Thursday, September 4, 2014

Seasonal Employees Should Know These Three

The fire season is still going strong with temperatures in the 90s predicted and Red Flag warnings, but the season will end and here are some things to be thinking about when it does.

Unemployment Benefits: There was a revision to our employee handbook dated March 2014, that discusses unemployment benefits.  Unlike the private sector, benifits paid to state employees are dollar for dollar and not a percentage of payroll earnings.  Your work time must be accurately reported (start and end dates) to the Employment Department.  Willful misrepresentation can result in disciplinary action up to dismissal.

Electronic Pay Stubs: This came up at Labor/ Management, a paper pay stub is not automatically produced with each paycheck.  There are many reasons where that paycheck stub needs to be shown, like in a rental agreement or applying for a loan.  Get them while you are still at work.  Avoid the hastle and extra work it will cause the office staff to get them printed after you leave work.  Again, get them while you are still at work.

When Your Season Ends:  According to our Contact "A seasonal employee shall be given at least 10 calendar days advance notice of the end of the season, except when conditions are beyond control of the Agency".  This seems fair as generally contract language attempts to do.  If this is not being held to I would like to know.

Thank you so very much for keeping so many of the fires small and being the true professional firefighters that you are.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Labor/ Management a Real Myth Buster

At our Labor/Management meetings Rumor Control is always an agenda item, but at our last meeting more myths and rumors were embedded throughout the meeting than normal.  To set the record straight here are two that we discussed:

On Call, Standby and Work Schedules: The Department of Forestry suppresses wildfires and when a fire starts outside of the normal workweek ODF’s trained and able firefighters need to be located.  In our contract Article 90.3C Work Schedules (Forestry) contains specific language about this.  In Section 3 On Call, supervisors can require employees to provide their general location and how they can be reached.  There is no restriction on how the employee can use their time so there is no On Call or Standby pay.  There is a similar arrangement for lunch in Section 4, where employees required not to leave their duty station during lunch but not required to continue working are not paid for this time.  Standby and On-Call Duty (Article 34) are options available to management when the employee is required to be available for work and there would be restrictions on what the employee can do in their off time.

Personnel from Human Resources at the Incident Command Post: The Incident Commander is the designated human resources point person, just like it has been. A staff member from the Human Resources section was assigned to the Douglas Complex to assist with the rest and rotation schedule.  If you see someone from Human Resources and they are not too busy stop and say hi, they are probably a long way from home.

A more complete rendering of the discussion around these two items will be in the meeting minutes, but thought it would be important to get it out quickly now that fire season is underway in some parts of Oregon.

Friday, May 23, 2014

This is Your Season

Seasonally wildland firefighters, lookouts and recreational staff fill the essential roles of protecting Oregon’s forests and enhancing recreational experiences in the State Forests.  Thank you for taking this job on. Memories of an Oregon summer day can last a lifetime. Be it stopping a forest fire or maintaining a picnic spot along a river, you will be a part of this.  Oregon expects big things of you.

This is your season, and you are not alone.

I just wanted to let you know that if times get tough, SEIU 503 and Forestry Sub-local 629 is a resource that you can turn to for help.  Stewards and SEIU Staff are available to answer contract interpretation questions, like what is “on-call” and “stand by”, boot allowances, vacation time around a holiday and the little known ability to carry over vacation leave when you are scheduled into a “back to back” season.  Contract language has been negotiated on your behalf to create an environment where you can excel and feel valued doing the all important work you will be asked to do.

This is your season, so join.

Please consider joining our Union.  The ability to negotiate a contract that goes from good to great depends in a large part on employee support.  One of the easiest ways of showing this support is by joining.  It is not that hard but you do need to complete a Membership Application which is available from your Steward, a Statewide elected officer or our SEIU 503 staff organizer Ross Grami at 503-581-1505 ext 191 or

This is your season, shine.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Forestry Local 629 April Meeting Minutes

On Saturday, April 26, 2014 the Forestry Local held a statewide meeting in Salem.  It was a full agenda and we completed our work by about 2:30 pm.

Agenda items:

State of Our Local:
Our Local officers, David Wells, Brandon Ferguson and Jim Neuman were sworn in as President, Vice President and Secretary respectively.  Tim Seitz our Treasurer could not attend do to a family commitment. Each of the officers had a chance to share their goals for the next two years.  Brandon looks to focus on both the employee and public safety and improve employee relationships within the bargaining group and greater community. Jim’s focus was on bargaining and how to improve opportunities for temporary and seasonal employees and those in the NRS series. Dave’s goal is to develop the Local’s leadership and recruit additional Stewards so no one would ever have to go alone when called into a supervisor’s office.  Ross Grami our new SEIU 503 Statewide coordinator provided an update on membership numbers and Stewards.

Steward Recruitment:
To fill out our Local’s leadership the following Steward recruitment assignments were made:
Jim- West Oregon and Astoria
Brandon- John Day and LaGrande
Dave- Salem, Grants Pass and Coos Bay

Stewards are selected from the membership where they work, following (generally) this process:
  • A 10 day notice of an election for a Steward is provided in the worksite
  • There is a call for nominations, you must be a member to be a Steward and to vote, you can join at the meeting
  • Those present can decide how they want to vote by voice or ballot
  • The results need to be announced to the membership and SEIU 503 informed
  • And it is recommended that the new Steward attend training offered by SEIU on Union 101 and Contract Enforcement

Forestry Local Promotional Items:
The Local will purchase 200 baseball style caps with an Elliot State Forest theme and 300 long and short sleeved T-shirts, green with our Local’s design.

Labor/ Management Agenda Items:
Our next L/M meeting will be held June 5 in Salem.  There was a really good discussion of what will be discussed from everyone present and we now have a full agenda.

District Concerns:
The seasonal firefighter training schedule will be requested so Union orientations can be provided.  Other District concerns will be addressed more completely in separate posts.

The next meeting is tentatively scheduled for October 11, 2014 in either Sisters or Prineville.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Forestry Local Statewide Meeting - April 26

The next Forestry Local Statewide meeting will be Saturday, April 26, 2014 starting at 10:00 am in Salem at SEIU 503 Headquarters located at 1730 Commercial Street.  The full agenda is currently being developed and if you have ideas please contact any of your statewide officers or our new coordinator, Ross Grami (  A call-in option will be available.

Ideas currently on the agenda include:
  • installation and swearing in of your new officers
  • discussion of agenda items for our next Labor/ Management meeting June 5th
  • steward recruitment and assignments
  • leadership development
  • reports from your officers
  • purchase of promotional items for the Local (Elliott State Forest hats?)
  • District/ Area concerns
The plan is to conclude about 2:00 pm and select our next meeting location and date (perhaps a co-located meeting with ODOT).

Lunch will be provided, lodging and mileage according to SEIU 503 Administrative Policies.

I hope you can make time to help manage our Local by either calling in or attending in person.  The call-in number will be available from Ross Grami at or myself at (503) 801-8468.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Forestry Leadership Elected for 2014-2016

Forestry Local 629's leadership has been elected for 2014-2016, thank you to all who voted.  Your elected leaders are part of bargaining team, represent the Forestry Local at SEIU 503's General Council, and are members of the Dept. of Forestry's Statewide Labor/ Management Committee.

President: David Wells
Vice President: Brandon Ferguson
Secretary: Jim Neuman
Treasurer: Tim Seitz

Friday, March 7, 2014

Forestry Local Ballot Deadline - March 14, 2014

For Forestry Local 629's leadership election, ballots must be received by March 14, 2014.