Monday, January 15, 2018

Forestry Statewide Meeting, January 20, 2018

Our next Forestry Sub-local statewide meeting will be Saturday, January 20, 2018 from 0900 to 1300 at the Inn at Otter Crest (north of Newport). Lunch and lodging are provided and pre-registration is required.  A call in phone number is available and the number and access code is available through our Statewide organizer, Mike Bray or your Sub-local president Dave Wells.

The agenda includes:
New officer elections (announcement of election process and deadlines)
Office Coordinator update
Incident Management Rest
Portal to Portal pay (like structural firefighters)
Sexual harassment files
Pay equity DAS study
Sustainable fire organization
Workforce futuring
Who are (what constitutes) essential and non-essential fire personnel

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Bargaining to be Thankful For

It was a year of contract bargaining, and I am thankful that the bargaining team and supporting members were able to bring home a present for everyone of us. A pay raise, new tree falling differential, and maintaining steps and our health insurance benefit were all big wins.  It was no small feat, considering the economic condition that our Oregon was in, with virtually no revenue to keep employees wages up with the rising cost of getting by.

This holiday give thanks that we have our Union and were able to organize to negotiate the contract.  Bargaining this time was limited to a wage and benefit re-opener as part of our four year Contract.  Next time it will likely be different, all of the articles will be open for review.  Fairness has never been a successful line of reasoning at the table, but strength in membership is.  It is a time to be thankful.

Below is a sampling of changes made benefiting employees as a result of collective bargaining:

Article 26 – Differentials •  Creates a Tree Faller differential of $1.25 per hour for employees who hold a current Advanced Tree Faller certification for time spent working on Advanced  level trees.

Article 27 - Salary Increase •  Effective June 15, 2018, a 1.85% COLA.

Article 31 — Insurance •  Maintains that for plan years 2018 and 2019, for workers enrolled in a    medical plan that is at least 10% lower in cost than the monthly premium of the most expensive medical plan, the State will pay 99% and the worker will pay 1% of the premium. •  Maintains that for plan years 2018 and 2019, for all other workers the State will pay 95% and the worker will pay 5%.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Don’t Let Cyber Monday be Your Waterloo

As tempting as the specials are, don’t let Cyber Monday be your Waterloo.  It seems like the holidays keep getting earlier and earlier and that is why I would like to share this reminder that ODF has a computer use (enforcement) policy.  I’m not going to go over it all, in case I mis-state the exact language, but personal financial transactions should not be conducted using an ODF computer.  Even if a deal is great and time limited taking a shortcut with the work computer is not the way to do it. A computer that thinks in “ones and zeros” and has a time clock leaves little to the imagination for minutes of use and websites visited.  This season remember that Santa will know who is naughty or within policy.

Save the date, Saturday, January 20, 2018 for the next Forestry Sub-local Statewide Meeting.  Location to be determined, but likely on the Central Oregon Coast.

Forestry Sub-local nominations for Statewide Officers will open in early February 2018.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Stewards Conference, Sharpens the Sword

Stewards stand up and stand out in our workplaces and SEIU 503’s biennial Stewards Conference allowed for reconnecting, sharing stories and training to improve skills.  Micki Varney a Steward representing ODFW employees summed up the reasons why she and many Stewards take on the responsibility the willingness to help others, seeking a sense of fairness, and looking for social justice.

In the classes that I took Making a Good First Impression, Information Requests, and Putting it all into Practice, skilled organizers shared their skills in holding an effective 15-20 minute orientation, what information can be requested to support a grievant and some grievance meeting role playing.  The world changes but the need to be supported and join together to solve worksite problems doesn’t, and we were reminded that “everyone in this room is the Union, really our Union”.  “Go ahead and start filling out your membership forms”.

Contact your Steward first and if none is available contact the Member Resource Center phone number 1-844-503-SEIU and e-mail:

Next Contract Enforcement training, SEIU 503 Salem Headquarters, 1730 Commercial St. NE, Salem begins Friday November 3rd 5:30 - 8:30 P and continues Saturday November 4th 9:00 A - 4:00 P. Register online:

Next Sub-local 629 Forestry Statewide meeting, January or February 2018 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Ready and Not Called to Fight Wildfire

It was surprising how many people when asked if they worked on any of the big fires in Oregon did not raise their hand.  Many wanted to go, packed and ready, with open task books, but for one reason or another were never called.  One reason is that work duties at their site of employment, Salem or in the field, have completion deadlines to meet meet Program responsibilities.  Another is that picking out that one person you know would be a good fit for the job at hand was not an available option. There is another reason that we as employees should be able to discuss, availability.

Under current policy when you say you are available to fight a wildfire you are committing to a 14 day hitch.  The Program you are working on also has to be willing to see you gone for two weeks.  Not everyone has 14 completely open, consecutive, unplanned days within Oregon summer’s short 12 week run. Year after year.  It seems like there are other availability models to try, like 3 or 5 day surges, get in, help and go home.  If you have stories about what a reasonable assignment might look like and what prevented you from participating in Oregon’s wildfire season please let me know.

Our next Forestry Sub-local Statewide meeting will be Saturday, October 21st from 8:00 to 9:30 a.m. at the Salem Convention Center, 200 Commercial Street SE.   

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Wildfire Assistance Offered by SEIU 503

SEIU 503 is offering a one time financial assistance award to those members effected by this summers (2017) wildfires.  The link to this assistance is here:

A more complete description of how SEIU 503 is recognizing the contributions of wildland firefighters and this financial assistance award is at the SEIU 503 homepage.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Save October 21st for Statewide Meeting and Stewards Conference

All members are invited to our next Forestry Sub-Local Statewide meeting on Saturday, October 21st beginning at 8:00 a.m. at the Salem Convention Center, 200 Commercial Street SE, Salem.  At 9:30 a.m. our meeting will transition to the SEIU 503 Stewards Conference at the same location.  A call in option for the Forestry meeting is being planned.

The agenda for our Statewide meeting has not been set but the Stewards Conference has a number of interesting educational programs that will definitely make it worth staying around.  Registration is now open for the Stewards Conference and for more information contact your organizer.

While our Statewide Forestry Sub-Local agenda has not been set, one thing that will definitely happen is distribution of swag and a drawing for custom belt buckles.  For the buckles you must be present to win.

Please, save this day to participate in the operations of your Forestry Sub-Local.  To submit agenda items please do so through any of your Local’s elected leadership.