Thursday, August 20, 2015

Stay Sharp, Remembering the Words of Nancy Orr

Stay Sharp, said Nancy Orr, Oregon's State Fire Marshall, when she addressed Oregon's Incident Management Team at our annual meeting many years ago.  Stay Sharp.

I think she talked about looking crisp and having your engine clean, something that you could be proud of.  That is important, but it has come to mean more to me, and that is always doing the best job you can do.  It's the edge, not of risk, but that little slice of satisfaction of a job well done. Stay Sharp.

I can't help think about the recent wildfire fatalities in California and Washington, and know many of my fellow employees are somehow effected.  That silent prayer, a "Thank You Firefighter" on a cardboard box that means just a little bit more now.  With seven more weeks of fire ahead, how to push on and get up at O' dark thirty for the briefing and the assignment ahead.  For me it will be taking a moment to remember those who I care about and care about me, think about LCES and to Stay Sharp.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Security Package Delivered

Your Bargaining Delegates met July 18th and recommended approval of the Tentative Agreement reached between our Bargaining Team and the State of Oregon by membership vote.  Ballots will be available beginning July 22nd at face to face Ratification Meetings or by mail, and must be received by close of business August 17th to be counted.

Heather Conroy, SEIU 503 Executive Director described the role of members and overall bargaining concept as "we can organize, we can galvanize.........we won't take cuts" and of the agreement added "proud of the contract, worked hard to meet expectations".   The TA was recommended to the membership by an overwhelming "yes" vote.

Some of TA details are listed below, with a more complete list available at the Ratification Meetings or SEIU 503 website.

Four year agreement with an opening in 2017 to re-negotiate cost of living adjustments, insurance, differentials and selective salary increases.

Cost of living adjustments (salary increase) of 1.48% effective December 1, 2015 and 2.75% effective December 1, 2016.

Insurance options that are up to a 99% employer/ 1% employee split depending on the plan chosen.

The day after Thanksgiving was added as holiday, there is no effect on other holidays or the Governor's Leave day.

Employees can now cash out up to 300 hours of accrued vacation leave upon separation from State service.

Volunteer firefighters can now use accrued leave, other than sick leave, to respond to emergency situations.

Telecommuting requests will be responded to within 30 days, and if denied the reason will be specified in writing.

The "employee" PERS contribution currently made by the employer will become the employee's responsibility beginning November 1, 2016.  Salary rates will be increased by 6.95% at the same time as an offset. Contributions will be made "pre-tax".

Boot reimbursement will now be $230 bi-annually for permanent employees or $115 yearly for seasonal employees.

The State will explore whether it is possible to do pre-tax deductions for qualifying cycling costs.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Welcome New and Continuing Forestry Local 629 Members

I would like to welcome the many new members to Forestry Local 629.  Your membership does make a difference when it comes to bargaining and having a voice in the workplace or on the fireline.  An immediate benifit of membership is that you have the opportunity to vote wether to accept or reject the tentative agreement negotiated on our behalf by Union bargaining team.  Details about the agreement can be seen here:

Another benifit is being able to join in the conversation about how our Local is run. This Wednesday, July 15th there will be a conference call to share what is going on at the leadership level and listen to concerns from the membership.  One topic will be how to become a Steward with the Forestry Local.  The call is planned from 7:00 to 8:00 pm and a toll free conference call number can be obtained from Dave Wells, Local President or Mike Bray, SEIU 503 Staff Organizer.

I would like to hear from you, and be safe.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Forestry Tentative Agreement Reached, June 24

A tentative agreement was reached between the State of Oregon and ODOT Coalition on June 24th about 5:00 am the morning. This conculded bargaining that began February 17th.

Contract improvemnents for Forestry employees included an increase in the boot reimbursement from $220 to $230 per biennium for permanent employees and $110 to $115 per year for seasonal employees.

Incident management rest and roatation policy will be developed with a Letter of Intent providing a framework and timeline.

Tree falling criteria and usage between agencies will be studied by a group of Management and Represented employees with a Letter of Intent.

Temporary employees working as Forest Inmate Crew Coordinators will be paid for their breaks and lunch when they cannot be relieved from thier duties.

Next steps include reaching a Tentative Agreement on the SEIU 503 and State of Oregon Master Agreement and a Bargaining Conference scheduled for Saturday, July 18th.

The Bargaining Conference will be Saturday, July 18th from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm at Clackamas Community College in Oregon City.  Registration is available at the SEIU 503 website.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Grilling and Negotiations at Forestry June 23rd

Please come and show your support for your bargaining team and pick up a grilled burger at the same time on June 23rd starting at 5:30 pm on ODF's Salem Campus.  SEIU 503 Staff and the bargining team will be the hosts in this prelude for the last scheduled meeting between representatives for the ODOT Coalition and the State of Oregon. On Tuesday June 9th the Union received a whopper package of proposals from the State that spoke to every item where at Tentative Agreement had not been reached.  On the 23rd it will your Unions's opportunity to either affirm or offer changes to the State's proposals.

Another way to participate is at the Forestry conference call on Wednesday, June 17th from 7-8 pm.  To get the call in number contact Mike Bray, SEIU Forestry Organizer or Dave Wells.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Packing for What's Ahead

Special weather statements and drought will be our companions as we head into this first weekend in June, and I want you to know that your Union is there also.  Like those "free" amenities in a motel in case you forgot something your Union has got you covered.  As a result of negotiations the Department will provide employees with a clean sleeping bag, tent and sleeping pad, just ask.  If you are required to work more than two hours past your shift and not able to leave the job site, a meal will be provided.  You also have Weingarten Rights, meaning that you have the right to request Union representation during an investigatory interview when you think that it may result in disciplinary action.

I have just finished packing my fire bag and as the Nomex shirts and pants went in so did thoughts for the safe return of the wildland firefighters who will be heading out to protect and suppress wildfires on Oregon's Forests.  As you pack your bags please take a moment to reflect on the importance of the wildland fire assignment and your own safe return.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

State Rejects All Forestry Local's Differential Proposals

Glenn West, the State's negotiation agent, cordially but firmly said no to the Forestry Local's differential proposals on Tuesday evening, May 12th.  The differential proposals had been in the State's hand since March 24th when they were presented to the State from Forestry Local bargaining delegates and we had been waiting for some reply.  A differential is additional pay for work performed or exposure to hazards beyond normal job duties.

The differentials that have been proposed by the Forestry Local include:

Recognizing the forestry employees who are duty stationed at correctional facilities with a 10% pay differential.
Acknowledging firefighters who also are EMT's with a 5% pay differential.
Providing a 5% pay differential to those forestry employees who are also professional engineers.
Assigning a 5% differential to Operations Section personnel working on Type 1 or 2 ICS Incidents.

The next ODOT Coalition bargaining meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, May 26 beginning at 5:00pm in the Tillamook Room of ODF's Salem Campus.  All members are invited to attend.