Sunday, October 23, 2016

Forestry Local Fields Member Concerns in The Dalles

Member concerns and developing Labor/ Management discussion items were the big topics when the Forestry Local held its Fall Statewide meeting in The Dalles on October 22nd.

Often these two topics crossed paths and those that will be addressed at the Labor/ Management on October 27th will be presented in the jointly prepared agenda, but there are others outside the privy of the committee that will be worked on by the membership.

Dogs in the workplace.  Everybody agreed that driving in a rig that smells of wet dog covered with hair is unacceptable but there is a place for a dog to accompany field workers.  Using a Forest Service developed agreement as a model, management will be approached to see if Department needs and employee desires can both be met.

Selection of Stewards.  The election of a Steward to represent a group of workers should be taken seriously and reflect the desire (vote) of a majority of the represented members.  Two years ago the Local changed its bylaws to clarify the selection, notification of leadership and training requirements.  The process to remove a Steward is also documented.  Stewards are needed within the Local and if you know of someone who is considering taking on the role or interested yourself you are invited to call your Local President, Dave Wells for more information.

Salary steps.  Many in Forestry have reached or are reaching their top salary step in their range.  Bargaining will likely begin in December 2016 or January 2017 on the wage and benefit contract re-opener and it is time to start thinking about what you think is important and fair.

Layoff of seasonals.  The notice of the end of the season for Seasonal employees has been negotiated and is documented in Contract Article 71, Section 4.  From the contract “A seasonal employee shall be given at least ten calendar days advance notice of end of the season…..”.  This is notification is fair, just, negotiated, written and grievable.

Other business items were the selection of Local promotional items, hats and on-the-go charging kits with our logo.

All of your elected leadership and other members were at our meeting making for a very informative and productive time.  Our next meeting is planned for February 2017 with the date and location to be determined when our new State Forester, Peter Daugherty (invited) can address the group.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Two and Four Leggers Team Up on Tiger Thin

Forestry Local employees began work with their Forest Service counterparts on Tiger Thin in the Siuslaw National Forest on Tuesday, October 11th as part of a special cooperative project to prepare a timber sale. It was a real welcome surprise when Eric from the Forest Service showed up with his black and chocolate labs that joined us in the woods.  Working along Wildcat Road on Tiger Thin the accompaniment was especially welcome.  The greatest obvious threats were salmonberry thorns and “boomer” (mountain beaver) holes, but it was nice to know that our dog friends, with all of their senses, were along to alert us to other dangers.  Currently Forestry Local employees are prohibited from bringing their dogs to work. Working with Forest Service employees who are allowed to bring their dogs with them was an example where Agencies and species can work across borders to achieve a common goal.

If you are interested in renewing the “bring your dog to work” discussion please contact any of your elected Forestry Local leadership or better yet join us in in person or during the call-in hour (10-11 am) at the Forestry Local Statewide meeting in The Dalles on Saturday, October 22nd.  

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Forestry Sub-local 629 Statewide Meeting, October 22nd

Our next Forestry Sub-local Statewide meeting will be October 22nd in The Dalles.  The plan is to meet from 10:00 am to 2:00pm to allow morning travel time for those coming from Central Oregon, lodging will available for those that would have to leave before 7:00am.  Tentatively our meeting spot is Cousins.

Please save the date and if you have agenda items share them with any of the Local officers or Mike Bray our SEIU 503 Statewide Forestry Organizer.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Our Place in America’s Imagination

Where are we going, what is in our imagination, who will make it happen.  Employees of Forestry Local 629 you are on the leading edge.

In the American psyche there has always been something over the horizon, and there is today too.  In the 1840’s it was the United States, a seafaring nation, and fleets of ships making us a powerful force of commerce.  In “Two Years Before the Mast” by Richard Henry Dana, Jr. he shares his first hand account of howling southeasters as they rounded The Horn. Fifty years later in 1888 it was the west, as recounted in Theodore Roosevelt’s “Ranch-Life and the Hunting Trail”.  For me it was “Space the Final Frontier” and moon landings.

Today global warming, is our challenge to solve and forestry is at the leading edge of that solution.  Forest practices and wildfire suppression go hand in hand on preventing carbon emissions from wildfires and sequestering that carbon for sustainable and renewable buildings.  In doing what you do you are part of the global warming solution.  

Why as labor, should it be talked about?  It is because there will be long hours under difficult circumstances and it is important that simple privileges and recognition of your contributions be noted. It will be tough but those at the front have always had to pull a little bit harder.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Will Bennett, General Council Observations

Will Bennett attended SEIU 503 General Council (GC) as one of the three delegates that Forestry is allowed.  GC is the supreme governing body of our Union and was held between August 4-6 at the Linn County Fairgrounds in Albany.  Being able to attend is allowed for all delegates by Contract but in reality it is difficult for Forestry to field a full delegation due to wildfire activity or readiness so it was great that Will made some time available to participate.

Being his first GC, it was interesting listening to his observations, like when Oregon Governor Kate Brown arrived “didn’t realize that this was such a big deal that a Governor would show up”.  Within the three GC days the direction of our Union is decided along with the budget to fund that direction.  There is a lot of talking and sometimes ideas are presented at the last minute.  Even though the meeting is run using parliamentary procedure that can take a awhile to get the work completed to which Will commented “no fights or protests, just orderly discussion, (delegates) heard things through even if it didn’t make sense”.

Out of the meeting often comes an increased sense of involvement and a recognition that our Union is run by the members who show up.  With Union operations on display it is easier to see where one might want to get involved.  Will saw that and ended with “looking forward to getting more involved and seeing what committees are open”.    

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Why Should I Become a Steward

I was fortunate to meet with Salem Forestry employees on Thursday, July 14th to talk about what it is like to be a Steward.  Currently Salem does not have a Steward and my goal was to share some of my experiances and encourage someone to step forward and offer there candicy to the group.  Stewards are elected by their peers.

Being a Steward is a giving, listening and helping position but you get something from it too.  You will develop your leadership, listening and communication skills.  You will improve your creativity, problem solving skills and self esteem.  You might even learn how to develop a good arguement and negotiate better.  Lower car prices anyone?

Sometimes I wonder why we need Stewards, nobody wakes up with a plan to be diciplined.  In my representative experiance, sometimes things just happen, at the wrong time.  Like during the emotional strains of a divorce and that accidental snap at a co-worker or supervisor. What about the comment to a Legislator that was mis-interpreted? Have you made a meaningful keystroke upon arrival at your work station?  There are lots of things, too helpful with the public or field staff, just not getting along with your supervisor or your car broke down, twice.  Being a Steward puts you in a position to help your co-workers when they need it most.

How do I become a Steward and is there training available? To become a Steward you need to be elected by your peers.  The election starts with a public announcement of the vote including time and place posted in a public space like the Union Bulletin Board at least 10 calendar prior to the meeting.  Prior to the election a announcement is made to see if there are other candidates and then the electioins is held.  Additional information is in the November 1, 2014 Forestry629 blog post.  And yes there is training available.   SEIU 503 regularly offers training and there is support from the Member Resource Center.

I hope this answers a few questions about what is, how and why to become a Steward and interests you enough to seek the position or ask additional questions, my phone number is listed in the margin.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Locals to Chapters, It's Resolution Time at General Council

General Counsel is the supreme governing body of our Union and generally it held every two years.  This year it runs from Wednesday, August 3rd to Saturday, August 6th and will be in Albany at the Linn County Fairgrounds.  It is where our budget is decided, policy is set, and Union operations affirmed or changed.

Our Local submitted a Resolution to increase the diversity of training opportunities for Stewards located outside of the I5 corridor.  Following consultation with your President that Resolution was incorporated into a similar Resolution that had been drafted by the Stewards Committee.  If passed out of Committee and receiving a favorable vote by the General Council it will be how our Union will operate.

There is another Resolution that would change how Forestry is referred to within our Union from Forestry Sub-local 629 to Forestry Chapter.  The thought is that there is more of allegiance   to Forestry Sub-local 629 than to SEIU Local 503,OPEU and that needs to be changed.  I would like to hear your thoughts on this as I am planning on representing your views at our General Council.  Below is the full wording of the Resolution which can also be found on the SEIU 503 website

Service Employees International Union
Local 503,
Oregon Public Employees Union
Bylaws (BL #1)
1 Subject: Amend Bylaws Article IV – LOCALS; change “Locals” to “Chapters”
2 Submitted by: Board of Directors
3 Authored by: Committee for the Future members Catherine Stearns, Greg Ledbetter,
4 Latricia Straw
6 WHEREAS, the Committee for the Future was established by the 2014 General Council
7 to evaluate the threats and challenges we face and find ways for our union to innovate
8 and adapt; and
10 WHEREAS, it is in the best interest of members to maintain a unified identity in the face
11 of the challenges we face; and
13 WHEREAS, the Committee for the Future determined that referring to sub-components
14 of our Union as “Locals” with their own additional local number creates confusion for
15 members, employers and allies, distances members from SEIU Local 503, and
16 encourages a harmful “third-partying” within the Union; and
18 WHEREAS, there is already a long-standing practice of referring to locals as
19 “sublocals;” and
21 WHEREAS, the Committee for the Future recognizes the value and the strength of
22 organizing ourselves internally into distinct sub-components charged with building
23 membership, representing workers through bargaining and contract enforcement, and
24 engaging workers in issue campaigns; and
26 WHEREAS, there is confusion among different sets of members who often do not
27 realize they are in the same union as members who work for different employers and
28 others may think they are members of different unions (i.e. “I’m a member of Local 735”,
29 or “I’m a member of Local 99”), rather than being part of SEIU Local 503 with distinct
30 sub-components; and
32 WHEREAS, Bylaws, Article IV, defines Locals as sub-components of the Union; and
34 WHEREAS, naming sub-components of the Union after the name of their agency or
35 work group would maintain work group/bargaining unit identity while also creating a
36 more unified, statewide identity (i.e. “I’m a member of SEIU Local 503 – DMV
37 Workers” or “I’m a member SEIU Local 503 – Homecare Workers); now, therefore,
39 BE IT RESOLVED by the General Council of SEIU Local 503, OPEU: That the
40 word “Local” – as defined in Bylaws Article IV – shall be replaced by “Chapter,” and

41 any reference in the Bylaws to “Local” or “Locals” as defined by Bylaws Article IV shall
42 be replaced by ”Chapter” or “Chapters.”
44 BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED by the General Council of SEIU Local 503, OPEU:
45 These Chapters shall determine a new name that is a sub-component of 503 and adheres
46 to the following structure: SEIU Local 503 – [bargaining unit, agency or workgroup)