Union of unions opens new office Downtown

Photo by Milo Hess
Left to right, Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, PEF President Wayne Spence, AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento, PEF Vice President Adreina Adams, PEF Region 10 Coordinator Sheik Nabijohn celebrated the opening of the Public Employee Federation’s newest combined regional office in the Financial District.

By Danielle Kogan

The Public Employee Federation showcased their newest combined regional office in the Financial District, on July 14, where leaders, members, and local dignitaries attended the open house at 100 William St.

The walls of the new office feature photo murals and timelines detailing the 39-year history of the labor federation, from its creation in 1979 by founding president John Kraemer, all the way to the tenure of current president Wayne Spence, who led a tour of the new facility.

Spence told guests that the inspiration for the murals came after a visit to the offices of the Transportation Workers Union, where large photos of transit workers covered the walls.

“It never ceases to amaze me that I see something new when I look at their [TWU’s] mural. I wanted to replicate that for PEF,” said Spence.

Many of the federation’s office walls are done in a collage style, combining pictures of its members, old newsletter covers, and photos of significant events such as contract talks. There are also tributes to members who lost their lives in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

The combined regional office serves all five boroughs, combining Region 10, which includes Manhattan and the Bronx, and Region 11, which covers Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island. The move was a cost-saving measure, according to Spence.

“We took a chance consolidating our Region 10 and Region 11 offices. The economy has changed and PEF needed to save money,” he said. “Now we will be saving more than $1 million in the course of a ten year lease.”

The Public Employee Federation is affiliated with powerhouse labor organizations such as American Federation of Teachers and the Service Employees International Union, and represents 54,000 professional, scientific and technical state employees across New York State.

At the July opening, many labor leaders and supporters showed up to wish the federation well, including Mario Cilento, president of the AFL-CIO. Other guests included assemblymembers Richard Gottfried and Felix Ortiz, state senators Roxanne Persaud, and James Sanders Jr., and councilmembers Rosie Mendez and Alan Maisel.