.
While we are proud of the growth we have seen as a united union, we must build on these successes to conquer new horizons. We have to know where we want to be in the future and to begin building that future right now.
There are major issues facing all of us on the horizon, including the County's current fiscal crisis and its impact on government services and the continued attempts by some in government to raid public pension funds to balance municipal budgets and villainize public sector employees.
These issues need to be addressed now with a targeted, proactive strategy. Now is the time to keep the reins of your union's leadership in the hands of battle-tested and experienced leaders, who have a record of meaningful achievements to stand on and a vision of where to take this union in the future.
Moving forward, our biggest priorities include preventing layoffs, preserving our pensions, and keeping you safe from COVID-19. We have already begun laying the groundwork to control our own destiny in order to regain control of our healthcare, which is at the top of our agenda.
We are committed to actively lobbying state and local lawmakers, which sends a strong message that this union intends to remain a vital part of any legislation affecting public sector workers. We are also committed to continuing an unprecedented public relations campaign to promote the essential services we perform every day and to showcase the unsung heroes of Suffolk County's workforce, through our radio show that communicates the AME message to over 800,000 listeners every week and in news outlets including Newsday, News 12, City & State Magazine, and the Chief-Leader to name a few.
We believe we can build upon the progress made during the past three years and we can continue to enhance the strength, credibility, and influence of this union in every area. We will do this with your support and together we will succeed. The choice in this election could not be any clearer- it's a choice between taking this union backwards to the dark old days or to keep AME moving forward towards a brighter future. We believe you agree.
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