Sunday, November 20, 2016

“Who Else Needs to Know”

I recently received a phone call about a worksite issue, that I was unaware of and filed a grievance that hopefully will result in a fair and just outcome.  The employees had requested a resolution but were unsuccessful.  That afternoon it occurred to me that employees are like planes up in the sky going from place to place. No one will ever know if they hit turbulence unless they radio and tell someone.  Others can learn from what goes on up there, or in the workplace.

“Who Else Needs to Know” was one of the lessons learned at an IMT meeting many years ago. As a Team we embraced the concept which made us a very effective and efficient fire fighting force.  Bits of information known by one Section can only help if shared.

If there is a worksite issue, someone needs to know.  Part of that is seeking a resolution that will allow you and Department to succeed.  The other is seeing if it isolated or happening other places.  If there is a contract violation share it, starting with your Steward. If you don't have a Steward contact our Member Resource Center and after that your elected Local’s leadership.  Many worksite issues can be solved when good listening and communication skills are applied but if there is a problem that talking needs to start.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Local Logo Caps Available in December

Caps with our Local’s Logo will be available beginning in early December.  Distribution channels have not been set but they should be available from your leadership and from our SEIU 503 Statewide organizer, Mike Bray.  They are “unstructured” in a putty color and look very cool.

If you don’t pick one up, a supply will be reserved for our Statewide Local Meeting in Eugene on February 4th and you can get one there.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Getting to Know Our New State Forester, Peter Daugherty

Following Peter’s self introduction at our last Labor/ Management meeting it left me with little doubt why the Private Forests Program has never built into a Union stronghold, they had a leader who values integrity, equity and has strong listening skills.

These are the skills I work to develop in our Stewards.

On the job as State Forester for about a month, Peter, showed that he has a sense of humour and vision forward for the Department.  He described himself as a “straightforward communicator” and that “you will know my position and why”.  That may sound harsh, but beneath that is an openness to listen to everyone to shape policy, provided it complies with statute.  This is how we work in the Public Sector, where Peter has spent his entire career.

Strategic in nature he is thinking about the Department’s needs five years from now. What will Oregon’s diversity look like and how will the Department reflect that. What services will be expected and how to provide them without overwhelming staff.  What training is needed to prepare employees.  He shared his support for the Protection from Fire Program and his view of the future looked like it was taken out of the line building section of the Fireline Handbook. You don’t build the line where the fire is, you put it where it is going to be.

A month on the job is not very long but Peter said he plans to get out and visit the Districts and will be our guest at our next Statewide Forestry meeting in Eugene on February 4, 2017.

SAVE THE DATE: Forestry Local Statewide meeting February 4, 2017 in Eugene.

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.