Friday, April 22, 2016

Forestry Local OODA, Our Work, Our Brand

Observe, Orient, Decide, Act (OODA) is what we in Forestry are very good at.  Doug Decker, Oregon State Forester referred to it at a recent Public Information Officer meeting saying “Our brand is the extra energy you apply”.  Tyler on the Niagara Fire near Detroit Dam knew it when he observed a 10’ by 10’ fire spot across the line and called for three heavy helicopters to suppress it, stopping its spread at about an acre. I am sure there are many other examples.

These are the stories to share, about the great work you do suppressing wildfires in Oregon.

OODA also applies to how you are treated at work.  Is it clear what your responsibilities are?  Do you know your schedule?  What about responding to an incident off District? If you do not understand ask questions, ask your Steward, ask the Member Resource Center, ask your elected leadership.  As Decker observed it is the extra energy that you put into everyday work that is our brand and what we are known for across the Nation and around the World.  If there are barriers to your success or safety that let’s take care of them so you can do your best this coming fire season and the rest of the year.

The Forestry Local is having its spring Statewide Meeting on Saturday, April 30th at SEIU 503 Headquarters in Salem from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.  It would be great to hear your OODA stories in person or during the call in hour from 10:00 to 11:00 am.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Elections, Statewide Meeting - Important Date Reminder

This is a reminder of two dates rapidly approaching:

Forestry Local election ballots need to be received by 5:00 pm Friday, April 22nd.

Forestry Local Statewide meeting is Saturday, April 30th from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm in Salem at SEIU 503 Headquarters

Consider participating in both of these opportunities to express your thoughts on the operations of your Local and becoming a participant guiding its direction.  Ballot counters are needed.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Forestry Statewide Meeting and Other Dates

Our Spring Forestry Local Statewide meeting will be Saturday, April 30th from 10:00am to 2:00pm at SEIU 503 Headquarters in Salem.  From 10 to 11 will be a call in period for those who cannot attend in person.  For the call-in number contact Mike Bray our SEIU Staff Organizer or Dave Wells your Local President.  Agenda items already proposed are ballot counting and announcement of election results, a financial report, review of our Labor/ Management meeting, General Council resolutions to review and submit and Local mug distribution and purchase of additional items. Please register if you are planning on attending so we can get an accurate lunch order:

Other dates and events:

SEIU 503's Shaping or Future Leadership Summit is Saturday, April 16th and registration and more information can be found at:

Forestry Leadership election ballots need to be received by April 22nd at 5:00pm.

Forestry Labor/Management meeting, April 26 in Salem.  Agenda items can be submitted to any of your Local's leadership.

General Counsel Resolutions due May 1st to meet submission deadline of 90 days prior to the General Council meeting.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

WCT Medical Certification - FAQ

The Work Capacity Test "medical certification" in lieu of completing the WCT is creating a number of frequently asked questions.  I shared these questions with Brendon Fisher, Oregon Department of Forestry's Safety Manager and am posting both the questions and answers here to create a better understanding of how the medical certification is being interpreted this year.

This is health related information how widely can it be shared, will my co-workers be informed?

Because this is an official medical document, this information is confidential. The employee should only give their medical release to their immediate supervisor. Those records can only be shared with individuals who have a business related necessity or need to access them, such as Human Resources or the Safety Manager. Co-workers should not be informed of any health related information, unless divulged by the employee themselves. Some Co-workers may notice that the employee is not taking the pack test, but is still part of the firefighting effort and might ask why. In that situation, an appropriate response would be that they have a medical release in place of the Work Capacity Test, but no further information should be given.

The current form leaves a very small section to list limitations, and previously my supervisor has not accepted anything outside the given space.  Will attached information be allowed and how specific should the restriction/ limitation be described?

The medical release used now does provide a small section. It is meant to allow a physician to give general or summarized restrictions to prompt a further discussion. If more space was required, there are situations in which an attached form would be accepted. A physician could note in the restriction area – “see attachment”, but they should have the attachment be on their office letter head with their signature included. The more detailed the restrictions, the better, or easier it would be for HR and Safety to determine what duties an employee can still perform, the level of pack test they would normally be taking, and what accommodations may need to be considered based on their fire qualifications. In many situations, further clarification will need to be made either way, as a person’s fire qualifications and medical restrictions are likely to be unique compared to any other individual’s. Any follow up forms would be faxed to the physician in order to prevent further cost from them employee (unless the physician required another visit by the employee).

Will past medical certifications be considered as part of the “with restrictions” or if a medical certification is sought will just the current one be used to assess the reasonable accommodation? (health conditions can change)

Only the most current medical release will be considered. Because people’s health conditions can change, we expect that their restrictions may change as well, which is why we require an up-to-date medical release each season when restrictions are listed. If the employee was released to take the pack test, we would allow them based on their physician’s determination, even if they weren’t able to in years prior due to restrictions.

To clarify, if not employed but am a returning Seasonal employee, can I claim a $50 reimbursement for the medical review? (and when and how to request)

If someone, like a returning seasonal, qualifies for the $50.00 reimbursement for obtaining medical certifications in regards to the WCT, then they would keep a receipt of their medical bill or invoice, and complete the same reimbursement form that they would for travel and expense upon rehire. If the bill or invoice had sensitive information such as social security, they could black that out, but they must have some proof of their Dr. visit and cost. They can submit their reimbursement form any time after seeing their physician and after being rehired for the season by ODF.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Forestry Local Logo Key Rings and Mugs Available

Key rings and mugs with our new Forestry Local logo are now available.  The logo, designed by the SEIU 503 graphics department, is a modernized throw back to the Department's first, features a full Douglas-fir (Oregon's State Tree), our state outline all surrounded by a circle with a FORESTRY LOCAL 629 banner across the bottom. Contact myself or your organizer to get them out to your worksite.

The key rings and mugs were purchased using part of our Union dues as a tangible presence of our Union benefits.

These items were approved for purchase at our last two Statewide Local meetings, and depending on their acceptance a decision to purchase additional items will be made at our next Statewide set for Saturday, April 30th in Salem.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Floor Moving on Work Capacity Test

The Work Capacity Test has been in its current form as a Letter of Agreement (supplement to the body of our Contract) since at least the 2013-2015 Contract and is a LOA in our 2015-2019 Contact.  There were no additions or subtractions to the wording during the last Contract negotiation period.  However due to an opinion of the Department of Justice an interpretation of the LOA has changed in Section 5. Medical Certification (b).

The language reads: A medical certification from a licensed physician attesting to the employee’s ability to safely perform arduous, moderate or light level fire duties with restrictions may be substituted for passing the equivalent level of the WCT.  Such medical certification cannot be substituted when an employee has failed any WCT in that calendar year. (underline added)

The Department of Justice is now recognizing that the “with restrictions” portion of the language does restrict the fire duties one could perform and puts the Department into the position of determining if that restriction can be “reasonably accommodated” under the Americans with Disabilities Act.  Depending on the restriction placed by the licensed physician there is a possibility that the fire fighters duties could not be accommodated.

The change is previously the “with restrictions” wording of the medical certification was largely ignored and that with a medical certification it was assumed that one could fully perform at their designated fitness level.  This is no longer the case.  The only way to be fully qualified for your fire position, without restrictions, is to take and pass the WCT at the appropriate fitness level.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Forestry Leadership Nominations Close February 26th

Forestry Local 629 leadership nominations for our president, vice president, secretary and treasurer positions will close Friday, February 26th at 5:00pm.  Nominations should be sent to Mike Bray, SEIU 503 Statewide Forestry Coordinator.

Our Forestry Local has 3 delegates to General Council and the automatic delegates are the president, vice president and secretary.  Our treasurer serves as an alternate delegate.

The nomination form can be found at the SEIU 503 website: