Friday, June 17, 2016

NEO is for New Employee Orientation

This is New Employee Orientation season, for wildland firefighters with the Oregon Department of Forestry.  As part of that orientation along with getting your fireline gear and signing up for health insurance remember to sign up as a member with your own professional firefighting union, SEIU 503.  That gear and health insurance that you will use is all because members, as I hope you will become, took time to negotiate them.  There was a time when line gear didn't fit and tents and sleeping bags just covered most of the body.  That all changed when a special committee was established to see what the general standards of gear was and options available for the Department to supply them.  The quality gear that you use today, directly came out of the Committee's recommendation's.

Membership helps support benefits like health insurance and reasonable pay for the important work you do protecting Oregon's Forests from wildfire.  Please join at NEO or contact a Local Officer or Mike Bray of SEIU 503 staff organizer to find out how.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Recognising Your Extra Effort During Wildfire Season

These past three fire seasons in Oregon have been tough. Away from home, stepping up to fill in, long hours, maintaining a state of readiness, making sure operations continue unabated and so much more.  The efforts have not gone un-noticed by our Executives with unprecedented recognition days in the past two years.  I thought it would be a good time to provide a reminder of the regular ways you might be recognized.

Work Out-of-Classification (Article 26), states when an employee is assigned to perform the duties of a position in a higher level classification for more than 10 consecutive calendar days, the employee shall be paid 5% above the employee’s base pay rate of pay or the first step of the higher salary range, whichever is higher.  There is more.

Travel Policy (Travel Expense, Article 36.3 A, C), states if an employee is absent from his/her official station and traveling to the fire or other emergency site and stops for a commercially prepared meal, he/she will receive a meal allowance consistent with …. DAS Travel Policy.  There is more.

Standby Duty/ On-Call Duty (Article 34), standby duty is when an employee is required to be available for work outside his/her normal working hours, and subject to restrictions consistent with the FLSA which would prevent the employee from using the time while on standby duty effectively for the employee’s own purposes.  Pay at straight time rate of pay. There is more
On-Call, is when an employee is specifically required to be available for work outside his/her working hours and not subject to restrictions which would prevent the employee from using the time while on-call effectively for the employee’s own purposes. Pay at 1 hour of straight time for each 6 hours of assigned on-call duty.  There is more

These are examples of our negotiated Contract language that recognizes your contribution, direct and indirect, to keeping Oregon’s Forests green.  For more information contact your Steward, Member Resource Center, elected leadership or our Statewide Organizer, Mike Bray.  Be Safe.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Forestry Statewide, April 30th Discussions and Decisions

The Forestry Local held its spring Statewide meeting April 30th in Salem to count election ballots, set goals and make decisions.

The President’s Message focused on saying what you really want, not what you think is possible and then making it happen.  What I really want is employment stability for my State Forest co-workers and a forest that provides sustainable environmental, economic and social benifits.  This is Oregon and we can do things differently if they are not working, and with the State Forest budget heading towards a zero balance in four years, things are not working.  I think there is a different funding way, and I’m going need your help to make it happen.  More later.

Ballots were counted by Jim Neuman, outgoing Treasurer and Mike Bray, SEIU 503 Forestry Staff Organizer.  The large sealed envelope had some real heft, and a thank you to everyone who took the time to vote.  Your new elected officers will serve a two year term and represent your interests at Labor/ Management and at SEIU 503’s General Council.

Decisions made:

Recognizing outgoing officers Brandon Ferguson and Jim Neuman each with a $50 gift certificate.

Dave Wells and Will Bennett were both authorized for up to 5 days of travel (mileage, meals, lodging) to promote membership growth and representation.

Will Bennett is planning on bringing pizza to the Seasonal Meeting at Columbia City on June 13th.

The purchase of 250 insulated (steel) mugs with our Local Logo was approved.

A General Council Resolution (like a law proposal) was drafted and submitted that will charge the Stewards Committee with the creation of training opportunities for Stewards in “remote” locations.  Currently most training is held in Portland, Salem or Eugene and travel can create a hardship for some and a barrier to becoming a Steward that needs to be removed. Thank Will Bennett for the idea.

Next Statewide meeting is October 15, 2016 in The Dalles.  There will be a phone in option.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Forestry Local Leadership All Positions Filled

Seclection of the SEIU 503 OPEU, Forestry Local 629 Leadership for 2016 - 2018 is now complete.  Your Local leaders are as follows:

President: David Wells
Vice President: William Bennett
Secretary: Robert Millam
Treasurer: Dana Tenold

The President, Vice Presidnet and Secretary are our delegates to General Council. Our Statewide Labor/Management committee is made of three members and an alternate so all of your Leadership is generally invited to participate.

A thank you to all those who voted, those accepting a leadership position and outgoing members Brandon Ferguson and Jim Neuman.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

2016-18 Local Officers Elected

Forestry Local Officers for 2016-18 are:

President: David Wells
Vice President: William Bennett
Secretary: to be determined
Treasurer: Dana Tenold

Votes were counted at our Forestry Statewide meeting, yesterday, April 30th in Salem.  A thank you to all those who voted and have agreed to serve as Local Officers. Announcement of the Secretary position is holding on acceptance of the individual who received the greatest number of write in votes.

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.