Friday, March 3, 2017

To the Oregon Ways and Means Committee

Thank you for coming to Tillamook.  My name is Dave Wells, I’m the president of the Forestry sub-Local SEIU 503.

I see choices ahead. Proposed reductions in funding for Stewardship Forester and Wildland Firefighting programs is a threat to our forests and more.  The choice as I see it is how increase revenue to make sure that does not happen.

Last year I saw a wildfire in Lane County that burned through acres of 15 year old trees.  All that these burned trees add to our Oregon is a tax loss and we won’t see the future benefit of living wage jobs and harvest taxes that support our schools and rural communities like Tillamook where I live.  Not every forest fire can be stopped but without an adequately staffed, fully functioning and coordinated wildfire fighting system the chance of the next big one becomes more real.  It is raining now but there always be an August, that’s when the Tillamook Burn started.

In Oregon we are connected to our forests. Sometimes they are in our back yard, sometimes we connect through our faucets at home.  Wisely in 1971 Oregon enacted the first in the nation Forest Practices Act because that connection between what we thought should be happening in our forests and what was happening was broken.  Our Stewardship Foresters work to prevent a rip from starting by ensuring timely reforestation and that water is clean by enforcing road maintenance and buffer strip requirements. Keep Oregon’s forest connection secure by maintaining Stewardship Foresters at their current staffing level.

It is all about choices, clean water, wildlife, and rural jobs.  I ask you to make the choice to increase revenue and keep Oregon green.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

How Do I Become a Steward?

A Steward is one of the most important positions within our Organizing Model Union. Instead of a Union Staff Person you as Steward are the face of our Union in the workplace. You, as a co-worker become the go to person for contract questions and, when needed, representation when a co-worker faces disciplinary action.  Less spoken about are the leadership and problem solving abilities you bring to the workplace.  Because you are in the workplace you may be able guide a co-worker going the wrong way and avoid supervisor to employee discipline.

How do I become a Steward?  Basically if you are going to be the employee leader, you need to be elected by the employees that you will lead.  At our October 2014 Statewide meeting in The Dalles our Bylaws were changed to be clear on this, also adding language on training and possible removal.  Below is the wording from our by-laws and if you have questions your elected Statewide Forestry leadership or SEIU 503 Forestry Local organizer Mike Bray can provide guidance.
From the November 1, 2014 Forestry629 blog post:

Change in By-Laws, How Stewards Are Chosen and How They Can Be Removed: Our By-Laws, last revised in 2012, did not have much about Stewards which these changes should correct.  The proposal was discussed, changed, adopted and is presented here:

Section 4. Union Stewards.  Union Stewards shall attend steward meetings; handle grievances through the steps within the agency; work closely with the Union Organizer in the handling and investigation of grievances; serve as a main communication channel between Union leaders and staff; is a primary provider of direct services to the Local members.

Stewards will be chosen from the work unit they seek to represent as defined by the collective bargaining agreement between SEIU 503 and the State of Oregon.  The nominee must be a union member and the work unit have an un-filled Steward position available. An announcement of the Steward election shall be posted for at least 10 calendar days, in a public place like the Union Bulletin Board specifying the candidate's name and date and time of the
election.  At the time of the election, prior to voting, there will be a call for other candidates and the voting will be by secret ballot.

The newly selected Steward shall inform the Forestry Local President and SEIU 503 Statewide Forestry Organizer of their selection and meet training requirements as set forth in SEIU 503 by-laws within one calendar year.

Stewards may only be removed from their position by the Local's elected leadership following this process.  Five members who are represented by Steward may petition the Local's leadership to remove their Steward.  Local leadership will consider the petitioner's request using the following criteria:
Stewards activity in the Local; if training requirements were met and if there was continued training; and the testimony of the petitioners and Steward.  Steward removal requires an affirmative vote to remove by at least three members of the Local's Statewide Officers.

Sitting Stewards are encouraged to re-establish their position on a season by season basis.

Representation When a Steward is Not Available:  The primary source for employee representation in the workplace is the Steward.  When a Steward is not available the person seeking representation should contact the next closest (adjacent) District and failing that the SEIU 503 Member Resource Center. If a Steward cannot be identified the Vice President should be contacted.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Forestry Sub-local Agenda 2/4/2017

Below is the DRAFT agenda for the Forestry Sub-local Statewide meeting in Eugene on February 4, 2017.

Forestry Sub-Local 629 Statewide Meeting
February 4, 2017, 10:00 am to 2:00 pm
SEIU 503 Eugene, 488 E. 11th Ave, Suite 200, Eugene
Call in between 10:00 am and 11:00 am, more information contact your officers or Mike Bray
Please register by January 31st to make sure enough food is avialable at:

Tentative Agenda:
Welcome and introductions
Agenda changes, acceptance
President's message: The Rules We Play By
State Forester, Peter Daugherty
State Forest Lawsuit, Should our Local take a position, what?
Elliot State Forest, update, rumor control, comment to Oregon State Land Board?
Tree Falling Committee, update and recommendations
Incident Management Rest, update
Bargaining 2017, Bargaining Conference Report
Lobby Day, when and participation
Employee cost savings suggestions to Agency
Labor/ Management agenda items, who will develop and present
Resolution to be family friendly, lodging
Promotional item purchase? Distribution of hats and mugs
Next meeting
Good of the order
Mileage reimbursement forms, safe travels

Friday, January 13, 2017

47 Seasonal Fire Suppression Jobs Available

The Oregon Department of Forestry is accepting applications for 47 different Seasonal, full time positions in the Protection from fire program.  These positions are located throughout Oregon and include the  classifications of Forest Officer, Wildland Fire Dispatcher, Wildland Fire Suppression Specialist, Wildland Fire Suppression Specialist Entry and Forest Lookout.

These are Union represented positions with benefits.

Please pay attention to this note from the Human Resource Department: All current employment opportunities can be found at  Please pay special attention to the Application Instructions in the announcement to ensure your application materials are submitted correctly.  Thank you.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Tree Falling Committee Commences Work

The Tree Falling Committee, as established during ODOT Coalition bargaining in 2015 will soon commence its work.  During bargaining a differential for tree falling work was proposed, but lack of time to really understand the work involved and different aspects of chainsaw use lead to a letter of intent to discuss it further.  Now the committee, with management and employee representatives from Departments (ODOT, OPRD, ODF) who need skilled chain saw operators will meet to understand the nature, frequency and specific training needed.  

Cassie Bostrom of the Santiam Unit, North Cascades District will be the Oregon Department of Forestry employee representative on the committee.  She brings past experience working for OPRD hanging from ropes clearing trees from the Columbia Gorge Scenic Highway and now falls danger trees in campgrounds and clears trees from roadways blocking tree planting crews for ODF.  If you have comments about the Committee’s work they can be forwarded to Cassie directly or through your President.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Barganing Ahead in 2017

After the Holidays it will be time to get back to work as bargaining for our wages and benefits will resume in 2017.  In 2015 we bargained a four year contract that holds many of our Contact Articles in place until bargaining begins for the 2019 Contract. For instance this time around we will not be negotiating our boot allowance or conditions of the work capacity test.  What was negotiated was a 2017 Contract re-opener on wages, benefits and one non economic issue.  Timeline to have all this completed is June 30th.

More (optimistically) in wages, more in benefits or what balance between the two is what your Bargaining Team will need to know. Watch for a bargaining survey or if you want to get more involved come to the Bargaining Conference on January 28th at Clackamas Community College (link below). This is the start of negotiations at the bargaining table, actions for a fair settlement and your ultimate decision and vote on the agreement.

Other dates: Forestry Local Statewide meeting in Eugene on February 4th.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Be Thankful for Rest and Recovery

Department policy on Incident Management Rest and Rest and Recovery was released to employees in December.  For Seasonal and other employees who may not have seen the Department e-mail here are the changes recognizing the need to mitigate the fatigue associated with incident response.  The Policy discussion began at the bargaining table in 2015 but that venue did not allow enough time to really develop the Department buy in and work through the complexity of what looks to be a fair solution to rest after long days (and nights) working on an incident.

Some Definitions:
Standard Assignment (new): 14 consecutive days working 12 hours per day while assigned to and at an incident.  Travel time to and from the home unit shall not count toward the standard assignment.

Incident Management Rest (new): A 24-hour rest period when the agency relieves the department employee of all duties, and the incident they were assigned to on day 14 pays them eight hours of straight time.

Rest and Recovery: A 24-hour rest period when the agency relieves the department employee of all duties, and the incident they were assigned to on day 21 pays them eight hours of straight time.

Application and Procedures (for actual wording see Standard Assignment Procedure document):

Incident Management Rest is a new rest period associated with the Standard Assignment.  When an employee completes a Standard Assignment they shall receive a 24 hour rest period and be paid for eight hours of straight time.  The purpose is to mitigate fatigue and insure incident readiness. A question from the past has been what about a regularly scheduled day off, which has been answered that the rest period will still occur and the employee will be paid the eight hours of straight time.

Rest and Recovery is in addition to Incident Management Rest and is in our Contact as Article 60.3C.  Employees who are away from their work station for 21 consecutive days including travel time when they return to their station shall receive 24 hours off and eight hours of pay at straight time.

Within the Procedure document there is an exception process and additional time entry information.  The actual document should be consulted before actual application.  Coming in the holiday season the Department’s completion and sharing of the new rest period is something to be thankful for even though that gratification may be delayed until we get back into Fire Season.