Friday, October 10, 2014

Update of By-laws Concerning Stewards Planned at Statewide Meeting

Our by-laws are not in conformance with SEIU 503's concerning Stewards.  While the general duties are included, how a Steward is selected and how they can can be removed are not defined.  Stewards need to be accountable to the co-workers they represent as they not only handle grievances through appropriate channels but also serve as the main communication channel between members and management, Local leadership and staff.  Respect and trust of a Stewards ability to fairly represent the member is key to their ability to resolve problems.

A revision of our by-laws regarding Stewards is an agenda item at our Statewide Local meeting set for October 25th in The Dalles.  Members who have an interest in this issue are encouraged to attend either in person or by conference call.

Reminder Statewide Meeting, October 25

This is a reminder that our next Statewide Forestry Local meeting will be October 25th in The Dalles.  A postcard with additional information is being mailed soon and has registration and how to arrange lodging if needed.  RSVP is requested if you are attending or need lodging by October 22nd to make sure the room can be set up for our use.

If you cannot attend but would still like to participate a conference call number has been set up which is available from Mike Bray @ 503-610-8004 or Dave Wells @ 503-801-8468.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Please Help Me Welcome, Mike Bray Our New Organizer

Please help me welcome Mike Bray our new Forestry Local staff organizer.  You can learn more about him and his past Union experience at our next Statewide Local meeting, October 25th in The Dalles.

If you would like to contact Mike before then he can be reached at cell 503-610-8004 or desk 503-772-5772.  His e-mail is:

Friday, September 26, 2014

Statewide Forestry Meeting, October 25, 2014

Save Saturday October 25 for our next Statewide Forestry Local
 meeting to be held in The Dalles.  More information will be coming, but agenda items will likely include bargaining concepts, a look at how our by-laws address Steward selection and dismissal and the general state of our Local.  The president of Washington State's forestry employee union may also be attending.

Time from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm, meeting at Cousins Restaurant 2114 W 6th St., The Dalles.  A call-in option will be available.  Lunch and breaks provided.  They have great cinnamon rolls.

Remember to save October 25th.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Seasonal Employees Should Know These Three

The fire season is still going strong with temperatures in the 90s predicted and Red Flag warnings, but the season will end and here are some things to be thinking about when it does.

Unemployment Benefits: There was a revision to our employee handbook dated March 2014, that discusses unemployment benefits.  Unlike the private sector, benifits paid to state employees are dollar for dollar and not a percentage of payroll earnings.  Your work time must be accurately reported (start and end dates) to the Employment Department.  Willful misrepresentation can result in disciplinary action up to dismissal.

Electronic Pay Stubs: This came up at Labor/ Management, a paper pay stub is not automatically produced with each paycheck.  There are many reasons where that paycheck stub needs to be shown, like in a rental agreement or applying for a loan.  Get them while you are still at work.  Avoid the hastle and extra work it will cause the office staff to get them printed after you leave work.  Again, get them while you are still at work.

When Your Season Ends:  According to our Contact "A seasonal employee shall be given at least 10 calendar days advance notice of the end of the season, except when conditions are beyond control of the Agency".  This seems fair as generally contract language attempts to do.  If this is not being held to I would like to know.

Thank you so very much for keeping so many of the fires small and being the true professional firefighters that you are.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Labor/ Management a Real Myth Buster

At our Labor/Management meetings Rumor Control is always an agenda item, but at our last meeting more myths and rumors were embedded throughout the meeting than normal.  To set the record straight here are two that we discussed:

On Call, Standby and Work Schedules: The Department of Forestry suppresses wildfires and when a fire starts outside of the normal workweek ODF’s trained and able firefighters need to be located.  In our contract Article 90.3C Work Schedules (Forestry) contains specific language about this.  In Section 3 On Call, supervisors can require employees to provide their general location and how they can be reached.  There is no restriction on how the employee can use their time so there is no On Call or Standby pay.  There is a similar arrangement for lunch in Section 4, where employees required not to leave their duty station during lunch but not required to continue working are not paid for this time.  Standby and On-Call Duty (Article 34) are options available to management when the employee is required to be available for work and there would be restrictions on what the employee can do in their off time.

Personnel from Human Resources at the Incident Command Post: The Incident Commander is the designated human resources point person, just like it has been. A staff member from the Human Resources section was assigned to the Douglas Complex to assist with the rest and rotation schedule.  If you see someone from Human Resources and they are not too busy stop and say hi, they are probably a long way from home.

A more complete rendering of the discussion around these two items will be in the meeting minutes, but thought it would be important to get it out quickly now that fire season is underway in some parts of Oregon.

Friday, May 23, 2014

This is Your Season

Seasonally wildland firefighters, lookouts and recreational staff fill the essential roles of protecting Oregon’s forests and enhancing recreational experiences in the State Forests.  Thank you for taking this job on. Memories of an Oregon summer day can last a lifetime. Be it stopping a forest fire or maintaining a picnic spot along a river, you will be a part of this.  Oregon expects big things of you.

This is your season, and you are not alone.

I just wanted to let you know that if times get tough, SEIU 503 and Forestry Sub-local 629 is a resource that you can turn to for help.  Stewards and SEIU Staff are available to answer contract interpretation questions, like what is “on-call” and “stand by”, boot allowances, vacation time around a holiday and the little known ability to carry over vacation leave when you are scheduled into a “back to back” season.  Contract language has been negotiated on your behalf to create an environment where you can excel and feel valued doing the all important work you will be asked to do.

This is your season, so join.

Please consider joining our Union.  The ability to negotiate a contract that goes from good to great depends in a large part on employee support.  One of the easiest ways of showing this support is by joining.  It is not that hard but you do need to complete a Membership Application which is available from your Steward, a Statewide elected officer or our SEIU 503 staff organizer Ross Grami at 503-581-1505 ext 191 or

This is your season, shine.